Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/466

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While it would be uncivil and to a great extent misleading, and might be considered unpatriotic to assert that our republican form of government, so admirable in the nation at large, has in practise broken down in the great cities, calling attention to manifest truth can harm no one, however sensitive; to a very considerable extent New York City is denied one of the first essentials of republicanism—home rule; in many respects it is governed as a conquered province from Albany. Perhaps some—or even all—of these denials are inevitable; at all events they are legal, and the good citizen is bound to submit gracefully, however much he may deplore the fact that some of the most cherished guarantees of democracy are absent in metropolitan life. He may console himself with the knowledge that legislation entirely appropriate to rural neighborhoods is utterly impracticable as applied to a city of nearly five million inhabitants, closely, and in sections stiflingly clustered, of many races and faiths and of countless diversities of habit. Not only do the laws by which the metropolis is governed emanate largely from sources exterior to itself, but these laws are continually changing. Unlike the national administration, which is in essentials simple and comparatively stable, that of the city is extremely complex, the laws which it is the duty of the police to enforce being not only intricate, but are being tampered with and altered continually. The conditions in these respects that have prevailed and still do prevail are sufficiently perplexing to confuse and demoralize almost any body of men on earth; that they have not demoralized further than they have the police force is greatly creditable to their self-control, sagacity and respect for constituted authority.

In order to understand the exact nature of the very radical change which it is my purpose to outline, something in the way of both comparison and contrast between the national and civic administration may well be considered. Especially ought these comparisons and contrasts to be clearly understood between the regular army (the police of the nation) and the police force, which may be considered as the army of the city.

The civilization of the western world, the Teutonic race having been always in the van of progress, has achieved at least one lesson perfectly learned—the deplorable results of irresponsible power and the necessity for those limitations upon the will of an executive to be summed up in one comprehensive phrase—the law. In America, as we know, the limitations have for their source a written constitution, to be interpreted by an unprejudiced judiciary, and directed by congress.

But in the course of the broadening of freedom this curious paradox is disclosed, that while parliaments and congresses have grown continually more and more mindful of the people's will, the strength of the executive of that will has l)een continually enlarged. In the