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Title: Civil Government in the United States Considered with - Some Reference to Its Origins
Author: Fiske, John, 1842-1901
Language: English
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  [Greek: Aissomai pai Zaevos Heleutheroiu,
  Imeran eurnsthene amphipolei, Soteira Tucha
  tiv gar en ponto kubernontai thoai
  naes, en cherso te laipsaeroi polemoi
  kagorai boulaphoroi.]

  PINDAR, _Olymp_. xii.

  Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
  Sail on, O Union, strong and great!...
  Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
  Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
  Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
  Are all with thee,--are all with thee!





This little book is dedicated, with the author's best wishes and
sincere regard, to the many hundreds of young friends whom he has
found it so pleasant to meet in years past, and also to those whom he
looks forward to meeting in years to come, in studies and readings
upon the rich and fruitful history of our beloved country.


Some time ago, my friends, Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., requested
me to write a small book on Civil Government in the United States,
which might be useful as a text-book, and at the same time serviceable
and suggestive to the general reader interested in American history.
In preparing the book certain points have been kept especially in
view, and deserve some mention here.

It seemed desirable to adopt a historical method of exposition, not
simply describing our political institutions in their present shape,
but pointing out their origin, indicating some of the processes
through which they have acquired that present shape, and thus keeping
before the student's mind the fact that government is perpetually
undergoing modifications in adapting itself to new conditions.
Inasmuch as such gradual changes in government do not make themselves,
but are made by men--and made either for better or for worse--it is
obvious that the history of political institutions has serious lessons
to teach us. The student should as soon as possible come to understand
that every institution is the outgrowth of experiences. One probably
gets but little benefit from abstract definitions and axioms
concerning the rights of men and the nature of civil society, such as
we often find at the beginning of books on government. Metaphysical
generalizations are well enough in their place, but to start with such
things--as the French philosophers of the eighteenth century were fond
of doing--is to get the cart before the horse. It is better to have
our story first, and thus find out what government in its concrete
reality has been, and is. Then we may finish up with the metaphysics,
or do as I have done--leave it for somebody else.

I was advised to avoid the extremely systematic, intrusively
symmetrical, style of exposition, which is sometimes deemed
indispensable in a book of this sort. It was thought that students
would be more likely to become interested in the subject if it were
treated in the same informal manner into which one naturally falls in
giving lectures to young people. I have endeavoured to bear this in
mind without sacrificing that lucidity in the arrangement of topics
which is always the supreme consideration. For many years I have been
in the habit of lecturing on history to college students in different
parts of the United States, to young ladies in private schools, and
occasionally to the pupils in high and normal schools, and in writing
this little book I have imagined an audience of these earnest and
intelligent young friends gathered before me.

I was especially advised--by my friend, Mr. James MacAlister,
superintendent of schools in Philadelphia, for whose judgment I have
the highest respect--to make it a _little_ book, less than three
hundred pages in length, if possible. Teachers and pupils do not have
time enough to deal properly with large treatises. Brevity, therefore,
is golden. A concise manual is the desideratum, touching lightly upon
the various points, bringing out their relationships distinctly, and
referring to more elaborate treatises, monographs, and documents, for
the use of those who wish to pursue the study at greater length.

Within limits thus restricted, it will probably seem strange to
some that so much space is given to the treatment of local
institutions,--comprising the governments of town, county, and city.
It may be observed, by the way, that some persons apparently conceive
of the state also as a "local institution." In a recent review of
Professor Howard's admirable "Local Constitutional History of the
United States," we read, the first volume, which is all that is yet
published, treats of the development of the township, hundred, and
shire; the second volume, we suppose, being designed to treat of
the State Constitutions. The reviewer forgets that there is such a
subject as the "development of the city and local magistracies" (which
is to be the subject of that second volume), and lets us see that in
his apprehension the American state is an institution of the same
order as the town and county. We can thus readily assent when we
are told that many youth have grown to manhood with so little
appreciation of the political importance of the state as to believe
it nothing more than a geographical division.[1] In its historic
genesis, the American state is not an institution of the same order
as the town and county, nor has it as yet become depressed or
"mediatized" to that degree. The state, while it does not possess such
attributes of sovereignty as were by our Federal Constitution granted
to the United States, does, nevertheless, possess many very important
and essential characteristics of a sovereign body, as is here
pointed out on pages 172-177. The study of our state governments is
inextricably wrapped up with the study of our national government,
in such wise that both are parts of one subject, which cannot be
understood unless both parts are studied. Whether in the course of our
country's future development we shall ever arrive at a stage in which
this is not the case, must be left for future events to determine.
But, if we ever do arrive at such a stage, "American institutions"
will present a very different aspect from those with which we are now
familiar, and which we have always been accustomed (even, perhaps,
without always understanding them) to admire.

[Footnote 1: Young's _Government Class Book_, p. iv.]

The study of local government properly includes town, county, and
city. To this part of the subject I have devoted about half of my
limited space, quite unheedful of the warning which I find in the
preface of a certain popular text-book, that "to learn the duties of
town, city, and county officers, has nothing whatever to do with the
grand and noble subject of Civil Government," and that "to attempt
class drill on petty town and county offices, would be simply
burlesque of the whole subject." But, suppose one were to say, with
an air of ineffable scorn, that petty experiments on terrestrial
gravitation and radiant heat, such as can be made with commonplace
pendulums and tea-kettles, have nothing whatever to do with the grand
and noble subject of Physical Astronomy! Science would not have got
very far on that plan, I fancy. The truth is, that science, while it
is perpetually dealing with questions of magnitude, and knows very
well what is large and what is small, knows nothing whatever of any
such distinction as that between things that are "grand" and things
that are "petty." When we try to study things in a scientific spirit,
to learn their modes of genesis and their present aspects, in order
that we may foresee their tendencies, and make our volitions count
for something in modifying them, there is nothing which we may safely
disregard as trivial. This is true of whatever we can study; it is
eminently true of the history of institutions. Government is not a
royal mystery, to be shut off, like old Deiokes,[2] by a sevenfold
wall from the ordinary business of life. Questions of civil government
are practical business questions, the principles of which are as often
and as forcibly illustrated in a city council or a county board of
supervisors, as in the House of Representatives at Washington. It is
partly because too many of our citizens fail to realize that local
government is a worthy study, that we find it making so much trouble
for us. The "bummers" and "boodlers" do not find the subject beneath
their notice; the Master who inspires them is wide awake and--for a
creature that divides the hoof--extremely intelligent.

[Footnote 2: Herodotus, i. 98.]

It is, moreover, the mental training gained through contact with
local government that enables the people of a community to conduct
successfully, through their representatives, the government of the
state and the nation. And so it makes a great deal of difference
whether the government of a town or county is of one sort or another.
If the average character of our local governments for the past quarter
of a century had been _quite_ as high as that of the Boston
town-meeting or the Virginia boards of county magistrates, in the days
of Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, who can doubt that many an airy
demagogue, who, through session after session, has played his pranks
at the national capital, would long ago have been abruptly recalled to
his native heath, a sadder if not a wiser man? We cannot expect the
nature of the aggregate to be much better than the average natures
of its units. One may hear people gravely discussing the difference
between Frenchmen and Englishmen in political efficiency, and
resorting to assumed ethnological causes to explain it, when, very
likely, to save their lives they could not describe the difference
between a French commune and an English parish. To comprehend the
interesting contrasts between Gambetta in the Chamber of Deputies, and
Gladstone in the House of Commons, one should begin with a historical
inquiry into the causes, operating through forty generations, which
have frittered away self-government in the rural districts and small
towns of France, until there is very little left. If things in America
ever come to such a pass that the city council of Cambridge must ask
Congress each year how much money it can be allowed to spend for
municipal purposes, while the mayor of Cambridge holds his office
subject to removal by the President of the United States, we may
safely predict further extensive changes in the character of the
American people and their government. It was not for nothing that our
profoundest political thinker, Thomas Jefferson, attached so much
importance to the study of the township.

In determining the order of exposition, I have placed local government
first, beginning with the township as the simplest unit. It is well to
try to understand what is near and simple, before dealing with what is
remote and complex. In teaching geography with maps, it is wise to get
the pupil interested in the streets of his own town, the country roads
running out of it, and the neighbouring hills and streams, before
burdening his attention with the topographical details of Borrioboola
Gha. To study grand generalizations about government, before attending
to such of its features as come most directly before us, is to run the
risk of achieving a result like that attained by the New Hampshire
school-boy, who had studied geology in a text-book, but was not aware
that he had ever set eyes upon an igneous rock.

After the township, naturally comes the county. The city, as is here
shown, is not simply a larger town, but is much more complex in
organization. Historically, many cities have been, or still are,
equivalent to counties; and the development of the county must be
studied before we can understand that of the city. It has been briefly
indicated how these forms of local government grew up in England, and
how they have become variously modified in adapting themselves to
different social conditions in different parts of the United States.

Next in order come the general governments, those which possess and
exert, in one way or another, attributes of sovereignty. First, the
various colonial governments have been considered, and some features
of their metamorphosis into our modern state governments have been
described. In the course of this study, our attention is called to
the most original and striking feature of the development of civil
government upon American soil,--the written constitution, with the
accompanying power of the courts in certain cases to annul the acts
of the legislature. This is not only the most original feature of our
government, but it is in some respects the most important. Without the
Supreme Court, it is not likely that the Federal Union could have been
held together, since Congress has now and then passed an act which the
people in some of the states have regarded as unconstitutional and
tyrannical; and in the absence of a judicial method of settling such
questions, the only available remedy would have been nullification. I
have devoted a brief chapter to the origin and development of written
constitutions, and the connection of our colonial charters therewith.

Lastly, we come to the completed structure, the Federal Union; and by
this time we have examined so many points in the general theory
of American government, that our Federal Constitution can be more
concisely described, and (I believe) more quickly understood, than if
we had made it the subject of the first chapter instead of the last.
In conclusion, there have been added a few brief hints and suggestions
with reference to our political history. These remarks have been
intentionally limited. It is no part of the purpose of this book
to give an account of the doings of political parties under the
Constitution. But its study may fitly be supplemented by that of
Professor Alexander Johnston's "History of American Politics."

This arrangement not only proceeds from the simpler forms of
government to the more complex, but it follows the historical order of
development. From time immemorial, and down into the lowest strata
of savagery that have come within our ken, there have been clans and
tribes; and, as is here shown, a township was originally a stationary
clan, and a county was originally a stationary tribe. There were
townships and counties (or equivalent forms of organization) before
there were cities. In like manner there were townships, counties, and
cities long before there was anything in the world that could properly
be called a state. I have remarked below upon the way in which English
shires coalesced into little states, and in course of time the English
nation was formed by the union of such little states, which lost their
statehood (_i.e._, their functions of sovereignty, though not
their self-government within certain limits) in the process. Finally,
in America, we see an enormous nationality formed by the federation
of states which partially retain their statehood; and some of these
states are themselves of national dimensions, as, for example, New
York, which is nearly equal in area, quite equal in population, and
far superior in wealth, to Shakespeare's England.

In studying the local institutions of our different states, I have been
greatly helped by the "Johns Hopkins University Studies in History and
Politics," of which the eighth annual series is now in course of
publication. In the course of the pages below I have frequent occasion
to acknowledge my indebtedness to these learned and sometimes profoundly
suggestive monographs; but I cannot leave the subject without a special
word of gratitude to my friend, Dr. Herbert Adams, the editor of the
series, for the noble work which he is doing in promoting the study of
American history. It had always seemed to me that the mere existence of
printed questions in text-books proves that the publishers must have
rather a poor opinion of the average intelligence of teachers; and it
also seemed as if the practical effect of such questions must often be
to make the exercise of recitation more mechanical for both teachers and
pupils, and to encourage the besetting sin of "learning by heart."
Nevertheless, there are usually two sides to a case; and, in deference
to the prevailing custom, for which, no doubt, there is much to be said,
full sets of questions have been appended to each chapter and section.
It seemed desirable that such questions should be prepared by some one
especially familiar with the use of school-books; and for these I have
to thank Mr. F.A. Hill, Head Master of the Cambridge English High
School. I confess that Mr. Hill's questions have considerably modified
my opinion as to the merits of such apparatus. They seem to add very
materially to the usefulness of the book.

It will be observed that there are two sets of these questions,
entirely distinct in character and purpose. The first set--"Questions
on the Text"--is appended to each _section_, so as to be as near
the text as possible. These questions furnish an excellent topical
analysis of the text.[3] In a certain sense they ask "what the book
says," but the teacher is advised emphatically to discourage any such
thing as committing the text to memory. The tendency to rote-learning
is very strong. I had to contend with it in teaching history to
seniors at Harvard twenty years ago, but much has since been done
to check it through the development of the modern German seminary
methods. (For an explanation of these methods, see Dr. Herbert
Adams on "Seminary Libraries and University Extension," _J.H.U.
Studies_, V., xi.) With younger students the tendency is of course
stronger. It is only through much exercise that the mind learns how
to let itself--as Matthew Arnold used to say--"play freely about the

[Footnote 3: "This," says Mr. Hill, "will please those who prefer the
topical method, while it does not forbid the easy transformation
of topics to questions, which others may demand." In the table of
contents I have made a pretty full topical analysis of the book, which
may prove useful for comparison with Mr. Hill's.]

In order to supply the pupil with some wholesome exercise of this
sort, Mr. Hill has added, at the end of each _chapter_, a set of
"Suggestive Questions and Directions." Here he has thoroughly divined
the purpose of the book and done much to further it.

Problems or cases are suggested for the student to consider, and
questions are asked which cannot be disposed of by a direct appeal to
the text. Sometimes the questions go quite outside of the text, and
relate to topics concerning which it provides no information whatever.
This has been done with a purpose. The pupil should learn how to go
outside of the book and gather from scattered sources information
concerning questions that the book suggests. In other words, he should
begin to learn _how to make researches_, for that is coming to be
one of the useful arts, not merely for scholars, but for men and
women in many sorts of avocations. It is always useful, as well as
ennobling, to be able to trace knowledge to its sources. Work of this
sort involves more or less conference and discussion among classmates,
and calls for active aid from the teacher; and if the teacher does not
at first feel at home in these methods, practice will nevertheless
bring familiarity, and will prove most wholesome training. For the aid
of teachers and pupils, as well as of the general reader who wishes to
pursue the subject, I have added a bibliographical note at the end of
each chapter, immediately after Mr. Hill's "Suggestive Questions and

This particular purpose in my book must be carefully borne in mind.
It explains the omission of many details which some text-books on the
same subject would be sure to include. To make a manual complete and
self-sufficing is precisely what I have not intended. The book is
designed to be suggestive and stimulating, to leave the reader with
scant information on some points, to make him (as Mr. Samuel Weller
says) "vish there wos more," and to show him how to go on by himself.
I am well aware that, in making an experiment in this somewhat new
direction, nothing is easier than to fall into errors of judgment. I
can hardly suppose that this book is free from such errors; but if in
spite thereof it shall turn out to be in any way helpful in bringing
the knowledge and use of the German seminary method into our higher
schools, I shall be more than satisfied.

Just here, let me say to young people in all parts of our country:--If
you have not already done so, it would be well worth while for you
to organize a debating society in your town or village, for the
discussion of such historical and practical questions relating to the
government of the United States as are suggested in the course of this
book. Once started, there need be no end of interesting and profitable
subjects for discussion. As a further guide to the books you need
in studying such subjects, use Mr. W.E. Foster's "References to the
Constitution of the United States," the invaluable pamphlet mentioned
below on page 277. If you cannot afford to buy the books, get the
public library of your town or village to buy them; or, perhaps,
organize a small special library for your society or club. Librarians
will naturally feel interested in such a matter, and will often
be able to help with advice. A few hours every week spent in such
wholesome studies cannot fail to do much toward the political
education of the local community, and thus toward the general
improvement of the American people. For the amelioration of things
will doubtless continue to be effected in the future, as it has been
effected in the past, not by ambitious schemes of sudden and universal
reform (which the sagacious man always suspects, just as he
suspects all schemes for returning a fabulously large interest upon
investments), but by the gradual and cumulative efforts of innumerable
individuals, each doing something to help or instruct those to whom
his influence extends. He who makes two clear ideas grow where there
was only one hazy one before, is the true benefactor of his species.

In conclusion, I must express my sincere thanks to Mr. Thomas Emerson,
superintendent of schools in Newton, for the very kind interest he has
shown in my work, in discussing its plan with me at the outset, in
reading the completed manuscript, and in offering valuable criticisms.

CAMBRIDGE, _August_ 5, 1890.




"Too much taxes".

What is taxation?

Taxation and eminent domain.

What is government?

The "ship of state".

"The government".

Whatever else it may be, "the government" is the power which imposes

Difference between taxation and robbery.

Sometimes taxation is robbery.

The study of history is full of practical lessons, and helpful to
those who would be good citizens.

Perpetual vigilance is the price of liberty.






Section 1. _The New England Township_.

The most ancient and simple form of government.

New England settled by church congregations.

Policy of the early Massachusetts government as to land grants.

Smallness of the farms

Township and village

Social position of the settlers

The town-meeting

Selectmen; town-clerk

Town-treasurer; constables; assessors of taxes and overseers of the

Act of 1647 establishing public schools

School committees

Field-drivers and pound-keepers; fence-viewers; other town officers

Calling the town-meeting

Town, county, and state taxes


Taxes on real-estate; taxes on personal property

When and where taxes are assessed


Cheating the government

The rate of taxation

Undervaluation; the burden of taxation

The "magic-fund" delusion

Educational value of the town-meeting


Power and responsibility

There is nothing especially American, democratic, or meritorious about
"rotation in office"


Section 2. _Origin of the Township_.

Town-meetings in ancient Greece and Rome

Clans; the _mark_ and the _tun_

The Old-English township, the manor, and the parish

The vestry-meeting

Parish and vestry clerks; beadles, waywardens, haywards,
common-drivers, churchwardens, etc.

Transition from the English parish to the New England township

Building of states out of smaller political units

Representation; shire-motes; Earl Simon's Parliament

The township as the "unit of representation" in the shire-mote and in
the General Court

Contrast with the Russian village-community which is not represented
in the general government




Section 1. _The County in its Beginnings_.

Why do we have counties?

Clans and tribes

The English nation, like the American, grew out of the union of small

Ealdorman and sheriff; shire-mote and county court

The coroner, or "crown officer"

Justices of the peace; the Quarter Sessions; the lord lieutenant

Decline of the English county; beginnings of counties in Massachusetts


Section 2. _The Modern County in Massachusetts_.

County commissioners, etc.; shire-towns and court-houses

Justices of the peace, and trial justices

The sheriff


Section 3. _The Old Virginia County_.

Virginia sparsely settled; extensive land grants to individuals

Navigable rivers; absence of towns; slavery

Social position of the settlers

Virginia parishes; the vestry was a close corporation

Powers of the vestry

The county was the unit of representation

The county court was virtually a close corporation

The county-seat, or Court House

Powers of the court; the sheriff

The county-lieutenant

Contrast between old Virginia and old New England, in respect of local

Jefferson's opinion of township government

"Court-day" in old Virginia

Virginia has been prolific in great leaders






Section 1. _Various Local Systems._

Parishes in South Carolina

The back country; the "regulators"

The district system

The modern South Carolina county

The counties are too large

Tendency of the school district to develop into something like a

Local institutions in colonial Maryland; the hundred

Clans; brotherhoods, or phratries; and tribes

Origin of the hundred; the hundred court; the high constable

Decay of the hundred; hundred-meeting in Maryland

The hundred in Delaware; the levy court, or representative county

The old Pennsylvania county

Town-meetings in New Tort

The county board of supervisors


Section 2. _Settlement of the Public Domain._

Westward movement of population along parallels of latitude

Method of surveying the public lands

Origin of townships in the West

Formation of counties in the West

Some effects of this system

The reservation of a section for public schools

In this reservation there were the germs of township government

But at first the county system prevailed


Section 3. _The Representative Township-County System in the

The town-meeting in Michigan

Conflict between township and county systems in Illinois

Effects of the Ordinance of 1787

Intense vitality of the township system

County option and township option in Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota,
and Dakota

Grades of township government in the West

An excellent result of the absence of centralization in the United

Effect of the self-governing school district in the South, in preparing
the way for the self-governing township

Woman-suffrage in the school district






Section 1. _Direct and Indirect Government._

Summary of the foregoing results; township government is direct,
county government is indirect

Representative government is necessitated in a county by the extent of
territory, and in a city by the multitude of people

Josiah Quincy's account of the Boston town-meeting in 1830

Distinctions between towns and cities in America and in England


Section 2. _Origin of English Boroughs and Cities._

Origin of the _chesters_ and _casters_ in Roman camps

Coalescence of towns into fortified boroughs

The borough as a hundred; it acquires a court

The borough as a county; it acquires a sheriff

Government of London under Henry I

The guilds; the town guild, and Guild Hall

Government of London as perfected in the thirteenth century; mayor,
aldermen, and common council

The city of London, and the metropolitan district

English cities were for a long time the bulwarks of liberty

Simon de Montfort and the cities

Oligarchical abuses in English cities, beginning with the Tudor period

The Municipal Reform Act of 1835

Government of the city of New York before the Revolution

Changes after the Revolution

City government in Philadelphia in the eighteenth century

The very tradition of good government was lacking in these cities


Section 3. _The Government of Cities in the United States_.

Several features of our municipal governments

In many cases they do not seem to work well

Rapid growth of American cities

Some consequences of this rapid growth

Wastefulness resulting from want of foresight

Growth in complexity of government in cities

Illustrated by list of municipal officers in Boston.

How city government comes to be a mystery to the citizens, in some
respects harder to understand than state and national government

Dread of the "one-man power" has in many cases led to scattering and
weakening of responsibility

Committees inefficient for executive purposes; the "Circumlocution

Alarming increase of city debts, and various attempts to remedy the

Experience of New York with state interference in municipal affairs;
unsatisfactory results

The Tweed Ring in New York

The present is a period of experiments

The new government of Brooklyn

Necessity of separating municipal from national politics

Notion that the suffrage ought to be restricted; evils wrought by
ignorant voters

Evils wrought by wealthy speculators; testimony of the Pennsylvania
Municipal Commission

Dangers of a restricted suffrage

Baneful effects of mixing city politics with national politics

The "spoils system" must be destroyed, root and branch; ballot reform
also indispensable






Section 1. _The Colonial Governments_.

Claims of Spain to the possession of North America

Claims of France and England

The London and Plymouth Companies

Their common charter

Dissolution of the two companies

States formed in the three zones

Formation of representative governments; House of Burgesses in

Company of Massachusetts Bay

Transfer of the charter from England to Massachusetts

The General Court; assistants and deputies

Virtual independence of Massachusetts, and quarrels with the Crown

New charter of Massachusetts in 1692; its liberties curtailed

Republican governments in Connecticut and Rhode Island

Counties palatine in England; proprietary charter of Maryland

Proprietary charter of Pennsylvania

Quarrels between Penns and Calverts; Mason and Dixon's line

Other proprietary governments

They generally became unpopular

At the time of the Revolution there were three forms of colonial
government: 1. Republican; 2. Proprietary; 3. Royal

(After 1692 the government of Massachusetts might be described as

In all three forms there was a representative assembly, which alone
could impose taxes

The governor's council was a kind of upper house

The colonial government was much like the English system in miniature

The Americans never admitted the supremacy of parliament

Except in the regulation of maritime commerce

In England there grew up the theory of the imperial supremacy of

And the conflict between the British and American theories was
precipitated by becoming involved in the political schemes of George


Section 2. _The Transition from Colonial to State Governments._

Dissolution of assemblies and parliaments

Committees of correspondence; provincial congresses

Provisional governments; "governors" and "presidents"

Origin of the senates

Likenesses and differences between British and American systems


Section 3. _The State Governments_.

Later modifications

Universal suffrage

Separation between legislative and executive departments; its
advantages and disadvantages as compared with the European plan

In our system the independence of the executive is of vital importance

The state executive

The governor's functions: 1. Adviser of legislature; 2. Commander of
state militia; 3. Royal prerogative of pardon; 4. Veto power

Importance of the veto power as a safeguard against corruption In
building the state, the local self-government was left unimpaired

Instructive contrast with France

Some causes of French political incapacity

Vastness of the functions retained by the states in the American Union

Illustration from recent English history

Independence of the state courts

Constitution of the state courts

Elective and appointive judges






In the American state there is a power above the legislature

Germs of the idea of a written constitution

Development of the idea of contract in Roman law; mediaeval charters

The "Great Charter" (1215)

The Bill of Rights (1689)

Foreshadowing of the American idea by Sir Harry Vane (1666)

The Mayflower compact (1620)

The "Fundamental Orders" of Connecticut (1639)

Germinal development of the colonial charter toward the modern state

Abnormal development of some recent state constitutions, encroaching
upon the legislature

The process of amending constitutions

The Swiss "Referendum"






Section 1. _Origin of the Federal Union_.

Circumstances favourable to the union of the colonies. The New England
Confederacy (1643-84). Albany Congress (1754); Stamp Act Congress
(1765); Committees of Correspondence (1772-75). The Continental Congress
(1774-89). The several states were never at any time sovereign states.
The Articles of Confederation. Nature and powers of the Continental
Congress. It could not impose taxes, and therefore was not fully endowed
with sovereignty. Decline of the Continental Congress. Weakness of the
sentiment of union; anarchical tendencies. The Federal Convention


Section 2. _The Federal Congress_.

The House of Representatives. The three fifths compromise. The
Connecticut compromise. The Senate. Electoral districts; the
"Gerrymander". The election at large. Time of assembling. Privileges of
members. The Speaker. Impeachment in England; in the United States. The
president's veto power.


Section 3. _The Federal Executive_.

The title of "President". The electoral college. The twelfth
amendment. The electoral commission (1877). Provisions against a lapse
of the presidency.

Original purpose of the electoral college not fulfilled

Electors formerly chosen in many states by districts; now always on a
general ticket

"Minority presidents"

Advantages of the electoral system

Nomination of candidates by congressional caucus (1800-24)

Nominating conventions; the "primary"; the district convention; the
national convention

Qualifications for the presidency; the term of office

Powers and duties of the president

The president's message

Executive departments; the cabinet

The secretary of state

Diplomatic and consular service

The secretary of the treasury

The other departments


Section 4. _The Nation and the States._

Difference between confederation and federal union

Powers granted to Congress

The "Elastic Clause"

Powers denied to the states

Evils of an inconvertible paper currency

Powers denied to Congress

Bills of attainder

Intercitizenship; mode of mating amendments


Section 5. _The Federal Judiciary._

Need for a federal judiciary

Federal courts and judges

District attorneys and marshals

The federal jurisdiction


Section 6. _Territorial Government._

The Northwest Territory and the Ordinance of 1787

Other territories and their government


Section 7. _Ratification and Amendments_.

Provisions for ratification

Concessions to slavery

Demand for a bill of rights

The first ten amendments


Section 8. _A Few Words about Politics_.

Federal taxation

Hamilton's policy; excise; tariff

Origin of American political parties; strict and loose construction of
the Elastic Clause

Tariff, Internal Improvements, and National Bank.

Civil Service reform

Origin of the "spoils system" in the state polities of New Tort and

"Rotation in office;" the Crawford Act

How the "spoils system" was made national

The Civil Service Act of 1883

The Australian ballot

The English system of accounting for election expenses





A. The Articles of Confederation

B. The Constitution of the United States

C. Magna Charta

D. Part of the Bill of Rights, 1689

E. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

F. The States classified according to origin

G. Table of states and territories

H. Population of the United States 1790-1880, with percentages of
urban population

I. An Examination Paper for Customs Clerks

J. The New York Corrupt Practices Act of 1890

K. Specimen of an Australian ballot





In that strangely beautiful story, "The Cloister and the Hearth," in
which Charles Reade has drawn such a vivid picture of human life at the
close of the Middle Ages, there is a good description of the siege of a
revolted town by the army of the Duke of Burgundy. Arrows whiz,
catapults hurl their ponderous stones, wooden towers are built, secret
mines are exploded. The sturdy citizens, led by a tall knight who seems
to bear a charmed life, baffle every device of the besiegers. At length
the citizens capture the brother of the duke's general, and the
besiegers capture the tall knight, who turns out to be no knight after
all, but just a plebeian hosier. The duke's general is on the point of
ordering the tradesman who has made so much trouble to be shot, but the
latter still remains master of the situation; for, as he dryly observes,
if any harm comes to him, the enraged citizens will hang the general's
brother. Some parley ensues, in which the shrewd hosier promises for the
townsfolk to set free their prisoner and pay a round sum of money if the
besieging army will depart and leave them in peace. The offer is
accepted, and so the matter is amicably settled. As the worthy citizen
is about to take his leave, the general ventures a word of inquiry as to
the cause of the town's revolt. "What, then, is your grievance, my good
friend?" Our hosier knight, though deft with needle and keen with lance,
has a stammering tongue. He answers: "Tuta--tuta--tuta--tuta--too much

[Sidenote: "Too much taxes."]
"Too much taxes:" those three little words furnish us with a clue
wherewith to understand and explain a great deal of history. A great
many sieges of towns, so horrid to have endured though so picturesque
to read about, hundreds of weary marches and deadly battles, thousands
of romantic plots that have led their inventors to the scaffold, have
owed their origin to questions of taxation. The issue between the
ducal commander and the warlike tradesman has been tried over and
over again in every country and in every age, and not always has the
oppressor been so speedily thwarted and got rid of. The questions as
to how much the taxes shall be, and who is to decide how much they
shall be, are always and in every stage of society questions of most
fundamental importance. And ever since men began to make history, a
very large part of what they have done, in the way of making history,
has been the attempt to settle these questions, whether by discussion
or by blows, whether in council chambers or on the battlefield. The
French Revolution of 1789, the most terrible political convulsion of
modern times, was caused chiefly by "too much taxes," and by the fact
that the people who paid the taxes were not the people who decided
what the taxes were to be. Our own Revolution, which made the United
States a nation independent of Great Britain, was brought on by the
disputed question as to who was to decide what taxes American citizens
must pay.

[Sidenote: What is taxation?]
What, then, are taxes? The question is one which is apt to come up,
sooner or later, to puzzle children. They find no difficulty in
understanding the butcher's bill for so many pounds of meat, or the
tailor's bill for so many suits of clothes, where the value received
is something that can be seen and handled. But the tax bill, though
it comes as inevitably as the autumnal frosts, bears no such obvious
relation to the incidents of domestic life; it is not quite so clear
what the money goes for; and hence it is apt to be paid by the head
of the household with more or less grumbling, while for the younger
members of the family it requires some explanation.

It only needs to be pointed out, however, that in every town some
things are done for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the town,
things which concern one person just as much as another. Thus roads
are made and kept in repair, school-houses are built and salaries paid
to school-teachers, there are constables who take criminals to jail,
there are engines for putting out fires, there are public libraries,
town cemeteries, and poor-houses. Money raised for these purposes,
which are supposed to concern all the inhabitants, is supposed to be
paid by all the inhabitants, each one furnishing his share; and the
share which each one pays is his town tax.

