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THE NATIONAL REVIEW.

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NOVEMBER 1864.

ART. I.-PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT.

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In planning a political constitution-an employment which has always a slightly ludicrous side to it, but which, in many conditions of a nation, is a sad necessity—the makers of the new machine have to consider the necessary partition of powers under a twofold aspect. They have to decide alike as to the number of departments among which authority is to be divided, and as to the hands in which authority of each kind is to be vested. Thus, the British Constitution, in its legal theory, the Federal Constitutions of America and Switzerland, and the type of constitution common among the American States, agree in dividing the powers of government between two legislative chambers and an executive power distinct from both. The partition of powers, as far as the number of departments goes, is much the same in all these cases ; but the nature of the hands in which power is placed differs widely in the different examples. There is, undoubtedly, a considerable difference in the amount of power which each of these constitutions gives to its executive; but the difference in the amount of power is less striking than the difference in the nature of the hands in which that power is vested. England entrusts the executive authority to an hereditary King ; the United States, and the several States generally, to an elective President or Governor; the Swiss Confederation to an elective Council. America, it is clear, here forms a mean between Switzerland and England. It agrees with England—that is, with the legal theory of England –in placing the executive power in the hands of a single person, and not in those of a council; it agrees with Switzerland in making the depository of executive power elective and responsible instead of hereditary

No. I. NOVEMBBR 1864.

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