Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/14

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Blackstone affirms (and the great authority of Selden corroborates the fact,) that the partible quality of lands by the custom of gavelkind is undoubtedly of British origin, and obtained universally before the æra of the Norman Conquest. The constitution of general public assemblies; the election of their magistrates by the people, their sheriffs, their coroners, their port-reeves, and even their tything-men; the dispensation of justice in the county-courts principally, except in cases in which the supreme authority of the Crown was called upon to interfere, are laws of Saxon parentage. These principles are the very basis of the American Constitution; and if the settlers of New England discarded the feudal rights, the royal justiciars, and the claims of primogeniture, when they relinquished the feelings, the traditions, and the character of English subjects, it is not without pride, mingled with admiration, that a Briton points to the common source of our liberties, and to that Saxon foundation of our