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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE FIVE-FOLD FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

By W J McGEE, LL.D.

ORGANIZATIONS, like organisms, are products of development. Governmental organizations, like most others, are increasingly designed and shaped in the light of conscious experience. Thus, the constitution of the United States epitomized the lessons of history so far as recognized by its framers, whereby the instrument became the embodiment of governmental practise and theory gained through known experience. Naturally, by reason of the ability of the framers and the stress under which they wrought, the instrument is notable—certainly among the most notable ever produced, whatever be thought of Gladstone's view as to the divinity of its inspiration. Naturally, too, the framers specified most clearly those governmental powers with which they were familiar and which they most desired to adopt: and, no less naturally, their action was guided quite as much by the wish to eliminate that which they thought objectionable as by the aim to perpetuate that which they deemed desirable. Seeing that government is an expression of law, their first care was to provide for the framing of laws, the second to provide for the execution of these laws, and the third to provide for the interpretation of law; and in this way arose what came to be known as the "three coordinate branches" of the United States government. The branches are indeed coordinated, though they are far from coequal, since the power of creating the third is entrusted to the second "by and with the consent" of a part of the first; yet they by no means constitute the entire government—as becomes clear in the light of earlier phases of social organization made known largely since the instrument was framed, no less than in that of discussion before and during the framing of the constitution.

Early in that primitive social type in which tribal organization rests on consanguinity traced in the female line, the elder-woman is both lawgiver and judge, while her elder-brother acts as an executive in case of need, and the two jointly or severally exercise administrative authority throughout the clan; later the elder-women become priestesses or seeresses still giving and interpreting the clan laws, and their elder brothers form an avuncular council of gradually increasing executive and administrative powers; yet at every step all primary power is imputed to a mystical pantheon of which the beldames are only vicars and the sages merely indirect agents. In the next stage of development