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It is proposed to examine in the following chapter, what is the form of government established in America on the principle of the sovereignty of the people; what are its resources, its hindrances, its advantages, and its dangers. The first difficulty which presents itself arises from the complex nature of the constitution of the United States, which consists of two distinct social structures, connected, and, as it were, encased, one within the other; two governments, completely separate, and almost independent, the one fulfilling the ordinary duties, and responding to the daily and indefinite calls of a community, the other circumscribed within certain limits, and only exercising an exceptional authority over the general interests of the country.

In short, there are twenty-four small sovereign nations, whose agglomeration constitutes the body of the Union. To examine the Union before we have studied the states, would be to adopt a method filled with obstacles. The Federal government of the United States was the last which was adopted; and it is in fact nothing more than a modification or a summary of these republican principles which were current in the whole community before it existed, and independently of its existence. Moreover, the federal government is, as I have just observed, the exception; the government of the states is the rule. The author who should attempt to exhibit the picture as a whole, before he had explained its details, would necessarily fall into obscurity and repetition.

The great political principles which govern American society at this day, undoubtedly took their origin and their growth in the state. It is therefore necessary to become acquainted with the state in order to possess a clew to the remainder. The states which at present compose the American Union, all present the same features as far as regards the external aspect of their institutions. Their political or administrative existence is centred in three foci of action, which may not inaptly be compared to the different nervous centres which convey motion to the human body. The township is in the lowest order, then the county, and lastly the state; and I propose to devote the following chapter to the examination of these three divisions.