Page:Federalist, Dawson edition, 1863.djvu/513

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369
The Fœderalist.

been broken; and octennial Parliaments have besides been established. What effect may be produced by this partial reform, must be left to further experience. The example of Ireland, from this view of it, can throw but little light on the subject. As far as we can draw any conclusion from it, it must be that if the People of that country have been able under all these disadvantages to retain any liberty whatever, the advantage of biennial elections would secure to them every degree of liberty, which might depend on a due connection between their Representatives and themselves.

Let us bring our inquiries nearer home. The example of these States, when British colonies, claims particular attention, at the same time that it is so well known as to require little to be said on it. The principle of representation, in one branch of the Legislature at least, was established in all of them. But the periods of election were different. They varied from one to seven years. Have we any reason to infer from the spirit and conduct of the Representatives of the People, prior to the Revolution, that biennial elections would have been dangerous to the public liberties? The spirit which everywhere displayed itself, at the commencement of the struggle, and which vanquished the obstacles to Independence, is the best of proofs, that a sufficient portion of liberty had been everywhere enjoyed, to inspire both a sense of its worth and a zeal for its proper enlargement. This remark holds good, as well with regard to the then colonies whose elections were least frequent, as to those whose elections were most frequent. Virginia was the colony which stood first in resisting the Parliamentary usurpations of Great Britain; it was the first also in espousing, by public Act, the resolution of Independence. In Virginia, nevertheless, if I have not been misinformed, elections under the former Government were septennial. This particu-