The Lawyer in National Politics

THE problem of a national existence confronted the thirteen colonies in 1776. The main aspects of that problem were then becoming clear. Independence must be declared and achieved ; and a national government must be devised, organized, and established. But were there statesmen equal to such a task ? There was not a nobility or any other class with an acknowledged right and capacity to take the lead. Fortunately, as often before in human history, the course of events that had developed the emergency had also trained men to meet its demands. Leaders came forward, not from a titled nobility, but from a sovereign people. In magnanimity and in intellect these leaders had no superiors in their time; and most of them were lawyers.

In New England politics, as the influence of the minister had declined that of the lawyer had increased. In all the colonies the necessities of local government, including the administration of justice, had drawn into prominence men trained in the law and devoted to its practice. When the colonies drifted into resistance to England, the lawyers were the only class to whom they could turn for the readiness, discipline, and knowledge required to organize that resistance and to cope with the enemy in debate.

To this class belonged most of the men immediately associated with the Declaration of Independence. Of the fifty-six signers of that instrument, only one was a minister of the gospel, and he came not from New England, but from New Jersey,-John Witherspoon, the distinguished president of Princeton College. On the other hand, there were twenty-five lawyers, nearly one half of the whole number. Of the other occupations there was but a small representation. Five of the signers had been educated as physicians, nine had been connected with landed estates, and twelve had followed mercantile pursuits.

While thus greatly superior in numbers, the lawyers also did most of the work. The person in the Continental Congress first to move that the thirteen colonies be declared independent was Richard Henry Lee, a man widely read in constitutional and municipal law, although not experienced in the courts. Upon the adoption of the motion, the committee charged with drafting the Declaration were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson, though the youngest member of the committee, was its chairman ; and he also did the work of drawing the instrument. When it had been approved by the committee and was reported to Congress, the task of supporting it in debate was performed mainly by John Adams. These men were lawyers, all but Franklin,

The predominance of the legal profession in the work of constructive politics is illustrated more forcibly in the Convention of 1787, which framed the Constitution of the United States. The plans of government presented for consideration were a scheme for amending the Articles of Confederation by Edmund Randolph, and three drafts of a federal government by Charles Pinckney, William Paterson, and Alexander Hamilton, respectively. The committee of detail, to whom the resolutions of the convention were referred for the purpose of reporting a constitution, were James Wilson, John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, Oliver Ellsworth, and Nathaniel Gorham ; and when the instrument had been reported and thoroughly considered, the committee to whom it was finally referred, in order to revise the style and arrange the articles, were William Samuel Johnson, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, James Madison, and Rufus King. The only person not a lawyer engaged in these important services was Nathaniel Gorham. In fact, the Constitutional Convention was practically an assembly of lawyers. They numbered thirty-four out of the fifty-five members ; and apart from Washington, the presiding officer, the only one not a lawyer among the eight or nine men that took the most prominent parts was Benjamin Franklin.

The legal profession was worthy of this momentous trust. It had become the class that ranked highest in lineage, dignity, and culture. Among the best families in the colonies were those of Adams, Paine, and Ellery in New England, Livingston and Morris in New York, and Carroll, Lee, Randolph, and Rutledge in the South. As for education, so rapid had been the improvement in the profession that the leaders at the bar were at this time little, if at all, inferior to the ministers in breadth of culture. Indeed, few political bodies have assembled in America through which the best education of the time has been more evenly distributed than among the signers of the Declaration and the members of the Constitutional Convention. Of the twenty-five lawyers that signed the Declaration, no less than twenty had received a classical or academic education. Eight had attended American colleges, two had been at foreign universities, and ten had been educated under private instruction or in secondary schools of a high grade. So, of the thirty-four lawyers in the Convention of 1787, at least twentyeight had received a classical training. Twenty were graduates of American colleges, and two had attended foreign universities.

Not only by liberal culture, but also by professional training, were these men eminently fitted for their work. While the delegates from the North may have had greater experience at the bar, those from the South had obtained better advantages for legal study. Several, mostly from the South, by a residence abroad at the Inns of Court, had enjoyed opportunities not only for the systematic study of law, but also for a thoughtful observation of foreign politics. Such was the case with John Dickinson and Jared Ingersoll of Pennsylvania, Charles Carroll of Maryland, John Blair of Virginia, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Edward and John Rutledge of South Carolina.

