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Abdication

king, term, abdicate and houses

ABDICATION (from the Latin ab dicatio), in general is the act of re nouncing and giving up an office by the voluntary act of the party who holds it. The term is now generally applied to the giving up of the kingly office ; and in some countries a king can abdicate, in the proper sense of that term, when ever he pleases. But the King of Eng land cannot abdicate, except with the consent of the two Houses of Parliament, in any constitutional form ; for a proper abdication would be a divesting him self of his regal powers by his own will, and such an abdication is inconsistent with the nature of his kingly office. It is, however, established by a precedent that he does abdicate, or an abdication may be presumed, if he does acts which are inconsistent with and subversive of that system of government of which he forms a part. In Blackstone's Com mentaries,' vol. i. pp. 210-212, and iv. p. 78, mention is made of the resolu tion of both Houses, in 1688, that " King James II. having endeavoured to subvert the constitution of the king dom, by breaking the original con tract between king and people ; and by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of the kingdom ; has abdicated the go vernment, and that the throne is thereby vacant." Thus it appears that the Houses of Lords and Commons assumed the doc trine of an original contract between the king and the people as the foundation of their declaration that James II. had

abdicated the throne ; and Blackstone, in arguing upon this declaration, assumes, what is contrary to the evidence of his tory, that the powers of the King of Eng land were originally delegated to him by the nation.

It appears, by the parliamentary de bates at that period, that in the con ference between the two Houses of Par liament, previous to the passing of the statute which settled the crown upon William III., it was disputed whether the word ' abdicated,' or' deserted,' should be the term used, to denote in the Jour nals the conduct of James II. in quitting the country. It was then resolved that the word abdicate' should be used, as including in it the mat-administration of his government. But in coming to this resolution the Houses gave a new mean ing to the word.

Among the Romans the term Abdicatio signified generally a rejection or giving up of a thing, and a magistrate was said to abdicate who for any reason gave up his office before the term was expired.

The term Resignation, according to English usage, has a different meaning from abdication ; though it is stated that these words are sometimes confounded. [RESIGNATION.]