Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/203

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ministration”; the Constitution of Virginia declares that all the civil officers who shall have offended against the State by maladministration, corruption, or other high crimes, may be impeached by the House of Delegates: in some constitutions no offences are specified, in order to subject the public functionaries to an unlimited responsibility[1]. But I will venture to affirm, that it is precisely their mildness which renders the American laws most formidable in this respect. We have shown that in Europe the removal of a functionary and his political interdiction are the consequences of the penalty he is to undergo, and that in America they constitute the penalty itself. The consequence is that in Europe political tribunals are invested with rights which they are afraid to use, and that the fear of punishing too much hinders them from punishing at all. But in America no one hesitates to inflict a penalty from which humanity does not recoil. To condemn a political opponent to death, in order to deprive him of his power, is to commit what all the world would execrate as a horrible assassination; but to declare that opponent unworthy to exercise that authority, to deprive him of it, and to leave him uninjured in life and limb, may be judged to be the fair issue of the struggle. But this sentence, which it is so easy to pronounce, is not the less fatally severe to the majority of those upon whom it is in-

  1. See the Constitutions of Illinois, Maine, Connecticut, and Georgia.