The nature of their work required the legal mind. Problems such as these, involving abstract principles as well as legal and political precedents, could be grasped and solved only by men trained in the English common law and endowed with an aptitude for the kindred study of politics. In the men of the class and period under consideration, legal attainments and experience in local government and in the exigencies of national affairs had combined to reveal the political situation and to satisfy its demands. In some, also, notably Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison, and James Wilson, preparation for professional work had been followed by extended research and profound study in the science of government.

Indeed, the composition of the Constitutional Convention might well be regarded as a result of the operation of the law of natural selection in influencing political development. “ That so small a body,” says George Ticknor Curtis, ” should have contained so large a number of statesmen of preëminent ability is a striking proof of the nature of the crisis which called it into existence. The age that witnessed the Revolution and the wants and failures that succeeded it prepared them to know and supply the need.” The Convention, says Mr. Bryce in The American Commonwealth, " included nearly all the best intellect and the ripest political experience that the United States then contained. . . . These men, great by their talents and the memory of their services, could not have been brought together for any smaller occasion, nor would any lower authority than theirs have sufficed to procure the acceptance of a plan which had so much prejudice arrayed against it.”

At first it seemed doubtful whether the States would ratify the Constitution ; and what the lawyers had wrought in secret through “bargain and compromise,” they now sustained in public by writing and in debate. The speeches of Hamilton and Jay in New York, of Madison in Virginia, and of Wilson in Pennsylvania, together with the writings of the first three in The Federalist, were most effective in securing the popular assent.

This earlier or creative era in national politics did not terminate with the ratification of the Constitution. Most of the lawyers concerned in that event who afterward participated in national affairs were engaged simply in their administration. But Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall exercised a further and important constructive influence. They vitalized and established the Constitution. Yet, though their purpose was a common one, the modes by which they effected it were diverse. That of Hamilton was indirect, in his capacity as administrator ; that of Marshall was direct, in his function as judge.

Selected by President Washington as the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton became the controlling mind in the administration. In the exercise of his influence he originated, inaugurated, and executed a policy of finance which gave the general government that dignity, power, and stability which were authorized and required, he believed, by the broad intent of the framers as embodied in the Constitution and approved by the people. In this work he was finally sustained by Marshall. The latter had not taken part in forming the Constitution, but he had aided Madison in securing its acceptance by Virginia. While performing that service as well as in the subsequent division of national parties, he took the Federalist or liberal view of the powers of the general government. With such experience and convictions, he was soon called upon to examine and interpret those powers from an elevation in some respects the most exalted in the national government. In 1801 he was appointed by President John Adams to the office of Chief Justice of the United States. “ When Chief Justice Marshall,” says Joseph Story, his friend and associate, “first took his seat on the bench, scarcely more than two or three questions of constitutional law had ever engaged the attention of the Supreme Court. . . . Texts that scarcely cover the breadth of a finger have been since interpreted, explained, limited, and adjusted by judicial commentaries which are now expanded into volumes.” Of course, Marshall was but one of seven judges; but his mind towered above and controlled the minds of his associates. Fifty-one decisions upon constitutional law were pronounced by the Supreme Court while he was its Chief Justice ; and only once was he in the minority.

Such was the service of John Marshall, — the second maker of the Constitution, as he has been called by an eminent American jurist. In America, no other lawyer or statesman has ever wielded so great a constructive power. For to him, fortunate in an early acquaintance and a deep sympathy with the fathers of the Constitution, came the task finally to determine that their will should be indeed the fundamental law, — their will, moreover, in all its fulness, not only so far as it was expressly declared, but also so far as it was necessarily implied. Through this unconscious coöperation of Hamilton and Marshall, the national government necessitated by the Declaration of Independence and outlined in the Constitutional Convention was at last established. With the death of the great Chief Justice in 1835 the formative period of national politics came to an end.

But the work of the lawyer in national politics, though already so important, was, it would seem, hardly more than begun. As it has been stated, President Washington, in forming his cabinet, appointed Alexander Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury. At the same time he made Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State. Later, upon the retirement of Jefferson because of a difference with Hamilton on matters of policy, Jefferson’s position was filled successively by Edmund Randolph and Timothy Pickering. All these appointees were lawyers. Indeed, of the nine men called by Washington into his cabinet during the eight years of his administrations, six were of this profession. It is evident that they exercised a predominant influence over his councils in the government. They also controlled the cabinet of President John Adams ; of his eight chief counselors, five were lawyers. Nor did the coming of the Anti-Federalists, or Republicans, into power change the case; for the legal profession was represented by six out of the ten men in the cabinets of Jefferson, and by eight out of the fourteen in those of Madison. This tendency soon becoming a rule, under President Monroe with but one exception, and under President John Quincy Adams with no exception, the chief advisers had studied for the bar. This rule applied not only to the cabinet, but to the presidency itself. After Washington, none other than lawyers filled the President’s chair till the election of William Henry Harrison in 1841.

