Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/135

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

wealth, three of which will probably never have a population sufficient to entitle them to more than one representative, were admitted into the Union by the last Congress—for partisan reasons.

It is provided in the Constitution that if the electoral colleges fail to choose a President, the election shall be made by the House of Representatives, when each State, large or small, shall be entitled to cast one vote. Mr. Ashley shows in a table that under the present apportionment the House of Representatives being composed of three hundred and fifty-six members, twenty-three small States, being just a majority of the forty-four, having altogether only seventy-two members, could decide the election—that is, the case might arise in which "less than one sixth of the members of the House, representing less than one sixth of the population of the nation, can elect the President." Further, of these seventy-two members, fifty-five could cast the votes of the twenty-three States, making the discrepancy still worse. It is not practically likely that the small States will ever combine their votes in this way, but the possibility exists.

A more imminently threatening danger to our institutions, extra-constitutional, but hardly the less binding for that, exists in the nominating convention system, which "has grown to be a monster political despotism, and in both parties is to day the absolute master of the people." Under it the people are in effect, in a large proportion of cases, deprived of all voice in the management of public affairs. It works in with several features of the law in the manner of conducting elections so as to leave helpless the voter who would be independent, and to promote the schemes of designing, dishonest men. For the latter purpose it is a most admirable instrument.

All these defects in our system of government call for some means of remedy, and the subject should be one of anxious thought to all the friends of popular institutions. Mr. Ashley's object in calling attention to them was to bring out the remedy he has devised, which he presents in the form of a series of constitutional amendments. It is not within our province to discuss the merits of his plan. We point out the need, and remark that it has engaged the serious attention of at least one earnest thinker.

Constitutions can not be made to order to last for all time. Governments, like all other things, are a growth, an evolution, are affected by the changes in the conditions of the medium, and need to be conformed to them. Conditions inevitably arise from time to time that can not be foreseen, and must be met as they appear. Our Constitution was for a long time considered nearly perfect, because it well met the conditions for which it was made. That modifications and new provisions should be found to be needed in time is not the fault of the instrument or of its makers, but a consequence of the inexorable law of evolution. While hasty and trivial tinkering are to be deprecated, the existence of that law should be recognized, and there should be no hesitation in adapting the Constitution to its workings.

 

 

PREVENTION OF CHOLERA EPIDEMICS.

If we were asked to name what in our opinion is the most important service of science to modern civilization, we should say that it consists in the means that have been given to man to prevent the spread of epidemic disease. It is not so very long ago that large cities the world over were quite unable to exclude such a disease as cholera, and when once it had gained a foothold they were wholly at its mercy until change of season or some other unexplained cause changed the conditions favorable to its spread. Attention was for centuries concentrated on methods of treatment, and down to fifty years