[Sidenote: Taxation and eminent domain.]
From this illustration it would appear that taxes are private property
taken for public purposes; and in making this statement we come
very near the truth. Taxes are portions of private property which a
government takes for its public purposes. Before going farther, let
us pause to observe that there is one other way, besides taxation, in
which government sometimes takes private property for public purposes.
Roads and streets are of great importance to the general public; and
the government of the town or city in which you live may see fit, in
opening a new street, to run it across your garden, or to make you
move your house or shop out of the way for it. In so doing, the
government either takes away or damages some of your property. It
exercises rights over your property without asking your permission.
This power of government over private property is called "the right of
eminent domain." It means that a man's private interests must not be
allowed to obstruct the interests of the whole community in which
he lives. But in two ways the exercise of eminent domain is unlike
taxation. In the first place, it is only occasional, and affects only
certain persons here or there, whereas taxation goes on perpetually
and affects all persons who own property. In the second place, when
the government takes away a piece of your land to make a road, it pays
you money in return for it; perhaps not quite so much as you believe
the piece of land was worth in the market; the average human nature is
doubtless such that men seldom give fair measure for measure unless
they feel compelled to, and it is not easy to put a government under
compulsion. Still it gives you something; it does not ask you to part
with your property for nothing. Now in the case of taxation, the
government takes your money and seems to make no return to you
individually; but it is supposed to return to you the value of it in
the shape of well-paved streets, good schools, efficient protection
against criminals, and so forth.

[Sidenote: What is government?]
In giving this brief preliminary definition of taxes and taxation, we
have already begun to speak of "the government" of the town or city
in which you live. We shall presently have to speak of other
"governments,"--as the government of your state and the government of
the United States; and we shall now and then have occasion to allude
to the governments of other countries in which the people are free,
as, for example, England; and of some countries in which the people
are not free, as, for example, Russia. It is desirable, therefore,
that we should here at the start make sure what we mean by
"government," in order that we may have a clear idea of what we are
talking about.

[Sidenote: The "ship of state."]
Our verb "to govern" is an Old French word, one of the great host of
French words which became a part of the English language between the
eleventh and fourteenth centuries, when so much French was spoken in
England. The French word was _gouverner_, and its oldest form was
the Latin _gubernare_, a word which the Romans borrowed from
the Greek, and meant originally "to steer the ship." Hence it very
naturally came to mean "to guide," "to direct," "to command." The
comparison between governing and steering was a happy one. To govern
is not to command as a master commands a slave, but it is to issue
orders and give directions for the common good; for the interests of
the man at the helm are the same as those of the people in the ship.
All must float or sink together. Hence we sometimes speak of the "ship
of state," and we often call the state a "commonwealth," or something
in the weal or welfare of which all the people are alike interested.

Government, then, is the directing or managing of such affairs as
concern all the people alike,--as, for example, the punishment of
criminals, the enforcement of contracts, the defence against foreign
enemies, the maintenance of roads and bridges, and so on. To the
directing or managing of such affairs all the people are expected to
contribute, each according to his ability, in the shape of taxes.
Government is something which is supported by the people and kept
alive by taxation. There is no other way of keeping it alive.

[Sidenote: "The government."]
The business of carrying on government--of steering the ship of
state--either requires some special training, or absorbs all the
time and attention of those who carry it on; and accordingly, in all
countries, certain persons or groups of persons are selected or in
some way set apart, for longer or shorter periods of time, to perform
the work of government. Such persons may be a king with his council,
as in the England of the twelfth century; or a parliament led by a
responsible ministry, as in the England of to-day; or a president
and two houses of congress, as in the United States; or a board of
selectmen, as in a New England town. When we speak of "a government"
or "the government," we often mean the group of persons thus set
apart for carrying on the work of government. Thus, by "the Gladstone
government" we mean Mr. Gladstone, with his colleagues in the cabinet
and his Liberal majority in the House of Commons; and by "the Lincoln
government," properly speaking, was meant President Lincoln, with the
Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

[Sidenote: Whatever else it may be, "the government" is the power which
"The government" has always many things to do, and there are many
different lights in which we might regard it. But for the present
there is one thing which we need especially to keep in mind. "The
government" is the power which can rightfully take away a part of your
property, in the shape of taxes, to be used for public purposes. A
government is not worthy of the name, and cannot long be kept in
existence, unless it can raise money by taxation, and use force, if
necessary, in collecting its taxes. The only general government of the
United States during the Revolutionary War, and for six years after
its close, was the Continental Congress, which had no authority to
raise money by taxation. In order to feed and clothe the army and pay
its officers and soldiers, it was obliged to _ask_ for money from
the several states, and hardly ever got as much as was needed. It was
obliged to borrow millions of dollars from France and Holland, and to
issue promissory notes which soon became worthless. After the war was
over it became clear that this so-called government could neither
preserve order nor pay its debts, and accordingly it ceased to be
respected either at home or abroad, and it became necessary for the
American people to adopt a new form of government. Between the old
Continental Congress and the government under which we have lived
since 1789, the differences were many; but by far the most essential
difference was that the new government could raise money by taxation,
and was thus enabled properly to carry on the work of governing.

If we are in any doubt as to what is really the government of some
particular country, we cannot do better than observe what person or
persons in that country are clothed with authority to tax the people.
Mere names, as customarily applied to governments, are apt to be
deceptive. Thus in the middle of the eighteenth century France and
England were both called "kingdoms;" but so far as kingly power was
concerned, Louis XV. was a very different sort of a king from George
II. The French king could impose taxes on his people, and it might
therefore be truly said that the government of France was in the king.
Indeed, it was Louis XV's immediate predecessor who made the famous
remark, "The state is myself." But the English king could not impose
taxes; the only power in England that could do that was the House of
Commons, and accordingly it is correct to say that in England, at the
time of which we are speaking, the government was (as it still is) in
the House of Commons.

[Sidenote: Difference between taxation and robbery.]
I say, then, the most essential feature of a government--or at any
rate the feature with which it is most important for us to become
familiar at the start--is its power of taxation. The government is
that which taxes. If individuals take away some of your property for
purposes of their own, it is robbery; you lose your money and get
nothing in return. But if the government takes away some of your
property in the shape of taxes, it is supposed to render to you an
equivalent in the shape of good government, something without which
our lives and property would not be safe. Herein seems to lie the
difference between taxation and robbery. When the highwayman points
his pistol at me and I hand him my purse and watch, I am robbed. But
when I pay the tax-collector, who can seize my watch or sell my house
over my head if I refuse, I am simply paying what is fairly due from
me toward supporting the government.

[Sidenote: Sometimes taxation _is_ robbery.]
In what we have been saying it has thus far been assumed that the
government is in the hands of upright and competent men and is
properly administered. It is now time to observe that robbery may be
committed by governments as well as by individuals. If the business of
governing is placed in the hands of men who have an imperfect sense of
their duty toward the public, if such men raise money by taxation and
then spend it on their own pleasures, or to increase their political
influence, or for other illegitimate purposes, it is really robbery,
just as much as if these men were to stand with pistols by the
roadside and empty the wallets of people passing by. They make a
dishonest use of their high position as members of government, and
extort money for which they make no return in the shape of services
to the public. History is full of such lamentable instances of
misgovernment, and one of the most important uses of the study of
history is to teach us how they have occurred, in order that we may
learn how to avoid them, as far as possible, in the future.

[Sidenote: The study of history.]
When we begin in childhood the study of history we are attracted
chiefly by anecdotes of heroes and their battles, kings and their
courts, how the Spartans fought at Thermopylae, how Alfred let the
cakes burn, how Henry VIII. beheaded his wives, how Louis XIV. used to
live at Versailles. It is quite right that we should be interested in
such personal details, the more so the better; for history has been
made by individual men and women, and until we have understood the
character of a great many of those who have gone before us, and how
they thought and felt in their time, we have hardly made a fair
beginning in the study of history. The greatest historians, such as
Freeman and Mommsen, show as lively an interest in persons as in
principles; and I would not give much for the historical theories of a
man who should declare himself indifferent to little personal details.

[Sidenote: It is full of practical lessons;]
Some people, however, never outgrow the child's notion of history
as merely a mass of pretty anecdotes or stupid annals, without any
practical bearing upon our own every-day life. There could not be a
greater mistake. Very little has happened in the past which has not
some immediate practical lessons for us; and when we study history
in order to profit by the experience of our ancestors, to find out
wherein they succeeded and wherein they failed, in order that we may
emulate their success and avoid their errors, then history becomes the
noblest and most valuable of studies. It then becomes, moreover, an
arduous pursuit, at once oppressive and fascinating from its endless
wealth of material, and abounding in problems which the most diligent
student can never hope completely to solve.

[Sidenote: and helpful to those who would be good citizens.]
[Sidenote: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.]
Few people have the leisure to undertake a systematic and thorough
study of history, but every one ought to find time to learn the
principal features of the governments under which we live, and to get
some inkling of the way in which these governments have come into
existence and of the causes which have made them what they are. Some
such knowledge is necessary to the proper discharge of the duties of
citizenship. Political questions, great and small, are perpetually
arising, to be discussed in the newspapers and voted on at the polls;
and it is the duty of every man and woman, young or old, to try to
understand them. That is a duty which we owe, each and all of us, to
ourselves and to our fellow-countrymen. For if such questions are
not settled in accordance with knowledge, they will be settled in
accordance with ignorance; and that is a kind of settlement likely
to be fraught with results disastrous to everybody. It cannot be too
often repeated that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
People sometimes argue as if they supposed that because our national
government is called a republic and not a monarchy, and because we
have free schools and universal suffrage, therefore our liberties are
forever secure. Our government is, indeed, in most respects, a marvel
of political skill; and in ordinary times it runs so smoothly that now
and then, absorbed as most of us are in domestic cares, we are apt to
forget that it will not run of itself. To insure that the government
of the nation or the state, of the city or the township, shall
be properly administered, requires from every citizen the utmost
watchfulness and intelligence of which he is capable.


_To the teacher_. Encourage full answers. Do not permit anything
like committing the text to memory. In the long run the pupil who
relies upon his own language, however inferior it may be to that of
the text, is better off. Naturally, with thoughtful study, the pupil's
language will feel the influence of that of the text, and so improve.
The important thing in any answer is the fundamental thought. This
idea once grasped, the expression of it may receive some attention.
The expression will often be broken and faulty, partly because of
the immaturity of the pupil, and partly because of the newness and
difficulty of the theme. Do not let the endeavour to secure excellent
expression check a certain freedom and spontaneity that should be
encouraged in the pupil. When the teacher desires to place special
stress on excellent presentation, it is wise to assign topics
beforehand, so that each pupil may know definitely what is expected of
him, and prepare himself accordingly.

1. Tell the story that introduces the chapter.

2. What lesson is it designed to teach?

3. What caused the French Revolution?

4. What caused the American Revolution?

5. Compare the tax bill with that of the butcher or tailor.

6. What are taxes raised for in a town? For whose benefit?

7. Define taxes.

8. Define the right of eminent domain.

9. Distinguish between taxes and the right of eminent domain.

10. What is the origin of the word "govern"?

11. Define government.

12. By whom is it supported, how is it kept alive, and by whom is it
carried on?

13. Give illustrations of governments.

14. What one power must government have to be worthy of the name?

15. What was the principal weakness of the government during the
American Revolution?

16. Compare this government with that of the United States since 1789.

17. If it is doubtful what the real government of a country is, how
may the doubt be settled?

18. Illustrate by reference to France and England in the eighteenth

19. What is the difference between taxation and robbery?

20. Under what conditions may taxation become robbery?

21. To what are we easily attracted in our first study of history?

22. What ought to be learned from history?

23. What sort of knowledge is helpful in discharging the duties of

24. Show how "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."


_To the teacher_. The object of this series of questions and
suggestions is to stimulate reading, investigating, and thinking. It
is not expected, indeed it is hardly possible, that each pupil shall
respond to them all. A single question may cost prolonged study.
Assign the numbers, therefore, to individuals to report upon at a
subsequent recitation,--one or more to each pupil, according to the
difficulty of the numbers. Reserve some for class consideration or
discussion. Now and then let the teacher answer a question himself,
partly to furnish the pupils with good examples of answers, and partly
to insure attention to matters that might otherwise escape notice.

1. Are there people who receive no benefit from their payment of

2. Are the benefits received by people in proportion to the amounts
paid by them?

3. Show somewhat fully what taxes had to do with the French

4. Show somewhat fully what taxes had to do with the American

5. Give illustrations of the exercise of the right of eminent domain
in your own town or county or state.

6. Do railroad corporations exercise such a right? How do they succeed
in getting land for their tracks?

7. In case of disagreement, how is a fair price determined for
property taken by eminent domain?

8. What persons are prominent to-day in the government of your own
town or city? Of your own county? Of your own state? Of the United

9. Who constitute the government of the school to which you belong?
Does this question admit of more than one answer? Has the government
of your school any power to tax the people to support the school?

10. What is the difference between a state and the government of a

11. Which is the more powerful branch of the English Parliament? Why?

12. Is it a misuse of the funds of a city to provide entertainments
for the people July 4? To expend money in entertaining distinguished
guests? To provide flowers, carriages, cigars, wines, etc., for such

13. What is meant by subordinating public office to private ends? Cite
instances from history.

14. What histories have you read? What one of them, if any, would you
call a "child's history," or a "drum and trumpet" history? What one of
them, if any, has impressed any lessons upon you?

15. Mention some principles that history has taught you.

16. Mention a few offices, and tell the sort of intelligence that is
needed by the persons who hold them. What results might follow if such
intelligence were lacking?


It is designed in the bibliographical notes to indicate some
authorities to which reference may be made for greater detail than is
possible in an elementary work like the present. It is believed
that the notes will prove a help to teacher and pupil in special
investigations, and to the reader who may wish to make selections from
excellent sources for purposes of self-culture. It is hardly necessary
to add that it is sometimes worth much to the student to know where
valuable information may be obtained, even when it is not practicable
to make immediate use of it.

Certain books should always be at the teacher's desk during the
instruction in civil government, and as easily accessible as the large
dictionary; as, for instance, the following: The General Statutes of the
state, the manual or blue-book of the state legislature, and, if the
school is in a city, the city charter and ordinances. It is also
desirable to add to this list the statutes of the United States and a
manual of Congress or of the general government. Manuals may be obtained
through representatives in the state legislature and in Congress. They
will answer nearly every purpose if they are not of the latest issue.
The _Statesman's Year Book_, published by Macmillan & Co., New York,
every year, is exceedingly valuable for reference. Certain almanacs,
particularly the comprehensive ones issued by the New York _Tribune_ and
the New York _World_, are rich in state and national statistics, and so
inexpensive as to be within everybody's means.

TAXATION AND GOVERNMENT.--As to the causes of the American revolution,
see my _War of Independence_, Boston, 1889; and as to the weakness of
the government of the United States before 1789, see my _Critical Period
of American History_, Boston, 1888. As to the causes of the French
revolution, see Paul Lacombe, _The Growth of a People_, N.Y., 1883, and
the third volume of Kitchin's _History of France_, London, 1887; also
Morse Stephens, _The French Revolution_, vol. i., N.Y., 1887; Taine,
_The Ancient Regime_,--N.Y., 1876, and _The Revolution_, 2 vols., N.Y.,
1880. The student may read with pleasure and profit Dickens's _Tale of
Two Cities_. For the student familiar with French, an excellent book is
Albert Babeau, _Le Village sous l'ancien Régime_, Paris, 1879; see also
Tocqueville, _L'ancien Régime et la Révolution_, 7th ed., Paris, 1866.
There is a good sketch of the causes of the French revolution in the
fifth volume of Leeky's _History of England in the Eighteenth Century_,
N.Y., 1887; see also Buckle's _History of Civilization_, chaps,
xii.-xiv. There is no better commentary on my first chapter than the
lurid history of France in the eighteenth century. The strong contrast
to English and American history shows us most instructively what we have
thus far escaped.



Section 1. _The New England Township_.

Of the various kinds of government to be found in the United States,
we may begin by considering that of the New England township. As
we shall presently see, it is in principle of all known forms of
government the oldest as well as the simplest. Let us observe how the
New England township grew up.

[Sidenote: New England was settled by church congregations.]
When people from England first came to dwell in the wilderness of
Massachusetts Bay, they settled in groups upon small irregular-shaped
patches of land, which soon came to be known as townships. There were
several reasons why they settled thus in small groups, instead of
scattering about over the country and carving out broad estates for
themselves. In the first place, their principal reason for coming to
New England was their dissatisfaction with the way in which church
affairs were managed in the old country. They wished to bring about a
reform in the church, in such wise that the members of a congregation
should have more voice than formerly in the church-government, and
that the minister of each congregation should be more independent than
formerly of the bishop and of the civil government. They also wished
to abolish sundry rites and customs of the church of which they had
come to disapprove. Finding the resistance to their reforms quite
formidable in England, and having some reason to fear that they might
be themselves crushed in the struggle, they crossed the ocean in order
to carry out their ideas in a new and remote country where they might
be comparatively secure from interference. Hence it was quite natural
that they should come in congregations, led by their favourite
ministers,--such men, for example, as Higginson and Cotton, Hooker and
Davenport. When such men, famous in England for their bold preaching
and imperiled thereby, decided to move to America, a considerable
number of their parishioners would decide to accompany them, and
similarly minded members of neighbouring churches would leave their
own pastor and join in the migration. Such a group of people, arriving
on the coast of Massachusetts, would naturally select some convenient
locality, where they might build their houses near together and all go
to the same church.

[Sidenote: Land grants.]
This migration, therefore, was a movement, not of individuals or of
separate families, but of church-congregations, and it continued to be
so as the settlers made their way inland and westward. The first
river towns of Connecticut were founded by congregations coming from
Dorchester, Cambridge, and Watertown. This kind of settlement was
favoured by the government of Massachusetts, which made grants of
land, not to individuals but to companies of people who wished to live
together and attend the same church.

In the second place, the soil of New England was not favourable to the
cultivation of great quantities of staple articles, such as rice
or tobacco, so that there was nothing to tempt people to undertake
extensive plantations.

[Sidenote: Small farms.]
Most of the people lived on small farms, each family raising but
little more than enough food for its own support; and the small size
of the farms made it possible to have a good many in a compact
neighbourhood. It appeared also that towns could be more easily
defended against the Indians than scattered plantations; and this
doubtless helped to keep people together, although if there had been
any strong inducement for solitary pioneers to plunge into the great
woods, as in later years so often happened at the West, it is not
likely that any dread of the savages would have hindered them.

[Sidenote: Township and village.]
[Sidenote: Social positions of settlers.]
Thus the early settlers of New England came to live in townships. A
township would consist of about as many farms as could be disposed
within convenient distance from the meeting-house, where all the
inhabitants, young and old, gathered every Sunday, coming on horseback
or afoot. The meeting-house was thus centrally situated, and near
it was the town pasture or "common," with the school-house and the
block-house, or rude fortress for defence against the Indians. For the
latter building some commanding position was apt to be selected, and
hence we so often find the old village streets of New England running
along elevated ridges or climbing over beetling hilltops. Around the
meeting-house and common the dwellings gradually clustered into a
village, and after a while the tavern, store, and town-house made
their appearance.

Among the people who thus tilled the farms and built up the villages of
New England, the differences in what we should call social position,
though noticeable, were not extreme. While in England some had been
esquires or country magistrates, or "lords of the manor,"--a phrase
which does not mean a member of the peerage, but a landed proprietor
with dependent tenants[1]; some had been yeomen, or persons holding
farms by some free kind of tenure; some had been artisans or tradesmen
in cities. All had for many generations been more or less accustomed to
self-government and to public meetings for discussing local affairs.
That self-government, especially as far as church matters were
concerned, they were stoutly bent upon maintaining and extending.
Indeed, that was what they had crossed the ocean for. Under these
circumstances they developed a kind of government which we may describe
in the present tense, for its methods are pretty much the same to-day
that they were two centuries ago.

[Footnote 1: Compare the Scottish "laird."]

[Sidenote: The town-meeting.]
In a New England township the people directly govern themselves; the
government is the people, or, to speak with entire precision, it is
all the male inhabitants of one-and-twenty years of age and upwards.
The people tax themselves. Once each year, usually in March but
sometimes as early as February or as late as April, a "town-meeting"
is held, at which all the grown men of the township are expected to be
present and to vote, while any one may introduce motions or take part
in the discussion. In early times there was a fine for non-attendance,
but at is no longer the case; it is supposed that a due regard to his
own interests will induce every man to come.

The town-meeting is held in the town-house, but at first it used to be
held in the church, which was thus a "meeting-house" for civil as well
as ecclesiastical purposes. At the town-meeting measures relating
to the administration of town affairs are discussed and adopted or
rejected; appropriations are made for the public expenses of the
town, or in other words the amount of the town taxes for the year is
determined; and town officers are elected for the year. Let us first
enumerate these officers.

[Sidenote: Selectmen.]
The principal executive magistrates of the town are the selectmen.
They are three, five, seven, or nine in number, according to the size
of the town and the amount of public business to be transacted. The
odd number insures a majority decision in case of any difference of
opinion among them. They have the general management of the public
business. They issue warrants for the holding of town-meetings, and
they can call such a meeting at any time during the year when there
seems to be need for it, but the warrant must always specify the
subjects which are to be discussed and acted on at the meeting. The
selectmen also lay out highways, grant licenses, and impanel jurors;
they may act as health officers and issue orders regarding sewerage,
the abatement of nuisances, or the isolation of contagious diseases;
in many cases they act as assessors of taxes, and as overseers of the
poor. They are the proper persons to listen to complaints if anything
goes wrong in the town. In county matters and state matters they speak
for the town, and if it is a party to a law-suit they represent it in
court; for the New England town is a legal corporation, and as such
can hold property, and sue and be sued. In a certain sense the
selectmen may be said to be "the government" of the town during the
intervals between the town-meetings.

[Sidenote: Town-clerk.]
An officer no less important than the selectmen is the town-clerk. He
keeps the record of all votes passed in the town-meetings. He also
records the names of candidates and the number of votes for each in
the election of state and county officers. He records the births,
marriages, and deaths in the township, and issues certificates to
persons who declare an intention of marriage. He likewise keeps on
record accurate descriptions of the position and bounds of public
roads; and, in short, has general charge of all matters of

[Sidenote: Town-treasurer.]
Every town has also its treasurer, who receives and takes care of the
money coming in from the taxpayers, or whatever money belongs to the
town. Out of this money he pays the public expenses. He must keep a
strict account of his receipts and payments, and make a report of them
each year.

[Sidenote: Constables.]
Every town has one or more constables, who serve warrants from the
selectmen and writs from the law courts. They pursue criminals and
take them to jail. They summon jurors. In many towns they serve as
collectors of taxes, but in many other towns a special officer is
chosen for that purpose. When a person, fails to pay his taxes,
after a specified time the collector has authority to seize upon his
property and sell it at auction, paying the tax and costs out of the
proceeds of the sale, and handing over the balance to the owner. In
some cases, where no property can be found and there is reason to
believe that the delinquent is not acting in good faith, he can be
arrested and kept in prison until the tax and costs are paid, or until
he is released by the proper legal methods.

[Sidenote: Assessors of taxes and overseers of the poor.]
Where the duties of the selectmen are likely to be too numerous, the
town may choose three or more assessors of taxes to prepare the tax
lists; and three or more overseers of the poor, to regulate the
management of the village almshouse and confer with other towns
upon such questions as often arise concerning the settlement and
maintenance of homeless paupers.

[Sidenote: Public schools.]
Every town has its school committee. In 1647 the legislature of
Massachusetts enacted a law with the following preamble: "It being
one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the
knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an
unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of
tongues, that so at least the true sense and meaning of the original
might be clouded and corrupted with false glosses of deceivers; to the
end that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers,
in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavours;" it was
therefore ordered that every township containing fifty families or
householders should forthwith set up a school in which children might
be taught to read and write, and that every township containing one
hundred families or householders should set up a school in which
boys might be fitted for entering Harvard College. Even before this
statute, several towns, as for instance Roxbury and Dedham, had begun
to appropriate money for free schools; and these were the beginnings
of a system of public education which has come to be adopted
throughout the United States.

[Sidenote: School committees.]
The school committee exercises powers of such a character as to make
it a body of great importance. The term of service of the members is
three years, one third being chosen annually. The number of members
must therefore be some multiple of three. The slow change in the
membership of the board insures that a large proportion of the members
shall always be familiar with the duties of the place. The school
committee must visit all the public schools at least once a month, and
make a report to the town every year. It is for them to decide what
text-books are to be used. They examine candidates for the position
of teacher and issue certificates to those whom they select. The
certificate is issued in duplicate, and one copy is handed to the
selectmen as a warrant that the teacher is entitled to receive a
salary. Teachers are appointed for a term of one year, but where their
work is satisfactory the appointments are usually renewed year after
year. A recent act in Massachusetts _permits_ the appointment of
teachers to serve during good behaviour, but few boards have as yet
availed themselves of this law. If the amount of work to be done seems
to require it, the committee appoints a superintendent of schools. He
is a sort of lieutenant of the school committee, and under its general
direction carries on the detailed work of supervision.

Other town officers are the surveyors of highways, who are responsible
for keeping the roads and bridges in repair; field-drivers and
pound-keepers; fence-viewers; surveyors of lumber, measurers of wood,
and sealers of weights and measures.

[Sidenote: Field-drivers and pound keepers.]
The field-driver takes stray animals to the pound, and then notifies
their owner; or if he does not know who is the owner he posts a
description of the animals in some such place as the village store
or tavern, or has it published in the nearest country newspaper.
Meanwhile the strays are duly fed by the pound-keeper, who does not
let them out of his custody until all expenses have been paid.

[Sidenote: Fence-viewers.]
If the owners of contiguous farms, gardens, or fields get into a
dispute about their partition fences or walls, they may apply to
one of the fence-viewers, of whom each town has at least two. The
fence-viewer decides the matter, and charges a small fee for his
services. Where it is necessary he may order suitable walls or fences
to be built.

[Sidenote: Other officers.]
The surveyors of lumber measure and mark lumber offered for sale.
The measurers of wood do the same for firewood. The sealers test the
correctness of weights and measures used in trade, and tradesmen
are not allowed to use weights and measures that have not been thus
officially examined and sealed. Measurers and sealers may be appointed
by the selectmen.

Such are the officers always to be found in the Massachusetts town,
except where the duties of some of them are discharged by the
selectmen. Of these officers, the selectmen, town-clerk, treasurer,
constable, school committee, and assessors must be elected by ballot
at the annual town-meeting.

[Sidenote: Calling the town-meeting.]
When this meeting is to be called the selectmen issue a warrant for
the purpose, specifying the time and place of meeting and the nature
of the business to be transacted. The constable posts copies of the
warrant in divers conspicuous places not less than a week before the
time appointed. Then, after making a note upon the warrant that he has
duly served it, he hands it over to the town-clerk. On the appointed
day, when the people have assembled, the town-clerk calls the meeting
to order and reads the warrant. The meeting then proceeds to choose by
ballot its presiding officer, or "moderator," and business goes on
in accordance with parliamentary customs pretty generally recognized
among all people who speak English.

[Sidenote: Town, country, and state taxes.]
At this meeting the amount of money to be raised by taxation for town
purposes is determined. But, as we shall see, every inhabitant of a
town lives not only under a town government, but also under a county
government and a state government, and all these governments have to
be supported by taxation. In Massachusetts the state and the county
make use of the machinery of the town government in order to assess
and collect their taxes. The total amounts to be raised are equitably
divided among the several towns and cities, so that each town pays its
proportionate share. Each year, therefore, the town assessors know
that a certain amount of money must be raised from the taxpayers of
their town,--partly for the town, partly for the county, partly for
the state,--and for the general convenience they usually assess it
upon the taxpayers all at once. The amounts raised for the state and
county are usually very much smaller than the amount raised for
the town. As these amounts are all raised in the town and by town
officers, we shall find it convenient to sum up in this place what we
have to say about the way in which taxes are raised. Bear in mind that
we are still considering the New England system, and our illustration
is taken from the practice in Massachusetts. But the general
principles of taxation are so similar in the different states that,
although we may now and then have to point to differences of detail,
we shall not need to go over the whole subject again. We have now to
observe how and upon whom the taxes are assessed.

[Sidenote: Poll-tax.]
They are assessed partly upon persons, but chiefly upon property, and
property is divisible into real estate and personal estate. The tax
assessed upon persons is called the poll-tax, and cannot exceed the
sum of two dollars upon every male citizen over twenty years old. In
cases of extreme poverty the assessors may remit the poll-tax.

[Sidenote: Real-estate taxes.]
As to real estate, there are in every town some lands and buildings
which, for reasons of public policy, are exempted from paying taxes;
as, for example, churches, graveyards, and tombs; many charitable
institutions, including universities and colleges; and public
buildings which belong to the state or to the United States. All lands
and buildings, except such as are exempt by law, must pay taxes.

[Sidenote: Taxes on personal property.]
Personal property includes pretty much everything that one can own
except lands and buildings,--pretty much everything that can be moved
or carried about from one place to another. It thus includes ready
money, stocks and bonds, ships and wagons, furniture, pictures, and
books. It also includes the amount of debts due to a person in excess
of the amount that he owes; also the income from his employment,
whether in the shape of profits from business or a fixed salary.

Some personal property is exempted from taxation; as, for example,
household furniture to the amount of $1,000 in value, and income
from employment to the extent of $2,000. The obvious intent of this
exemption is to prevent taxation from bearing too hard upon persons
of small means; and for a similar reason the tools of farmers and
mechanics are exempted.[2]

[Footnote 2: United States bonds are also especially exempted from

[Sidenote: When and where taxes are assessed.]
The date at which property is annually reckoned for assessment is in
Massachusetts the first day of May. The poll-tax is assessed upon each
person in the town or city where he has his legal habitation on that
day; and as a general rule the taxes upon his personal property are
assessed to him in the same place. But taxes upon lands or buildings
are assessed in the city or town where they are situated, and to the
person, wherever he lives, who is the owner of them on the first day
of May. Thus a man who lives in the Berkshire mountains, say for
example in the town of Lanesborough, will pay his poll-tax to that
town. For his personal property, whether it he bonds of a railroad in
Colorado, or shares in a bank in New York, or costly pictures in his
house at Lanesborough, he will likewise pay taxes to Lanesborough. So
for the house in which he lives, and the land upon which it stands, he
pays taxes to that same town. But if he owns at the same time a house
in Boston, he pays taxes for it to Boston, and if he owns a block of
shops in Chicago he pays taxes for the same to Chicago. It is very apt
to be the case that the rate of taxation is higher in large cities
than in villages; and accordingly it often happens that wealthy
inhabitants of cities, who own houses in some country town, move into
them before the first of May, and otherwise comport themselves as
legal residents of the country town, in order that their personal
property may be assessed there rather than in the city.

