A fundamental principle of American constitutional jurisprudence, accepted alike in the public law of the Federal Government and of the States, is that, so far as the requirements of efficient administration will permit, the exercise of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers are to be vested in separate and independent organs of government. The value of this principle or practice in protecting the governed from arbitrary and oppressive acts on the part of those in political authority, has never been questioned since the time of autocratic royal rule in England. That the doctrine should govern the new constitutional system established in 1789 was not doubted. Washington, in his farewell address, said: "The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all governments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism." Madison, in The Federalist,1 wrote: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judicial, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." John Adams2 wrote: "It is by balancing one of these three powers against the other two that the efforts in human nature toward tyranny can alone be checked and restrained and any degree of freedom, preserved;" and Hamilton asserted: "I agree that there is no liberty if the powers of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers." 3 Webster states the same doctrine when he says: " The separation of the departments [of government] so far as practicable, and the preservation of clear lines between them is the fundamental idea in the creation of all of our constitutions, and doubtless the continuance of regulated liberty depends on maintaining these boundaries." 4

1 No. 47.

2 Works, I, 186.

3 Federalist, No. 48.

Under the influence of this doctrine most of the States in their first Constitutions incorporated what have since been known as "distributing clauses." Thus Massachusetts in her Constitution, adopted in 1780, provided that " in the government of this commonwealth the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers or either of them; the executive shall never exercise legislative and judicial powers or either of them; the judicial shall never exercise legislative and executive powers or either of them; to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men." Maryland in her first instrument of government declared "that the legislative, executive and judicial powers of government ought to be forever separate and distinct from each other," and New Hampshire provided that "the legislative, executive and judiciary powers ought to be kept as separate from and independent of each other as the nature of a free government will admit, or as is consistent with the chain of connection that binds the whole fabric of the constitution in one indissoluble bond of unity and amity."

In practically all of the state constitutions which have been adopted since the revolutionary period there have been either distributing clauses similar to those given, or express provision that the legislative shall be vested in the legislature, the judicial in the courts, and the executive in the executive organs therein created. A number of constitutions, however, are careful to state that the principle of absolute separation is not to apply in those cases in which express provision otherwise is made.