Sunday, July 23, 2017
OF THE STATE OR CONDITION OF A PERSON.
138. The word state or condition of persons, has various acceptations. When we speak of a person, we consider only the part a man plays in society, without taking into view the individual. State and person are then correlative terms. If we inquire into its origin, the word state will be found to come from the Latin status, which is derived from the verb stare, sto, whence has been made statio, which signifies the place where a person is located, stat, to fullfil the obligations which are imposed upon him. (b) State, then, is that quality which belongs to a person in society, and which secures to, and imposes upon him, different rights and duties, in consequence of the differences of that quality.
139. Although all men come from the hands of nature upon an equality, yet there are among them marked natural differences. The distinctions of sex, parentage, age, youth, etc., all come from nature. To these natural qualities, the civil or municipal laws have added distinctions which are purely civil and arbitrary, founded on the manners of the people, or the will of the legislature. Such are the differences which these laws have established between citizens and aliens, between magistrates and private citizens or subjects ; and between freemen and slaves.
140. Although these latter distinctions are more particularly subject to the civil and municipal law, because to it they owe their origin, it nevertheless extends its authority over the natural qualities, not to destroy or weaken them, but to confirm them, and to render them more inviolable by positive rules and by certain maxims.
141. This union of the civil or municipal law with the law of nature, form among men a third species of differences which may be called mixed, because they participate of both, and derive their principle from nature and the perfection of the law; for example, infancy, or the privileges which belong to it, have their foundation in the law of nature; but the age, and the term of these prerogatives, are determined by the civil or municipal law.
142. From these premises, it is easy to 'perceive that three sorts of different qualities, which form the state or condition of men, may be distinguished: those , which are purely natural, those which are purely civil, and those which are composed of natural and civil or municipal law.
143. If we analyze what are the qualities which compose the state of a person, we will find they have a necessary or essential connection with public or political, or private right, and that they are either qualities of state or distinctions of state, because they render the party either able or unable to participate to the public state or the private state.
144.—1. Let us commence, for example, with public or political right. It is a question as to his state, which settles, whether a man is a freeman or a slave, a citizen or an alien ; because if he is free and a citizen, he is qualified to render service to his country in all public stations or offices; if, on the contrary, he is a slave or an alien, he is excluded by both of these