Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/467

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NEW YORK'S TEN THOUSAND

days of the Tudors and Stuarts, the English people, slavishly submissive to the caprices and excesses of monarchy, always stubbornly refused to countenance a standing army. In the early wars in which England was engaged it was seldom that her land forces were better than armed mobs; and until Cromwell trained his Ironsides, hardly anything that at the present day would be called discipline was known. Xow in America the president possesses powers for action greatly exceeding those of any limited monarch, and almost equaling those of an oriental despot. He is not only absolute within limits prescribed by civil law, but he is commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and as such may in certain emergencies suspend or annul the functions of congress and the courts. This is not only theoretical, it was proved during the war-between-the-states to be preeminently practical, notably in the instance of the emancipation of the slaves. The possession of such masterful powers indicates, not at all any peril of "imperialism," so called, but rather an expression of the cordial consent of an enlightened and free people, and the certainty that the law may safely permit a temporary suspension of its own functions, confident that—the danger overpast—these will be resumed without impairment of liberty.

The strong arm of the president of the United States for the enforcement of the laws of the land is the regular army. Note with what remarkable foresight our system was planned to avert the danger that so affrighted our British ancestors. The ordinary civil processes for the quelling of disorder—the sheriff and his posse, constables, police—failing, the state militia are called out; and these all having proved ineffectual, constitutionally recourse is had to the authority of the president and the army. And this force is at once the most masterful and the least domineering. Every now and then—some "radical" having urged more vehemently than ordinary "government ownership of railways," the return outcry voices the fear that the votes of so many employees would be utilized by the chief magistrate "to perpetuate his power." But while there may be a possibility that such fears are genuine, who for a moment associates the idea of politics with an army man? Often in the course of our history some successful general has been seized upon by a political party as an available candidate for the highest office. Almost half our presidents and presidential candidates have been more or less military men. Usually they have been politicians in inverse proportion to their military ability, for the most part perhaps, "Good men weighing so and so many pounds."

Note upon what inflexible principles the army is decreed, constituted, manned, officered and governed. It emanates directly from the people, the people's representatives, by authority and direction of the constitution, permitting it to exist only from congress to congress.