This occupation of the presidential office by men trained to the law, initiated in the earlier part of the century, has been maintained to the present time. The characteristic that has most frequently distinguished the Presidents of the United States is not preëminence in statesmanship. The earliest incumbents of the office were indeed leading statesmen of their time ; but this distinction could not be applied to the majority of the men that have subsequently filled it. Neither has breadth of culture been the rule. Of the twenty-three Presidents, about one half have been college graduates. But a knowledge of law has been the common possession of all but five, — George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant, Likewise, of the twenty-two Vice-Presidents of the United States, about one half have been graduates of colleges, while all but four have been members of the bar.

The same class of men have as a rule retained possession of the cabinet. As the more important duties of the Secretary of State concern the conduct of foreign relations, the office requires an experience in diplomacy rather than a knowledge of law. Accordingly, the selection of Jefferson as the first Secretary of State was the more fitting because of his long residence at the court of France. So the subsequent choice, for the same office, of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams had the sanction of long and distinguished service abroad. But on the whole such cases have been exceptional. Since the one last named there have been twenty-two Secretaries of State, and of these less than one third have brought to the office experience in diplomacy. In another respect, however, there has been a singular uniformity : all but one — Edward Everett — have been trained for the bar.

The Secretary of the Treasury has charge of the national finances. He digests and prepares plans for the management of the public revenue and expenditures, and the reduction of the national debt. On his wisdom and efficiency may depend the prosperity of business, and hence the welfare of the people. Surely, here is the place for tried skill in finance. It was this qualification which distinguished Robert Morris, at first a successful banker in Philadelphia, and then the financier of the Revolution. But since the adoption of the Constitution, of the thirty-six persons that have been Secretaries of the Treasury, very few, prior to their appointment, had attained prominence in finance. At the same time, all but four had studied for the bar.

The post-office is the great business enterprise conducted by the government of the United States. As such it requires at its head a man not only experienced in the details of business, but also conspicuous for capacity of management and breadth of view. Such an one was Benjamin Franklin when put in charge of the colonial post-office. To what extent the thirty-five persons who have been Postmasters-General of the United States have met these requirements the record does not reveal : all but eight have had a legal training.

Among the chiefs of the departments of war and the navy, one might expect to find men of distinction in military and naval circles. In the department of war, this expectation has been realized to a considerable extent. The first Secretary of War was Henry Knox, a distinguished Revolutionary officer. Since the time of Knox, the office has been administered by eight army officers, including Generals Scott, Grant, Schofield, and Sherman. It has been held also by twenty-seven lawyers, nearly two thirds of all the incumbents. Among the thirty-three Secretaries of the Navy, only one ever saw service on the sea, while all but eight were educated to the bar.

Why a knowledge of law should thus generally have been the possession of the chief executive officers is not at first apparent. The consideration of questions of a legal character has been assigned by the Constitution to the Attorney-General of the United States, also a member of the cabinet, whose services are available alike to all his associates. Nor is it clear prima facie why the members of the cabinet should not as a rule have had before their selection that knowledge and experience usually recognized as most useful in the proper performance of their respective duties. Perhaps the two questions will yield to a common solution.

Under the laws of trade, the management. of an important business enterprise usually falls to the person specially qualified for its duties and attracted by its inducements. Is a cabinet position filled on principles peculiar to itself? The answer is involved in the nature and the duties of a cabinet office and in the conditions of national politics. The attractiveness of a cabinet position is lessened by the limitations to which it is subjected. The tenure of a cabinet officer is precarious. As he is summoned. so he may be dismissed, at the will of the President. At most his term of office soon ends; for with a new President usually comes a new cabinet.

There is a lack of independence also. As regards the President, a Secretary’s dependence is largely nominal, and his discretion has much latitude ; but with Congress — perhaps a hostile body — he must share both his responsibility and his power. The Secretary of State may at times have less power than the Committee on Foreign Relations. The Secretary of the Treasury may devise and recommend a scheme of finance. Whether he will have an opportunity to execute such a plan may depend on the Committee on Ways and Means. A man of large purpose and vigorous execution might well hesitate to accept such dwarfing conditions. At the same time he might prefer a career in Congress to one in the cabinet, as less restricted and more important. It is not incredible that a statesman would choose to be Speaker of the House of Representatives rather than to be Secretary of the Treasury. As the former, he might distribute his enormous patronage so as to control great measures of finance ; as the latter, he might apply his efforts simply to their execution.