[Sidenote: Tax lists.]
About the first of May the assessors call upon the inhabitants of
their town to render a true statement as to their property. The most
approved form is for the assessors to send by mail to each taxable
inhabitant a printed list of questions, with blank spaces which he is
to fill with written answers. The questions relate to every kind
of property, and when the person addressed returns the list to the
assessors he must make oath that to the best of his knowledge and
belief his answers are true. He thus becomes liable to the penalties
for perjury if he can be proved to have sworn falsely. A reasonable
time--usually six or eight weeks--is allowed for the list to be
returned to the assessors. If any one fails to return his list by the
specified time, the assessors must make their own estimate of the
probable amount of his property. If their estimate is too high, he may
petition the assessors to have the error corrected, but in many cases
it may prove troublesome to effect this.

[Sidenote: Cheating the government.]
Observe here an important difference between the imposition of taxes
upon real estate and upon personal property. Houses and lands cannot
run away or be tucked out of sight. Their value, too, is something
of which the assessors can very likely judge as well as the owner.
Deception is therefore extremely difficult, and taxation for real
estate is pretty fairly distributed among the different owners. With
regard to personal estate it is very different. It is comparatively
easy to conceal one's ownership of some kinds of personal property, or
to understate one's income. Hence the temptation to lessen the burden
of the tax bill by making false statements is considerable, and
doubtless a good deal of deception is practised. There are many people
who are too honest to cheat individuals, but still consider it a
venial sin to cheat the government.

[Sidenote: The rate of taxation.]
After the assessors have obtained all their returns they can calculate
the total value of the taxable property in the town; and knowing the
amount of the tax to be raised, it is easy to calculate the rate at
which the tax is to be assessed. In most parts of the United States a
rate of one and a half per cent, or $15 tax on each $1,000 worth of
property, would be regarded as moderate; three per cent would be
regarded as excessively high. At the lower of these rates a man worth
$50,000 would pay $750 for his yearly taxes. The annual income of
$50,000, invested on good security, is hardly more than $2,500.
Obviously $750 is a large sum to subtract from such an income.

[Sidenote: Undervaluation.]
[Sidenote: The burden of taxation.]
In point of fact, however, the tax is seldom quite as heavy as
this. It is not easy to tell exactly how much a man is worth, and
accordingly assessors, not wishing to be too disagreeable in the
discharge of their duties, have naturally fallen into a way of giving
the lower valuation the benefit of the doubt, until in many places a
custom has grown up of regularly undervaluing property for purposes of
taxation. Very much as liquid measures have gradually shrunk until
it takes five quart bottles to hold a gallon, so there has been a
shrinkage of valuations until it has become common to tax a man for
only three fourths or perhaps two thirds of what his property is
worth in the market. This makes the rate higher, to be sure, but
the individual taxpayer nevertheless seems to feel relieved by it.
Allowing for this undervaluation, we may say that a man worth $50,000
commonly pays not less than $500 for his yearly taxes, or about one
fifth of the annual income of the property. We thus begin to see what
a heavy burden taxes are, and how essential to good government it is
that citizens should know what their money goes for, and should be
able to exert some effective control over the public expenditures.
Where the rate of taxation in a town rises to a very high point, such
as two and a half or three per cent, the prosperity of the town is apt
to be seriously crippled. Traders and manufacturers move away to other
towns, or those who would otherwise come to the town in question stay
away, because they cannot afford to use up all their profits in paying
taxes. If such a state of things is long kept up, the spirit of
enterprise is weakened, the place shows signs of untidiness and want
of thrift, and neighbouring towns, once perhaps far behind it in
growth, by and by shoot ahead of it and take away its business.

[Sidenote: The "magic fund" delusion.]
Within its proper sphere, government by town-meeting is the form of
government most effectively under watch and control. Everything is
done in the full daylight of publicity. The specific objects for which
public money is to be appropriated are discussed in the presence of
everybody, and any one who disapproves of any of these objects, or of
the way in which it is proposed to obtain it, has an opportunity to
declare his opinions. Under this form of government people are not
so liable to bewildering delusions as under other forms. I refer
especially to the delusion that "the Government" is a sort of
mysterious power, possessed of a magic inexhaustible fund of wealth,
and able to do all manner of things for the benefit of "the People."
Some such notion as this, more often implied than expressed, is very
common, and it is inexpressibly dear to demagogues. It is the prolific
root from which springs that luxuriant crop of humbug upon which
political tricksters thrive as pigs fatten upon corn. In point of
fact no such government, armed with a magic fund of its own, has ever
existed upon the earth. No government has ever yet used any money
for public purposes which it did not first take from its own
people,--unless when it may have plundered it from some other people
in victorious warfare.

The inhabitant of a New England town is perpetually reminded that "the
Government" is "the People." Although he may think loosely about
the government of his state or the still more remote government at
Washington, he is kept pretty close to the facts where local affairs
are concerned, and in this there is a political training of no small

[Sidenote: Educational value of the town-meeting.]
In the kind of discussion which it provokes, in the necessity of facing
argument with argument and of keeping one's temper under control, the
town-meeting is the best political training school in existence. Its
educational value is far higher than that of the newspaper, which, in
spite of its many merits as a diffuser of information, is very apt to do
its best to bemuddle and sophisticate plain facts. The period when
town-meetings ware most important from the wide scope of their
transactions was the period of earnest and sometimes stormy discussion
that ushered in our Revolutionary war. Country towns were then of more
importance relatively than now; one country town--Boston--was at the
same time a great political centre; and its meetings were presided over
and addressed by men of commanding ability, among whom Samuel Adams,
"the man of the town-meeting," was foremost[3]. In those days
great principles of government were discussed with a wealth of knowledge
and stated with masterly skill in town-meeting.

[Footnote 3: The phrase is Professor Hosmer's: see his _Samuel Adams, the
Man of the Town Meeting_, in "Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies," vol. II. no.
iv.; also his _Samuel Adams_, in "American Statesmen" series; Boston,

[Sidenote: By-laws.]
The town-meeting is to a very limited extent a legislative body; it can
make sundry regulations for the management of its local affairs. Such
regulations are known by a very ancient name, "by-laws." _By_ is an Old
Norse word meaning "town," and it appears in the names of such towns as
_Derby_ and _Whitby_ in the part of England overrun by the Danes in the
ninth and tenth centuries. By-laws are town laws[4].

[Footnote 4: In modern usage the roles and regulations of clubs, learned
societies, and other associations, are also called by-laws.]

[Sidenote: Power and responsibility.]
In the selectmen and various special officers the town has an
executive department; and here let us observe that, while these
officials are kept strictly accountable to the people, they are
entrusted with very considerable authority. Things are not so arranged
that an officer can plead that he has failed in his duty from lack of
power. There is ample power, joined with complete responsibility. This
is especially to be noticed in the case of the selectmen. They must
often be called upon to exercise a wide discretion in what they do,
yet this excites no serious popular distrust or jealousy. The annual
election affords an easy means of dropping an unsatisfactory officer.
But in practice nothing has been more common than for the same persons
to be reelected as selectmen or constables or town-clerks for year
after year, as long as they are able or willing to serve. The notion
that there is anything peculiarly American or democratic in what
is known as "rotation in office" is therefore not sustained by the
practice of the New England town, which is the most complete democracy
in the world. It is the most perfect exhibition of what President
Lincoln called "government of the people by the people and for the


1. What reason exists for beginning the study of government with that of
the New England township?

2. Give the origin of the township in New England according to the
following analysis:--

  a. Settlement in groups.
  b. The chief reason for coming to New England.
  c. The leaders of the groups.
  d. The favouring action of the Massachusetts government.
  e. Small farms.
  f. Defence against the Indians.
  g. The limits of a township.
  h. The village within the township.

3. What was the social standing of the first settlers?

4. What training had they received in self-government?

5. Who do the governing in a New England township?

6. Give an account of the town-meeting in accordance with the following

  a. The name of the meeting.
  b. The time for holding it.
  c. The place for holding it.
  d. The persons who take part in it.
  e. The sort of business done in it.

7. Give an account of the selectmen:--

  a. Their number.
  b. The reason for an odd number.
  c. Their duties.

8. When public schools were established by Massachusetts in 1647, what
reasons were assigned for the law?

9. What classes or grades of schools were then established?

10. What are the duties of the Massachusetts school committee?

11. What is the term of service of teachers in that state?

12. What are the duties of the following officers?--

  a. Field-drivers.
  b. Pound-keepers.
  c. Fence-viewers.
  d. Surveyors of lumber.
  e. Measurers of wood.
  f. Sealers of weights and measures.

13. What are the duties of the following officers?--

  a. The town-clerk.
  b. The treasurer.
  c. Constables.
  d. Assessors.
  e. Overseers of the poor.

14. Describe a warrant for a town-meeting.

15. For what other purposes than those of the town are taxes raised?

16. Explain the following:--

  a. The poll-tax.
  b. The tax on personal property,
  c. The tax on real estate.

17. What kinds of real estate are exempted from taxation, and why?

18. What kinds of personal property are exempted, and why?

19. Where must the several kinds of taxes be assessed and paid?

20. If a person changes his residence from one town in the state to
another before May 1, what consequences about taxes might follow?

21. How do the assessors ascertain the property for which one should be

22. What difficulties beset the taxation of personal property?

23. Mention a common practice in assigning values to property.
What is the effect on the tax-rate? Illustrate.

24. How do high taxes operate as a burden?

25. Describe a delusion from which people who directly govern
themselves are practically free.

26. What is the educational value of the town-meeting?

27. What are by-laws? Explain the phrase.

28. What of the power and responsibility of selectmen?

Section 2. _Origin of the Township_.

[Sidenote: Town-meetings in Greece and Rome.]
It was said above that government by town-meeting is in principle the
oldest form of government known in the world. The student of ancient
history is familiar with the _comitia_ of the Romans and the
_ecclesia_ of the Greeks. These were popular assemblies, held in
those soft climates in the open air, usually in the market-place,--the
Roman _forum_, the Greek _agora_. The government carried on
in them was a more or less qualified democracy. In the palmy days of
Athens it was a pure democracy. The assemblies which in the Athenian
market-place declared war against Syracuse, or condemned Socrates to
death, were quite like New England town-meetings, except that they
exercised greater powers because there was no state government above

[Sidenote: Clans.]
The principle of the town-meeting, however, is older than Athens or
Rome. Long before streets were built or fields fenced in, men wandered
about the earth hunting for food in family parties, somewhat as lions
do in South Africa. Such family groups were what we call _clans_,
and so far as is known they were the earliest form in which civil
society appeared on the earth. Among all wandering or partially
settled tribes the clan is to be found, and there are ample
opportunities for studying it among our Indians in North America. The
clan usually has a chief or head-man, useful mainly as a leader in
wartime; its civil government, crude and disorderly enough, is in
principle a pure democracy.

[Sidenote: The _mark_ and the _tun_.]
When our ancestors first became acquainted with American Indians, the
most advanced tribes lived partly by hunting and fishing, but partly
also by raising Indian corn and pumpkins. They had begun to live in
wigwams grouped together in small villages and surrounded by strong rows
of palisades for defence. Now what these red men were doing our own
fair-haired ancestors in northern and central Europe had been doing some
twenty centuries earlier. The Scandinavians and Germans, when first
known in history, had made considerable progress in exchanging a
wandering for a settled mode of life. When the clan, instead of moving
from place to place, fixed upon some spot for a permanent residence, a
village grew up there, surrounded by a belt of waste land, or somewhat
later by a stockaded wall. The belt of land was called a _mark_, and the
wall was called a _tun_.[5] Afterwards the enclosed space came to be
known sometimes as the _mark_, sometimes as the _tun_ or _town_. In
England the latter name prevailed. The inhabitants of a mark or town
were a stationary clan. It was customary to call them by the clan name,
as for example "the Beorings" or "the Crossings;" then the town would be
called _Barrington_, "town of the Beorings," or _Cressingham_,
"home of the Cressings." Town names of this sort, with which the map of
England is thickly studded, point us back to a time when the town was
supposed to be the stationary home of a clan.

[Footnote 1: Pronounced "toon."]

[Sidenote: The Old English township.]
[Sidenote: The manor.]
The Old English town had its _tungemot_, or town-meeting, in
which "by-laws" were made and other important business transacted.
The principal officers were the "reeve" or head-man, the "beadle" or
messenger, and the "tithing-man" or petty constable. These officers
seem at first to have been elected by the people, but after a while,
as great lordships grew up, usurping jurisdiction over the land, the
lord's steward and bailiff came to supersede the reeve and beadle.
After the Norman Conquest the townships, thus brought under the sway
of great lords, came to be generally known by the French name of
manors or "dwelling places." Much might be said about this change, but
here it is enough for us to bear in mind that a manor was essentially
a township in which the chief executive officers were directly
responsible to the lord rather than to the people. It would be
wrong, however, to suppose that the manors entirely lost their
self-government. Even the ancient town-meeting survived in them, in a
fragmentary way, in several interesting assemblies, of which the most
interesting were the _court leet_, for the election of certain
officers and the trial of petty offences, and the _court baron_,
which was much like a town-meeting.

[Sidenote: The parish.]
Still more of the old self-government would doubtless have survived
in the institutions of the manor if it had not been provided for in
another way. The _parish_ was older than the manor. After the
English had been converted to Christianity local churches were
gradually set up all over the country, and districts called parishes
were assigned for the ministrations of the priests. Now a parish
generally coincided in area with a township, or sometimes with a group
of two or three townships. In the old heathen times each town seems to
have had its sacred place or shrine consecrated to some local deity,
and it was a favourite policy with the Roman missionary priests to
purify the old shrine and turn it into a church. In this way the
township at the same time naturally became the parish.

[Sidenote: Township, manor, and parish.]
[Sidenote: The vestry-meeting.]
As we find it in later times, both before and since the founding of
English colonies in North America, the township in England is likely
to be both a manor and a parish. For some purposes it is the one, for
some purposes it is the other. The townsfolk may be regarded as a
group of tenants of the lord's manor, or as a group of parishioners of
the local church. In the latter aspect the parish retained much of the
self-government of the ancient town. The business with which the lord
was entitled to meddle was strictly limited, and all other business
was transacted in the "vestry-meeting," which was practically the old
town-meeting under a new name. In the course of the thirteenth century
we find that the parish had acquired the right of taxing itself for
church purposes. Money needed for the church was supplied in the
form of "church-rates" voted by the ratepayers themselves in the
vestry-meeting, so called because it was originally held in a room of
the church in which vestments were kept.

[Sidenote: Parish officers.]
The officers of the parish were the constable, the parish and vestry
clerks,[6] the beadle,[7] the "waywardens" or surveyors of highways,
the "haywards" or fence-viewers, the "common drivers," the collectors
of taxes, and at the beginning of the seventeenth century overseers of
the poor were added. There were also churchwardens, usually two for
each, parish. Their duties were primarily to take care of the church
property, assess the rates, and call the vestry-meetings. They also
acted as overseers of the poor, and thus in several ways remind one of
the selectmen of New England. The parish officers were all elected by
the ratepayers assembled in vestry-meeting, except the common driver
and hayward, who were elected by the same ratepayers assembled in
court leet. Besides electing parish officers and granting the rates,
the vestry-meeting could enact by-laws; and all ratepayers had an
equal voice in its deliberations.

[Footnote 6: Of these two officers the vestry clerk is the counterpart
of the New England town-clerk.]

[Footnote 7: Originally a messenger or crier, the beadle came to
assume some of the functions of the tithing-man or petty constable,
such as keeping order in church, punishing petty offenders, waiting on
the clergyman, etc. In New England towns there were formerly officers
called tithing-men, who kept order in church, arrested tipplers,
loafers, and Sabbath-breakers, etc.]

[Sidenote: The transition from England to New England.]
During the last two centuries the constitution of the English parish
has undergone some modifications which need not here concern us. The
Puritans who settled in New England had grown up under such parish
government as is here described, and they were used to hearing the
parish called, on some occasions and for some purposes, a township. If
we remember now that the earliest New England towns were founded
by church congregations, led by their pastors, we can see how town
government in New England originated. It was simply the English
parish government brought into a new country and adapted to the new
situation. Part of this new situation consisted in the fact that the
lords of the manor were left behind. There was no longer any occasion
to distinguish between the township as a manor and the township as a
parish; and so, as the three names had all lived on together, side by
side, in England, it was now the oldest and most generally descriptive
name, "township," that survived, and has come into use throughout a
great part of the United States. The townsfolk went on making by-laws,
voting supplies of public money, and electing their magistrates in
America, after the fashion with which they had for ages been familiar
in England. Some of their offices and customs were of hoary antiquity.
If age gives respectability, the office of constable may vie with that
of king; and if the annual town-meeting is usually held in the month
of March, it is because in days of old, long before Magna Charta was
thought of, the rules and regulations for the village husbandry were
discussed and adopted in time for the spring planting.

[Sidenote: Building up states.]
To complete our sketch of the origin of the New England town, one
point should here be briefly mentioned in anticipation of what will
have to be said hereafter; but it is a point of so much importance
that we need not mind a little repetition in stating it.

[Sidenote: Representation.]
We have seen what a great part taxation plays in the business of
government, and we shall presently have to treat of county, state, and
federal governments, all of them wider in their sphere than the town
government. In the course of history, as nations have gradually been
built up, these wider governments have been apt to absorb or supplant
and crush the narrower governments, such as the parish or township;
and this process has too often been destructive to political freedom.
Such a result is, of course, disastrous to everybody; and if it were
unavoidable, it would be better that great national governments need
never be formed. But it is not unavoidable. There is one way of
escaping it, and that is to give the little government of the town
some real share in making up the great government of the state. That
is not an easy thing to do, as is shown by the fact that most peoples
have failed in the attempt. The people who speak the English language
have been the most successful, and the device by which they have
overcome the difficulty is REPRESENTATION. The town sends to the wider
government a delegation of persons who can _represent_ the town
and its people. They can speak for the town, and have a voice in the
framing of laws and imposition of taxes by the wider government.

[Sidenote: Shire-motes.]
[Sidenote: Earl Simon's Parliament.]
In English townships there has been from time immemorial a system of
representation. Long before Alfred's time there were "shire-motes," or
what were afterwards called county meetings, and to these each town
sent its reeve and "four discreet men" as _representatives_. Thus
to a certain extent the wishes of the townsfolk could be brought to
bear upon county affairs. By and by this method was applied on a much
wider scale. It was applied to the whole kingdom, so that the people
of all its towns and parishes succeeded in securing a representation
of their interests in an elective national council or House of
Commons. This great work was accomplished in the thirteenth century by
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and was completed by Edward
I. Simon's parliament, the first in which the Commons were fully
represented, was assembled in 1265; and the date of Edward's
parliament, which has been called the Model Parliament, was 1295.
These dates have as much interest for Americans as for Englishmen,
because they mark the first definite establishment of that grand
system of representative government which we are still carrying on
at our various state capitals and at Washington. For its humble
beginnings we have to look back to the "reeve and four" sent by the
ancient townships to the county meetings.

[Sidenote: Township as unit of representation.]
The English township or parish was thus at an early period the "unit
of representation" in the government of the county. It was also a
district for the assessment and collection of the national taxes; in
each parish the assessment was made by a board of assessors chosen by
popular vote. These essential points reappear in the early history of
New England. The township was not only a self-governing body, but
it was the "unit of representation" in the colonial legislature,
or "General Court;" and the assessment of taxes, whether for town
purposes or for state purposes, was made by assessors elected by the
townsfolk. In its beginnings and fundamentals our political liberty
did not originate upon American soil, but was brought hither by
our forefathers the first settlers. They brought their political
institutions with them as naturally as they brought their language and
their social customs.

[Sidenote: The Russian village community; not represented in the
national government.]
Observe now that the township is to be regarded in two lights. It must
be considered not only in itself, but as part of a greater whole.
We began by describing it as a self-governing body, but in order to
complete our sketch we were obliged to speak of it as a body which
has a share in the government of the state and the nation. The latter
aspect is as important as the former. If the people of a town had only
the power of managing their local affairs, without the power of taking
part in the management of national affairs, their political freedom
would be far from complete. In Russia, for example, the larger part of
the vast population is resident in village communities which have to a
considerable extent the power of managing their local affairs. Such
a village community is called a _mir_, and like the English
township it is lineally descended from the stationary clan. The people
of the Russian _mir_ hold meetings in which they elect sundry
local officers, distribute the burden of local taxation, make
regulations concerning local husbandry and police, and transact other
business which need not here concern us. But they have no share in the
national government, and are obliged to obey laws which they have
no voice in making, and pay taxes assessed upon them without their
consent; and accordingly we say with truth that the Russian people do
not possess political freedom. One reason for this has doubtless
been that in times past the Russian territory was the great frontier
battle-ground between civilized Europe and the wild hordes of western
Asia, and the people who lived for ages on that turbulent frontier
were subjected to altogether too much conquest. They have tasted too
little of civil government and too much of military government,--a
pennyworth of wholesome bread to an intolerable deal of sack. The
early English, in their snug little corner of the world, belted by
salt sea, were able to develop their civil government with less
destructive interference. They made a sound and healthful beginning
when they made the township the "unit of representation" for the
county. Then the township, besides managing its own affairs, began to
take part in the management of wider affairs.



1. Obtain the following documents:--

  a. A town warrant.
  b. A town report.
  c. A tax bill, a permit, a certificate, or any town paper that
      has or may have an official signature.
  d. A report of the school committee.

If you live in a city, send to the clerk of a neighbouring town for a
warrant, inclosing a stamp for the reply. City documents will answer
most of the purposes of this exercise.

Make any of the foregoing documents the basis of a report.

2. Give an account of the following:--

  a. The various kinds of taxes raised in your town, the amount of each
     kind, the valuation, the rate, the proposed use of the money, etc.
  b. The work of any department of the town government for a year, as, for
      example, that of the overseers of the poor.
  c. Any pressing need of your town, public sentiment towards it, the
      probable cost of satisfying it, the obstacles in the way of meeting
      it, etc.

3. A good way to arouse interest in the subject of town government is to
organize the class as a town-meeting, and let it discuss live local
questions in accordance with articles in a warrant. For helpful details
attend a town-meeting, read the record of some meeting, consult some
person familiar with town proceedings, or study the General Statutes.

To insure a discussion, it may be necessary at the outset for the
teacher to assign to the several pupils single points to be expanded and
presented in order.

There is an advantage in the teacher's serving as moderator. He may, as
teacher, pause to give such directions and explanations as may be
helpful to young citizens.

The pupils should be held up to the more obvious requirements of
parliamentary law, and shown how to use its rules to accomplish various

4. Has the state a right to direct the education of its youth? If the
state has such a right, are there any limits to the exercise of it? Does
the right to direct the education of its youth carry with it the right
to abolish private schools?

5. Is it wise to assist private educational institutions with public

6. Ought teachers, if approved, to be appointed for one year only, or
during good behaviour?

7. What classes of officers in a town should serve during good
behaviour? What classes may be frequently changed without injury to the

8. Compare the school committee in your own state (if it is not
Massachusetts) with that in Massachusetts.

9. Illustrate from personal knowledge the difference between
real estate and personal property.

10. A loans B $1000. May A be taxed for the $1000? Why? May B be taxed
for the $1000? Why? Is it right to tax both for $1000? Suppose B with
the money buys goods of C. Is it right to tax the three for $1000 each?

11. A taxpayer worth $100,000 in personal property makes no return to
the assessors. In their ignorance the assessors tax him for $50,000
only, and the tax is paid without question. Does the taxpayer act

12. What difficulties beset the work of the assessors?

13. Would anything be gained by exempting personal property from
taxation? If so, what? Would anything be lost? If so, what?

14. Does any one absolutely escape taxation?

15. Does the poll-tax payer pay, in any sense, more than his poll-tax?

16. Are there any taxes that people pay without seeming to know it? If
so, what? (See below, chap. viii. section 8.).

17. Have we clans to-day among ourselves? (Think of family reunions,
people of the same name in a community, descendants of early settlers,
etc.). What important differences exist between these modern so-called
clans and the ancient ones?

18. What is a "clannish" spirit? Is it a good spirit or a bad
one? Is it ever the same as patriotism?

19. Look up the meaning of _ham_, _wick_, and _stead_. Think of towns
whose names contain these words; also of towns whose names contain the
word _tun_ or _ton_ or _town_.

20. Give an account of the tithing-man in early New England.

21. In what sense is the word "parish" commonly used in the United
States? Is the parish the same as the church? Has it any limits of

22. In Massachusetts, clergymen were formerly paid out of the taxes of
the township. How did this come about? In this practice was there a
union or a separation of church and state?

23. Ministers are not now supported by taxation in the United States.
What important change in the parish idea does this fact indicate? Is it
a change for the better?

24. Are women who do not vote represented in town government?

25. Are boys and girls represented in town government?

26. Is there anybody in a town who is not represented in its government?

27. How are citizens of a town represented in state government?

28. How are citizens of a town represented in the national government?

29. Imagine a situation in which the ballot of a single voter in
a town might affect the action of the national government.


Section 1. THE NEW ENGLAND TOWNSHIP. There is a good account in
Martin's _Text Book on Civil Government in the United States_. N.
T. & Chicago, 1875.

Section 2. ORIGIN OF THE TOWNSHIP. Here the _Johns Hopkins University
Studies in Historical and Political Science_, edited by Dr. Herbert
Adams, are of great value. Note especially series I, no. i,  E. A.
Freeman, _Introduction to American Institutional History_; I., ii. iv.
viii. ix.-x. H. B. Adams, _The Germanic Origin of New England Towns,
Saxon Tithing-Men in America, Norman Constables in America, Village
Communities of Cape Ann and Salem_; II., x. Edward Channing, _Town and
County Government in the English Colonies of North America_; IV.,
xi.-xii. Melville Egleston, _The Land System of the New England
Colonies_; VII., vii.-ix. C. M. Andrews, _The River Towns of

See also Howard's _Local Constitutional History of the United
States_, vol. i. "Township, Hundred, and Shire," Baltimore, 1889, a
work of extraordinary merit.

The great book on local self-government in England is Toulmin Smith's
_The Parish_, 2d ed., London, 1859. For the ancient history of the
township, see Gomme's _Primitive Folk-Moots_, London, 1880; Gomme's
_Village Community_, London, 1890; Seebohm's _English Village
Community_, London, 1883; Nasse's _Agricultural Community of the Middle
Ages_, London, 1872; Laveleye's _Primitive Property_, London, 1878;
Phear's _Aryan Village in India and Ceylon_, London, 1880; Hearn (of the
University of Melbourne, Australia), _The Aryan Household_, London &
Melbourne, 1879; and the following works of Sir Henry Maine: _Ancient
Law_, London, 1861; _Village Communities in the East and West_, London,
1871; _Early History of Institutions_, London, 1875; _Early Law and
Custom_, London, 1883. All of Maine's works are republished in New York.
See also my _American Political Ideas_, N. Y., 1885.

Gomme's _Literature of Local Institutions_, London, 1886,
contains an extensive bibliography of the subject, with valuable
critical notes and comments.



Section 1. _The County in its Beginnings._

It is now time for us to treat of the county, and we may as well begin
by considering its origin. In treating of the township we began by
sketching it in its fullest development, as seen in New England. With.
the county we shall find it helpful to pursue a different method and
start at the beginning.

If we look at the maps of the states which make up our Union, we see
that they are all divided into counties (except that in Louisiana the
corresponding divisions are named parishes). The map of England shows
that country as similarly divided into counties.

[Sidenote: Why do we have counties?]
If we ask why this is so, some people will tell us that it is
convenient, for purposes of administration, to have a state, or a
kingdom, divided into areas that are larger than single towns. There
is much truth in this. It is convenient. If it were not so, counties
would not have survived, so as to make a part of our modern maps.
Nevertheless, this is not the historic reason why we have the
particular kind of subdivisions known as counties. We have them
because our fathers and grandfathers had them; and thus, if we would
find out the true reason, we may as well go back to the ancient times
when our forefathers were establishing themselves in England.

[Sidenote: Clans and tribes.]
We have seen how the clan of our barbarous ancestors, when it became
stationary, was established as the town or township. But in those early
times _clans_ were generally united more or less closely into _tribes_.
Among all primitive or barbarous races of men, so far as we can make
out, society is organized in tribes, and each tribe is made up of a
number of clans or family groups. Now when our English forefathers
conquered Britain they settled there as clans and also as tribes. The
clans became townships, and the tribes became shires or counties; that
is to say, the names were applied first to the people and afterwards to
the land they occupied. A few of the oldest county names in England
still show this plainly. _Essex_, _Middlesex_, and _Sussex_ were
originally "East Saxons," "Middle Saxons," and "South Saxons;" and on
the eastern coast two tribes of Angles were distinguished as "North
folk" and "South folk," or _Norfolk_ and _Suffolk_. When you look on the
map and see the town of _Icklinghiam_ in the county of _Suffolk_, it
means that this place was once known as the "home" of the "Icklings" or
"children of Ickel," a clan which formed part of the tribe of "South

[Sidenote: The English nation, like the American, grew out of the
union of small states.]
In those days there was no such thing as a Kingdom of England; there
were only these groups of tribes living side by side. Each tribe had its
leader, whose title was _ealdorman_ or "elder man." [1] After a while, as
some tribes increased in size and power, their ealdormen took the title
of kings. The little kingdoms coincided sometimes with a single shire,
sometimes with two or more shires. Thus there was a kingdom of Kent, and
the North and South Folk were combined in a kingdom of East Anglia. In
course of time numbers of shires combined into larger kingdoms, such as
Northumbria, Mercia, and the West Saxons; and finally the king of the
West Saxons became king of all England, and the several _shires_ became
subordinate parts or "shares" of the kingdom. In England, therefore, the
shires are older than the nation. The shires were not made by dividing
the nation, but the nation was made by uniting the shires. The English
nation, like the American, grew out of the union of little states that
had once been independent of one another, but had many interests in
common. For not less than three hundred years after all England had been
united under one king, these shires retained their self-government
almost as completely as the several states of the American Union.[2] A
few words about their government will not be wasted, for they will help
to throw light upon some things that still form a part of our political
and social life.

[Footnote 1: The pronunciation, was probably something like yáwl-dor-man.]

[Footnote 2: Chalmers, _Local Government_, p. 90.]

[Sidenote: Shire-mote, ealdorman, and sheriff.]
The shire was governed by the _shire-mote_ (i.e. "meeting"),
which was a representative body. Lords of lands, including abbots and
priors, attended it, as well as the reeve and four selected men
from each township. There were thus the germs of both the kind of
representation that is seen in the House of Lords and the much more
perfect kind that is seen in the House of Commons. After a while,
as cities and boroughs grew in importance, they sent representative
burghers to the shire-mote. There were two presiding officers; one was
the _ealdorman_, who was now appointed by the king; the other was
the _shire-reeve_ (i.e. "sheriff"), who was still elected by the
people and generally held office for life.

