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favored independent states. It was the genius of a Marshall that created the great public sentiment, later crystallized under the leadership of Lincoln, which saved our country from being transformed into several separate nations. Today the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. We are anxiously waiting to see if there is another champion of our federal system, our American plan of government, a man who will have the far-sighted vision and the courage to save the country this time from going to the other extreme. The life of our dual system of government is again at stake. Many of us have lost sight of its value in the glamour of a new nationalism.
Too much “nationalism” is just as wrong as too much "state's rights." There is a happy medium.
It is not this government as one nation, nor the several states, but the combination in one federal plan that has rendered such a distinct contribution to the welfare of humanity. It is this federal plan that must be most jealously guarded. A tendency one way or the other, towards centralization or towards decentralization, is dangerous.
It must be expected that, from time to time, there will be strong men, men who are ambitious to leave distinguished names in history, who will champion a powerful, centralized government in the United States. There always has been, and there always will be, a dramatic attraction in the building of great empires about a central authority; the glory of power in a supreme authority interests and awes even those who are governed.
The strength of nations does not lie in the vastness of the territory under one highly centralized and supreme authority. This truth has been centuries in the learning.
That government which hugs closest to the sober and mature judgment of the people, and keeps in touch with the demands of changing conditions, is the one which best fulfils its mission, and will live the longest. The makers of gov
ernment must set as their goal, not the creation of an extensive centralized machinery, but a human organism, capable of reaching out, and searching after, and meeting the demands of life.
CLIFFORD THORNE. WASHINGTON, Iowa.
"TITLE TO PROPERTY.” In spite of the protests and lamentations philanthropists and reformers, these many thousand years, the physical and mental inequalities which nature has imposed upon mankind have created corresponding social inequalities, and there is no reason to anticipate a material change in these conditions in the future. Probably the strongest and the fittest will continue to prevail forever in the struggle for existence. And yet unlimited competition has led to results so terrible that men have always sought to mitigate them by, I apprehend, the evolution of law, whose function is to protect the weak in various essential rights, chief among which rank rights in property. For, where the weak are altogether unprotected, the favored few become masters, while the majority sink into slavery, and the longer and severer the competition may be, the more attenuated the body of masters becomes, and the more exasperated the slaves, until order dissolves in chaos. Such convulsions are always attended by bloodshed and confiscation, and it is to temper such convulsions that the law pretends to secure to every man that which he owns. The theory is good. The difficulty has lain in reducing theory to practice, for it has been found singularly difficult, at certain moments, to determine in what, disputed rights in property, consists. When this condition occurs society grows progressively unstable, for it is obvious that a society is stable in proportion as the bulk of the population profit by maintaining that which exists, and is unstable in proportion as the majority look for advantage in revolution.
My thesis is that every man owns all that he can defend, and if the law fails to recognize and regulate this practical ownership, it to that extent leaves the rights of property to be fixed by force, or, in other words, by private war.
I suspect that, throughout the western world, our civilization is facing some such crisis as this, in the sporadic warfare now waged between capital and labor, touching the ownership of industrial property, and in this short article I propose to enter a little into history in order to investigate these antagonistic claims to property, with a view to illuminating in some small degree the chasm which I infer our law must bridge, if order is to be permanently preserved. Now, in my judgment, lawyers would have deserved better of their clients and their age, had they shown more anxiety than I conceive the evidence indicates that they have shown, to mitigate the rigor of competition by adapting, as far as in them lay, the institutions over which they have exercised some control, to social changes whose hardships, though they could not avert, theymight, by intelligence and good temper, have sensibly ameliorated.
I would suggest that probably the cause of the extreme instability of English society after Hastings was the series of confiscations which reduced perhaps the majority of the old population to villeinage. Villeins, by law, could neither acquire nor hold property as against their lord, while the class of landlords stretched upwards in gradations to the king, who was the greatest of all landlords, but greatest by so narrow a margin that he had often much ado to preserve some vestige of sovereignty. Hence the king intrigued with the serfs against their masters, and the abler the king the more he intrigued, as did Henry I, until the serfs gained very substantial advantages.
Also the crusades began, and commerce and capital grew with the crusades, and so, by the beginning of the thirteenth century, the serfs and burghers held the balance of power as between the allied barons and the king, as they conclusively proved in 1215 at Runnymede, when John
sealed Magna Charta. Now the law may say what it will, but, in fact, a man does own all the property he can defend, and in 1215 the villein could defend his title to some of the increment in the value of the land which he tilled, which was due to his labor; and this title the manorial courts recognized, because they could not help it, as a sort of tenant right, calling it a customary tenancy by base service. A century later these services in kind had been pretty frequently commuted into a fixed rent paid in money, and the serf had become a freeman, and a rather formidable freeman, too. For it was largely from among these technical serfs that Edward III recruited the infantry who formed his line at Crecy in 1346, and the archers of Crecy were not exactly the sort of men who take kindly to eviction, to say nothing of slavery. As no one meddled much with the villeins before 1349, all went well until after Crecy, but in 1348 the Black Death ravaged England and so many laborers died that the cost of farming property by hired hands exceeded the value of the rent which the villeins paid. Then the landlords, under, I fear, very bad legal advice, tried coercion. Their first experiment was the famous Statute of Laborers, which fixed wages at the rates which prevailed in 1347, but as this statute accomplished nothing the landlords repudiated their contracts, and undertook to force their villeins to render their ancient customary services. Though the lay landlords were often hard masters, the ecclesiastics were harder still, and the ecclesiastics were served by lawyers of their own cloth, whose sharp practice became proverbial. Thus the law declined to recognize rights in property existing in fact, with the inevitable result of the Peasant Rising in 1381, known as Wat Tyler's Rebellion. Popular rage perfectly logically ran highest against the monks and the lawyers. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Justice were killed, and the insurgents wished to kill, as Capgrave has related, “all the men that had learned only law." Finally the rebellion was suppressed, chiefly by the duplicity of