In fact, the duties of a cabinet officer, at first largely constructive, have become almost exclusively executive. A measure of finance being imperative, in Hamilton’s time Congress openly consulted the Secretary of the Treasury ; since then, more often the Secretary of the Treasury has privately solicited Congress. If it rests with the national legislature both to plan and to order the construction of ships of war, it does not require an admiral of the navy to execute the decree.

Of course, in time of war or of other great emergency, the executive branch of the government may, either of its own motion or by concession from Congress, exercise extraordinary powers calling for the highest abilities. “ Abraham Lincoln,” says Mr. Bryce, “wielded more authority than any single Englishman has done since Oliver Cromwell.” But under normal conditions the position and functions of a chief executive officer have not been as a rule such as to enlist or require statesmen of a large mould.

It must be remembered, however, that there is a function, other than executive, exercised by a cabinet officer which has great influence in determining his selection. He has a limited power of appointment. The enormous patronage at the disposal of the executive department is distributed by the President with the advice and assistance of his cabinet. This distribution is made chiefly among party associates and so as to reconcile and strengthen partyinterests ; hence that advice and assistance is more intelligent and trustworthy if prompted by experience and influence in party councils.

In short, under the conditions of politics the qualities that characterize the chief executive officers are usually those that are found also in party leaders. Through the efforts of these leaders the President is nominated and elected ; with their support he is to direct his administration; from their number, therefore, for the most part, he selects his cabinet. As a result, his chief advisers are usually his political associates, disciplined in party leadership and in public affairs. They have also, on an average, been well educated. Of the thirty Secretaries of State, at least nineteen have been college graduates. Although the majority of cabinet officers have not been, prior to their appointment, distinguished in diplomacy, finance, business, the army, or the navy, as the case may be, the most of them have spent years in the public service, and some of them have gained distinction in the performance of their executive duties. Alexander Hamilton had not been president of a bank, but he had been a framer and supporter of the Constitution. William H. Seward had not been sent upon a European mission, but he had served twelve years in the Senate of the United States. The record of these men as executive officers would honor the history of any nation. Many cabinet officers, before becoming such, had completed a long course of political service, beginning with the state legislature, and running up through the governorship, the House of Representatives, and finally terminating in the United States Senate. Indeed, so often has this been the case that the predominance of lawyers in the cabinet would seem but an index of their ascendency also in the wider fields of politics, whence mainly the cabinets are drawn.

In regard to Congress, the records, though incomplete, confirm this inference. The First Congress assembled March 4, 1789. As was to he expected, it contained, especially in the upper house, several of the men previously prominent in the Constitutional Convention. In the Senate, the men who had been educated to the bar numbered seventeen out of the twenty-nine members. In the House, their proportion was less, but in Congress as a whole, so nearly as can be determined, they constituted almost one half of the members.

Forty years later the lawyers had evidently acquired a marked increase of influence over national legislation; for the record of the Twentieth Congress indicates that they were in a considerable majority. In the House, about four fifths of the members reported had studied law. Six members had been physicians, six farmers, and ten merchants or business men. In the Senate, one had been a farmer, two had practiced medicine, four had been merchants, and no less than forty had studied for the bar. Thus the proportion of the class last named had risen from about one half in the First Congress to at least two thirds in the Twentieth. To their number belonged, in the latter, such leading spirits as Levi Woodbury, Thomas H. Benton, Robert Y. Hayne, and Daniel Webster. Congress was passing into the control of the legal profession.

The preponderance then attained was substantially unchanged at the middle of the century ; for the Thirtieth Congress, 1847-9, counted in the same profession about three fourths of its Senators and two thirds of all its members. But since the civil war there appears to have been a slight decrease in this proportion, accompanied by a corresponding increase of representation from other professions and from business occupations. In the Fortieth Congress, 1867-9, nearly two thirds of the members had studied or practiced law. Business pursuits had been followed by about one fifth of the Senators and by nearly one sixth of the Representatives. In the House, thirteen members had been farmers, but no other occupation yet unnamed counted more than ten members.