[Sidenote: The county court.]
This shire-mote was both a legislative body and a court of justice. It
not only made laws for the shire, but it tried civil and criminal
causes. After the Norman Conquest some changes occurred. The shire now
began to be called by the French name "county," because of its analogy
to the small pieces of territory on the Continent that were governed by
"counts." [3] The shire-mote became known as the county court, but cases
coming before it were tried by the king's _justices in eyre_, or circuit
judges, who went about from county to county to preside over the
judicial work. The office of ealdorman became extinct. The sheriff was
no longer elected by the people for life, but appointed by the king for
the term of one year. This kept him strictly responsible to the king. It
was the sheriff's duty to see that the county's share of the national
taxes was duly collected and paid over to the national treasury. The
sheriff also summoned juries and enforced the judgments of the courts,
and if he met with resistance in so doing he was authorized to call out
a force of men, known as the _posse comitatus_ (i.e. power of the
county), and overcome all opposition. Another county officer was the
_coroner_, or crowner_,[4] so called because originally (in Alfred's
time) he was appointed by the king, and was especially the crown officer
in the county. Since the time of Edward I., however, coroners have been
elected by the people. Originally coroners held small courts of inquiry
upon cases of wreckage, destructive fires, or sudden death, but in
course of time their jurisdiction became confined to the last-named
class of cases. If a death occurred under circumstances in any way
mysterious or likely to awaken suspicion, it was the business of the
coroner, assisted by not less than twelve _jurors_ (i. e, "sworn men"),
to hold an _inquest_ for the purpose of ascertaining the cause of death.
The coroner could compel the attendance of witnesses and order a medical
examination of the body, and if there were sufficient evidence to charge
any person with murder or manslaughter, the coroner could have such
person arrested and committed for trial.

[Footnote 3: Originally _comites_, or "companions" of the king.]
[Footnote 4: This form of the word, sometimes supposed to be a vulgarism,
is as correct as the other. See Skeat, _Etym_. Dict., s.v.]

[Sidenote: Justices of the peace.]
[Sidenote: The Quarter sessions.]
[Sidenote: The lord-lieutenant.]
Another important county officer was the _justice of the peace_.
Originally six were appointed by the crown in each county, but in
later times any number might be appointed. The office was created by a
series of statutes in the reign of Edward III., in order to put a stop
to the brigandage which still flourished in England; it was a common
practice for robbers to seize persons and hold them for ransom.[5] By
the last of these statutes, in 1362, the justices of the peace in each
county were to hold a court four times in the year. The powers of this
court, which came to be known as the Quarter Sessions, were from time
to time increased by act of parliament, until it quite supplanted the
old county court. In modern times the Quarter Sessions has become
an administrative body quite as much as a court. The justices, who
receive no salary, hold office for life, or during good behaviour.
They appoint the chief constable of the county, who appoints the
police. They also take part in the supervision of highways and
bridges, asylums and prisons. Since the reign of Henry VIII., the
English county has had an officer known as the lord-lieutenant, who
was once leader of the county militia, but whose functions to-day are
those of keeper of the records and principal justice of the peace.

[Footnote 5: Longman's _Life and Times of Edward III._, vol. i.
p. 301.]

[Sidenote: Beginnings of Massachusetts counties.]
During the past five hundred years the English county has gradually
sunk from a self-governing community into an administrative district;
and in recent times its boundaries have been so crossed and
crisscrossed with those of other administrative areas, such as those
of school-boards, sanitary boards, etc., that very little of the old
county is left in recognizable shape. Most of this change has been
effected since the Tudor period. The first English settlers in America
were familiar with the county as a district for the administration of
justice, and they brought with them coroners, sheriffs, and quarter
sessions. In 1635 the General Court of Massachusetts appointed four
towns--Boston, Cambridge, Salem, and Ipswich--as places where courts
should be held quarterly. In 1643 the colony, which then included
as much of New Hampshire as was settled, was divided into four
"shires,"--Suffolk, Essex, Middlesex, and Norfolk, the latter lying
then to the northward and including the New Hampshire towns. The
militia was then organized, perhaps without consciousness of the
analogy, after a very old English fashion; the militia of each town
formed a company, and the companies of the shire formed a regiment.
The county was organized from the beginning as a judicial district,
with its court-house, jail, and sheriff. After 1697 the court, held by
the justices of the peace, was called the Court of General Sessions.
It could try criminal causes not involving the penalty of death or
banishment, and civil causes in which the value at stake was less than
forty shillings. It also had control over highways going from town to
town; and it apportioned the county taxes among the several towns.

The justices and sheriff were appointed by the governor, as in England
by the king.


1. Why do we have counties in the United States? Contrast the popular
reason with the historic.

2. What relation did the tribe hold to the clan among our ancestors?

3. In time what did the clans and the tribes severally become?

4. Show how old county names in England throw light on the
      county development.

5. Trace the growth of the English nation in accordance with
   the following outline:--
   a. Each tribe and its leader,
   b. A powerful tribe and its leader.
   c. The relation of a little kingdom to the shire.
   d. The final union under one king.
   e. The relative ages of the shire and the nation.

6. Give an account (1) of the shire-mote, (2) of the two kinds
      of representation in it, (3) of its presiding officers, and
      (4) of its two kinds of duties.

7. Let the pupil make written analyses or outlines of the following
      topics, to be used by him in presenting the topics
      orally, or to be passed in to the teacher:--
   a. What changes took place in the government of the shire
            after the Norman Conquest?
   b. Trace the development of the coroner's office.
   c. Give an account of the justices of the peace and the courts
       held by them.
   d. Show what applications the English settlers in Massachusetts made of
       their knowledge of the English county.

Section 2. The Modern County in Massachusetts.

The modern county system of Massachusetts may now be very briefly
described. The county, like the town, is a corporation; it can hold
property and sue or be sued. It builds the court-house and jail, and
keeps them in repair. The town in which these buildings are placed is
called, as in England, the shire town.

[Sidenote: County commissioners.]
In each county there are three commissioners, elected by the people.
Their term of service is three years, and one goes out each year.
These commissioners represent the county in law-suits, as the
selectmen represent the town. They "apportion the county taxes among
the towns;" "lay out, alter, and discontinue highways within the
county;" "have charge of houses of correction;" and erect and keep in
repair the county buildings.[6]

[Footnote 6: Martin's _Civil Government_, p. 197.]

[Sidenote: County treasurer.]
The revenues of the county are derived partly from taxation and partly
from the payment of fines and costs in the courts. These revenues are
received and disbursed by the county treasurer, who is elected by the
people for a term of three years.

[Sidenote: Courts.]
The Superior Court of the state holds at least two sessions annually
in each county, and tries civil and criminal causes. There is also
in each county a probate court with jurisdiction over all matters
relating to wills, administration of estates, and appointment of
guardians; it also acts as a court of insolvency. The custody of wills
and documents relating to the business of this court is in the hands
of an officer known as the register of probate, who is elected by the
people for a term of five years.

[Sidenote: Shire town and court-house.]
To preserve the records of all land-titles and transfers of land
within the county, all deeds and mortgages are registered in an
office in the shire town, usually within or attached to the court The
register of deeds is an officer elected by the people for a term of
three years. In counties where there is much business there may be
more than one.

[Sidenote: Justices of the peace.]
Justices of the peace are appointed by the governor for a term of seven
years, and the appointment may be renewed. Their functions have been
greatly curtailed, and now amount to little more than administering
oaths, and in some cases issuing warrants and taking bail. They may join
persons in marriage, and, when specially commissioned as "trial
justices," have criminal jurisdiction over sundry petty offences.

[Sidenote: The Sheriff.]
The sheriff is elected by the people for a term of three years. He may
appoint deputies, for whom he is responsible, to assist him in his
work. He must attend all county courts, and the meetings of the county
commissioners whenever required. He must inflict, either personally
or by deputy, the sentence of the court, whether it be fine,
imprisonment, or death. He is responsible for the preservation of the
peace within the county, and to this end must pursue criminals and may
arrest disorderly persons. If he meets with resistance he may call out
the _posse comitatus_; if the resistance grows into insurrection
he may apply to the governor and obtain the aid of the state militia;
if the insurrection proves too formidable to be thus dealt with, the
governor may in his behalf apply to the president of the United States
for aid from the regular army. In this way the force that may be
drawn upon, if necessary, for the suppression of disorder in a single
locality, is practically unlimited and irresistible.

We have now obtained a clear outline view of the township and county in
themselves and in their relation to one another, with an occasional
glimpse of their relation to the state; in so far, at least, as such a
view can be gained from a reference to the history of England and of
Massachusetts. We must next trace the development of local government in
other parts of the United States; and in doing so we can advance at
somewhat quicker pace, not because our subject becomes in any wise less
important or less interesting, but because we have already marked out
the ground and said things of general application which will not need to
be said over again.


  Give an account of the modern county in Massachusetts under
  the following heads:--

  1. The county a corporation.
  2. The county commissioners and their duties.
  3. The county treasurer and his duties.
  4. The courts held in a county.
  5. The shire town and the court-house.
  6. The register of deeds and his duties.
  7. Justices of the peace and trial justices.
  8. The sheriff and his duties.
  9. The force at the sheriff's disposal to suppress disorder.

Section 3. _The Old Virginia County._

By common consent of historians, the two most distinctive and most
characteristic lines of development which English forms of government
have followed, in propagating themselves throughout the United States,
are the two lines that have led through New England on the one hand
and through Virginia on the other. We have seen what shape local
government assumed in New England; let us now observe what shape it
assumed in the Old Dominion.

[Sidenote: Virginia sparsely settled.]
The first point to be noticed in the early settlement of Virginia is
that people did not live so near together as in New England. This was
because tobacco, cultivated on large estates, was a source of wealth.
Tobacco drew settlers to Virginia as in later days gold drew settlers
to California and sparsely Australia. They came not in organized
groups or congregations, but as a multitude of individuals. Land
was granted to individuals, and sometimes these grants were of
enormous extent. John Bolling, who died in 1757, left an estate of
40,000 acres, and this is not mentioned as an extraordinary amount of
land for one man to own.[7] From an early period it was customary
to keep these great estates together by entailing them, and this
continued until entails were abolished in 1776 through the influence
of Thomas Jefferson.

[Footnote 7: Edward Channing, "Town and County Government," in
_Johns Hopkins University Studies_, vol. ii. p. 467.]

[Sidenote: Absence of towns.]
A glance at the map of Virginia shows to what a remarkable degree it
is intersected by navigable rivers. This fact made it possible for
plantations, even at a long distance from the coast, to have each its
own private wharf, where a ship from England could unload its cargo of
tools, cloth, or furniture, and receive a cargo of tobacco in return.
As the planters were thus supplied with most of the necessaries of
life, there was no occasion for the kind of trade that builds up
towns. Even in comparatively recent times the development of town life
in Virginia has been very slow. In 1880, out of 246 cities and towns
in the United States with a population exceeding 10,000, there were
only six in Virginia.

[Sidenote: Slavery]
The cultivation of tobacco upon large estates caused a great demand for
cheap labour, and this was supplied partly by bringing negro slaves from
Africa, partly by bringing criminals from English jails. The latter were
sold into slavery for a limited term of years, and were known as
"indentured white servants." So great was the demand for labour that it
became customary to kidnap poor friendless wretches on the streets of
seaport towns in England and ship them off to Virginia to be sold into
servitude. At first these white servants were more numerous than the
negroes, but before the end of the seventeenth century the blacks had
come to be much the more numerous.

[Sidenote: Social position of settlers.]
In this rural community the owners of plantations came from the same
classes of society as the settlers of New England; they were for the
most part country squires and yeomen. But while in New England there
was no lower class or society sharply marked off from the upper, on
the other hand in Virginia there was an insurmountable distinction
between the owners of plantations and the so-called "mean whites" or
"white trash." This class was originally formed of men and women
who had been indentured white servants, and was increased by such
shiftless people as now and then found their way to the colony, but
could not win estates or obtain social recognition. With such a
sharp division between classes, an aristocratic type of society was
developed in Virginia as naturally as a democratic type was developed
in New England.

[Sidenote: Virginia parishes.]
[Sidenote: The vestry of a close corporation.]
In Virginia there were no town-meetings. The distances between
plantations cooperated with the distinction between classes to prevent
the growth of such an institution. The English parish, with its
churchwardens and vestry and clerk, was reproduced in Virginia under
the same name, but with some noteworthy peculiarities. If the whole
body of ratepayers had assembled in vestry meeting, to enact by-laws
and assess taxes, the course of development would have been like that
of the New England town-meeting. But instead of this the vestry, which
exercised the chief authority in the parish, was composed of twelve
chosen men. This was not government by a primary assembly, it was
representative government. At first the twelve vestrymen were elected
by the people of the parish, and thus resembled the selectmen of
New England; but after a while "they obtained the power of filling
vacancies in their own number," so that they became what is called a
"close corporation," and the people had nothing to do with choosing
them. Strictly speaking, that was not representative government; it
was a step on the road that leads towards oligarchical or despotic

[Sidenote: Powers of the vestry.]
It was the vestry, thus constituted, that apportioned the parish
taxes, appointed the churchwardens, presented the minister for
induction into office, and acted as overseers of the poor. The
minister presided in all vestry meetings. His salary was paid in
tobacco, and in 1696 it was fixed by law at 16,000 pounds of tobacco
yearly. In many parishes the churchwardens were the collectors of the
parish taxes. The other officers, such as the sexton and the parish
clerk, were appointed either by the minister or by the vestry.

With the local government thus administered, we see that the larger
part of the people had little directly to do. Nevertheless in these
small neighbourhoods government was in full sight of the people. Its
proceedings went on in broad daylight and were sustained by public
sentiment. As Jefferson said, "The vestrymen are usually the most
discreet farmers, so distributed through the parish that every part of
it may be under the immediate eye of some one of them. They are well
acquainted with the details and economy of private life, and they
find sufficient inducements to execute their charge well, in their
philanthropy, in the approbation of their neighbours, and the
distinction which that gives them." [8]

[Footnote 8: See Howard, _Local Constitutional History of the United
States_, vol. i. p. 122.]

[Sidenote: The county was the unit of representation.]
The difference, however, between the New England township and the
Virginia parish, in respect of self-government, was striking enough.
We have now to note a further difference. In New England, as we have
seen, the township was the unit of representation in the colonial
legislature; but in Virginia the parish was not the unit of
representation. The county was that unit. In the colonial legislature
of Virginia the representatives sat not for parishes, but for
counties. The difference is very significant. As the political life of
New England was in a manner built up out of the political life of
the towns, so the political life of Virginia was built up out of the
political life of the counties. This was partly because the vast
plantations were not grouped about a compact village nucleus like the
small farms at the North, and partly because there was not in Virginia
that Puritan theory of the church according to which each congregation
is a self-governing democracy. The conditions which made the New
England town-meeting were absent. The only alternative was some kind
of representative government, and for this the county was a small
enough area. The county in Virginia was much smaller than in
Massachusetts or Connecticut. In a few instances the county consisted
of only a single parish; in some cases it was divided into two
parishes, but oftener into three or more.

[Sidenote: The county court was virtually a close corporation.]
In Virginia, as in England and in New England, the county was an area
for the administration of justice. There were usually in each county
eight justices of the peace, and their court was the counterpart of
the Quarter Sessions in England. They were appointed by the governor,
but it was customary for them to nominate candidates for the governor
to appoint, so that practically the court filled its own vacancies and
was a close corporation, like the parish vestry. Such an arrangement
tended to keep the general supervision and control of things in the
hands of a few families.

This county court usually met as often as once a month in some
convenient spot answering to the shire town of England or New England.
More often than not the place originally consisted of the court-house
and very little else, and was named accordingly from the name of the
county, as Hanover Court House or Fairfax Court House; and the small
shire towns that have grown up in such spots often retain these names
to the present day. Such names occur commonly in Virginia, West
Virginia, and South Carolina, very rarely in Kentucky, North Carolina,
Alabama, Ohio, and nowhere else in the United States.[9] Their number
has diminished from the tendency to omit the phrase "Court House,"
leaving the name of the county for that of the shire town, as for
example in Culpeper, Va. In New England the process of naming has been
just the reverse; as in Hartford County, Conn., or Worcester County,
Mass., which have taken their names from the shire towns. In this,
as in so many cases, whole chapters of history are wrapped up in
geographical names.[10]

[Footnote 9: In Mitchell's Atlas, 1883, the number of cases is in Va.
38, W. Va. 13, S. C. 16, N. C. 2, Ala. 1, Ky. 1, Ohio, 1.]

[Footnote 10: A few of the oldest Virginia counties, organized as
such in 1634, had arisen from the spreading and thinning of single
settlements originally intended to be cities and named accordingly.
Hence the curious names (at first sight unintelligible) of "James City
County," and "Charles City County."]

[Sidenote: Powers of the court]
The county court in Virginia had jurisdiction in criminal actions not
involving peril of life or limb, and in civil suits where the sum at
stake exceeded twenty-five shillings. Smaller suits could be tried
by a single justice. The court also had charge of the probate and
administration of wills. The court appointed its own clerk, who kept
the county records. It superintended the construction and repair of
bridges and highways, and for this purpose divided the county into
"precincts," and appointed annually for each precinct a highway
surveyor. The court also seems to have appointed constables, one for
each precinct. The justices could themselves act as coroners, but
annually two or more coroners for each parish were appointed by the
governor. As we have seen that the parish taxes--so much for salaries
of minister and clerk, so much for care of church buildings, so much
for relief of the poor, etc.--were computed and assessed by the
vestry; so the county taxes, for care of court-house and jail, roads
and bridges, coroner's fees, and allowances to the representatives
sent to the colonial legislature, were computed and assessed by the
county court. The general taxes for the colony were estimated by a
committee of the legislature, as well as the county's share of the
colony tax.

[Sidenote: The sheriff.]
The taxes for the county, and sometimes the taxes for the parish also,
were collected by the sheriff. They were usually paid, not in money,
but in tobacco; and the sheriff was the custodian of this tobacco,
responsible for its proper disposal. The sheriff was thus not only
the officer for executing the judgments of the court, but he was also
county treasurer and collector, and thus exercised powers almost as
great as those of the sheriff in England in the twelfth century. He
also presided over elections for representatives to the legislature.
It is interesting to observe how this very important officer was
chosen. "Each year the court presented the names of three of its
members to the governor, who appointed one, generally the senior
justice, to be the sheriff of the county for the ensuing year." [11]
Here again we see this close corporation, the county court, keeping
the control of things within its own hands.

[Footnote 11: Edward Channing, _op. cit_. p. 478.]

[Sidenote: The county lieutenant]
One other important county officer needs to be mentioned. We have seen
that in early New England each town had its train-band or company of
militia, and that the companies in each county united to form the
county regiment. In Virginia it was just the other way. Each county
raised a certain number of troops, and because it was not convenient
for the men to go many miles from home in assembling for purposes of
drill, the county was subdivided into military districts, each with
its company, according to rules laid down by the governor. The
military command in each county was vested in the county lieutenant,
an officer answering in many respects to the lord lieutenant of
the English shire at that period. Usually he was a member of the
governor's council, and as such exercised sundry judicial functions.
He bore the honorary title of "colonel," and was to some extent
regarded as the governor's deputy; but in later times his duties were
confined entirely to military matters.[12]

[Footnote 12: For an excellent account of local government in Virginia
before the Revolution, see Howard, _Local Const. Hist. of the U.S._,
vol. i. pp. 388-407; also Edward Ingle in _Johns Hopkins Univ.
Studies_, III., ii.-iii.]

If now we sum up the contrasts between local government in Virginia
and that in New England, we observe:--

1. That in New England the management of local affairs was mostly in the
hands of town officers, the county being superadded for certain
purposes, chiefly judicial; while in Virginia the management was chiefly
in the hands of county officers, though certain functions, chiefly
ecclesiastical, were reserved to the parish.

2. That in New England the local magistrates were almost always, with
the exception of justices, chosen by the people; while in Virginia,
though some of them were nominally appointed by the governor, yet in
practice they generally contrived to appoint themselves--in other
words the local boards practically filled their own vacancies and were

[Sidenote: Jefferson's opinion of township government.]
These differences are striking and profound. There can be no doubt
that, as Thomas Jefferson clearly saw, in the long run the interests
of political liberty are much safer under the New England system
than under the Virginia system. Jefferson said, "Those wards,
called townships in New England, are the vital principle of their
governments, and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever
devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government,
and for its preservation[13]....As Cato, then, concluded every speech
with the words _Carthago delenda est_, so do I every opinion with
the injunction: Divide the counties into wards!" [14]

[Footnote 13: Jefferson's _Works_, vii. 13.]

[Footnote 14: _Id_., vi. 544]

[Sidenote: "Court Day."]
We must, however, avoid the mistake of making too much of this contrast.
As already hinted, in those rural societies where people generally knew
one another, its effects were not so far-reaching as they would be in
the more complicated society of to-day. Even though Virginia had not the
town-meeting, it had its familiar court-day, which was a holiday for
all the country-side, especially in the fall and spring. From all
directions came in the people on horseback, in wagons, and afoot. On the
court-house green assembled, in indiscriminate confusion, people of all
classes,--the hunter from the backwoods, the owner of a few acres, the
grand proprietor, and the grinning, heedless negro. Old debts were
settled, and new ones made; there were auctions, transfers of property,
and, if election times were near, stump-speaking.[15]

[Sidenote: Virginia prolific in great leaders.]
For seventy years or more before the Declaration of Independence the
matters of general public concern, about which stump speeches were made
on Virginia court-days, were very similar to those that were discussed
in Massachusetts town-meetings when representatives were to be chosen
for the legislature. Such questions generally related to some real or
alleged encroachment upon popular liberties by the royal governor, who,
being appointed and sent from beyond sea, was apt to have ideas and
purposes of his own that conflicted with those of the people. This
perpetual antagonism to the governor, who represented British imperial
interference with American local self-government, was an excellent
schooling in political liberty, alike for Virginia and for
Massachusetts. When the stress of the Revolution came, these two leading
colonies cordially supported each other, and their political
characteristics were reflected in the kind of achievements for which
each was especially distinguished. The Virginia system, concentrating
the administration of local affairs in the hands of a few county
families, was eminently favourable for developing skilful and vigorous
leadership. And while in the history of Massachusetts during the
Revolution we are chiefly impressed with the wonderful degree in which
the mass of the people exhibited the kind of political training that
nothing in the world except the habit of parliamentary discussion can
impart; on the other hand, Virginia at that time gave us--in Washington,
Jefferson, Henry, Madison, and Marshall, to mention no others--such a
group of consummate leaders as the world has seldom seen equalled.

[Footnote 15: Ingle, _loc. cit._]


1. Why was Virginia more sparsely settled than Massachusetts?

2. Why was it that towns were built up more slowly in Virginia than in

3. How was the great demand for labour in Virginia met?

4. What distinction of classes naturally arose?

5. Contrast the type of society thus developed in Virginia with that
   developed in New England.

6. Compare the Virginia parish in its earlier government with the
   English parish from which it was naturally copied.

7. Show how the vestry became a close corporation.

8. Who were usually chosen as vestrymen, and what were their powers?

9. Compare Virginia's unit of representation in the colonial
legislature with that of Massachusetts, and give the reason for the

10. Describe the county court, showing in particular how it became a
close corporation.

11. Bring out some of the history wrapped up in the names of county

12. What were the chief powers of the county court?

13. Describe the assessment of the various taxes.

14. What were the sheriff's duties?

15. Describe the organization and command of the militia in each

16. Sum up the differences between local government in Virginia and
that in New England (1) as to the management of local affairs and (2)
as to the choice of local officers.

17. What did Jefferson think of the principle of township government?

18. What was the equivalent in Virginia of the New England

19. What was the value of this frequent assembling?

20. What schooling in political liberty before the Revolution did
Virginia and Massachusetts alike have?

21. What was an impressive feature of the New England system?

22. What was an impressive feature of the Virginia system?


1. How many counties are there in your state?

2. Name and place them if the number is small.

3. In what county do you live?

4. Give its dimensions. Are they satisfactory? Why?

5. Give its boundaries.

6. Is there anything interesting in the meaning or origin of its name?

7. How many towns and cities does it contain?

8. What is the county seat? Is it conveniently situated? Reasons for
thinking so?

9. If convenient, visit any county building, note the uses to which it
is put, and report such facts as may be thus found out.

10. Obtain a deed, no matter how old, and answer these questions about

  a. Is it recorded? If so, where?
  b. Would it be easy for you to find
     the record?
  c. Why should such a record be kept?
  d. What officer
     has charge of such records?
  e. What sort of work must he and his
     assistants do?
  f. The place of such records is called what?
  g. What sort of facilities for the public should such a place have? What
     safety precautions should be observed there?
  h. Why should the county
     keep such records rather than the city or the town?
  i. Is there a record of the deed by which the preceding owner came into
    possession of the property?
  j. What sort of title did the first owner have? Is
     there any record of it? Was the first owner Indian or European?

(The teacher might obtain a deed and base a class exercise upon it. It
is easy with a deed for a text to lead pupils to see the common-sense
basis of an important county institution, and thereafter to give very
sensible views as to what it should be, even if it is not fully known
what it is.)

11. Is there a local court for your town or city? 12. How do its cases
compare in magnitude with those tried at the county seat?

13. If a man steals and is prosecuted, who becomes the plaintiff?

14. If a man owes and is sued for debt, who becomes the plaintiff?

15. What is a criminal action?

16. What is a civil action?

17. What is the result to the defendant in the former case, if he is

18. What is the result to the defendant in the latter case, if the
decision is against him?

19. Is lying a crime or a sin? May it ever become a crime?

20. Are courts of any service to the vast numbers who are never
brought before them? Why?

21. May good citizens always keep out of the courts if they choose? Is
it their duty always to keep out of them?

22. Is there any aversion among people that you know to being brought
before the courts? Why?

23. What is the purpose of a jail? Is this purpose realized in fact?

24. Should a disturbance of a serious nature break out in your town,
whose immediate duty would it be to quell it? Suppose this duty should
prove too difficult to perform, then what?

25. What is the attitude of good citizenship towards officers who are
trying to enforce the laws? What is the attitude of good citizenship
if the laws are not satisfactory or if the officers are indiscreet in
enforcing them?

26. Suppose a man of property dies and leaves a will, what troubles
are possible about the disposal of his property? Suppose he leaves no
will, what troubles are possible? Whose duty is it to exercise control
over such matters and hold people up to legal and honourable conduct
in them?

27. What is an executor? What is an administrator?

28. If parents die, whose duty is it to care for their children? If
property is left to such children, are they free to use it as they
please? What has the county to do with such cases?

29. How much does your town or city contribute towards county
expenses? How does this amount compare with that raised by other towns
in the county?

30. Give the organization of your county government.

31. Would it be better for the towns to do themselves the work now
done for them by the county?

       *       *       *       *       *


Section 1. THE COUNTY IN ITS BEGINNINGS. This subject is treated in
connection with the township in several of the books above mentioned.
See especially Howard, _Local Const. Hist._

Section 2. THE MODERN COUNTY IN MASSACHUSETTS. There is a good account
in Martin's _Text Book_ above mentioned.

Section 3. THE OLD VIRGINIA COUNTY. The best account is in _J.H.U.
Studies_, III., ii.-iii. Edward Ingle, _Virginia Local Institutions._

In dealing with the questions on page 69, both teachers and pupils
will find Dole's _Talks about Law_ (Boston, 1887) extremely
valuable and helpful.



Section 1. _Various Local Systems_.

We have now completed our outline sketch of town and county government
as illustrated in New England on the one hand and in Virginia on the
other. There are some important points in the early history of local
government in other portions of the original thirteen states, to
which we must next call attention; and then we shall be prepared to
understand the manner in which our great western country has been
organized under civil government. We must first say something about
South Carolina and Maryland.

[Sidenote: Parishes in South Carolina.]
South Carolina was settled from half a century to a century later
than Massachusetts and Virginia, and by two distinct streams of
immigration. The lowlands near the coast were settled by Englishmen
and by French Huguenots, but the form of government was purely
English. There were parishes, as in Virginia, but popular election
played a greater part in them. The vestrymen were elected yearly by
all the taxpayers of the parish. The minister was also elected by his
people, and after 1719 each parish sent its representatives to the
colonial legislature, though in a few instances two parishes were
joined together for the purpose of choosing representatives. The
system was thus more democratic than in Virginia; and in this
connection it is worth while to observe that parochial libraries and
free schools were established as early as 1712, much earlier than in

[Sidenote: The back country]
During the first half of the eighteenth century a very different stream
of immigration, coming mostly along the slope of the Alleghanies from
Virginia and Pennsylvania, and consisting in great part of Germans,
Scotch Highlanders, and Scotch-Irish, peopled the upland western regions
of South Carolina. For some time this territory had scarcely any civil
organization. It was a kind of "wild West." There were as yet no
counties in the colony. There was just one sheriff for the whole colony,
who "held his office by patent from the crown." [1] A court sat in
Charleston, but the arm of justice was hardly long enough to reach
offenders in the mountains. "To punish a horse-thief or prosecute a
debtor one was sometimes compelled to travel a distance of several
hundred miles, and be subjected to all the dangers and delays incident
to a wild country." When people cannot get justice in what in civilized
countries is the regular way, they will get it in some irregular way. So
these mountaineers began to form themselves into bands known as
"regulators," quite like the "vigilance committees" formed for the same
purposes in California a hundred years later. For thieves and murderers
the "regulators" provided a speedy trial, and the nearest tree served as
a gallows.

[Footnote 1: B. J. Ramage, in _Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies_, I., xii.]

[Sidenote: The district system.]
In order to put a stop to this lynch law, the legislature in 1768
divided the back country into districts, each with its sheriff and
court-house, and the judges were sent on circuit through these
districts. The upland region with its districts was thus very
differently organized from the lowland region with its parishes, and the
effect was for a while almost like dividing South Carolina into two
states. At first the districts were not allowed to choose their own
sheriffs, but in course of time they acquired this privilege. It was
difficult to apportion the representation in the state legislature so as
to balance evenly the districts in the west against the parishes in the
east, and accordingly there was much dissatisfaction, especially in the
west which did not get its fair share. In 1786 the capital was moved
from Charleston to Columbia as a concession to the back country, and in
1808 a kind of compromise was effected, in such wise that the uplands
secured a permanent majority in the house of representatives, while the
lowlands retained control of the senate. The two sections had each its
separate state treasurer, and this kind of double government lasted
until the Civil War.

[Sidenote: The modern South Carolina county.]
At the close of the war "the parishes were abolished and the district
system was extended to the low country." But soon afterward, by the
new constitution of 1868, the districts were abolished and the state
was divided into 34 counties, each of which sends one senator to the
state senate, while they send representatives in proportion to
their population. In each county the people elect three county
commissioners, a school commissioner, a sheriff, a judge of probate,
a clerk, and a coroner. In one respect the South Carolina county is
quite peculiar: it has no organization for judicial purposes. "The
counties, like their institutional predecessor the district, are
grouped into judicial circuits, and a judge is elected by the
legislature for each circuit. Trial justices are appointed by the
governor for a term of two years."

