304 EURAMERICA Blackstone insisted that this sovereign power in Britain resided in the combined legislature of crown, House of Lords and House of Commons, due to the fact that the people had, for centuries, implicitly and sometimes explicitly accepted it as the most important part of their ancient constitution. To achieve stability and to protect civil liberties, and to avoid either tyranny or mob rule, this legislature had to be absolute, even arbitrary, and superior to any other force or institution in the kingdom. It had to possess the authority to regard overt resistance to its powers as illegal and unconstitutional, and it needed to exercise judicial sanctions to punish breaches of its laws and, if required, to deploy sufficient power to suppress open rebellion (Blackstone, 1765-1769: I, 4953). Within months of the appearance of Blackstone’s first volume, Lord Lyttelton was declaring in the House of Lords: There cannot be two rights existing in government at the Same time, which would destroy each other; a right in government to make laws a right in the people, or any part to oppose or disobey such laws. . . . in all states one government must rest somewhere, and that must be fixed. Or otherwise, there is an end of all government. (Cobbett, 1806-1820: XVI, 166) By the time Blackstone published the first volume of his Commentaries a clear majority of the political elite in Britain had accepted that the Westminster legislature could pass, amend or repeal any law, even those like Magna Carta that had previously been thought to be fundamental laws of the constitution. No parliament could circumscribe what laws a subsequent parliament might pass. Many men in America regarded this claim as making parliament as absolute and arbitrary as any monarchical tyrant (Dickinson, 1976: 189-210; Goldsworthy, 1999: 192-204; Reid, 1986-1993: III, 63-78). The American colonists, initially, did not challenge the notion that there needed to be a sovereign power in any well-regulated state. Most would have agreed with Alexander Hamilton’s