Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 77.djvu/283

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


TEE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT 277

ernment, leaving the then relatively unimportant details of administra- tion — over which controversy arose whenever the subject was approached — to the sense of their successors ; while they proceeded so circumspectly as to reveal implicitly rather than by explicit statement their chief — and history's greatest — contribution to governmental principle, i. e., the substitution of human poiver exercised through an electorate for the inscrutable might manifested through a hierarchy as the basis of gov- ernment. Strong as is the constitution in every feautre and depart- ment, its chief strength lies in that last-written but first-placed para- graph, " We, the people of the United States, ... do ordain and estab- lish this Constitution." With this utterance the mysticsm of the ages fell away, and the foundation of humane government became fixed forever; and the new light has already gone around the world and entered every land.

Now in addition to the specific powers expressed in the first, second and third articles of the constitution, others are so clearly implied or expressed inter se that they were unhesitatingly exercised from the day the instrument was adopted. These embrace the administrative power- implied throughout, together with that primary power ranking all the others combined (since they rest on and arise from it), i. e., the de- terminative (or elective) power implied in the first, second, fourth,, fifth and sixth articles and expressed in the preamble. So any com- plete enumeration of the powers of our government (or any other of representative type) necessarily comprises those pertaining to the five innate and coordinate functions involved in all governmental organiza- tions from the most primitive to the most advanced ; in logical order — which is that reflected in the constitution — they may be denoted (1) elective, exercised by the people; (2) legislative, exercised by the con- gress; (3) administrative, exercised by the president and his cabinet officers; (4) judicative, exercised by the court, and (5) executive, exer- cised primarily by the president.

II

The popular movement for the utilization of our waterways 2 first marked an awakened public sentiment; now it is stirring the national conscience in a manner not unlike the movement of 1776. A round century of public indifference since Gallatin followed Washington in pointing a way, and a half-century of national incompetence attested by the decline of river and canal navigation — these unwittingly set the alarm now ringing. As befits democracy, the awakening began with the extremities of the body politic; yet signs are not lacking that it is reaching the somnolent centers. When the declaration and the con-

2 Described in "Our Great River," World's Work for February, 1907 (Vol. XIII., pp. 8576-8584), and "Our Inland Waterways," Popular Science Monthly for April, 1908 (Vol. LXXII., pp. 289-303).

�� �