[Sidenote: The counties are too large.]
This system, like the simple county system everywhere, is a
representative system; the people take no direct part in the
management of affairs. In one respect it seems obviously to need
amendment. In states where county government has grown up naturally,
after the Virginia fashion, the county is apt to be much smaller than
in states where it is simply a district embracing several township
governments. Thus the average size of a county in Massachusetts is 557
square miles, and in Connecticut 594 square miles; but in Virginia
it is only 383 and in Kentucky 307 square miles. In South Carolina,
however, where the county did not grow up of itself, but has been
enacted, so to speak, by a kind of afterthought, it has been made too
large altogether. The average area of the county in South Carolina is
about 1,000 square miles. Charleston County, more than 40 miles in
length and not less than 35 in average width, is larger than the
state of Rhode Island. Such an area is much too extensive for
local self-government. Its different portions are too far apart to
understand each other's local wants, or to act efficiently toward
supplying them; and roads, bridges, and free schools suffer
accordingly. An unsuccessful attempt has been made to reduce the size
of the counties. But what seems perhaps more likely to happen is the
practical division of the counties into school districts, and the
gradual development of these school districts into something like
self-governing townships. To this very interesting point we shall
again have occasion to refer.

[Sidenote: The _hundred_ in Maryland.]
[Sidenote: Clans, brotherhoods, and tribes]
We come now to Maryland. The early history of local institutions in
this state is a fascinating subject of study. None of the American
colonies had a more distinctive character of its own, or reproduced
old English usages in a more curious fashion. There was much in
colonial Maryland, with its lords of the manor, its bailiffs and
seneschals, its courts baron and courts leet, to remind one of the
England of the thirteenth century. But of these ancient institutions,
long since extinct, there is but one that needs to be mentioned in the
present connection. In Maryland the earliest form of civil community
was called, not a parish or township, but a _hundred_. This
curious designation is often met with in English history, and the
institution which it describes, though now almost everywhere extinct,
was once almost universal among men. It will be remembered that the
oldest form of civil society, which is still to be found among some
barbarous races, was that in which families were organized into clans
and clans into tribes; and we saw that among our forefathers in
England the dwelling-place of the clan became the township, and the
home of the tribe became the shire or county. Now, in nearly all
primitive societies that have been studied, we find a group that is
larger than the clan but smaller than the tribe,--or, in other words,
intermediate between clan and tribe. Scholars usually call this group
by its Greek name, _phratry_ or "brotherhood", for it was known
long ago that in ancient Greece clans were grouped into brotherhoods
and brotherhoods into tribes. Among uncivilized people all over the
world we find this kind of grouping. For example, a tribe of North
American Indians is regularly made up of phratries, and the phratries
are made up of clans; and, strange as it might at first seem, a good
many half-understood features of early Greek and Roman society have
had much light thrown upon them from the study of the usages of
Cherokees and Mohawks.

Wherever men have been placed, the problem of forming civil society
has been in its main outlines the same; and in its earlier stages it
has been approached in pretty much the same way by all.

[Sidenote: The hundred court.]
The ancient Romans had the brotherhood, and called it a _curia_.
The Roman people were organized in clans, curies, and tribes. But for
military purposes the curia was called a _century_, because
it furnished a quota of one hundred men to the army. The word
_century_ originally meant a company of a hundred men, and it was
only by a figure of speech that it afterward came to mean a period
of a hundred years. Now among all Germanic peoples, including the
English, the brotherhood seems to have been called the hundred.
Our English forefathers seem to have been organized, like other
barbarians, in clans, brotherhoods, and tribes; and the brotherhood
was in some way connected with the furnishing a hundred warriors to
the host. In the tenth century we find England covered with small
districts known as hundreds. Several townships together made a
hundred, and several hundreds together made a shire. The hundred
was chiefly notable as the smallest area for the administration of
justice. The hundred court was a representative body, composed of the
lords of lands or their stewards, with the reeve and four selected men
and the parish priest from each township. There was a chief magistrate
for the hundred, known originally as the hundredman, but after the
Norman conquest as the high constable.

[Sidenote: Decay of the hundred.]
[Sidenote: Hundred meetings in Maryland]
By the thirteenth century the importance of the hundred had much
diminished. The need for any such body, intermediate between township
and county, ceased to be felt, and the functions of the hundred were
gradually absorbed by the county. Almost everywhere in England, by the
reign of Elizabeth, the hundred had fallen into decay. It is curious
that its name and some of its peculiarities should have been brought
to America, and should in one state have remained to the present day.
Some of the early settlements in Virginia were called hundreds, but
they were practically nothing more than parishes, and the name soon
became obsolete, except upon the map, where we still see, for example,
Bermuda Hundred. But in Maryland the hundred flourished and became the
political unit, like the township in New England. The hundred was the
militia district, and the district for the assessment of taxes. In the
earliest times it was also the representative district; delegates
to the colonial legislature sat for hundreds. But in 1654 this was
changed, and representatives were elected by counties. The officers
of the Maryland hundred were the high constable, the commander of
militia, the tobacco-viewer, the overseer of roads, and the assessor
of taxes. The last-mentioned officer was elected by the people, the
others were all appointed by the governor. The hundred had also its
assembly of all the people, which was in many respects like the New
England town-meeting. These hundred-meetings enacted by-laws, levied
taxes, appointed committees, and often exhibited a vigorous political
life. But after the Revolution they fell into disuse, and in 1824 the
hundred became extinct in Maryland; its organization was swallowed up
in that of the county.

[Sidenote: The hundred in Delaware]
[Sidenote: The levy court, or representative county assembly.]
In Delaware, however, the hundred remains to this day. There it
is simply an imperfectly developed township, but its relations with
the county, as they have stood with but little change since 1743,
are very interesting. Each hundred used to choose its own assessor
of taxes, and every year in the month of November the assessors from
all the hundreds used to meet in the county court-house, along with
three or more justices of the peace and eight grand jurors, and assess
the taxes for the ensuing year. A month later they assembled again,
to hear complaints from persons who considered themselves overtaxed;
and having disposed of this business, they proceeded to appoint
collectors, one for each hundred. This county assembly was known as
the "court of levy and appeal," or more briefly as the levy court.
It appointed the county treasurer, the road commissioners, and the
overseers of the poor. Since 1793 the levy court has been composed
of special commissioners chosen by popular vote, but its essential
character has not been altered. As a thoroughly representative body,
it reminds one of the county courts of the Plantagenet period.

[Sidenote: The old Pennsylvania county.]
We next come to the great middle colonies, Pennsylvania and New York.
The most noteworthy feature of local government in Pennsylvania was
the general election of county officers by popular vote. The county
was the unit of representation in the colonial legislature, and on
election days the people of the county elected at the same time their
sheriffs, coroners, assessors, and county commissioners. In this
respect Pennsylvania furnished a model which has been followed by most
of the states since the Revolution, as regards the county governments.
It is also to be noted that before the Revolution, as Pennsylvania
increased in population, the townships began to participate in the
work of government, each township choosing its overseers of the poor,
highway surveyors, and inspectors of elections.[3]

[Footnote 3: Town-meetings were not quite unknown in Pennsylvania;
see W. P. Holcomb, "Pennsylvania Boroughs," _J. H. U. Studies_,
IV., iv.]

[Sidenote: Town-meetings in New York.]
[Sidenote: The county board of supervisors.]
New York had from the very beginning the rudiments of an excellent
system of local self-government. The Dutch villages had their
assemblies, which under the English rule were developed into
town-meetings, though with less ample powers than those of New
England. The governing body of the New York town consisted of the
constable and eight overseers, who answered in most respects to the
selectmen of New England. Four of the overseers were elected each year
in town-meeting, and one of the retiring overseers was at the same
time elected constable. In course of time the elective offices came
to include assessors and collectors, town clerk, highway surveyors,
fence-viewers, pound-masters, and overseers of the poor. At first
the town-meetings seem to have been held only for the election of
officers, but they acquired to a limited extent the power of levying
taxes and enacting by-laws. In 1703 a law was passed requiring each
town to elect yearly an officer to be known as the "supervisor," whose
duty was "to compute, ascertain, examine, oversee, and allow the
contingent, publick, and necessary charges" of the county.[4] For
this purpose the supervisors met once a year at the county town. The
principle was the same as that of the levy court in Delaware. This
board of supervisors was a strictly representative government, and
formed a strong contrast to the close corporation by which county
affairs were administered in Virginia. The New York system is
of especial interest, because it has powerfully influenced the
development of local institutions throughout the Northwest.

[Footnote 4: Howard, _Local Const. Hist_., i. 111.]


1. Describe the early local government of eastern South Carolina.

2. Describe the early local government of western South Carolina.

3. Explain the difference.

4. What effort was made in 1768 to put a stop to lynch law?

5. What difficulties arose from the attempted adjustment of

6. What compromises were made between the two sections
down to the time of the Civil War?

7. What changes have been made in local government since the
Civil War?

8. Mention a peculiarity of the South Carolina county.

9. Compare its size with that of counties in other states.

10. What disadvantage is due to this great size?

11. What was the earliest form of civil community in Maryland,
and from what source did it come?

12. Trace the development of the hundred in accordance with
the following outline:--

  a. Intermediate groups between clans and tribes.
  b. Illustrations from Greece and the North American Indians.
  c. The Roman century and the German hundred.

13. Describe the English hundred in the tenth century.

14. Describe the hundred court.

15. Describe the Maryland hundred and its decay.

16. What is the relation of the Delaware hundred to the county?

17. Describe the Delaware levy court.

18. What were the prominent features of the Pennsylvania

19. Compare the town-meetings of New York with those of New

20. What was the government of the New York county?

21. How did this government compare with that of the Virginia county?

Section 2. _Settlement of the Public Domain._

[Sidenote: Westward movement of population.]
The westward movement of population in the United States has for the
most part followed the parallels of latitude. Thus Virginians and
North Carolinians, crossing the Alleghanies, settled Kentucky and
Tennessee; thus people from New England filled up the central and
northern parts of New York, and passed on into Michigan and Wisconsin;
thus Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois received many settlers from New York
and Pennsylvania. In the early times when Kentucky was settled, the
pioneer would select a piece of land wherever he liked, and after
having a rude survey made, and the limits marked by "blazing" the
trees with a hatchet, the survey would be put on record in the state
land-office. So little care was taken that half a dozen patents would
sometimes be given for the same tract. Pieces of land, of all shapes
and sizes, lay between the patents.... Such a system naturally begat
no end of litigation, and there remain in Kentucky curious vestiges of
it to this day. [5]

[Footnote 5: Hinsdale, _Old Northwest_, p. 261.]

[Sidenote: Method of surveying the public lands.]
[Sidenote: Origins of Western townships.]
In order to avoid such confusion in the settlement of the territory
north of the Ohio river, Congress passed the land-ordinance of 1785,
which was based chiefly upon the suggestions of Thomas Jefferson, and
laid the foundation of our simple and excellent system for surveying
national lands. According to this system as gradually perfected, the
government surveyors first mark out a north and south line which is
called the _principal meridian_. Twenty-four such meridians have been
established. The first was the dividing line between Ohio and Indiana;
the last one runs through Oregon a little to the west of Portland. On
each side of the principal meridian there are marked off subordinate
meridians called _range [6] Then a true parallel of latitude is drawn,
crossing these meridians at right angles. It is called the _base line_,
or standard parallel. Eleven such base lines, for example, run across
the great state of Oregon. Finally, on each side of the base line are
drawn subordinate parallels called _township lines_, six miles apart,
and numbered north and south from their base line. By these range lines
and township lines the whole land is thus divided into townships just
six miles square, and the townships are all numbered. Take, for example,
the township of Deerfield in Michigan. That is the fourth township north
of the base line, and it is in the fifth range east of the first
principal meridian. It would be called township number 4 north range 5
east, and was so called before it was settled and received a name.
Evidently one must go 24 miles from the principal meridian, or 18 miles
from the base line, in order to enter this township. It is all as simple
as the numbering of streets in Philadelphia.[7]

[Footnote 6: The following is a diagram of the first principal meridian,
and of the base line running across southern Michigan. A B is the
principal meridian; C D is the base line. The figures on the base line
mark the range lines; the figures on the principal meridian mark the
township lines. E is township 4 north in range 5 east; F is township 5
south in range 4 west; G is township 3 north in range 3 west.
[Illustration] As the intervals between meridians diminish as we go
northward, it is sometimes necessary to introduce a correction line, the
nature of which will be seen from the following diagram:--

[Footnote 7: In Philadelphia the streets for the most part cross each
other at right angles and at equal distances, so that the city is laid
out like a checkerboard. The parallel streets running in one direction
have names, often taken from trees. Market Street is the central
street from which the others are reckoned in both directions according
to the couplet

  "Market, Arch, Race, and Vine,
  Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce, and Pine," etc.

The cross streets are not named but numbered, as First, Second, etc.
The houses on one side of the street have odd numbers and on the other
side even numbers, as is the general custom in the United States. With
each new block a new century of numbers begins, although there are
seldom more than forty real numbers in a block. For example, the
corner house on Market Street, just above Fifteenth, is 1501 Market
Street. At somewhere about 1535 or 1539 you come to Sixteenth Street;
then there is a break in the numbering, and the next corner house is
1601. So in going along a numbered street, say Fifteenth, from Market,
the first number will be 1; after passing Arch, 101; after passing
Race, 201, etc. With this system a very slight familiarity with the
city enables one to find his way to any house, and to estimate the
length of time needful for reaching it. St. Louis and some other large
cities have adopted the Philadelphia plan, the convenience of which
is as great as its monotony. In Washington the streets running in
one direction are lettered A, B, C, etc., and the cross streets are
numbered; and upon the checkerboard plan is superposed another plan in
which broad avenues radiate in various directions from the Capitol,
and a few other centres. These avenues cut through the square system
of streets in all directions, so that instead of the dull checkerboard
monotony there is an almost endless variety of magnificent vistas.]

[Sidenote: and of Western counties.]
If now we look at Livingston County, in which, this township of Deerfield
is situated, we observe that the county is made up of sixteen townships,
in four rows of four; and the next county, Washtenaw, is made up of
twenty townships, in five rows of four. Maps of our Western states
are thus apt to have somewhat of a checkerboard aspect, not unlike
the wonderful country which Alice visited after she had gone through
the looking-glass. Square townships are apt to make square or
rectangular counties, and the state, too, is likely to acquire a more
symmetrical shape.

Nothing could be more unlike the jagged, irregular shape of counties
in Virginia or townships in Massachusetts, which grew up just as it
happened. The contrast is similar to that between Chicago, with its
straight streets crossing at right angles, and Boston, or London, with
their labyrinths of crooked lanes. For picturesqueness the advantage
is entirely with the irregular city, but for practical convenience it
is quite the other way. So with our western lands the simplicity and
regularity of the system have made it a marvel of convenience for the
settlers, and doubtless have had much to do with the rapidity with
which civil governments have been built up in the West. "This fact,"
says a recent writer, "will be appreciated by those who know from
experience the ease and certainty with which the pioneer on the
great plains of Kansas, Nebraska, or Dakota is enabled to select his
homestead or 'locate his claim' unaided by the expensive skill of the
surveyor." [8]

[Footnote 8: Howard, _Local Const. Hist. of U. S._, vol. i. p.

[Sidenote: Some effects of the system.]
There was more in it than this, however. There was a germ of
organization planted in these western townships, which must be noted
as of great importance. Each township, being six miles in length and
six miles in breadth, was divided into thirty-six numbered sections,
each containing just one square mile, or 640 acres. Each section,
moreover, was divided into 16 tracts of 40 acres each, and sales to
settlers were and are generally made by tracts at the rate of a dollar
and a quarter per acre. For fifty dollars a man may buy forty acres of
unsettled land, provided he will actually go and settle upon it, and
this has proved to be a very effective inducement for enterprising
young men to "go West." Many a tract thus bought for fifty dollars has
turned out to be a soil upon which princely fortunes have grown. A
tract of forty acres represents to-day in Chicago or Minneapolis an
amount of wealth difficult for the imagination to grasp.

[Sidenote: The reservation for public schools.]
[Sidenote: In this reservation there were the germs of township
But in each of these townships there was at least one section which
was set apart for a special purpose. This was usually the sixteenth
section, nearly in the centre of the township; and sometimes the
thirty-sixth section, in the southeast corner, was also reserved.
These reservations were for the support of public schools. Whatever
money was earned, by selling the land or otherwise, in these sections,
was to be devoted to school purposes. This was a most remarkable
provision. No other nation has ever made a gift for schools on so
magnificent a scale. We have good reason for taking pride in such a
liberal provision. But we ought not to forget that all national
gifts really involve taxation, and this is no exception to the rule,
although in this case it is not a taking of money, but a keeping of it
back. The national government says to the local government, whatever
revenues may come from that section of 640 acres, be they great or
small, be it a spot in a rural grazing district, or a spot in some
crowded city, are not to go into the pockets of individual men and
women, but are to be reserved for public purposes. This is a case of
disguised taxation, and may serve to remind us of what was said some
time ago, that a government _cannot_ give anything without in one
way or another depriving individuals of its equivalent. No man can sit
on a camp-stool and by any amount of tugging at that camp-stool lift
himself over a fence. Whatever is given comes from somewhere,
and whatever is given by governments comes from the people. This
reservation of one square mile in every township for purposes of
education has already most profoundly influenced the development of
local government in our western states, and in the near future its
effects are likely to become still deeper and wider. To mark out a
township on the map may mean very little, but when once you create in
that township some institution that needs to be cared for, you have
made a long stride toward inaugurating township government. When
a state, as for instance Illinois, grows up after the method just
described, what can be more natural than for it to make the township a
body corporate for school purposes, and to authorize its inhabitants
to elect school officers and tax themselves, so far as may be
necessary, for the support of the schools? But the school-house,
in the centre of the township, is soon found to be useful for many
purposes. It is convenient to go there to vote for state officers or
for congressmen and president, and so the school township becomes an
election district. Having once established such a centre, it is almost
inevitable that it should sooner or later be made to serve sundry
other purposes, and become an area for the election of constables,
justices of the peace, highway surveyors, and overseers of the poor.
In this way a vigorous township government tends to grow up about the
school-house as a nucleus, somewhat as in early New England it grew up
about the church.

[Sidenote: At first the county system prevailed.]
This tendency may be observed in almost all the western states and
territories, even to the Pacific coast. When the western country was
first settled, representative county government prevailed almost
everywhere. This was partly because the earliest settlers of the West
came in much greater numbers from the middle and southern states than
from New England. It was also partly because, so long as the country
was thinly settled, the number of people in a township was very small,
and it was not easy to have a government smaller than that of the
county. It was something, however, that the little squares on the
map, by grouping which the counties were made, were already called
townships. There is much in a name. It was still more important that
these townships were only six miles square; for that made it sure
that, in due course of time, when population should have become dense
enough, they would be convenient areas for establishing township


1. What feature is conspicuous in the westward movement of population
in the United States?

2. What looseness characterized early surveys in Kentucky?

3. What led to the passage of the land ordinance of 1785?

4. Give the leading features of the government survey of western
lands:--_a_. The principal meridians.
  b. The range lines,
  c. The base lines.
  d. The township lines.

5. Illustrate the application of the system in the case of a town.

6. Contrast in shape western townships and counties with corresponding
divisions in Massachusetts and Virginia.

7. Contrast them in convenience and in picturesqueness.

8. What had the convenience of the government system to do with the
settlement of the West?

9. What were the divisions of the township, and what disposition was
made of them?

10. What important reservations were made in the townships?

11. Show how these reservations involved a kind of taxation.

12. What profound influence has the reservation for schools exerted
upon local government?

13. Why did the county system prevail at first?

Section 3. _The Representative Township-County System in the

[Sidenote: The town-meeting in Michigan.] The first western state to
adopt the town-meeting was Michigan, where the great majority of the
settlers had come from New England, or from central New York, which
was a kind of westward extension of New England.[9] Counties were
established in Michigan Territory in 1805, and townships were first
incorporated in 1825. This was twelve years before Michigan became a
state. At first the powers of the town-meeting were narrowly
limited. It elected the town and county officers, but its power of
appropriating money seems to have been restricted to the purpose
of extirpating noxious animals and weeds. In 1827, however, it was
authorized to raise money for the support of schools, and since then
its powers have steadily increased, until now they approach those of
the town-meeting in Massachusetts.

[Footnote 9: "Of the 496 members of the Michigan Pioneer Association
in 1881, 407 are from these sections" [New England and New York].
Bemis, _Local Government in Michigan and the Northwest_, J. H. U.
Studies, I., v]

[Sidenote: Settlement of Illinois.]
The history of Illinois presents an extremely interesting example of
rivalry and conflict between the town system of New England and the
county system of the South. Observe that this great state is so long
that, while the parallel of latitude starting from its northern
boundary runs through Marblehead in Massachusetts, the parallel
through its southernmost point, at Cairo, runs a little south of
Petersburg in Virginia. In 1818, when Illinois framed its state
government and was admitted to the Union, its population was chiefly
in the southern half, and composed for the most part of pioneers from
Virginia and Virginia's daughter-state Kentucky. These men brought
with them the old Virginia county system, but with the very great
difference that the county officers were not appointed by the
governor, or allowed to be a self-perpetuating board, but were elected
by the people of the county. This was a true advance in the democratic
direction, but an essential defect of the southern system remained in
the absence of any kind of local meeting for the discussion of public
affairs and the enactment of local laws.

[Sidenote: Effects of the Ordinance of 1787.]
By the famous Ordinance of 1787, to which we shall again have occasion
to refer, negro slavery had been forever prohibited to the north of
the Ohio river, so that, in spite of the wishes of her early settlers,
Illinois was obliged to enter the Union as a free state. But in 1820
Missouri was admitted as a slave state, and this turned the stream of
southern migration aside from Illinois to Missouri. These emigrants,
to whom slaveholding was a mark of social distinction, preferred to
go where they could own slaves. About the same time settlers from New
England and New York, moving along the southern border of Michigan
and the northern borders of Ohio and Indiana, began pouring into
the northern part of Illinois. These new-comers did not find the
representative county system adequate for their needs, and they
demanded township government. A memorable political struggle ensued
between the northern and southern halves of the state, ending in 1848
with the adoption of a new constitution. It was provided that the
legislature should enact a general law for the political organization
of townships, under which any county might act whenever a majority of
its voters should so determine.[10] This was introducing the principle
of local option, and in accordance therewith township governments with
town-meetings were at once introduced in the northern counties of the
state, while the southern counties kept on in the old way. Now comes
the most interesting part of the story. The two systems being thus
brought into immediate contact in the same state, with free choice
between them left to the people, the northern system has slowly but
steadily supplanted the southern system, until at the present day only
one fifth part of the counties in Illinois remain without township

[Footnote 10: Shaw, _Local Government if Illinois_, J. H. U.
Studies, I., iii.]

[Sidenote: Intense vitality of the township system.]
This example shows the intense vitality of the township system. It is
the kind of government that people are sure to prefer when they
have tried it under favourable conditions. In the West the hostile
conditions against which it has to contend are either the recent
existence of negro slavery and the ingrained prejudice in favour of
the Virginia method, as in Missouri; or simply the sparseness of
population, as in Nebraska. Time will evidently remove the latter
obstacle, and probably the former also. It is very significant that in
Missouri, which began so lately as 1879 to erect township governments
under a local option law similar to that of Illinois, the process
has already extended over about one sixth part of the state; and in
Nebraska, where the same process began in 1883, it has covered nearly
one third of the organized counties of the state.

[Sidenote: County option and township option.]
The principle of local option as to government has been carried still
farther in Minnesota and Dakota. The method just described may be
called county option; the question is decided by a majority vote of
the people of the county. But in Minnesota in 1878 it was enacted that
as soon as any one of the little square townships in that state should
contain as many as twenty-five legal voters, it might petition the
board of county commissioners and obtain a township organization, even
though, the adjacent townships in the same county should remain under
county government only. Five years later the same provision was
adopted by Dakota, and under it township government is steadily

[Sidenote: Grades of township government.]
Two distinct grades of township government are to be observed in the
states west of the Alleghanies; the one has the town-meeting for
deliberative purposes, the other has not. In Ohio and Indiana, which
derived their local institutions largely from Pennsylvania, there is
no such town-meeting, the administrative offices are more or less
concentrated in a board of trustees, and the town is quite subordinate
to the county. The principal features of this system have been
reproduced in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.

The other system, was that which we have seen beginning in
Michigan, under the influence of New York and New England. Here the
town-meeting, with legislative powers, is always present. The most
noticeable feature of the Michigan system is the relation between
township and county, which was taken from New York. The county board
is composed of the supervisors of the several townships, and thus
represents the townships. It is the same in Illinois. It is held
by some writers that this is the most perfect form of local
government,[11] but on the other hand the objection is made that county
boards thus constituted are too large.[12] We have seen that in the
states in question there are not less than 16, and sometimes more than
20, townships in each county. In a board of 16 or 20 members it is
hard to fasten responsibility upon anybody in particular; and thus
it becomes possible to have "combinations," and to indulge in that
exchange of favours known as "log-rolling," which is one of the
besetting sins of all large representative bodies. Responsibility
is more concentrated in the smaller county boards of Massachusetts,
Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

[Footnote 11: Howard, _Local Const. Hist._, passim.]

[Footnote 12: Bemis, _Local Government in Michigan_, J. H. U.
Studies, I., v.]

[Sidenote: An excellent result of the absence of centralization in the
United States.]
It is one signal merit of the peaceful and untrammelled way in which
American institutions have grown up, the widest possible scope being
allowed to individual and local preferences, that different states
adopt different methods of attaining the great end at which all are
aiming in common,--good government. One part of our vast country can
profit by the experience of other parts, and if any system or method
thus comes to prevail everywhere in the long run, it is likely to
be by reason of its intrinsic excellence. Our country affords an
admirable field for the study of the general principles which lie at
the foundations of universal history. Governments, large and small,
are growing up all about us, and in such wise that we can watch
the processes of growth, and learn lessons which, after making due
allowances for difference of circumstance, are very helpful in the
study of other times and countries.

The general tendency toward the spread of township government in the
more recently settled parts of the United States is unmistakable, and
I have already remarked upon the influence of the public school system
in aiding this tendency. The school district, as a preparation for
the self-governing township, is already exerting its influence in
Colorado, Nevada, California, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and

[Sidenote: Township government is germinating in the South.]
Something similar is going on in the southern states, as already
hinted in the case of South Carolina. Local taxation for school
purposes has also been established in Kentucky and Tennessee, in both
Virginias, and elsewhere. There has thus begun a most natural and
wholesome movement, which might easily be checked, with disastrous
results, by the injudicious appropriation of national revenue for
the aid of southern schools. It is to be hoped that throughout the
southern, states, as formerly in Michigan, the self-governing school
district may prepare the way for the self-governing township, with its
deliberative town-meeting. Such a growth must needs be slow, inasmuch
as it requires long political training on the part of the negroes and
the lower classes of white people; but it is along such a line of
development that such political training can best be acquired; and in
no other way is complete harmony between the two races so likely to be

[Sidenote: woman suffrage.]
Dr. Edward Bemis, who in a profoundly interesting essay[13] has called
attention to this function of the school district as a stage in the
evolution of the township, remarks also upon the fact that "it is in
the local government of the school district that woman suffrage is
being tried." In several states women may vote for school committees,
or may be elected to school committees, or to sundry administrative
school offices. At present (1894) there are not less than twenty-one
states in which women have school suffrage. In Colorado and Wyoming
women have full suffrage, voting at municipal, state, and
national elections. In Kansas they have municipal suffrage, and a
constitutional amendment granting them full suffrage is now awaiting
ratification. In England, it may be observed, unmarried women and
widows who pay taxes vote not only on school matters, but generally in
the local elections of vestries, boroughs, and poor-law unions. In
the new Parish Councils Bill this municipal suffrage is extended
to married women. In the Isle of Man women vote for members of
Parliament. In Australia they have long had municipal suffrage, and in
1893 they were endowed with full rights of suffrage in New Zealand.

[Footnote 13: Local Government in Michigan and the Northwest, J.H.U.
Studies, I., v.]

The historical reason why the suffrage has so generally been
restricted to men is perhaps to be sought in the conditions under
which voting originated. In primeval times voting was probably adopted
as a substitute for fighting. The smaller and presumably weaker party
yielded to the larger without an actual trial of physical strength;
heads were counted instead of being broken. Accordingly it was only
the warriors who became voters. The restriction of political activity
to men has also probably been emphasized by the fact that all the
higher civilizations have passed through a well-defined patriarchal
stage of society in which each household was represented by its
oldest warrior. From present indications it would seem that under the
conditions of modern industrial society the arrangements that have so
long subsisted are likely to be very essentially altered.


1. Describe the origin and development of the town-meeting in

2. Describe the settling of southern Illinois.

3. Describe the settling of northern Illinois.

4. What difference in thought and feeling existed between these

5. What systems of local government came into rivalry in Illinois, and

6. What compromise between them was put into the state constitution?

7. Which system, the town or the county, has shown the greater
vitality, and why?

8. What obstacles has the town system to work against?

9. Show how the principle of local option in government has been
applied in Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Dakota.

10. What two grades of town government exist west of the Alleghanies?

11. What objection exists to large county boards of government?

12. Why is our country an excellent field for the study of the
principles of government?

13. What unmistakable tendency in the ease of township government is

14. Speak of township government in the South.

15. What part have women in the affairs of the school district in many

16. What is the historical reason why suffrage has been restricted to


It may need to be repeated (see page 12) that it is not expected
that each pupil shall answer all the miscellaneous questions put, or
respond to all the suggestions made in this book. Indeed, the teacher
may be pardoned if now and then he finds it difficult himself to
answer a question,--particularly if it is framed to provoke thought
rather than lead to a conclusion, or if it is better fitted for some
other community or part of the country than that in which he lives.
Let him therefore divide the questions among his pupils, or assign to
them selected questions. In cases that call for special knowledge,
let the topics go to pupils who may have exceptional facilities for
information at home.

The important point is not so much the settlement of all the questions
proposed as it is the encouragement of the inquiring and thinking spirit
on the part of the pupil.

1. What impression do you get from this chapter about the hold of town
government upon popular favour?

2. What do you regard as the best features of town government?

3. Is there any tendency anywhere to divide towns into smaller towns? If
it exists, illustrate and explain it.

4. Is there any tendency anywhere to unite towns into larger towns or
into cities? If it exists, illustrate and explain it.

5. In every town-meeting there are leaders,--usually men of character,
ability, and means. Do you understand that these men practically have
their own way in town affairs,--that the voters as a whole do but little
more than fall in with the wishes and plans of their leaders? Or is
there considerable independence in thought and action on the side of the

6. Can a town do what it pleases, or is it limited in its action? If
limited, by whom or by what is it restricted, and where are the
restrictions recorded? (Consult the Statutes.)

7. Why should the majority rule in town-meeting? Suggest, if possible, a
better way.

8. Is it, on the whole, wise that the vote of the poor man shall count
as much as that of the rich, the vote of the ignorant as much as that of
the intelligent, the vote of the unprincipled as much as that of the

9. Have the poor, the ignorant, or the unprincipled any interests to be
regarded in government?

10. Is the single vote a man casts the full measure of his influence and
power in the town-meeting?

11. What are the objections to a suffrage restricted by property and
intellectual qualifications? To a suffrage unrestricted by such

12. Do women vote in your town? If so, give some account of their voting
and of the success or popularity of the plan.

13. Is lynch law ever justifiable?

14. Ought those who resort to lynch law to be punished? If so, for what?

15. Compare the condition or government of a community where lynch law
is resorted to with the condition or government of a community where it
is unknown.

