Legislative Steps toward ExecutiveControl of the Social and Economic Lifeof the States
Coup d’etat (koo detah) – a sudden decisive exercise of power whereby existinggovernment is subverted without the consent of the people.
- Webster’s New International Dictionary
The people of the United States have been too close to the political drama thathas been unfolding in the affairs of their government, and too bewildered byphrases deliberately chosen to delude them, to understand the cataclysmicsignificance of what has happened, but to the future historian the period of 1933-1940 will clearly mark the end of a political cycle for the North Americans,in the final failure of the most successful experiment ever made by man in civilsociety to govern himself without a master.The historian will trace its beginnings in the revolt of a few million colonistsagainst the oppressions of the English Crown in the late Eighteenth Century, andtheir erection of a unique system of government, having for its primary object arealization of the innate worth and dignity of the individual, by emancipating himfrom the inveterate ambition, vanity, and folly of his rulers, through substitutingfreedom for force as the underlying principle of the system. The results will berecorded as having excited the hope and envy of the world as an example in whicha small and sturdy group, favorably situated geographically in a new land, wroughtthemselves into the mightiest and most prosperous nation on earth and governedthemselves as freemen for a century and a half.Those who formed this peculiar system of government had earnestly studied thehistory of the rise and fall of civil societies in search of a formula for a permanentorder of freedom. They saw that man invariably counted for little more than thebeasts of the field under all political forms in which power was centralized in hisrulers, whether they appeared as autocracies, aristocracies, oligarchies,theocracies or democracies. And they will be credited by the historian with havingdeducted the political maxim, that the freedom of the individual is possible onlyunder a polity in which governmental power is limited and divided and kept so. Notcentralization but decentralization was the great essential principle. As ThomasJefferson wrote in a spirit of warning, in 1816: