Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

general judgment and thus harm present-day America than any other single influence. His seeming acuteness and his lucid style commanded attention to a political system even then in the agonies of self-preservation and to a society in the throes of struggle with the slavery system. These he outlined as utopian, at least in embryo, speciously forewarning and analyzing dangers, to be sure, but thereby really stimulating the imagination.

The latest censor of American affairs, Ostrogorski, a Slav with French training, compares present conditions with those described by De Tocqueville, and exhibits to the world a frightful degeneracy in our men and institutions. This is particularly true, he finds, of Congress--Senate and House, which are represented as stews of political vice because of the party system when contrasted with the stately sanctity of both the chambers, especially of the Senate, as represented to have prevailed in 1835. What serves thus as a standard of comparison is false and never existed. The more searchingly we have examined American statesmen in the mirror of history the clearer is our conviction that they are, after all, only "dead politicians." Our heroes were selfish, sinful, erring men; but they were virile men, and they went about the country's work in a manful way in spite of their failings--not, however, in any higher degree than, not even in as high a degree as, men at the present hour are attending to the country's affairs. The effect of party evolution on the Senate is especially deplored. Let us see.

The Senate is the most distinctively American of all our institutions, utterly unlike any other instrument of government. Being a permanent chamber, and deriving its powers from the States, it is the

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