16. May the citizen who is not an officer of the law interfere (1) to
stop the fighting of boys in the public streets, (2) to capture a thief
who is plying his trade, (3) to defend a person who is brutally
assaulted? Is there anything like lynch law i.e. such interference? Where
does the citizen's duty begin and end In such cases?

17. How came the United States to own the public domain or any part of
it? (Consult my _Critical Period of Amer. Hist_., pp. 187-207.)

18. How does this domain get into the possession of individuals?

19. Is it right for the United States to give any part of it away? If
right, under what conditions is it right? If wrong, under what
conditions is It wrong?

20. What is the "homestead act" of the United States, and what is its

21. Can perfect squares of the same size be laid out with the range and
township lines of the public surveys? Are all the sections of a township
of the same size? Explain.


Section 1. VARIOUS LOCAL SYSTEMS.--_J.H.V. Studies_, I., vi.,
Edward Ingle, _Parish Institutions of Maryland_; I., vii., John
Johnson, _Old Maryland Manors_; I., xii., B.J. Ramage, _Local
Government and Free Schools in South Carolina_; III., v.-vii., L.

W. Wilhelm, _Local Institutions of Maryland_; IV., i., Irving
Elting, _Dutch Village Communities on the Hudson River_.

Section 2. SETTLEMENT OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.--_J. H. U. Studies_,
III., i. H. B. Adams, _Maryland's Influence upon Land Cessions to
the United States_; IV., vii.-ix., Shoshuke Sato, _History of the
Land Question in the United States_.

Studies_, I., iii., Albert Shaw, _Local Government in Illinois_; I., v.,
Edward Bemis, _Local Government in Michigan and the Northwest_; II.,
vii., Jesse Macy, _Institutional Beginnings in a Western State (Iowa)_.
For farther illustration of one set of institutions supervening upon
another, see also V., v.-vi., J. G. Bourinot, _Local Government in
Canada_; VIII., in., D. E. Spencer, _Local Government in Wisconsin_.



Section 1. _Direct and Indirect Government_.

[Sidenote: Summary of foregoing results.]
In the foregoing survey of local institutions and their growth, we
have had occasion to compare and sometimes to contrast two different
methods of government as exemplified on the one hand in the township
and on the other hand in the county. In the former we have direct
government by a primary assembly,[1] the town-meeting; in the latter
we have indirect government by a representative board. If the county
board, as in colonial Virginia, perpetuates itself, or is appointed
otherwise than by popular vote, it is not strictly a representative
board, in the modern sense of the phrase; the government is a kind of
oligarchy. If, as in colonial Pennsylvania, and in the United States
generally to-day, the county board consists of officers elected by
the people, the county government is a representative democracy. The
township government, on the other hand, as exemplified in New England
and in the northwestern states which have adopted it, is a pure
democracy. The latter, as we have observed, has one signal advantage
over all other kinds of government, in so far as it tends to make
every man feel that the business of government is part of his own
business, and that where he has a stake in the management of public
affairs he has also a voice. When people have got into the habit of
leaving local affairs to be managed by representative boards, their
active interest in local affairs is liable to be somewhat weakened, as
all energies in this world are weakened, from want of exercise. When
some fit subject of complaint is brought up, the individual is too apt
to feel that it is none of his business to furnish a remedy, let the
proper officers look after it. He can vote at elections, which is a
power; he can perhaps make a stir in the newspapers, which is also a
power; but personal participation in town-meeting is likewise a
power, the necessary loss of which, as we pass to wider spheres of
government, is unquestionably to be regretted.

[Footnote 1: A primary assembly is one in which the members attend of
their own right, without having been elected to it; a representative
assembly is composed of elected delegates.]

[Sidenote: Direct government impossible in a county.]
Nevertheless the loss is inevitable. A primary assembly of all the
inhabitants of a county, for purposes of local government, is out
of the question. There must be representative government, for this
purpose the county system, an inheritance from the ancient English
shire, has furnished the needful machinery. Our county government is
near enough to the people to be kept in general from gross abuses of
power. There are many points which can be much better decided in
small representative bodies than in large miscellaneous meetings. The
responsibility of our local boards has been fairly well preserved. The
county system has had no mean share in keeping alive the spirit of
local independence and self-government among our people. As regards
efficiency of administration, it has achieved commendable success,
except in the matter of rural highways; and if our roads are worse
than those of any other civilized country, that is due not so much
to imperfect administrative methods as to other causes,--such as the
sparseness of population, the fierce extremes of sunshine and frost,
and the fact that since this huge country began to be reclaimed from
the wilderness, the average voter, who has not travelled in Europe,
knows no more about good roads than he knows about the temples of
Paestum or the pictures of Tintoretto, and therefore does not realize
what demands he may reasonably make.

This last consideration applies in some degree, no doubt, to the
ill-paved and filthy streets which are the first things to arrest
one's attention in most of our great cities. It is time for us now to
consider briefly our general system of city government, in its origin
and in some of its most important features.

[Sidenote: The Boston town-meeting in 1820.]
Representative government in counties is necessitated by the extent of
territory covered; in cities it is necessitated by the multitude
of people. When the town comes to have a very large population, it
becomes physically impossible to have town-meetings. No way could be
devised by which all the taxpayers of the city of New York could be
assembled for discussion. In 1820 the population of Boston was about
40,000, of whom rather more than 7,000 were voters qualified to attend
the town-meetings. Consequently when a town-meeting was held on any
exciting subject in Faneuil Hall, those only who obtained places near
the moderator could even hear the discussion. A few busy or interested
individuals easily obtained the management of the most important
affairs in an assembly in which the greater number could have neither
voice nor hearing. When the subject was not generally exciting,
town-meetings were usually composed of the selectmen, the town
officers, and thirty or forty inhabitants. Those who thus came were
for the most part drawn to it from some official duty or private
interest, which, when performed or attained, they generally troubled
themselves but little, or not at all, about the other business of the

[Footnote 2: Quincy's _Municipal History of Boston_, p. 28.]

Under these circumstances it was found necessary in 1822 to drop
the town-meeting altogether and devise a new form of government for
Boston. After various plans had been suggested and discussed, it was
decided that the new government should be vested in a Mayor; a select
council of eight persons to be called the Board of Aldermen; and a
Common Council of forty-eight persons, four from each of twelve wards
into which the city was to be divided. All these officials were to be
elected by the people. At the same time the official name "Town of
Boston" was changed to "City of Boston."

[Sidenote: Distinctions between towns and cities.]
There is more or less of history involved in these offices and
designations, to which we may devote a few words of explanation. In
New England local usage there is an ambiguity in the word "town."
As an official designation it means the inhabitants of a township
considered as a community or corporate body. In common parlance it
often means the patch of land constituting the township on the map, as
when we say that Squire Brown's elm is "the biggest tree in town." But
it still oftener means a collection of streets, houses, and families
too large to be called a village, but without the municipal government
that characterizes a city. Sometimes it is used _par excellence_
for a city, as when an inhabitant of Cambridge, itself a large
suburban city, speaks of going to Boston as going "into town." But
such cases are of course mere survivals from the time when the suburb
was a village. In American usage generally the town is something
between village and city, a kind of inferior or incomplete city. The
image which it calls up in the mind is of something urban and not
rural. This agrees substantially with the usage in European history,
where "town" ordinarily means a walled town or city as contrasted with
a village. In England the word is used either in this general sense,
or more specifically as signifying an inferior city, as in America.
But the thing which the town lacks, as compared with the complete
city, is very different in America from what it is in England. In
America it is municipal government--with mayor, aldermen, and common
council--which must be added to the town in order to make it a city.
In England the town may (and usually does) have this municipal
government; but it is not distinguished by the Latin name "city"
unless it has a cathedral and a bishop. Or in other words the English
city is, or has been, the capital of a diocese. Other towns in England
are distinguished as "boroughs," an old Teutonic word which was
originally applied to towns as _fortified_ places.[3] The voting
inhabitants of an English city are called "citizens;" those of
a borough are called "burgesses." Thus the official corporate
designation of Cambridge is "the mayor, aldermen, and _burgesses_
of Cambridge;" but Oxford is the seat of a bishopric, and its
corporate designation is "the mayor, aldermen, and _citizens_ of

[Footnote 3: The word appears in many town names, such as
_Edinburgh, Scarborough, Canterbury, Bury St. Edmunds_; and
on the Continent, as _Hamburg, Cherbourg, Burgos_, etc. In
Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, the name
"borough" is applied to a certain class of municipalities with some of
the powers of cities.]


1. What is the essential difference between township government
and county government?

2. What is the distinct advantage of the former?

3. Why is direct government impossible in the county?

4. Speak of the degree of efficiency in county government.

5. Why is direct government impossible in a city?

6. What difficulties in direct government were experienced in
Boston in 1820 and many years preceding?

7. What remedy for these difficulties was adopted?

8. Show how the word "town" is used to indicate

  a. The land of a township.
  b. A somewhat large collection of streets, houses, and families.
  c. And even, in some instances, a city.

9. What is the town commonly understood to be in American

10. What is the difference in the United States between a town
and a city?

11. What is the difference in England between a town and a

12. Distinguish between citizens and burgesses in England.

Section 2. _Origin of English Boroughs and Cities_.

[Sidenote: "Chesters."]
[Sidenote: Coalescence of towns to fortified boroughs.]
What, then, was the origin of the English borough or city? In the days
when Roman legions occupied for a long time certain military stations in
Britain, their camps were apt to become centres of trade and thus to
grow into cities. Such places were generally known as _casters_ or
_chesters_, from the Latin _castra_, "camp," and there are many of them
on the map of England to-day. But these were exceptional cases. As a
rule the origin of the borough was as purely English as its name. We
have seen that the town was originally the dwelling-place of a
stationary clan, surrounded by palisades or by a dense quickset hedge.
Now where such small enclosed places were thinly scattered about they
developed simply into villages. But where, through the development of
trade or any other cause, a good many of them grew up close together
within a narrow compass, they gradually coalesced into a kind of
compound town; and with the greater population and greater wealth, there
was naturally more elaborate and permanent fortification than that of
the palisaded village. There were massive walls and frowning turrets,
and the place came to be called a fortress or "borough." The borough,
then, was simply several townships packed tightly together; a hundred
smaller in extent and thicker in population than other hundreds.[4]

[Footnote 4: Freeman, _Norman Conquest_, vol. v. p. 466. For a
description of the _hundred_, see above, pp. 75-80.]

[Sidenote: The borough as a hundred.]
From this compact and composite character of the borough came several
important results. We have seen that the hundred was the smallest area
for the administration of justice. The township was in many respects
self-governing, but it did not have its court, any more than the New
England township of the present day has its court. The lowest court
was that of the hundred, but as the borough was equivalent to a
hundred it soon came to have its own court. And although much
obscurity still surrounds the early history of municipal government in
England, it is probable that this court was a representative board,
like any other hundred court, and that the relation of the borough to
its constituent townships resembled the relation of the modern city to
its constituent wards.

[Sidenote: The borough as a county.]
But now as certain boroughs grew larger and annexed outlying
townships, or acquired adjacent territory which presently became
covered with streets and houses, their constitution became still more
complex. The borough came to embrace several closely packed hundreds,
and thus became analogous to a shire. In this way it gained for itself
a sheriff and the equivalent of a county court. For example, under the
charter granted by Henry I. in 1101, London was expressly recognized
as a county by itself. Its burgesses could elect their own chief
magistrate, who was called the port-reeve, inasmuch as London is a
seaport; in some other towns he was called the borough-reeve. He was
at once the chief executive officer and the chief judge. The burgesses
could also elect their sheriff, although in all rural counties Henry's
father, William the Conqueror, had lately deprived the people of
this privilege and appointed the sheriffs himself. London had its
representative board, or council, which was the equivalent of a county
court. Each ward, moreover, had its own representative board, which
was the equivalent of a hundred court. Within the wards, or hundreds,
the burgesses were grouped together in township, parish, or manor....
Into the civic organization of London, to whose special privileges
all lesser cities were ever striving to attain, the elements of local
administration embodied in the township, the hundred, and the shire
thus entered as component parts.[5] Constitutionally, therefore,
London was a little world in itself, and in a less degree the same was
true of other cities and boroughs which afterwards obtained the same
kind of organization, as for example, York and Newcastle, Lincoln and
Norwich, Southampton and Bristol.

[Footnote 5: Hannis Taylor, _Origin and Growth of the English
Constitution_, vol. i. p. 458.]

[Sidenote: The guilds.]
[Sidenote: mayor, aldermen, and common council.]
In such boroughs or cities all classes of society were brought into
close contact,--barons and knights, priests and monks, merchants and
craftsmen, free labourers and serfs. But trades and manufactures,
which always had so much to do with the growth of the city, acquired
the chief power and the control of the government. From an early
period tradesmen and artisans found it worth while to form themselves
into guilds or brotherhoods, in order to protect their persons and
property against insult and robbery at the hands of great lords and
their lawless military retainers. Thus there came to be guilds, or
"worshipful companies," of grocers, fishmongers, butchers, weavers,
tailors, ironmongers, carpenters, saddlers, armourers, needle-makers,
etc. In large towns there was a tendency among such trade guilds
to combine in a "united brotherhood," or "town guild," and this
organization at length acquired full control of the city government.
In London this process was completed in the course of the thirteenth
century. To obtain the full privileges of citizenship one had to
be enrolled in a guild. The guild hall became the city hall. The
_aldermen_, or head men of sundry guilds, became the head men
of the several wards. There was a representative board, or _common
council_, elected by the citizens. The aldermen and common council
held their meetings in the Guildhall, and over these meetings presided
the chief magistrate, or port-reeve, who by this time, in accordance
with the fashion then prevailing, had assumed the French title of
_mayor_. As London had come to be a little world in itself,
so this city government reproduced on a small scale the national
government; the mayor answering to the king, the aristocratic board of
aldermen to the House of Lords, and the democratic common council to
the House of Commons. A still more suggestive comparison, perhaps,
would be between the aldermen and our federal Senate, since the
aldermen represented wards, while the common council represented the

[Sidenote: The city of London.]
The constitution thus perfected in the city of London[6] six hundred
years ago has remained to this day without essential change. The voters
are enrolled members of companies which represent the ancient guilds.
Each year they choose one of the aldermen to be lord mayor. Within the
city he has precedence next to the sovereign and before the royal
family; elsewhere he ranks as an earl, thus indicating the equivalence
of the city to a county, and with like significance he is lord
lieutenant of the city and justice of the peace. The twenty-six
aldermen, one for each ward, are elected by the people, such as are
entitled to vote for members of parliament; they are justices of the
peace. The common councilmen, 206 in number, are also elected by the
people, and their legislative power within the city is practically
supreme; parliament does not think of overruling it. And the city
government thus constituted is one of the most clean-handed and
efficient in the world.[7]

[Footnote 6: The city of London extends east and west from the Tower
to Temple Bar, and north and south from Finsbury to the Thames, with
a population of not more than 100,000, and is but a small part of the
enormous metropolitan area now known as London, which is a circle of
twelve miles radius in every direction from its centre at Charing
Cross, with a population of more than 5,000,000. This vast area is an
agglomeration of many parishes, manors, etc., and has no municipal
government in common.]

[Footnote 7: Loftie, _History of London _, vol. i. p. 446]
[Sidenote: English cities, the bulwarks of liberty.]

The development of other English cities and boroughs was so far like
that of London that merchant guilds generally obtained control, and
government by mayor, aldermen, and common council came to be the
prevailing type. Having also their own judges and sheriffs, and not
being obliged to go outside of their own walls to obtain justice, to
enforce contracts and punish crime, their efficiency as independent
self-governing bodies was great, and in many a troubled time they
served as staunch bulwarks of English liberty. The strength of their
turreted walls was more than supplemented by the length of their
purses, and such immunity from the encroachments of lords and king
as they could not otherwise win, they contrived to buy. Arbitrary
taxation they generally escaped by compounding with the royal
exchequer in a fixed sum or quit-rent, known as the _firma
burgi_. We have observed the especial privilege which Henry I.
confirmed to London, of electing its own sheriff. London had been
prompt in recognizing his title to the crown, and such support, in
days when the succession was not well regulated, no prudent king could
afford to pass by without some substantial acknowledgment. It was
never safe for any king to trespass upon the liberties of London, and
through the worst times that city has remained a true republic with
liberal republican sentiments. If George III. could have been guided
by the advice of London, as expressed by its great alderman Beckford,
the American colonies would not have been driven into rebellion.

[Sidenote: Simon de Montfort and the cities.]
The most signal part played by the English boroughs and cities, in
securing English freedom, dates from the thirteenth century, when
the nation was vaguely struggling for representative government on a
national scale, as a means of curbing the power of the crown. In that
memorable struggle, the issue of which to some extent prefigured
the shape that the government of the United States was to take five
hundred years afterward, the cities and boroughs supported Simon de
Montfort, the leader of the popular party and one of the foremost
among the heroes and martyrs of English liberty. Accordingly on the
morrow of his decisive victory at Lewes in 1264, when for the moment
he stood master of England, as Cromwell stood four centuries later
Simon called a parliament to settle the affairs of the kingdom, and
to this parliament he invited, along with the lords who came by
hereditary custom, not only two elected representatives from each
rural county, but also two elected representatives from each city and
borough. In this parliament, which met in 1265, the combination of
rural with urban representatives brought all parts of England together
in a grand representative body, the House of Commons, with interests
in common; and thus the people presently gained power enough to defeat
all attempts to establish irresponsible government, such as we call
despotism, on the part of the crown.

[Sidenote: Oligarchical abuses in English cities (cir. 1500-1835).]
If we look at the later history of English cities and boroughs, it
appears that, in spite of the splendid work which they did for the
English people at large, they did not always succeed in preserving
their own liberties unimpaired. London, indeed, has always maintained
its character as a truly representative republic. But in many English
cities, during the Tudor and Stuart periods, the mayor and aldermen
contrived to dispense with popular election, and thus to become close
corporations or self-perpetuating oligarchical bodies. There was a
notable tendency toward this sort of irresponsible government in
the reign of James I., and the Puritans who came to the shores of
Massachusetts Bay were inspired with a feeling of revolt against such
methods. This doubtless lent an emphasis to the mood in which they
proceeded to organize themselves into free self-governing townships.
The oligarchical abuses in English cities and boroughs remained until
they were swept away by the great Municipal Reform Act of 1835.

[Sidenote: Government of the city of New York (1686-1821).]
The first city governments established in America were framed in
conscious imitation of the corresponding institutions in England.
The oldest city government in the United States is that of New York.
Shortly after the town was taken from the Dutch in 1664, the new
governor, Colonel Nichols, put an end to its Dutch form of government,
and appointed a mayor, five aldermen, and a sheriff. These officers
appointed inferior officers, such as constables, and little or nothing
was left to popular election. But in 1686, under Governor Dongan,
New York was regularly incorporated and chartered as a city. Its
constitution bore an especially close resemblance to that of Norwich,
then the third city in England in size and importance. The city of New
York was divided into six wards. The governing corporation consisted
of the mayor, the recorder, the town-clerk, six aldermen, and six
assistants. All the land not taken up by individual owners was granted
as public land to the corporation, which in return paid into the
British exchequer one beaver-skin yearly. This was a survival of the
old quit-rent or _firma burgi_.[8] The city was made a county,
and thus had its court, its sheriff and coroner, and its high
constable. Other officers were the chamberlain or treasurer, seven
inferior constables, a sergeant-at-arms, and a clerk of the market,
who inspected weights and measures, and punished delinquencies in the
use of them. The principal judge was the recorder, who, as we have
just seen, was one of the corporation. The aldermen, assistants, and
constables were elected annually by the people; but the mayor and
sheriff were appointed by the governor. The recorder, town-clerk, and
clerk of the market were to be appointed by the king, but in case
the king neglected to act, these appointments also were made by the
governor. The high constable was appointed by the mayor, the treasurer
by the mayor, aldermen, and assistants, who seem to have answered
to the ordinary common council. The mayor, recorder, and aldermen,
without the assistants, were a judicial body, and held a weekly court
of common pleas. When the assistants were added, the whole became a
legislative body empowered to enact by-laws.

[Footnote 8: Jameson, "The Municipal Government of New York," _Mag.
Amer. Hist_., vol. viii. p. 609.]

Although this charter granted very imperfect powers of
self-government, the people contrived to live under it for a hundred
and thirty-five years, until 1821. Before the Revolution their
petitions succeeded in obtaining only a few unimportant amendments.[9]
When the British army captured the city in September, 1776, it was
forthwith placed under martial law, and so remained until the army
departed in November, 1783. During those seven years New York was not
altogether a comfortable place in which to live. After 1783 the city
government remained as before, except that the state of New York
assumed the control formerly exercised by the British crown. Mayor and
recorder, town-clerk and sheriff, were now appointed by a council of
appointment consisting of the governor and four senators. This did not
work well, and the constitution of 1821 gave to the people the power
of choosing their sheriff and town-clerk, while the mayor was to be
elected by the common council. Nothing but the appointment of the
recorder remained in the hands of the governor. Thus nearly forty
years after the close of the War of Independence the city of New York
acquired self-government as complete as that of the city of London.
In 1857, as we shall see, this self-government was greatly curtailed,
with results more or less disastrous.

[Footnote 9: Especially in the so-called Montgomerie charter of 1730.]

[Sidenote: City government in Philadelphia (1701-1789).]
The next city governments to be organized in the American colonies,
after that of New York, were those of Philadelphia, incorporated in
1701, and Annapolis, incorporated in 1708. These governments were
framed after the wretched pattern then so common in England. In
both the mayor, the recorder, the aldermen, and the common council
constituted a close self-electing corporation. The resulting abuses
were not so great as in England, probably because the cities were
so small. But in course of time, especially in Philadelphia as it
increased in population, the viciousness of the system was abundantly
illustrated. As the people could not elect the governing corporation
or any of its members, they very naturally and reasonably distrusted
it, and through the legislature they contrived so to limit its powers
of taxation that it was really unable to keep the streets in repair,
to light them at night, or to support an adequate police force. An
attempt was made to supply such wants by creating divers independent
boards of commissioners, one for paving and draining, another for
street-lamps and watchmen, a third for town-pumps, and so on. In this
way responsibility got so minutely parcelled out and scattered, and
there was so much jealousy and wrangling between the different boards
and the corporation, that the result was chaos. The public money was
habitually wasted and occasionally embezzled, and there was general
dissatisfaction. In 1789 the close corporation was abolished, and
thereafter the aldermen and common council were elected by the
citizens, the mayor was chosen by the aldermen out of their own
number, and the recorder was appointed by the mayor and aldermen. Thus
Philadelphia obtained a representative government.

[Sidenote: Traditions of good government lacking.]
These instances of New York and Philadelphia sufficiently illustrate
the beginnings of city government in the United States. In each case
the system was copied from England at a time when city government
in England was sadly demoralized. What was copied was not the free
republic of London, with its noble traditions of civic honour and
sagacious public spirit, but the imperfect republics or oligarchies
into which the lesser English boroughs were sinking, amid the foul
political intrigues and corruption which characterized the Stuart
period. The government of American cities in our own time is admitted
on all hands to be far from satisfactory. It is interesting to observe
that the cities which had municipal government before the Revolution,
though they have always had their full share of able and high-minded
citizens, do not possess even the tradition of good government. And
the difficulty, in those colonial times, was plainly want of adequate
self-government, want of responsibility on the part of the public
servants toward their employers the people.


1. What was the origin of the _casters_ and _chesters_ that are found
in England to-day?

2. Trace the development of the English borough until it became
a kind of hundred.

3. Compare this borough, with the hundred in the administration
of justice.

4. Trace the further development of the borough in cases in
which it became a county.

5. Illustrate this development with London, showing how the elements of
the township, the hundred, and the shire government enter into its civic

6. Explain the origin and the objects of the various guilds.

7. Speak of the "town guild" under the following heads:--

  a. Its composition and power.
  b. Its relation to citizenship.
  c. Its place of meeting.
  d. The aldermen.
  e. The common council.
  f. The chief magistrate.

8. Compare the government of London with that of Great Britain or of the
United States.

9. Give some account of the lord mayor, the aldermen, and the councilmen
of London.

10. Distinguish between London the city and London the metropolis.

11. Show how the English cities and boroughs became bulwarks of liberty
by (1) their facilities for obtaining justice, (2) the strength of their
walls, and (3) the length of their purses.

12. Contrast the power of London with that of the throne.

13. What notable advance in government was made under the leadership of
Simon de Montfort?

14. What abuses crept into the government of many of the English cities?

15. What was the Puritan attitude towards such abuses?

16. Give an account of the government of New York city:--

  a. The charter of 1686.
  b. The governing corporation.
  c. The public land.
  d. The city's privileges as a county.
  e. Officers by election and by appointment.
  f. Judicial functions.
  g. Martial law.
  h. The charter of 1821.

17. Give an account of the government of Philadelphia:--

  a. The governments after which it was patterned.
  b. The viciousness of the system adopted.
  c. The legislative interference that was thus provoked.
  d. The division of responsibility and the results of such
  e. The nature of the changes made in 1789.

18. Why are the traditions of good government lacking in the older
American cities?

Section 3. The Government of Cities in the United States.

[Sidenote: Several features of our city governments.]
At the present day American municipal governments are for the most
part constructed on the same general plan, though with many variations
in detail. There is an executive department, with the mayor at its
head. The mayor is elected voters of the city, and holds office
generally for one year, but sometimes for two or three years, and in
St. Louis and Philadelphia even for four years. Under the mayor are
various heads of departments,--street commissioners, assessors,
overseers of the poor, etc.,--sometimes elected by the citizens,
sometimes appointed by the mayor or the city council. This city
council Is a legislative body, usually consisting of two chambers, the
aldermen and the common council, elected by the citizens; but in many
small cities, and a few of the largest,--such as New York, Brooklyn,
Chicago, and San Francisco,--there is but one such chamber. Then there
are city judges, sometimes appointed by the governor of the state, to
serve for life or during good behaviour, but usually elected by the
citizens for short terms.

All appropriations of money for city purposes are made by the city
council; and as a general rule this council has some control over the
heads of executive departments, which it exercises through committees.
Thus there may be a committee upon streets, upon public buildings,
upon parks or almshouses or whatever the municipal government is
concerned with. The head of a department is more or less dependent
upon his committee, and in practice this is found to divide and weaken
responsibility. The heads of departments are apt to be independent of
one another, and to owe no allegiance in common to any one. The mayor,
when he appoints them, usually does so subject to the approval, of the
city council or of one branch of it. The mayor is usually not a member
of the city council, but can veto its enactments, which however can be
passed over his veto by a two thirds majority.

[Sidenote: They do not seem to work well.]
[Sidenote: some difficulties to be stated.]
City governments thus constituted are something like state governments
in miniature. The relation of the mayor to the city council is
somewhat like that of the governor to the state legislature, and of
the president to the national congress. In theory nothing could well
be more republican, or more unlike such city governments as those of
New York and Philadelphia before the Revolution. Yet in practice it
does not seem to work well. New York and Philadelphia seem to
have heard as many complaints in the nineteenth century as in the
eighteenth, and the same kind of complaints,--of excessive taxation,
public money wasted or embezzled, ill-paved and dirty streets,
inefficient police, and so on to the end of the chapter. In most of
our large cities similar evils have been witnessed, and in too many of
the smaller ones the trouble seems to be the same in kind, only less
in degree. Our republican government, which, after making all due
allowances, seems to work remarkably well in rural districts, and in
the states, and in the nation, has certainly been far less successful
as applied to cities. Accordingly our cities have come to furnish
topics for reflection to which writers and orators fond of boasting
the unapproachable excellence of American institutions do not like to
allude. Fifty years ago we were wont to speak of civil government
in the United States as if it had dropped from heaven or had been
specially created by some kind of miracle upon American soil; and we
were apt to think that in mere republican forms there was some kind of
mystic virtue which made them a panacea for all political evils. Our
later experience with cities has rudely disturbed this too confident
frame of mind. It has furnished facts which do not seem to fit our
self-complacent theory, so that now our writers and speakers are
inclined to vent their spleen upon the unhappy cities, perhaps too
unreservedly. We hear them called "foul sinks of corruption" and
"plague spots on our body politic." Yet in all probability our cities
are destined to increase in number and to grow larger and larger; so
that perhaps it is just as well to consider them calmly, as presenting
problems which had not been thought of when our general theory of
government was first worked out a hundred years ago, but which, after
we have been sufficiently taught by experience, we may hope to succeed
in solving, just as we have heretofore succeeded in other things. A
general discussion of the subject does not fall within the province of
this brief historical sketch. But our account would be very incomplete
if we were to stop short of mentioning some of the recent attempts
that have been made toward reconstructing our theories of city
government and improving its practical working. And first, let us
point out a few of the peculiar difficulties of the problem, that we
may see why we might have been expected, up to the present time,
to have been less successful in managing our great cities than in
managing our rural communities, and our states, and our nation.

[Sidenote: Rapid growth of American cities.]
In the first place, the problem is comparatively new and has taken us
unawares. At the time of Washington's inauguration to the presidency
there were no large cities in the United States. Philadelphia had a
population of 42,000; New York had 33,000; Boston, which came next, with
18,000, was not yet a city. Then came Baltimore, with 13,000; while
Brooklyn was a village of 1,600 souls. Now these five cities have a
population of more than 4,000,000, or more than that of the United
States in 1789. And consider how rapidly new cities have been added to
the list. One hardly needs to mention the most striking cases, such as
Chicago, with 4,000 inhabitants in 1840. and at least 1,000,000 in 1890;
or Denver, with its miles of handsome streets and shops, and not one
native inhabitant who has reached his thirtieth birthday. Such facts are
summed up in the general statement that, whereas in 1790 the population
of the United States was scarcely 4,000,000, and out of each 100
inhabitants only 3 dwelt in cities and the other 97 in rural places; on
the other hand in 1880, when the population was more than 50,000,000,
out of each 100 inhabitants 23 dwelt in cities and 77 in rural places.
But duly to appreciate the rapidity of this growth of cities, we must
observe that most of it has been subsequent to 1840. In 1790 there were
six towns in the United States that might be ranked as cities from their
size, though to get this number we must include Boston. In 1800 the
number was the same. By 1810 the number had risen from 6 to 11; by 1820
it had reached 13; by 1830 this thirteen had doubled and become 26; and
in 1840 there were 44 cities altogether. The urban population increased
from 210,873 in 1800 to 1,453,994 in 1840. But between 1840 and 1880 the
number of new cities which came into existence was 242, and the urban
population increased to 11,318,547. Nothing like this was ever known
before in any part of the world, and perhaps it is not strange that such
a tremendous development did not find our methods of government fully
prepared to deal with it.

