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HARVARD

LAW REVIEW.

Vol. IL march 15, 1889. No. 8.

COMPARATIVE MERITS OF WRITTEN AND PRESCRIPTIVE CONSTITUTIONS.

IN the mind of every intelligent man the question must some- times arise, whether the political institutions of his country, and especially its constitution, are superior to those of other nations, and, if so, in what the superiority consists. The Ameri- can who directs his attention to the constitution of the Federal Union is not likely to regard this question as one upon which there can well be a difference of opinion. The establishment of the federal constitution, whether we regard it in the light of its undoubted benefits to the people immediately concerned, or con- sider its more remote influence upon the institutions of other countries, was an act of organization and of government with which, for value and importance, no other in the history of man- kind is comparable. It did not create the American States or the American Union, for these were in existence beforeĀ ; but it saved the States from anarchy, and it settled a tottering Union upon the only basis that was at once a foundation of solidity and of growth, of permanence and of evolution. It converted a loose confederacy into a nationĀ ; and that nation, though feeble in its beginnings, has in the compass of a century overflowed and mastered the major part of the continentĀ ; and now, in the number and intelligence of its people, in national resources and power, it takes unchallenged place with the leading nations on the globe. History tells no other story of expansion so rapid, of progress so steady, of growth that in its promise appears so assuring. Many causes have contributed to the marvellous