ously pushed aside, and that, though the orphans appeal most powerfully to the capitalist from the side of charity and mercy, they must be cast in the suit unless his claim of better title fails; he must have his right, if he insists; yea, if he demands it, the peremptory writ shall issue, though the orphans go upon the street to beg in cold and hunger. So in the farmer’s case, is it not the only question whether the title which the government patented to the grandfather was qualified or not? If that title is and always has been subject to the qualification that the government might at any time regulate the use of all the land within its jurisdiction so as to equalize the natural opportunities of all its people, destroying utterly this very title if necessary to accomplish that end, then the government itself as proprietor held the land before conveyance subject thereto; it conveyed no higher title than rightfully it could convey, no greater interest than itself possessed; and its grantees have had and enjoyed exactly what was paid for (viz., such title as the government had to convey), and of course cannot justly claim to have what was paid returned either with or without interest. So here too the controversy shifts back to the one controlling question.
So far as the demands of justice are concerned, the objection that George’s plan is barred by the claim of existing landholders to compensation is of precisely the same character, and of as little weight, as would be a suggestion to the Supreme Court of the United States that a statute ought not to be declared unconstitutional or the decision of a lower court overruled because such statute or decision had stood many years, and the community had supposed it to be valid, parting with their money and making their calculations in that belief. We say now that the man who puts his faith in a municipal ordinance assumes the risk that the ordinance may be found to conflict with the statutes of the State. We say now that he who relies upon a statute does so at the peril that the statute may be held unconstitutional. Why do not the reasons which lead to these conclusions also compel us to say that he who lays out his money and his labor in reliance upon our written constitutions does so at the peril that those constitutions may be found and declared to be violative of the principles of right which underlie all positive laws.
Other objections have been put forward against the proposed change of laws, but they all fall equally wide of the mark. A glance at three or four of them will show this.