[Sidenote: Want of practical foresight.]
This rapidity of growth has entailed some important consequences. In the
first place it obliges the city to make great outlays of money in order
to get immediate results. Public works must be undertaken with a view to
quickness rather than thoroughness. Pavements, sewers, and reservoirs of
some sort must be had at once, even if inadequately planned and
imperfectly constructed; and so, before a great while, the work must be
done over again. Such conditions of imperative haste increase the
temptations to dishonesty as well as the liability to errors of judgment
on the part of the men who administer the public funds.[10] Then the
rapid growth of a city, especially of a new city, requiring the
immediate construction of a certain amount of public works, almost
necessitates the borrowing of money, and debt means heavy taxes. It is
like the case of a young man who, in order to secure a home for his
quickly growing family, buys a house under a heavy mortgage. Twice a
year there comes in a great bill for interest, and in order to meet it
he must economize in his table or now and then deny himself a new suit
of clothes. So if a city has to tax heavily to pay its debts, it must
cut down its current expenses somewhere, and the results are sure to be
visible in more or less untidiness and inefficiency. Mr. Low tells us
that "very few of our American cities have yet paid in full the cost of
their original water-works." Lastly, much wastefulness results from want
of foresight. It is not easy to predict how a city will grow, or the
nature of its needs a few years hence. Moreover, even when it is easy
enough to predict a result, it is not easy to secure practical foresight
on the part of a city council elected for the current year. Its members
are afraid of making taxes too heavy this year, and considerations of
ten years hence are apt to be dismissed as "visionary." It is always
hard for us to realize how terribly soon ten years hence will be here.
The habit of doing things by halves has been often commented on (and,
perhaps, even more by our own writers than by foreigners) as especially
noticeable in America. It has doubtless been fostered by the conditions
which in so many cases have made it absolutely necessary to adopt
temporary makeshifts. These conditions have produced a certain habit of

[Footnote 10: This and some of the following considerations have been
ably set forth and illustrated by Hon. Seth Low, president of Columbia
College, and lately mayor of Brooklyn, in an address at Johns Hopkins
University, published in _J. H. U. Studies, Supplementary Notes_,
no. 4.]

[Sidenote: Growth in complexity of government in cities.]
Let us now observe that as cities increase in size the amount of
government that is necessary tends in some respects to increase.
Wherever there is a crowd there is likely to be some need of rules and
regulations. In the country a man may build his house pretty much as he
pleases; but in the city he may be forbidden to build it of wood, and
perhaps even the thickness of the party walls or the position of the
chimneys may come in for some supervision on the part of the government.
For further precaution against spreading fires, the city has an
organized force of men, with costly engines, engine-houses, and stables.
In the country a board of health has comparatively little to do; in the
city it is often confronted with difficult sanitary problems which call
for highly paid professional skill on the part of physicians and
chemists, architects and plumbers, masons and engineers. So, too, the
water supply of a great city is likely to be a complicated business, and
the police force may well need as much, management as a small army. In
short, with a city, increase in size is sure to involve increase in
complexity of organization, and this means a vast increase in the number
of officials for doing the work and of details to be superintended. For
example, let us enumerate the executive department and officers of the
city of Boston at the present time.

[Sidenote: Municipal officers in Boston.]
There are three street commissioners with power to lay out streets and
assess damages thereby occasioned. These are elected by the people. The
following officers are appointed by the mayor, with the concurrence of
the aldermen: a superintendent of streets, an inspector of buildings,
three commissioners each for the fire and health departments, four
overseers of the poor, besides a board of nine directors for the
management of almshouses, houses of correction, lunatic hospital, etc.;
a city hospital board of five members, five trustees of the public
library, three commissioners each for parks and water-works; five chief
assessors, to estimate the value of property and assess city, county,
and state taxes; a city collector, a superintendent of public buildings,
five trustees of Mount Hope Cemetery, six sinking fund commissioners,
two record commissioners, three registrars of voters, a registrar of
births, deaths, and marriages, a city treasurer, city auditor, city
solicitor, corporation counsel, city architect, city surveyor,
superintendent of Faneuil Hall Market, superintendent of street lights,
superintendent of sewers, superintendent of printing, superintendent of
bridges, five directors of ferries, harbour master and ten assistants,
water registrar, inspector of provisions, inspector of milk and vinegar,
a sealer and four deputy sealers of weights and measures, an inspector
of lime, three inspectors of petroleum, fifteen inspectors of pressed
hay, a culler of hoops and staves, three fence-viewers, ten
field-drivers and pound-keepers, three surveyors of marble, nine
superintendents of hay scales, four measurers of upper leather, fifteen
measurers of wood and bark, twenty measurers of grain, three weighers of
beef, thirty-eight weighers of coal, five weighers of boilers and heavy
machinery, four weighers of ballast and lighters, ninety-two
undertakers, 150 constables, 968 election officers and their deputies. A
few of these officials serve without pay, some are paid by salaries
fixed by the council, some by fees. Besides these there is a clerk of
the common council elected by that body, and also the city clerk, city
messenger, and clerk of committees, in whose election both branches of
the city council concur. The school committee, of twenty-four members,
elected by the people, is distinct from the rest of the city government,
and so is the board of police, composed of three commissioners appointed
by the state executive.[11]

[Footnote 11: Bugbee, "The City Government of Boston," _J.H.U.
Studies_, V., iii.]

[Sidenote: How city government comes to be a mystery.]
This long list may serve to give some idea of the mere quantity of
administrative work required in a large city. Obviously under such
circumstances city government must become more or less of a mystery to
the great mass of citizens. They cannot watch its operations as the
inhabitants of a small village can watch the proceedings of their
township and county governments. Much work must go on which cannot
even be intelligently criticised without such special knowledge as it
would be idle to expect in the average voter, or perhaps in any voter.
It becomes exceedingly difficult for the taxpayer to understand just
what his money goes for, or how far the city expenses might reasonably
be reduced; and it becomes correspondingly easy for municipal
corruption to start and acquire a considerable headway before it can
be detected and checked.

[Sidenote: In some respects it is more of a mystery that state and
national government.]
In some respects city government is harder to watch intelligently
than the government of the state or of the nation. For these wider
governments are to some extent limited to work of general supervision.
As compared with the city, they are more concerned with the
establishment and enforcement of certain general principles, and less
with the administration of endlessly complicated details. I do not
mean to be understood as saying that there is not plenty of intricate
detail about state and national governments. I am only comparing one
thing with another, and it seems to me that one chief difficulty with
city government is the bewildering vastness and multifariousness of
the details with which it is concerned. The modern city has come to be
a huge corporation for carrying on a huge business with many branches,
most of which call for special aptitude and training.

[Sidenote: The mayor at first had too little power.]
As these points have gradually forced themselves upon public attention
there has been a tendency in many of our large cities toward
remodeling their governments on new principles. The most noticeable
feature of this tendency is the increase in the powers of the mayor.

A hundred years ago our legislators and constitution-makers were much
afraid of what was called the "one-man power." In nearly all the
colonies a chronic quarrel had been kept up between the governors
appointed by the king and the legislators elected by the people, and
this had made the "one-man power" very unpopular. Besides, it was
something that had been unpopular in ancient Greece and Rome, and it
was thought to be essentially unrepublican in principle. Accordingly
our great grandfathers preferred to entrust executive powers to
committees rather than to single individuals; and when they assigned
an important office to an individual they usually took pains to
curtail its power and influence. This disposition was visible in our
early attempts to organize city governments like little republics.
First, in the board of aldermen and the common council we had a
two-chambered legislature. Then, lest the mayor should become
dangerous, the veto power was at first generally withheld from him,
and his appointments of executive officers needed to be confirmed by
at least one branch of the city council. These executive officers,
moreover, as already observed, were subject to more or less control or
oversight from committees of the city council.

[Sidenote: Scattering and weakening of responsibility.]
Now this system, in depriving the mayor of power, deprived him of
responsibility, and left the responsibility nowhere in particular. In
making appointments the mayor and council would come to some sort of
compromise with each other and exchange favours. Perhaps for private
reasons incompetent or dishonest officers would get appointed, and
if the citizens ventured to complain the mayor would say that he
appointed as good men as the council could be induced to confirm,
and the council would declare their willingness to confirm good
appointments if the mayor could only be persuaded to make them.

[Sidenote: Committees inefficient for executive purposes.]
Then the want of subordination of the different executive departments
made it impossible to secure unity of administration or to carry out
any consistent and generally intelligible policy. Between the various
executive officers and visiting committees there was apt to be a
more or less extensive interchange of favours, or what is called
"log-rolling;" and sums of money would be voted by the council only
thus to leak away in undertakings the propriety or necessity of which
was perhaps hard to determine. There was no responsible head who could
be quickly and sharply called to account. Each official's hands were
so tied that whatever went wrong he could declare that it was not his
fault. The confusion was enhanced by the practice of giving executive
work to committees or boards instead of single officers. Benjamin
Franklin used to say, if you wish to be sure that a thing is done, go
and do it yourself. Human experience certainly proves that this is the
only absolutely safe way. The next best way is to send some competent
person to do it for you; and if there is no one competent to be
had, you do the next best thing and entrust the work to the least
incompetent person you can find. If you entrust it to a committee your
prospect of getting it done is diminished and it grows less if
you enlarge your committee. By the time you have got a group of
committees, independent of one another and working at cross purposes,
you have got Dickens's famous Circumlocution Office, where the great
object in life was "how not to do it."

[Sidenote 1: Increase of city debts.]

[Sidenote 2: Attempt to cure the evil by state interference;
 experience of New York.]

Amid the general dissatisfaction over the extravagance and
inefficiency of our city governments, people's attention was first
drawn to the rapid and alarming increase of city indebtedness in
various parts of the country. A heavy debt may ruin a city as surely
as an individual, for it raises the rate of taxation, and thus, as was
above pointed out, it tends to frighten people and capital away from
the city. At first it was sought to curb the recklessness of city
councils in incurring lavish expenditures by giving the mayor a veto
power. Laws were also passed limiting the amount of debt which a city
would be allowed to incur under any circumstances. Clothing the
mayor with the veto power is now seen to have been a wise step; and
arbitrary limitation of the amount of debt, though a clumsy expedient,
is confessedly a necessary one. But beyond this, it was in some
instances attempted to take the management of some departments of city
business out of the hands of the city and put them into the hands of
the state legislature. The most notable instance of this was in New
York in 1857. The results, there and elsewhere, have been generally
regarded as unsatisfactory. After a trial of thirty years the
experience of New York has proved that a state legislature is not
competent to take proper care of the government of cities. Its
members do not know enough about the details of each locality, and
consequently local affairs are left to the representatives from each
locality, with "log-rolling" as the inevitable result. A man fresh
from his farm on the edge of the Adirondacks knows nothing about the
problems pertaining to electric wires in Broadway, or to rapid transit
between Harlem and the Battery; and his consent to desired legislation
on such points can very likely be obtained only by favouring some
measure which he thinks will improve the value of his farm, or perhaps
by helping him to debauch the civil service by getting some neighbour
appointed to a position for which he is not qualified. All this is
made worse by the fact that the members of a state government are
generally less governed by a sense of responsibility toward the
citizens of a particular city than even the worst local government
that can be set up in such a city.[12]

[Footnote 1: It is not intended to deny that there may be instances
in which the state government may advantageously participate in the
government of cities. It may be urged that, in the case of great
cities, like New York or Boston, many people who are not residents
either do business in the city or have vast business interests there,
and thus may be as deeply interested in its welfare as any of the
voters. It may also be said that state provisions for city government
do not always work badly. There are many competent judges who approve
of the appointment of police commissioners by the executive of
Massachusetts. There are generally two sides to a question; and to
push a doctrine to extremes is to make oneself a _doctrinaire_
rather than a wise citizen. But experience clearly shows that in all
doubtful cases it is safer to let the balance incline in favour of
local self-government than the other way.]

Moreover, even if legislatures were otherwise competent to manage the
local affairs of cities, they have not time enough, amid the pressure
of other duties, to do justice to such matters. In 1870 the number of
acts passed by the New York legislature was 808. Of these, 212, or
more than one fourth of the whole, related to cities and villages. The
808 acts, when printed, filled about 2,000 octavo pages; and of these
the 212 acts filled more than 1,500 pages. This illustrates what
I said above about the vast quantity of details which have to be
regulated in municipal government. Here we have more than three
fourths of the volume of state-legislation devoted to local affairs;
and it hardly need be added that a great part of these enactments were
worse than worthless because they were made hastily and
without due consideration,--though not always, perhaps, without what
lawyers call _a_ consideration.[13]

[Footnote 13: Nothing could be further from my thought than to cast any
special imputation upon the New York legislature, which is probably a
fair average specimen of law-making bodies. The theory of legislative
bodies, as laid down in text-books, is that they are assembled for the
purpose of enacting laws for the welfare of the community in
general. In point of fact they seldom rise to such a lofty height of
disinterestedness. Legislation is usually a mad scramble in which the
final result, be it good or bad, gets evolved out of compromises and
bargains among a swarm of clashing local and personal interests.
The "consideration" may be anything from log-rolling to bribery. In
American legislatures it is to be hoped that downright bribery is
rare. As for log-rolling, or exchange of favours, there are many
phases of it in which that which may be perfectly innocent shades
off by almost imperceptible degrees into that which is unseemly or
dishonourable or even criminal; and it is in this hazy region that
Satan likes to set his traps for the unwary pilgrim.]

[Sidenote: Tweed Ring in New York.]
The experience of New York thus proved that state intervention and
special legislation did not mend matters. It did not prevent the
shameful rule of the Tweed Ring from 1868 to 1871, when a small band
of conspirators got themselves elected or appointed to the principal
city offices, and, having had their own corrupt creatures chosen
judges of the city courts, proceeded to rob the taxpayers at their
leisure. By the time they were discovered and brought to justice,
their stealings amounted to many millions of dollars, and the rate of
taxation had risen to more than two per cent.

[Sidenote: New experiments.]
The discovery of these wholesale robberies, and of other villainies
on a smaller scale in other cities, has led to much discussion of the
problems of municipal government, and to many attempts at practical
reform. The present is especially a period of experiments, yet in
these experiments perhaps a general drift of opinion may be discerned.
People seem to be coming to regard cities more as if they were huge
business corporations than as if they were little republics. The
lesson has been learned that in executive matters too much limitation
of power entails destruction of responsibility; the "ring" is now more
dreaded than the "one-man power;" and there is accordingly a manifest
tendency to assail the evil by concentrating power and responsibility
in the mayor.

[Sidenote: New government of Brooklyn.]
The first great city to adopt this method was Brooklyn. In the first
place the city council was simplified and made a one-chambered council
consisting of nineteen aldermen. Besides this council of aldermen, the
people elect only three city officers,--the mayor, comptroller,
and auditor. The comptroller is the principal finance officer and
book-keeper of the city; and the auditor must approve bills against
the city, whether great or small, before they can be paid. The mayor
appoints, without confirmation by the council, all executive heads of
departments; and these executive heads are individuals, not
boards. Thus there is a single police commissioner, a single fire
commissioner, a single health commissioner, and so on; and each of
these heads appoints his own subordinates; so that the principle
of defined responsibility permeates the city government from top
to bottom,[14] In a few cases, where the work to be done is rather
discretionary than executive in character, it is intrusted to a board;
thus there is a board of assessors, a board of education, and a board
of elections. These are all appointed by the mayor, but for terms
not coinciding with his own; "so that, in most cases, no mayor would
appoint the whole of any such board unless he were to be twice elected
by the people." But the executive officers are appointed by the mayor
for terms coincident with his own, that is for two years. "The mayor
is elected at the general election in November; he takes office on the
first of January following, and for one month the great departments of
the city are carried on for him by the appointees of his predecessor.
On the first of February it becomes his duty to appoint his own heads
of departments, and thus each incoming mayor has the opportunity to
make an administration in all its parts in sympathy with himself."

[Footnote 14: Seth Low on "Municipal Government," in Bryce's
_American Commonwealth_, vol. i. p. 626.]

With all these immense executive powers entrusted to the mayor,
however, he does not hold the purse-strings. He is a member of a board
of estimate, of which the other four members are the comptroller
and auditor, with the county treasurer and supervisor. This board
recommends the amounts to be raised by taxation for the ensuing year.
These estimates are then laid before the council of aldermen, who
may cut down single items as they see fit, but have not the power to
increase any item. The mayor must see to it that the administrative
work of the year does not use up more money than is thus allowed him.

[Sidenote: Some of its merits.]
This Brooklyn system has great merits. It ensures unity of
administration, it encourages promptness and economy, it locates
and defines responsibility, and it is so simple that everybody can
understand it. The people, having but few officers to elect, are
more likely to know something about them. Especially since everybody
understands that the success of the government depends upon the
character of the mayor, extraordinary pains are taken to secure good
mayors; and the increased interest in city politics is shown by the
fact that in Brooklyn more people vote for mayor than for governor
or for president. Fifty years ago such a reduction in the number of
elective officers would have greatly shocked all good Americans. But
In point of fact, while in small townships where everybody knows
everybody popular control is best ensured by electing all public
officers, it is very different in great cities where it is impossible
that the voters in general should know much about the qualifications
of a long list of candidates. In such cases citizens are apt to vote
blindly for names about which they know nothing except that they occur
on a Republican or a Democratic ticket; although, if the object of
a municipal election is simply to secure an upright and efficient
municipal government, to elect a city magistrate because he is a
Republican or a Democrat is about as sensible as to elect him because
he believes in homoeopathy or has a taste for chrysanthemums.[15] To
vote for candidates whom one has never heard of is not to insure
popular control, but to endanger it. It is much better to vote for
one man whose reputation we know, and then to hold him strictly
responsible for the appointments he makes. The Brooklyn system seems
to be a step toward lifting city government out of the mire of party

[Footnote 15: Of course from the point of view of the party politician,
it Is quite different. Each party has its elaborate "machine" for
electing state and national officers; and in order to be kept at
its maximum of efficiency the machine must be kept at work on all
occasions, whether such occasions are properly concerned with
differences in party politics or not. To the party politician it
of course makes a great difference whether a city magistrate is a
Republican or a Democrat. To him even the political complexion of his
mail-carrier is a matter of importance. But these illustrations
only show that party politics may be carried to extremes that are
inconsistent with the best interests of the community. Once in a while
it becomes necessary to teach party organizations to know their place,
and to remind them that they are not the lords and masters but the
servants and instruments of the people.]

This system went into operation in Brooklyn in January, 1882, and
seems to have given general satisfaction. Since then changes in a
similar direction, though with variations in detail, have been made in
other cities, and notably in Philadelphia.

[Sidenote: Notion that the suffrage ought to be restricted.]
In speaking of the difficulties which beset city government in the
United States, mention is often (and perhaps too exclusively) made
of the great mass of ignorant voters, chiefly foreigners without
experience in self-government, with no comprehension of American
principles and traditions, and with little or no property to suffer
from excessive taxation. Such people will naturally have slight
compunctions about voting away other people's money; indeed, they are
apt to think that "the Government" has got Aladdin's lamp hidden away
somewhere in a burglar-proof safe, and could do pretty much everything
that is wanted, if it only would. In the hands of demagogues such
people may be dangerous, they are supposed to be especially accessible
to humbug and bribes, and their votes have no doubt been used to
sustain and perpetuate most flagrant abuses. We often hear it said
that the only way to get good government is to deprive such people of
their votes and limit the suffrage to persons who have some property
at stake. Such a measure has been seriously recommended in New York,
but it is generally felt to be impossible without a revolution.

[Sidenote: Testimony of Pennsylvania Municipal Commission.]
Perhaps, after all, it may not be so desirable as it seems. The
ignorant vote has done a great deal of harm, but not all the harm. In
1878 it was reported by the Pennsylvania Municipal Commission, as
a remarkable but notorious fact, that the accumulations of debt in
Philadelphia and other cities of the state have been due, not to a
non-property-holding, irresponsible element among the electors, but to
the desire for speculation among the property-owners themselves. Large
tracts of land outside the built-up portion of the city have been
purchased, combinations made among men of wealth, and councils
besieged until they have been driven into making appropriations to
open and improve streets and avenues, largely in advance of the real
necessities of the city. Extraordinary as the statement may seem
at first, the experience of the past shows clearly that frequently
property-owners need more protection against themselves than against
the non-property-holding class.[16] This is a statement of profound
significance, and should be duly pondered by advocates of a restricted

[Footnote 16: Allinson and Penrose, _Philadelphia, 1681-1887; a
History of Municipal Development_, p. 278.]

[Sidenote: Dangers of a restricted suffrage.]
It should also be borne in mind that, while ignorant and needy voters,
led by unscrupulous demagogues, are capable of doing much harm with
their votes, it is by no means clear that the evil would be removed
by depriving them of the suffrage. It is very unsafe to have in any
community a large class of people who feel that political rights
or privileges are withheld from them by other people who are their
superiors in wealth or knowledge. Such poor people are apt to have
exaggerated ideas of what a vote can do; very likely they think it is
because they do not have votes that they are poor; thus they are ready
to entertain revolutionary or anarchical ideas, and are likely to be
more dangerous material in the hands of demagogues than if they were
allowed to vote. Universal suffrage has its evils, but it undoubtedly
acts as a safety-valve. The only cure for the evils which come
from ignorance and shiftlessness is the abolition of ignorance and
shiftlessness; and this is slow work. Church and school here find
enough to keep them busy; but the vote itself, even if often misused,
is a powerful educator; and we need not regret that the restriction of
the suffrage has come to be practically impossible.

[Sidenote: Baneful effects of mixing city politics with national
The purification of our city governments will never be completed
until they are entirely divorced from national party politics. The
connection opens a limitless field for "log-rolling," and rivets
upon cities the "spoils system," which is always and everywhere
incompatible with good government. It is worthy of note that the
degradation of so many English boroughs and cities during the Tudor
and Stuart periods was chiefly due to the encroachment of national
politics upon municipal politics. Because the borough returned members
to the House of Commons, it became worth while for the crown to
intrigue with the municipal government, with the ultimate object of
influencing parliamentary elections. The melancholy history of the
consequent dickering and dealing, jobbery and robbery, down to 1835,
when the great Municipal Corporations Act swept it all away, may be
read with profit by all Americans.[17] It was the city of London only,
whose power and independence had kept it free from complications with
national politics, that avoided the abuses elsewhere prevalent, so
that it was excepted from the provisions of the Act of 1835, and still
retains its ancient constitution.

[Footnote 17: See _Parliamentary Reports_, 1835, "Municipal
Corporations Commission;" also Sir Erskine May, _Const. Hist._,
vol. ii. chap, xv.]

In the United States the entanglement of municipal with national
politics has begun to be regarded as mischievous and possibly
dangerous, and attempts have in some cases been made toward checking
it by changing the days of election, so that municipal officers may
not be chosen at the same time with presidential electors. Such a
change is desirable, but to obtain a thoroughly satisfactory result,
it will be necessary to destroy the "spoils system" root and branch,
and to adopt effective measures of ballot reform. To these topics I
shall recur when treating of our national government. But first we
shall have to consider the development of our several states.


Give an account of city government in the United States, under the
following heads:--

1. The American city:--

  a. The mayor.
  b. The heads of departments.
  c. The city council.
  d. The judges.
  e. Appropriations.

f. The power of committees.

2. The practical workings of city governments:--

  a. The contrast they show between theory and practice.
  b. Various complaints urged against city governments.
  c. Their effect upon the old-time confidence in the perfection of our

3. The growth of American cities:--

  a. The cities of Washington's time and those of to-day.
  b. The population of cities in 1790 and their population to-day.
  c. City growth since 1840.

4. Some consequences of rapid city growth:--
  a. The pressure to construct public works.
  b. The incurring of heavy debts.
  c. The wastefulness due to a lack of foresight.
  d. The increase in government due to the complexity of a city.
  e. An illustration of this complexity in Boston.
  f. The consequent mystery that enshrouds much of city government.

5. Some evils due to the fear of a "one-man" power:--
  a. The objection to such power a century ago.
  b. Restrictions imposed upon the mayor's power.
  c. The division and weakening of responsibility.
  d. The lack of unity in the administration of business.
  e. The inefficiency of committees for executive purposes.
  f. The alarming increase in city debts.

6. Attempts to remedy some of the evils of city government:--
  a. The power of veto granted to the mayor.
  b. The limitation of city indebtedness.
  c. State control of some city departments.

7. Difficulties inherent in state control of cities:--
  a. Lack of familiarity with city affairs.
  b. The tendency to "log-rolling."
  c. Lack of time due to the pressure of state affairs.
  d. The failure of state control as shown in the rule of the Tweed ring.

8. The government of the city of Brooklyn:--
  a. The elevation of the "one-man" power above that of the "ring."
  b. Officers elected by the people.
  c. Officers appointed by the mayor.
  d. The principle of well-defined responsibility.
  e. The appointment of certain boards by the mayor.
  f. The holding of the purse-strings.
  g. The inadequacy of the township elective system, in a city like

9. Restriction of the suffrage:--
  a. The dangers from large masses of ignorant voters.
  b. The responsibility for the debt of Philadelphia and other cities.
  c. The dangers from large classes who feel that political rights are
      denied  them.

d. Suffrage as a "safety-valve."

10. The mixture of city politics with those of the state or nation:

  a. The degradation of the English borough.
  b. The exemption, of London from the Municipal Corporations Act.
  c. The importance of separate days for municipal elections.
  d. The importance of abolishing the "spoils system."


(Chiefly for pupils who live in cities.)

1. When was your city organized?

2. Give some account of its growth, its size, and its present
population. How many wards has it? Give their boundaries.
In which ward do you live?

3. Examine its charter, and report a few of its leading provisions.

4. What description of government in this chapter comes nearest
to that of your city?

5. Consider the suggestions about the study of town government
(pp. 43, 44), and act upon such of them as are applicable
to city government.

6. What is the general impression about the purity of your city
government? (Consult several citizens and report what you find out.)

7. What important caution should be observed about vague rumours of
inefficiency or corruption?

8. What are the evidences of a sound financial condition in a city?

9. Is the financial condition of your city sound?

10. When debts are incurred, are provisions made at the same time for
meeting them when due?

11. What are "sinking funds"?

12. What wants has a city that a town is free from?

13. Describe your system of public water works, making an analysis of
important points that may be presented.

14. Do the same for your park system or any other system that involves a
long time for its completion as well as a great outlay.

15. Are the principles of civil service reform recognized in your city?
If so, to what extent? Do they need to be extended further?

16. Describe the parties that contended for the supremacy in your last
city election and tell what questions were at issue between them.

17. What great corporations exact an influence in your city affairs? Is
such influence bad because it is great? What is a possible danger from
such influence?

18. In view of the vast number and range of city interests, what is the
most that the average citizen can reasonably be asked to know and to do
about them? What things is it indispensable for him to know and to do is
he is to contribute to good government?


Section 1. DIRECT AND INDIRECT GOVERNMENT.--The transition from
direct to indirect government, as illustrated in the gradual
development of a township into a city, may be profitably studied in
Quincy's _Municipal History of Boston_, Boston, 1852; and in
Winsor's _Memorial History of Boston_, vol. iii. pp. 189-302,
Boston, 1881.

_History of London_, 2 vols., London, 1883; Toulmin Smith's
_English Gilds_, with Introduction by Lujo Brentano, London,
1870; and the histories of the English Constitution, especially those
of Gneist, Stubbs, Taswell-Langmead, and Hannis Taylor.

III., xi.-xii., J.A. Porter, _The City of Washington_; IV., iv., W.P.
Holcomb, _Pennsylvania Boroughs_; IV., x., C.H. Lovermore, _Town and
City Government of New Haven_; V., i.-ii., Allinson and Penrose, _City
Government of Philadelphia_; V., iii., J.M. Bugbee, _The City Government
of Boston_; V., iv., M.S. Snow, _The City Government of St. Louis_;
VII., ii.-iii., B. Moses, _Establishment of Municipal Government in San
Francisco_; VII., iv., W.W. Howe, _Municipal History of New Orleans_;
also _Supplementary Notes_, No. 4, Seth Low, _The Problem of City
Government_ (compare No. 1, Albert Shaw, _Municipal Government in
England_.) See, also, the supplementary volumes published at
Baltimore,--Levermore's _Republic of New Haven_, 1886, Allinson and
Penrose's _Philadelphia_, 1681-1887: _a History of Municipal
Development_, 1887.



Section 1. _The Colonial Governments._

[Sidenote: Claims of Spain to the possession of North America.]
In the year 1600 Spain was the only European nation which had obtained
a foothold upon the part of North America now comprised within the
United States. Spain claimed the whole continent on the strength of
the bulls of 1493 and 1494, in which Pope Alexander VI. granted her
all countries to be discovered to the west of a certain meridian
which, happens to pass a little to the east of Newfoundland. From
their first centre in the West Indies the Spaniards had made a
lodgment in Florida, at St. Augustine, in 1565; and from Mexico they
had in 1605 founded Santa Fé, in what is now the territory of New

[Sidenote: Claims of France and England.]
France and England, however, paid little heed to the claim of Spain.
France had her own claim to North America, based on the voyages of
discovery made by Verrazano in 1524 and Cartier in 1534, in the course
of which New York harbour had been visited and the St. Lawrence partly
explored. England had a still earlier claim, based on the discovery
of the North American continent in 1497 by John Cabot. It presently
became apparent that to make such claims of any value, discovery must
be followed up by occupation of the country. Attempts at colonization
had been made by French Protestants in Florida in 1562-65, and by the
English in North Carolina in 1584-87, but both attempts had failed
miserably. Throughout the sixteenth century French and English sailors
kept visiting the Newfoundland fisheries, and by the end of the
century the French and English governments had their attention
definitely turned to the founding of colonies in North America.

[Sidenote: The London and Plymouth Companies.]
In 1606 two great joint-stock companies were formed in England for
the purpose of planting such colonies. One of these companies had its
headquarters at London, and was called the London Company; the other
had its headquarters at the seaport of Plymouth, in Devonshire, and
was called the Plymouth Company. To the London Company the king
granted the coast of North America from 34° to 38° north latitude;
that is, about from Cape Fear to the mouth of the Rappahannock. To the
Plymouth Company he granted the coast from 41° to 45°; that is, about
from the mouth of the Hudson to the eastern extremity of Maine. These
grants were to go in straight strips or zones across the continent
from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Almost nothing was then known
about American geography; the distance from ocean to ocean across
Mexico was not so very great, and people did not realize that further
north it was quite a different thing. As to the middle strip, starting
from the coast between the Rappahannock and the Hudson, it was open to
the two companies, with the understanding that neither was to plant a
colony within 100 miles of any settlement already begun by the
other. This meant practically that it was likely to be controlled by
whichever company should first come into the field with a flourishing
colony. Accordingly both companies made haste and sent out settlers in
1607, the one to the James River, the other to the Kennebec. The
first enterprise, after much suffering, resulted in the founding of
Virginia; the second ended in disaster, and it was not until 1620 that
the Pilgrims from Leyden made the beginnings of a permanent settlement
upon the territory of the Plymouth Company.