An analysis of the Fiftieth Congress, 1887—9, reveals but little change in composition. More than four fifths of the Senators had studied law. In the House, about one eighth of the members had been engaged in commerce and one fourteenth in agriculture ; but more than two thirds of the whole number had been trained to the bur. Thus the ascendency which this class of men exercised in the Constitutional Convention they early reasserted, and have since maintained to nearly an equal degree in the national legislature. During the first century of our national existence Congress has been controlled by the legal profession.

The selection of delegates to the national legislature mainly from one class of men has doubtless been due in a large measure to the nature of legislation. Upon the adoption of the Constitution and the organization of the new government, it became necessary to devise and facilitate a national policy touching the maintenance of the public credit, the encouragement of domestic industry and of foreign commerce, the development of natural resources, and the preservation of the public peace and honor. This duty was imposed on Congress, but to what extent and by what means could appear only from the terms of the Constitution or fundamental law. These terms, however, were open to two widely diverging lines of interpretation, and their actual intent was as yet undetermined by a competent authority. Whether the one line or the other should be followed was a question that arose at the outset, because on its decision depended the validity, of national legislation. It arose repeatedly during the first seventy years of our national existence, and it was a question for the legal mind.

The two lines of interpretation just mentioned led also to conclusions diametrically opposite concerning the very basis of our political system, the relation of the States to the general government. The one course terminated in strength, nationality, and union ; the other in weakness, sectionalism, and secession. The government of the United States was in form either a constitution established by the sovereign people, and alterable only by inherent methods, or a compact entered into by sovereign States, and rescindable at the pleasure of the parties. This question was finally settled by the civil war, but it was first defined and championed in debate. On the arena of Congress the opposing parties met many times in fierce dispute ; at length, exhausted, they stood apart, the silent witnesses of one of the most striking incidents in our history, the single contest between their respective leaders, Daniel Webster and Robert Y. Hayne. These men were lawyers. None others could have played their part.

It should be remembered also that the work of legislation consists largely in the drafting of measures and in the comprehension and elucidation of their bearings. What Congress enacts becomes a law ; hence, first of all, there is need of exhaustive consideration and verbal precision. Is it surprising, then, that the men delegated to make the statutes should be, as a rule, those that are versed in legal knowledge and adept in exact statement ?

At any rate, this class of men have constantly received the suffrages of the people. They have been the popular leaders in national politics, and their leadership has resulted not only from the need of their professional services, but also from the superiority of their intellectual culture and abilities. The high degree of education in the framers of 1787 has already been set forth. The average has been somewhat lower in members of Congress. It appears from the record of the Twentieth Congress, 1827-9, that of the forty Senators in that body that had studied law, at least twenty-four, or nearly one half, had also a collegiate or liberal education, eight an academic or secondary, and three a common school or primary education. In the House, of the one hundred and two Representatives that had studied law, seventy, or nearly two thirds, had also a collegiate or liberal education, eighteen an academic or secondary, and eleven a common school or primary education.

After the lapse of forty years there was but little change. In the Fortieth Congress, 1867-9, forty-nine Senators had been trained for the bar. Of these, twenty-eight, or nearly one half, had also attended colleges or other liberal schools, and fourteen academic or secondary schools; three had attended common schools. In the House, one hundred and fifty-four Representatives had studied law. Of these, about one half had also a first-class education, about one fourth a secondary, and nearly one fourth a primary education. This analysis, though incomplete from the inadequacy of biographical data, points to a good average of non-professional education among lawyers in Congress, which, though not so high as it was in the Constitutional Convention, has nevertheless remained almost stationary, in spite of the rapid westward extension of our political system.

It is not, however, the degree of culture so much as the mental traits resulting especially from a study of law that has conciliated popular favor. “ There is not within the compass of human attainment,” says Joseph Story, “ any science which has so direct a tendency as this to strengthen the understanding, to enlarge its powers, to sharpen its sagacity, and to form habits of nice and accurate discrimination,” Moreover, a facility in public speech and a knowledge of practical affairs are gained from the practice of law more than from any other single pursuit. Then, too, the quality of legal training has been improving constantly since the youth John Marshall, in 1780, at the College of William and Mary, attended lectures on law by the celebrated Chancellor Wythe. James Wilson at the college in Philadelphia, Chancellor Kent at Columbia College, Joseph Story at the Harvard Law School, and many other distinguished jurists have contributed to give the legal profession a relatively higher eminence and influence in this country than in any other. In short, in the absence of a titled or other class, with an inherited or acknowledged right to govern, the people have naturally entrusted their legislative and administrative powers principally to that class of men who by their culture and abilities seemed best fitted for the trust.

