Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/87

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been derived and applications have been made such as no nation in Europe has yet ventured to attempt.

In Connecticut the electoral body consisted, from its origin, of the whole number of citizens; and this is readily to be understood[1], when we recollect that this people enjoyed an almost perfect equality of fortune, and a still greater uniformity of opinions[2]. In Connecticut, at this period, all the executive functionaries were elected, including the Governor of the State[3]. The citizens above the age of sixteen were obliged to bear arms; they formed a national militia, which appointed its own officers, and was to hold itself at all times in readiness to march for the defence of the country[4].

In the laws of Connecticut, as well as in all those of New England, we find the germ and gradual development of that township independence which is the life and mainspring of American liberty at the present day. The political existence of the majority of the nations of Europe commenced in the superior ranks of society, and was gradually and imperfectly communicated to the different members of the social body. In America, on the other hand, it may be said that the township was organized

  1. Constitution of 1638, p. 17.
  2. In 1641 the General Assembly of Rhode Island unanimously declared that the government of the State was a democracy, and that the power was vested in the body of free citizens, who alone had the right to make the laws and to watch their execution. Code of 1650, p. 70.
  3. Pitkin's History, p. 47.
  4. Constitution of 1638, p. 12.