The Winning of the Initiative by the House of Commons

The Winning of the Initiative by the House of Commons

The Winning of the Initiative by the House of Commons

The Winning of the Initiative by the House of Commons

Excerpt

Read October 2, 1924

How far peoples have a right of property in their own history is a question that has not yet come into court. Perhaps it can hardly be maintained that English history belongs to Englishmen. In its constitutional aspects it is so much the story of how human beings have learned to govern themselves that the world has claimed and will continue to claim it. The history of Parliament, upon which I am going to touch, is an English heritage, with a remainder to Americans. Legislative practice to-day in Nebraska and Minnesota can be traced back to early seventeenth-century or late Tudor usages at Westminster. If then Americans sometimes venture upon the interpretation of English institutions, you must be lenient. If you are chary of granting us any legal rights upon your history, you will no, I hope, refuse us some courtesy title in it.

When Sir Walter Raleigh looked westward he could hardly have foreseen that the House of Commons, of which he was an active member, would be transported to the new world. It is quite conceivable that he would not have wished such transportation. His adventurous spirit found its outlet in exploration and discovery rather than in assisting at the slow accumulation of parliamentary rights and privileges. Yet he was interested in the House of Commons, and he believed in its importance to the State.

And it is about the House of Commons that I propose to talk to you this afternoon, more particularly about the Commons during the time of Sir Walter and the years immediately following, those of . . .

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