At the same time, this class more than any other have acquired a taste for public affairs, and have had the leisure to indulge it. The science of law largely involves that of civil government, and the practice of law is but an agency in its execution. All the more, then, are the people willing that the two functions should be associated in the same person. In fact, public opinion, as well as circumstances, which combine to oppose the pursuit of politics in connection with most other callings, have made an exception in the case of law. A seat in Congress has not prevented practice in the courts; nay, often it has but increased or elevated its scope.

Has so partial a bestowal of confidence in political affairs resulted in an unqualified benefit to the public ? It appears, on examination, that very often the entrance of a lawyer into politics has proved but the beginning of a long public career, and the practice of the law has been abandoned for the course of political preferment. Whether such course has been followed more often in the pursuit of selfish ambition than in the acceptance of merited promotion it would be difficult to determine. But it is well to contemplate the possibility that social position and special training, if unreservedly trusted, may be employed more for the retention of office than for the good of the public. Indeed, many people believe that this possibility has been realized, and that our system of polities has been rather prolific of so-called politicians than productive of statesmen. It is true, as Mr. Bryce has recently pointed out, that “ politics, considered not as the science of government, but as the art of winning elections and securing office,” has reached in the United States a development surpassing in elaborateness that of any other country. With this development also has coincided the political ascendency of the legal profession. And yet a legal training has been the possession of our statesmen as well as of the politicians. Joseph Story said, in speaking upon the Characteristics of Our Age: “ It was the hitter scoff of other times, approaching to the sententiousness of a proverb, that to be a good lawyer was to be an indifferent statesman. The profession has outlived the truth of the sarcasm. At the present moment England may count lawyers among her most gifted statesmen; and in America . . . our most eminent statesmen have been — nay, still are — the brightest ornaments of our bar.” These words were not more true when spoken in 1826 than they have been of the period that has followed.

On the whole, it is probable that the " art of winning elections " would have developed less rapidly had there been less of class rale in national politics. One of the principles at the basis of our scheme of polities is “the distrust of the various Organs and agents of government.” If this principle be applied to the matter in hand — the political ascendancy of lawyers — it leads to the conclusion reached by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. He thus sums up his criticisms upon the preponderance of men connected with the law in the composition of the Tiers Etat in the National Assembly: “They are good and useful in the composition ; they must be mischievous if they preponderate so as virtually to become the whole.”

There are signs that this virtual monopoly in national politics is gradually disappearing. The unprecedented development of science and industry during the past fifty years has caused the growth of special departments of law, offering extraordinary rewards for their practice, and thus lessening the attractiveness of politics. Often the adoption of a legal specialty opens the way, not to the Senate of the United States, but to the management of a vast corporation and to the possession of great wealth. Sometimes these objects are reconciled, and the Senate, as before, becomes the ultimate goal. In fact, Wealth has long since asserted herself by the side of legal knowledge as the nurse of statesmen, and the millionaire sits with the lawyer in the halls of Congress.

This material development which is distracting the lawyer from politics is also lessening somewhat his relative influence in legislation. Congress has, for example, less occasion to discuss questions of constitutionality in proportion as the lines of constitutional law become definite. On the other hand, its attention is drawn more and more to the material and social conditions that result in these days from the magnitude and complexity ot business and society. Such conditions demand consideration from every point of view ; and however valuable in legislation the service of the legal profession may be, it should not exclude the coöperation of all classes. Such coöperation must accompany the reform of the civil service. Public sentiment demands that the principles governing the conduct of public office be assimilated to those operating in the transaction of business. The principle that fitness determined by accepted standards shall govern the selection for public office, now slowly penetrating the lower grades, must before long affect the highest branches of the government. It militates with the monopolization of the offices by any class or profession.

Nevertheless the lawyer must retain an important influence in national affairs ; and that influence, when properly exerted, is a great conservative force. As De Tocqueville has well pointed out, a large part of political questions in the United States are passed upon sooner or later by the legal profession ; and the habit of consulting precedent begets “the stationary spirit of legal men and their prejudices in favor of existing institutions.” It fell mainly to them to constitute and establish the government of the United States. Guided by that spirit, they have adjusted the political experience of the Anglo-Saxon race to the modified conditions of a new world, and the excellence of their work will ever deserve a grateful recognition.

Frank Gaylord Cook.