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Governments are of various kinds, and that is best which, under all conditions, is best adapted to secure the ends for which it is established, that is, equal rights and justice to all men. The form which would best suit the conditions and circumstances under which civil society was organized in one section, might not be the best under other and different conditions. Hence we have the absolute monarchy in one place, under one set of conditions, and the limited monarchy in another place and under a different set of conditions, and a republic under still different conditions. The common forms are: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.
Monarchies are either absolute or limited. A government in which society has placed all the power in the hands of one person, is called an absolute monarchy. One in which the power of the ruler is limited by laws, or by a constitution, or by any other power, is called a limited monarchy. All monarchies at present in existence are hereditary, that is, the nearest heir succeeds to the crown. In elective monarchies, the successor was elected by the people or their representatives whenever the monarch died. None such at present exists, and this fact may be said to prove that the elective form was less desirable than the hereditary.
In an aristocracy the power is exercised by a few
persons, distinguished either for their rank or their wealth. At present, this form of government does not exist, though the principle is found in such bodies as the House of Lords in the British Parliament.
Democracy is government by the people. Pure democracy is not possible, except in small communities, where it is possible for all the people to assemble. Hence, at present, there is none.
The republic is the nearest approach to pure democracy at present possible. In this form of government, the power to make and execute laws for society rests in representatives elected by the people. In such a government the people not only say who shall act for them, but they adopt a code of general laws called a constitution, which is superior to all other laws, and under which their representatives must act.
Natural rights.-The individual members of society have certain rights which are called natural or civil rights; natural, because given by nature; civil, because they relate to the duties of all citizens. These are the right to security in life, limb, body, health, and reputation, the right to go where they choose, the right to acquire and enjoy property, the
right to protection of government, and the right to family relations of husband and wife, parent and child, etc.
Political Rights.-Then there are political rights, but all people composing civil society do not possess them. In an absolute monarchy, society relinquishes all the political rights of its individual members, such as the right to have a voice in the government or in the selection of the rulers. In all other forms of government that exist to-day, the people have some political rights. The right to vote is a political right, though some think it should be a natural right, an attribute of humanity," in which case women and children would have the same right to this privilege that men have. Many think that the right to vote on all subjects which concern society should be given to all people who are subject to law, without regard to sex or condition. But, since the State is under obligation to give its people the best possible form of government, it is under obligation to use the means considered best adapted to secure the end sought, and if, under all circumstances, a restricted suffrage will give the best rulers and lawmakers, then the right to vote should be restricted to those most competent to give to society such rulers and such lawmakers. But if universal suffrage is most likely to secure the desired end, then all people who are subject to law and are of sound and mature mind should be allowed to have a voice in choosing those officers who are to rule over them. The tendency
during the past ages has been to extend this privilege first to one class of citizens, then to another, until now, in many places, all men, without regard to rank or condition, as well as women, are given a voice in public affairs. If this extension of the political rights of the citizen proves satisfactory where it is tried, there is no reason why it should not be extended everywhere.'
Liberty is the freedom to exercise and enjoy our rights. "Liberty is the result of law,-not as some suppose, of the absence of law. Many think that people are free only as they are without restraint, and feel that in so far as they are under law they are without liberty." Such is not the case, however, since law is designed to give to all people security, protection, and all the liberty they can lawfully claim. People have no right to murder, or to steal, or to do wrong; hence laws which forbid these things do not abridge their liberty. People have no right to do things which are contrary to the best interests and to the welfare of society. Dr. Alden says: "A perfectly just and wise system of laws would forbid everything that is unjust in society, everything socially wrong, and would permit everything just in society, everything socially right.
such a system were carried into perfect execution, it would furnish perfect security against wrong, and perfect liberty to do right. The perfection of law and execution would secure the perfection of liberty." "Security against wrong, and not the transient absence of wrong, is the essential of liberty."