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TO THE READER.
The following lectures were read before the Lowell Institute, commencing November 30th, 1852, ending January 7th, 1853. The contract for their preparation was made, in behalf of the Institute, by Benjamin E. Cotting, during a temporary absence of Mr. Lowell. The subject and its mode of discussion, were adopted by myself, with an implied understanding that mere party politics should be avoided, except so far as an exposition of the system might induce to their consideration. In
every discussion of the system of government which exists in the United States, it should be borne in mind that it is, including the national and state sovereignties, limited and regulated by written constitutions. The people may amend these instruments without resort to a supposed right of revolution. They, by themselves or authorized agents, appoint the persons by which the trusts of government are executed; the persons so selected, with few ex
ceptions, hold office for certain prescribed terms of time; during their continuance in office, they cannot rightfully transcend the written constitutions under and by which, in general terms, their duties are prescribed, however fascinating or desirable a departure therefrom may, at any time, be regarded.
The security of the American citizens, and of their free institutions, is dependent upon a constant, firm, and unwavering adherence to this fact; whenever and so far as it is disregarded, danger more or less extensive must be the result.
These lectures were read before a popular audience, and have been printed by the Institute upon its own suggestion. The writer has endeavored to avoid dry legal disquisitions, so far as the subject would permit; and has deferred to the opinions of others, so far and so far only, as they commended themselves by their reasons to his judgment. Political economy is only another term for jurisprudence. Jurisprudence is the science by which the duties of man, in a state of civil society, are ascertained and enforced.
C. B. GOODRICH.