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Revised and Enlarged Edition of Historical Literature.
By C. K. ADAMS, LL.D., President of Cornell University. A MANUAL OF HISTORICAL LITERATURE, comprising Brief Descriptions of the most Important Histories in English, French, and German, together with Practical Suggestions as to Methods and Courses of Historical Study, for the use of Students, General Readers, and Collectors of Books. By Charles Kendall Adams, LL.D., Profes
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THE CRITICAL PERIOD OF AMERICAN HIS-
THE HEART OF ASIA. W. F. Allen
JOHN BRIGHT. Edward Gilpin Johnson
Alcott's Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher and
Seer.- Finck's Chopin, and Other Musical Essays.-
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for the Well and the Sick.-Burt's Brief History of
A CENTURY OF THE AMERICAN CONSTITU-
Appropriate to this period of centennial
Foreign observers are gracious of their
THE CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
OF THE UNITED STATES. By Judson S. Landon. Boston:
tributes of admiration at the wisdom of our
plan of constitutional government, as well as
at its success. But American students will
not be content with mere admiration. For
us, the vital question is, what outlook for the
future does our past success afford? Admirers
like Gladstone wonder at the genius which
struck off such a constitutional system at a
single blow. But Americans have discovered
that our system was a growth and a develop-
ment, and that the Providence which favored
us was manifested in a succession of events
which were in themselves comparatively unno-
ticeable if not relatively unimportant. It would
seem probable, therefore, that an American
student of our institutions would be the one
most likely to find by search the secret of our
success. A comparison between Professor
Landon's exposition of less than four hundred
pages, and the verbose and ponderous volumes
of Dr. Von Holst, will illustrate the difference
between the equipment of the domestic and that
with us and tried to see and understand with
us; but Landon is an American by birth,
heredity, education, and mental equipment.
Von Holst will still be looked to as a magazine
of political gossip and personal characterization;
while Professor Landon's book will become
the initial of a series of constitutional disquisi-
tions from the point of view of the new cen-
Those who have read McMaster's entertain-
ing and discriminating magazine article upon
A Century of Constitutional Interpretation'
will appreciate the tumult of political storm to
which our constitution has been exposed dur-
ing its first century, and will perhaps wonder
wherein lay the strength which maintained it
throughout all the political turbulence so
clearly portrayed in that article.
from McMaster's sentences to the pages of
Landon is like passing from the roar and the
riot of the outward tempest into the interior
of the foundations of the edifice, there to ob-
serve how firmly they are planted upon the
solid rock. It is the merit of Professor Lan-
don's lectures that he has so clearly shown
wherein lies the strength of our constitutional
As may be inferred from what has already
been said, Professor Landon does not treat of
the United States constitution as to be considered by itself, or as presenting in itself the whole or the essential part of the American system. That system can be understood only by considering the Federal constitution as but one portion, while the various State constitutions are another portion of no less importance in the completed whole. This dual form of our government is emphasized in these lectures. The State constitutions stand as an essential part of the Federal system. The correlative proposition has never been more forcibly presented than now by Professor Landon, that the United States constitution is necessary to the proper scope and development of that part of the system which finds its expression in the State constitutions. It was this dual constitutional system which was the natural growth. If criticism upon so excellent a work would not be considered ungracious, one might suggest a fuller elaboration by Professor Landon of the details of the gradual and natural growth, during the American colonial period, of each of these principles of national sovereignty and local independence.
It is, however, elucidated in this treatise, and with a clearness most excellent, how the central powers of the National government have been exercised with the result of strengthening the State governments. During the period prior to the Civil War, the hostility of the States toward supposed encroachments of the Federal governments is stated succinctly but clearly. The author is not, however, a harsh critic of the States-Rights politicians, although himself a firm and uncompromising Unionist: With impartial candor, he shows how natural was the political feeling, at one time so prevalent, of jealousy of the central power. With like judicial calmness, he shows in what an orderly way the central power has, in the new era since the Civil War, become the firm bulwark of the reserved rights of the States.
This, which may be considered the final summary of the author's views of our constitutional development, is presented in the three lectures which are appropriately devoted to an illustration of the influence of the Supreme Court of the United States upon our constitutional development and growth. This court occupied, at the beginning of our first century, a position in our political system which may be best described by the term sufferance. Recognized in the constitution, it was allowed to exist and operate; but its decisions were
often treated with disrespect and sometimes with contumely and open disregard. It worked its way gradually into partial and then more complete favor; then into a position of influence, and finally into one of calm and quiet, yet supreme and unquestioned power. Its first great work was to determine the proper powers of the nation in our system, and to secure for those powers just recognition, respect, and obedience. It was through the labors of this court that the people were educated into the faith and the strength sufficient to carry the Union through the crisis of the Civil War; that work done, and the nation finally planted with firmness upon the constitutional foundation, it then became the task of the Supreme Court to enforce and maintain in like manner the powers conferred by our system upon the State governments. The consummation of the work of our statesmen, as described by the court, is an indissoluble Union, composed of indestructible States. Landon appropriately reminds us that that august court has itself done no small portion of the work of erecting and perfecting such a Union.
"Not immediately, but gradually, ultimately, and surely, the court by its decisions separated the National and State powers from their confusing mixture, and gave to each clearness of outline and distinctness of place. It gave to the abstract words of the constitution an active and commanding significance. It disclosed the instrumentalities by which rights conferred could be enjoyed, and wrongs forbidden could be averted or redressed. It composed conflicts, promoted harmony, and soothed passions. It defined the just limits of con
tending powers, separated encroaching jurisdictions, and restored each to its proper place. It lifted a dissolving and moribund nation to great strength and vitality. It gave to the States clear and accurate conceptions of their wide field of domestic government. It instructed coördinate departments. It vested the nation with its own, and did not impair the just powers of the States. The peaceful manner in which all this was accomplished made the accomplishment more remarkable. Revolutionary results without revolutionary means are rarely witnessed in the history of mankind.” (p. 274.)
It is a familiar thought that our political system is one of "checks and balances." Probably few persons who are in the habit of using this phrase have ever attempted to fully state or closely define these checks and balances. That one power checks another, is easily seen; but that the checks and balances should in themselves contain the germs of much of the inherent strength of our system, is not so evident. To this feature of our system Landon devotes several pages. Among those provisions which assist in insuring its perpet