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The Origin of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth, with its constitution, is a legal institution, since it was established under the authority of the acknowledged political superior. The Constitution is first and foremost a law which is declared (section v.) to “be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth.” The agreement of the colonies, which was the occasion for the law, is no more than one of the circumstances to which resort may be had in interpreting the law. The form of the establishment of the Commonwealth may be compared with the


  ― 67 ―
preamble of the Constitution of the United States. The famous “We, the people of the United States, do ordain and establish” has a threefold significance. First, it points to the national or unilateral as distinguished from the conventional nature of the Union; secondly, as the act of the people and not of their governments, it negatives the old confederate union; and thirdly, it indicates the democratic basis of the state. In the formation of the Commonwealth, the free acknowledgment of the contract behind the Constitution may be made without impairing the stability of the Union, because the Constitution is the act of an undoubted sovereign authority. The people do not affect to ordain and establish; they have agreed to unite; and in the making of that agreement the most scrupulous care was taken to make the popular participation a reality and not a fiction; secondly, as in the United States, the Commonwealth of Australia, being a union of the people of the several colonies and not of their governments, is no mere confederacy; and thirdly, the insistence of “the people” indicates the democratic origin and nature of the union, and foreshadows the character of the institutions of the Commonwealth, that it is to be a state in which Lincoln's doctrine is to hold, where there is to be government of the people by the people for the people.

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