March 20

International constitutional authority on Australia

The American Commonwealth, a two volume study by James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce of Dechmont was published in 1888. It was probably the first study in which the institutions of the United States were thoroughly discussed from the point of view of both an historian and a constitutional lawyer.

Almost at once it became a classic. 

Lord Bryce was a celebrated British jurist, international lawyer, constitutional expert, historian, diplomat and politician. He was a minister of the Crown  and British Ambassador to the United States. He was a friend of prime ministers and presidents


He was the author of the Bryce Report into German atrocities in Belgium published in 1915, and he later strongly condemned the Armenian Genocide in the First World War.

He served at the International Court (the Permanent Court of International Justice) at The Hague, supporting the establishment of the League of Nations, and published a major two volume study in 1921, Modern Democracies.

…Lord Bryce on  Australia…

This remains a major resource in the study of comparative constitutional law and practice. In Modern Democracies, Volume II,  he devotes seven chapters to Australia, which he praises for the standards and success of its system of self governance. 

In the course of this he writes at page 194:

“In its practical working from year to year, the Commonwealth [of Australia] is, and each State also continues to be as a State what it was as a colony, a Crowned Republic, i.e., a community monarchical in form, but republican in its sprit and operation, and indeed more democratic than many republics are.”


[Modern Democracies is published in two volumes. These can be acquired through the Book Depository, London, post free, at the following prices, Volume I, $42.12  and  Volume II, $51.48.   To order click on each volume.]  


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