The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems

The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems

The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems

The Two Constitutions: A Comparative Study of British and American Constitutional Systems

Excerpt

Englishmen take it for granted that foreigners cannot understand their constitution. So largely are its operations dependent on unwritten usage, so subtly and swiftly does it adapt itself to changing circumstances, that only those who have its principles in their blood appreciate its mechanism of checks and balances, and even their reactions to its day-to-day adjustments are inspired rather by feeling than by any conscious intention to maintain or modify its structure. Knowledge of the American constitution, constructed in one piece and amended by recorded process, is, by comparison, matter of such rational study as lies within the competence of any intelligent and sympathetic mind; so that not only have millions of immigrants become proudly aware of their status as American citizens, but two foreigners, the Frenchman de Tocqueville and the Scotsman Bryce, rank among the authoritative exponents of the constitution's spirit and working. Nevertheless, the constitution could not have kept pace with the vast expansion of the United States except by virtue of its own power of vital growth. In this sense it, too, has its mysteries, revealed only to those who follow the American way of life.

This essay has been written by an Englishman and . . .

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