[Sidenote: Their common charter.]
These two companies were at first organized under a single charter.
Each was to be governed by a council in England appointed by the king,
and these councils were to appoint councils of thirteen to reside in
the colonies, with powers practically unlimited. Nevertheless the king
covenanted with his colonists as follows: Also we do, for us, our
heirs and successors, declare by these presents that all and every the
persons, being our subjects, which shall go and inhabit within the
said colony and plantation, and every their children and posterity,
which shall happen to be born within any of the limits thereof, shall
have and enjoy all liberties, franchises, and immunities of free
denizens and natural subjects within any of our other dominions, to
all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born within
this our realm of England, or in any other of our dominions. This
principle, that British subjects born in America should be entitled to
the same political freedom as if born in England, was one upon which
the colonists always insisted, and it was the repeated and persistent
attempts of George III. to infringe it that led the American colonies
to revolt and declare themselves independent of Great Britain.

[Sidenote: Dissolution of the two companies.]
[Sidenote: Settlement of the three zones.]
Both the companies founded in 1606 were short-lived. In 1620 the
Plymouth Company got a new charter, which made it independent of the
London Company. In 1624 the king, James I., quarreled with the London
Company, brought suit against it in court, and obtained from the
subservient judges a decree annulling its charter. In 1635 the
reorganized Plymouth Company surrendered its charter to Charles I.
in pursuance of a bargain which need not here concern us.[1] But the
creation of these short-lived companies left an abiding impression
upon the map of North America and upon the organization of civil
government in the United States. Let us observe what was done with the
three strips or zones into which the country was divided: the northern
or New England zone, assigned to the Plymouth Company; the southern or
Virginia zone, assigned to the London Company; and the central zone,
for which the two companies were, so to speak, to run a race.

[Footnote 1: See my _Beginnings of New England_, p. 112.]

[Sidenote: 1. the northern zone.]
[Sidenote: 2. The southern zone.]
In 1663 Charles II. cut off the southern part of Virginia, the area
covering the present states of North and South Carolina and Georgia,
and it was formed into a new province called Carolina. In 1729 the
two groups of settlements which had grown up along its coast were
definitively separated into North and South Carolina; and in 1732
the frontier portion toward Florida was organized into the colony of
Georgia. Thus four of the original thirteen states--Virginia, the two
Carolinas, and Georgia--were constituted in the southern zone.

To this group some writers add Maryland, founded in 1632, because its
territory had been claimed by the London Company; but the earliest
settlements in Maryland, its principal towns, and almost the whole of
its territory, come north of latitude 38° and within the middle zone.

[Sidenote: 3. The middle zone.]
Between the years 1614 and 1621 the Dutch founded their colony of New
Netherland upon the territory included between the Hudson and Delaware
rivers, or, as they quite naturally called them, the North and South
rivers. They pushed their outposts up the Hudson as far as the site
of Albany, thus intruding far into the northern zone. In 1638 Sweden
planted a small colony upon the west side of Delaware Bay, but in 1655
it was surrendered to the Dutch. Then in 1664 the English took New
Netherland from the Dutch, and Charles II. granted the province to his
brother, the Duke of York. The duke proceeded to grant part of it to
his friends, Berkeley and Carteret, and thus marked off the new colony
of New Jersey. In 1681 the region west of New Jersey was granted to
William Penn, and in the following year Penn bought from the Duke of
York the small piece of territory upon which the Swedes had planted
their colony. Delaware thus became an appendage to Penn's greater
colony, but was never merged in it. Thus five of the original
thirteen states--Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and
Delaware--were constituted in the middle zone.

As we have already observed, the westward movement of population in
the United States has largely followed the parallels of latitude, and
thus the characteristics of these three original strips or zones have,
with more or less modification, extended westward. The men of New
England, with their Portland and Salem reproduced more than 3000 miles
distant in the state of Oregon, and within 100 miles of the Pacific
Ocean, may be said in a certain sense to have realized literally the
substance of King James's grant to the Plymouth Company. It will be
noticed that the kinds of local government described in our earlier
chapters are characteristic respectively of the three original zones:
the township system being exemplified chiefly in the northern zone,
the county system in the southern zone, and the mixed township-county
system in the central zone.

[Sidenote: House of Burgesses in Virginia.]
The London and Plymouth companies did not perish until after state
governments had been organized in the colonies already founded upon
their territories. In 1619 the colonists of Virginia, with the aid of
the more liberal spirits in the London Company, secured for themselves
a representative government; to the governor and his council,
appointed in England, there was added a general assembly composed of
two burgesses from each "plantation," [2] elected by the inhabitants.
This assembly, the first legislative body that ever sat in America,
met on the 30th of July, 1619, in the choir of the rude church at
Jamestown. The dignity of the burgesses was preserved, as in the House
of Commons, by sitting with their hats on; and after offering prayer,
and taking the oath of allegiance and supremacy, they proceeded to
enact a number of laws relating to public worship, to agriculture, and
to intercourse with the Indians. Curiously enough, so confident was
the belief of the settlers that they were founding towns, that they
called their representatives "burgesses," and down to 1776 the
assembly continued to be known as the House of "Burgesses," although
towns refused to grow in Virginia, and soon after counties were
organized in 1634 the burgesses sat for counties. Such were the
beginnings of representative government in Virginia.

[Footnote 2: The word "plantation" is here used, not in its later and
ordinary sense, as the estate belonging to an individual planter,
but in an earlier sense. In this early usage it was equivalent to
"settlement." It was used in New England as well as in Virginia;
thus Salem was spoken of by the court of assistants in 1629 as "New
England's Plantation."]

[Sidenote: Company of Massachusetts Bay.]
The government of Massachusetts is descended from the Dorchester
Company formed in England in 1623, for the ostensible purpose of
trading in furs and timber and catching fish on the shores of
Massachusetts Bay. After a disastrous beginning this company was
dissolved, but only to be immediately reorganized on a greater scale.
In 1628 a grant of the land between the Charles and Merrimack rivers
was obtained from the Plymouth Company; and in 1629 a charter was
obtained from Charles I. So many men from the east of England had
joined in the enterprise that it could no longer be fitly called a
Dorchester Company. The new name was significantly taken from the
New World. The charter created a corporation under the style of the
Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England. The freemen
of the Company were to hold a meeting four times a year; and they were
empowered to choose a governor, a deputy governor, and a council of
eighteen assistants, who were to hold their meetings each month. They
could administer oaths of supremacy and allegiance, raise troops
for the defence of their possessions, admit new associates into the
Company, and make regulations for the management of their business,
with the vague and weak proviso that in order to be valid their
enactment must in no wise contravene the laws of England. Nothing was
said as to the place where the Company should hold its meetings, and
accordingly after a few months the Company transferred itself and
its charter to New England, in order that it might carry out its
intentions with as little interference as possible on the part of the

Whether this transfer of the charter was legally justifiable or not
is a question which has been much debated, but with which we need not
here vex ourselves. The lawyers of the Company were shrewd enough to
know that a loosely-drawn instrument may be made to admit of great
liberty of action. Under the guise of a mere trading corporation the
Puritan leaders deliberately intended to found a civil commonwealth in
accordance with their own theories of government.

[Sidenote: Government of Massachusetts; the General Court]
After their arrival in Massachusetts, their numbers increased so
rapidly that it became impossible to have a primary assembly of all
the freemen, and so a representative assembly was devised after the
model of the Old English county court. The representatives sat for
townships, and were called deputies. At first they sat in the same
chamber with the assistants, but in 1644 the legislative body was
divided into two chambers, the deputies forming the lower house, while
the upper was composed of the assistants, who were sometimes called
magistrates. In elections the candidates for the upper house were put
in nomination by the General Court and voted on by the freemen. In
general the assistants represented the common or central power of
the colony, while the deputies represented the interests of popular
self-government. The former was comparatively an aristocratic and the
latter a democratic body, and there were frequent disputes between the

It is worthy of note that the governing body thus constituted was at
once a legislative and a judicial body, like the English county court
which served as its model. Inferior courts were organized at an early
date in Massachusetts, but the highest judicial tribunal was the
legislature, which was known as the General Court. It still bears this
name to-day, though it long ago ceased to exercise judicial functions.

[Sidenote: New charter of Massachusetts]
Now as the freemen of Massachusetts directly chose their governor and
deputy-governor, as well as their chamber of deputies, and also took
part in choosing their council of assistants, their government was
virtually that of an independent republic. The crown could interpose
no effective check upon its proceedings except by threatening to annul
its charter and send over a viceroy who might be backed up, if need
be, by military force. Such threats were sometimes openly made, but
oftener hinted at. They served to make the Massachusetts government
somewhat wary and circumspect, but they did not prevent it from
pursuing a very independent policy in many respects, as when,
for example, it persisted in allowing none but members of the
Congregational church to vote. This measure, by which it was intended
to preserve the Puritan policy unchanged, was extremely distasteful to
the British government. At length in 1684 the Massachusetts charter
was annulled, an attempt was made to suppress town-meetings, and the
colony was placed under a military viceroy, Sir Edmund Andros. After
a brief period of despotic rule, the Revolution in England worked a
change. In 1692 Massachusetts received a new charter, quite different
from the old one. The people were allowed to elect representatives to
the General Court, as before, but the governor and lieutenant-governor
were appointed by the crown, and all acts of the legislature were
to be sent to England for royal approval. The general government of
Massachusetts was thus, except for its possession of a charter, made
similar to that of Virginia.

[Sidenote: Connecticut and Rhode Island]
The governments of Connecticut and Rhode Island were constructed
upon the same general plan as the first government of Massachusetts.
Governors councils, and assemblies were elected by the people. These
governments were made by the settlers themselves, after they had come
out from Massachusetts; and through a very singular combination of
circumstances[3] they were confirmed by charters granted by Charles II
in 1662, soon after his return from exile. So thoroughly republican
were these governments that they remained without change until 1818 in
Connecticut and until 1842 in Rhode Island.

[Footnote 3: See my _Beginnings of New England_, pp. 192-196.]

We thus observe two kinds of state government in the American
colonies. In both kinds the people choose a representative legislative
assembly; but in the one kind they also choose their governor, while
in the other kind the governor is appointed by the crown. We have now
to observe a third kind.

[Sidenote: Counties palatine in England]
[Sidenote: Charter of Maryland]
After the downfall of the two great companies founded in 1606, the
crown had a way of handing over to its friends extensive tracts of
land in America. In 1632 a charter granted by Charles I to Cecilius
Calvert, Lord Baltimore, founded the palatinate colony of Maryland. To
understand the nature of this charter, we must observe that among the
counties of England there were three whose rulers from an early time
were allowed special privileges. Because Cheshire and Durham bordered
upon the hostile countries, Wales and Scotland, and needed to be ever
on the alert, their rulers, the earls of Chester and the bishops of
Durham, were clothed with almost royal powers of command, and similar
powers were afterwards granted through favouritism to the dukes of
Lancaster. The three counties were called counties palatine (i.e.
"palace counties"). Before 1600 the earldom of Chester and the duchy
of Lancaster had been absorbed by the crown, but the bishopric of
Durham remained the type of an almost independent state, and the
colony palatine of Maryland was modelled after it. The charter of
Maryland conferred upon Lord Baltimore the most extensive privileges
ever bestowed by the British crown upon any subject. He was made
absolute lord of the land and water within his boundaries, could erect
towns, cities, and ports, make war or peace, call the whole fighting
population to arms and declare martial law, levy tolls and duties,
establish courts of justice, appoint judges, magistrates, and other
civil officers, execute the laws, and pardon offenders. He could erect
manors, with courts-baron and courts-leet, and confer titles and
dignities, so that they differed from those of England. He could make
laws with the assent of the freemen of the province, and, in cases of
emergency, ordinances not impairing life, limb, or property, without
their assent. He could found churches and chapels, have them
consecrated according to the ecclesiastical laws of England, and
appoint the incumbents.[4] For his territory and these royal powers
Lord Baltimore was to send over to the palace at Windsor a tribute of
two Indian arrows yearly, and to reserve for the king one fifth part
of such gold and silver as he might happen to get by mining. "The king
furthermore bound himself and his successors to lay no taxes, customs,
subsidies, or contributions whatever upon the people of the province,
and in case of any such demand being made, the charter expressly
declared that this clause might be pleaded as a discharge in full."
Maryland was thus almost an independent state. Baltimore's title was
Lord Proprietary of Maryland, and his title and powers were made
hereditary in his family, so that he was virtually a feudal king. His
rule, however, was effectually limited. The government of Maryland was
carried on by a governor and a two-chambered legislature. The governor
and the members of the upper house of the legislature were appointed
by the lord proprietary, but the lower house of the legislature was
elected, here as elsewhere, by the people; and in accordance with
time-honoured English custom all taxation must originate in the lower
house, which represented the people.

[Footnote 4: Browne's _Maryland: the History of a Palatinate_, p.

[Sidenote: Charter of Pennsylvania.]
[Sidenote: Mason and Dixon's line]
Half a century after the founding of Maryland, similar though somewhat
less extensive proprietary powers were granted by Charles II. to
William Penn, and under them the colony of Pennsylvania was founded
and Delaware was purchased. Pennsylvania and Delaware had each its
house of representatives elected by the people; but there was only one
governor and council for the two colonies. The governor and council
were appointed by the lord proprietary, and as the council confined
itself to advising the governor and did not take part in legislation,
there was no upper house. The legislature was one-chambered. The
office of lord proprietary was hereditary in the Penn family. For
about eighty years the Penns and Calverts quarrelled, like true
sovereigns, about the boundary-line between their principalities,
until in 1763 the matter was finally settled. A line was agreed upon,
and the survey was made by two distinguished mathematicians, Charles
Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. The line ran westward 244 miles from the
Delaware River, and every fifth milestone was engraved with the arms
of Penn on the one side and those of Calvert on the other. In later
times, after all the states north of Maryland had abolished slavery,
Mason and Dixon's line became famous as the boundary between slave
states and free states.

[Sidenote: Other proprietary governments.]
At first there were other proprietary colonies besides those just
mentioned, but in course of time the rights or powers of their lords
proprietary were resumed by the crown. When New Netherland was
conquered from the Dutch it was granted to the duke of York as lord
proprietary; but after one-and-twenty years the duke ascended the
throne as James II., and so the part of the colony which he had kept
became the royal province of New York. The part which he had sold to
Berkeley and Carteret remained for a while the proprietary colony of
New Jersey, sometimes under one government, sometimes divided between
two; but the rule of the lords proprietary was very unpopular, and in
1702 their rights were surrendered to the crown. The Carolinas and
Georgia were also at first proprietary colonies, but after a while
they willingly came under the direct sway of the crown. In general the
proprietary governments were unpopular because the lords proprietary,
who usually lived in England and visited their colonies but seldom,
were apt to regard their colonies simply as sources of personal
income. This was not the case with William Penn, or the earlier
Calverts, or with James Oglethorpe, the illustrious founder of
Georgia; but it was too often the case. So long as the lord's rents,
fees, and other emoluments were duly collected, he troubled himself
very little as to what went on in the colony. If that had been all,
the colony would have troubled itself very little about him. But the
governor appointed by this absentee master was liable to be more
devoted to his interests than to those of the people, and the civil
service was seriously damaged by worthless favourites sent over from
England for whom the governor was expected to find some office that
would pay them a salary. On the whole, it seemed less unsatisfactory
to have the governors appointed by the crown; and so before the
Revolutionary War all the proprietary governments had fallen, except
those of the Penns and the Calverts, which doubtless survived because
they were the best organized and best administered.

[Sidenote: At the time of the Revolution there were three forms of
colonial government: 1. Republican, 2. Proprietary, 3. Royal.]
There were thus at the time of the Revolutionary War three forms of
state government in the American colonies. There were, _first_,
the Republican colonies, in which the governors were elected by the
people, as in Rhode Island and Connecticut; _secondly,_the
Proprietary colonies, in which the governors were appointed by
hereditary proprietors, as in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware;
_thirdly_, the Royal colonies,[5] in which the governors were
appointed by the crown, as in Georgia, the two Carolinas, Virginia,
New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. It is
customary to distinguish the Republican colonies as _Charter_
colonies, but that is not an accurate distinction, inasmuch as the
Proprietary colonies also had charters. And among the Royal colonies,
Massachusetts, having been originally a republic, still had a charter
in which her rights were so defined as to place her in a somewhat
different position from the other Royal colonies; so that Prof.
Alexander Johnston, with some reason, puts her in a class by herself
as a _Semi-royal_ colony.

[Footnote 5: Or, as they were sometimes called, Royal
_provinces._ In the history of Massachusetts many writers
distinguish the period before 1692 as the _colonial_ period, and
the period 1692 to 1774 as the _provincial_ period.]

[Sidenote: In all three forms there was a representative assembly, which
alone could impose taxes.]
These differences, it will be observed, related to the character and
method of filling the governor's office. In the Republican colonies
the governor naturally represented the interests of the people, in the
Proprietary colonies he was the agent of the Penns or the Calverts,
in the Royal colonies he was the agent of the king. All the thirteen
colonies alike had a legislative assembly elected by the people. The
basis of representation might be different in different colonies,
as we have seen that in Massachusetts the delegates represented
townships, whereas in Virginia they represented counties; but in all
alike the assembly was a truly representative body, and in all alike
it was the body that controlled the expenditure of public money. These
representative assemblies arose spontaneously because the founders of
the American colonies were Englishmen used from time immemorial to tax
themselves and govern themselves. As they had been wont to vote for
representatives in England, instead of leaving things to be controlled
by the king, so now they voted for representatives in Maryland or New
York, instead of leaving things to be controlled by the governor. The
spontaneousness of all this is quaintly and forcibly expressed by the
great Tory historian Hutchinson, who tells us that in the year 1619 a
house of burgesses _broke out_ in Virginia! as if it had been the
mumps, or original sin, or any of those things that people cannot help

[Sidenote: The governor's council was a kind of upper house.]
This representative assembly was the lower house in the colonial
legislatures. The governor always had a council to advise with him and
assist him in his executive duties, in imitation of the king's privy
council in England. But in nearly all the colonies this council took
part in the work of legislation, and thus sat as an upper house, with
more or less power of reviewing and amending the acts of the assembly.
In Pennsylvania, as already observed, the council refrained from this
legislative work, and so, until some years after the Revolution, the
Pennsylvania legislature was one-chambered. The members of the council
were appointed in different ways, sometimes by the king or the lord
proprietary, or, as in Massachusetts, by the outgoing legislature, or,
as in Connecticut, they were elected by the people.

[Sidenote: The colonial government was like the English system in
Thus all the colonies had a government framed after the model to which
the people had been accustomed in England. It was like the English
system in miniature, the governor answering to the king, and the
legislature, usually two-chambered, answering to parliament. And as
quarrels between king and parliament were not uncommon, so quarrels
between governor and legislature were very frequent indeed, except
in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The royal governors, representing
British imperial ideas rather than American ideas, were sure to come
into conflict with the popular assemblies, and sometimes became
the objects of bitter popular hatred. The disputes were apt to be
concerned with questions in which taxation was involved, such as
the salaries of crown officers, the appropriations for war with
the Indians, and so on. Such disputes bred more or less popular
discontent, but the struggle did not become flagrant so long as the
British parliament refrained from meddling with it.

[Sidenote: The Americans never admitted the supremacy of parliament;]
The Americans never regarded parliament as possessing any rightful
authority over their internal affairs. When the earliest colonies were
founded, it was the general theory that the American wilderness was
part of the king's private domain and not subject to the control of
parliament. This theory lived on in America, but died out in England.
On the one hand the Americans had their own legislatures, which stood
to them in the place of parliament. The authority of parliament was
derived from the fact that it was a representative body, but it did
not represent Americans. Accordingly the Americans held that the
relation of each American colony to Great Britain was like the
relation between England and Scotland in the seventeenth century.
England and Scotland then had the same king, but separate parliaments,
and the English parliament could not make laws for Scotland. Such is
the connection between Sweden and Norway at the present day; they have
the same king, but each country legislates for itself. So the American
colonists held that Virginia, for example, and Great Britain had the
same king, but each its independent legislature; and so with the
other colonies,--there were thirteen parliaments in America, each as
sovereign within its own sphere as the parliament at Westminster, and
the latter had no more right to tax the people of Massachusetts than
the Massachusetts legislature had to tax the people of Virginia.

In one respect, however, the Americans did admit that parliament had a
general right of supervision over all parts of the British empire.[6]
Maritime commerce seemed to be as much the affair of one part of the
empire as another, and it seemed right that it should be regulated by
the central parliament at Westminster. Accordingly the Americans did
not resist custom-house taxes as long as they seemed to be imposed
for purely commercial purposes; but they were quick to resist direct
taxation, and custom-house taxes likewise, as soon as these began to
form a part of schemes for extending the authority of parliament over
the colonies.

[Footnote 6: except in the regulation of maritime commerce.]

In England, on the other hand, this theory that the Americans were
subject to the king's authority but not to that of parliament
naturally became unintelligible after the king himself had become
virtually subject to parliament.[7] The Stuart kings might call
themselves kings by the grace of God, but since 1688 the sovereigns of
Great Britain owe their seat upon the throne to an act of parliament.

[Footnote 7: In England there grew up the theory of the imperial
supremacy of parliament.]

To suppose that the king's American subjects were not amenable to the
authority of parliament seemed like supposing that a stream could rise
higher than its source. Besides, after 1700 the British empire began
to expand in all parts of the world, and the business of parliament
became more and more imperial. It could make laws for the East India
Company; why not, then, for the Company of Massachusetts Bay?

[Sidenote: Conflict between the British and the American theories was
precipitated by George III.]
Thus the American theory of the situation was irreconcilable with
the British theory, and when parliament in 1765, with no unfriendly
purpose, began laying taxes upon the Americans, thus invading the
province of the colonial legislatures, the Americans refused to
submit. The ensuing quarrel might doubtless have been peacefully
adjusted, had not the king, George III., happened to be entertaining
political schemes which were threatened with ruin if the Americans
should get a fair hearing for their side of the case.[8] Thus
political intrigue came in to make the situation hopeless. When a
state of things arises, with which men's established methods of civil
government are incompetent to deal, men fall back upon the primitive
method which was in vogue before civil government began to exist.
They fight it out; and so we had our Revolutionary War, and became
separated politically from Great Britain. It is worthy of note, in
this connection, that the last act of parliament, which brought
matters to a crisis, was the so-called Regulating Act of April, 1774,
the purpose of which was to change the government of Massachusetts.
This act provided that members of the council should be appointed by
the royal governor, that they should be paid by the crown and thus
be kept subservient to it, that the principal executive and judicial
officers should be likewise paid by the crown, and that town-meetings
should be prohibited except for the sole purpose of electing town
officers. Other unwarrantable acts were passed at the same time, but
this was the worst. Troops were sent over to aid in enforcing this
act, the people of Massachusetts refused to recognize its validity,
and out of this political situation came the battles of Lexington and
Bunker Hill.

[Footnote 8: See my _War of Independence_, pp. 58-64, 69-71
(Riverside Library for Young People).]


1. Various claims to North America:--

  a. Spanish.
  b. English.
  c. French.

2. What was needed to make such claims of any value?

3. The London and Plymouth companies:--

  a. The time and purpose of their organization.
  b. The grant to the London Company.
  c. The grant to the Plymouth Company.
  d. The magnitude of the zones granted.
  e. The peculiar provisions for the intermediate zone.
  f. First attempts at settlement.

4. To what important principle of the common charter of these
two companies did the colonists persistently cling?

5. The influence of these short-lived companies upon the settlement
and government of the United States:--

  a. A review of the zones and their assignment.
  b. The states of the northern zone and their origin.
  c. The states of the southern zone and their origin.
  d. The states of the middle zone and their origin.
  e. The influence of the movement of population on local
      government in each zone.

6. Early state government in Virginia:--

  a. The part appointed and the part elected.
  b. The first legislative body in America.
  c. The dignity of its members.
  d. The reason for the name "House of Burgesses."

7. Early state government in Massachusetts:--

  a. The Dorchester Company.
  b. The government provided for the Company of Massachusetts
      Bay by its charter.
  c. The real purpose of the Puritan leaders.
  d. The change from the primary assembly of freemen to the
      representative assembly.
  e. The division of this assembly into two houses, with a comparison
      of the houses.
  f. The reason for the name "General Court."
  g. The loss of the charter and the causes that led to it.
  h. The new charter as compared with the old.

8. Compare the early governments of Connecticut and Rhode
Island with the first government of Massachusetts.

9. What two kinds of state government have thus far been

10. Early state government in Maryland:--

  a. The favouritism of the crown as shown in land grants.
  b. The palatine counties of England.
  c. The bishopric of Durham the model of the colony of
  d. The extraordinary privileges granted Lord Baltimore.
  e. The tribute to be paid in return.
  f. The ruler a feudal long.
  g. Limitations of the ruler's power.

11. Early state government in Pennsylvania and Delaware:--

  a. The powers of Penn as compared with those of Calvert.
  b. One governor and council,
  c. The legislature of each colony.
  d. The quarrels of the Penns and Calverts.
  e. Mason and Dixon's line.

12. What other proprietary governments were organized, and
what was their fate?

13. Why were proprietary governments unpopular? (Note the
exceptions, however.)

14. Classify and define the forms of colonial government in existence
at the beginning of the Revolution.

15. Show that these forms differed chiefly in respect to the governor's

16. A representative assembly in each of the thirteen colonies:--

  a. The basis of representation.
  b. The control of the public money.
  c. The spontaneousness of the representative assembly.

17. The governor's council:--

  a. The custom in England.
  b. The council as an upper house.
  c. The council in Pennsylvania.

18. Compare the colonial systems with the British (1) in organization
and (2) in the nature of their political quarrels.

19. What was the American theory of the relation of each colony
to the British parliament?

20. What was the American attitude towards maritime regulations?

21. What was the British theory of the relation of the American
colonies to parliament?

22. How was the Revolutionary War brought on?

23. Describe the last act of parliament that brought matters to a

Section 2. _The Transition from Colonial to State Governments._

[Sidenote: Dissolution of assemblies and parliaments.]
[Sidenote: Committees of Correspondence.]
During the earlier part of the Revolutionary War most of the states
had some kind of provisional government. The case of Massachusetts
may serve as an illustration. There, as in the other colonies, the
governor had the power of dissolving the assembly. This was like the
king's power of dissolving parliament in the days of the Stuarts.
It was then a dangerous power. In modern England there is nothing
dangerous in a dissolution of parliament; on the contrary, it is a
useful device for ascertaining the wishes of the people, for a new
House of Commons must be elected immediately. But in old times the
king would turn his parliament out of doors, and as long as he could
beg, borrow, or steal enough money to carry on government according to
his own notions, he would not order a new election. Fortunately such
periods were not very long. The latest instance was in the reign of
Charles I, who got on without a parliament from 1629 to 1640.[9] In
the American colonies the dissolution of the assembly by the governor
was not especially dangerous, but it sometimes made mischief by
delaying needed legislation. During the few years preceding the
Revolution, the assemblies were so often dissolved that it became
necessary for the people to devise some new way of getting their
representatives together to act for the colony. In Massachusetts this
end was attained by the famous "Committees of Correspondence." No one
could deny that town-meetings were legal, or that the people of
one township had a right to ask advice from the people of another
township. Accordingly each township appointed a committee to
correspond or confer with committees from other townships. This system
was put into operation by Samuel Adams in 1772, and for the next two
years the popular resistance to the crown was organized by these
committees. For example, before the tea was thrown into Boston
harbour, the Boston committee sought and received advice from every
township in Massachusetts, and the treatment of the tea-ships was from
first to last directed by the committees of Boston and five neighbour

[Footnote: 9: The kings of France contrived to get along without a
representative assembly from 1614 to 1789, and during this long period
abuses so multiplied that the meeting of the States-General in 1789
precipitated the great revolution which overthrew the monarchy.]

[Sidenote: Provincial Congress]
In 1774 a further step was taken. As parliament had overthrown the old
government, and sent over General Gage as military governor, to put
its new system into operation, the people defied and ignored Gage, and
the townships elected delegates to meet together in what was called a
"Provincial Congress." The president of this congress was the chief
provincial executive officer of the commonwealth, and there was a
small executive council, known as the "Committee of Safety."

[Sidenote: Provisional governments; "governors" and "presidents."]
This provisional government lasted about a year. In the summer of
1775 the people went further. They fell back upon their charter and
proceeded to carry on their government as it had been carried on
before 1774, except that the governor was left out altogether. The
people in town-meeting elected their representatives to a general
assembly, as of old, and this assembly chose a council of twenty-eight
members to sit as an upper house. The president of the council was the
foremost executive officer of the commonwealth, but he had not the
powers of a governor. He was no more the governor than the president
of our federal senate is the president of the United States. The
powers of the governor were really vested in the council, which was
an executive as well as a legislative body, and the president was
its chairman. Indeed, the title "president" is simply the Latin for
"chairman," he who "presides" or "sits before" an assembly. In 1775
it was a more modest title than "governor," and had not the smack of
semi-royalty which lingered about the latter. Governors had made so
much trouble that people were distrustful of the office, and at first
it was thought that the council would be quite sufficient for the
executive work that was to be done. Several of the states thus
organized their governments with a council at the head instead of
a governor; and hence in reading about that period one often comes
across the title "president," somewhat loosely used as if equivalent
to governor. Thus in 1787 we find Benjamin Franklin called "president
of Pennsylvania," meaning "president of the council of Pennsylvania."
But this arrangement did not prove satisfactory and did not last long.
It soon appeared that for executive work one man is better than a
group of men. In Massachusetts, in 1780, the old charter was replaced
by a new written constitution, under which was formed the state
government which, with some emendations in detail, has continued to
the present day. Before the end of the eighteenth century all the
states except Connecticut and Rhode Island, which, had always been
practically Independent, thus remodelled their governments.

[Sidenote: Origin of the Senates.]
These changes, however, were very conservative. The old form of
government was closely followed. First there was the governor, elected
in some states by the legislature, in others by the people. Then there
was the two-chambered legislature, of which the lower house was the
same institution after the Revolution that it had been before. The
upper house, or council, was retained, but in a somewhat altered
form. The Americans had been used to having the acts of their popular
assemblies reviewed by a council, and so they retained this revisory
body as an upper house. But the fashion of copying names and titles
from the ancient Roman republic was then prevalent, and accordingly
the upper house was called a Senate. There was a higher property
qualification for senators than for representatives, and generally
their terms of service were longer. In some states they were chosen by
the people, in others by the lower house. In Maryland they were chosen
by a special college of electors, an arrangement which was copied in
our federal government in the election of the president of the United
States. In most of the states there was a lieutenant-governor, as
there had been in the colonial period, to serve in case of the
governor's death or incapacity; ordinarily the lieutenant-governor
presided over the senate.

[Sidenote: Likenesses and differences between British and American
Thus our state governments came to be repetitions on a small scale of
the king, lords, and commons of England. The governor answered to the
king, with his dignity very much curtailed by election for a short
period. The senate answered to the House of Lords except in being a
representative and not a hereditary body. It was supposed to represent
more especially that part of the community which was possessed of most
wealth and consideration; and in several states the senators were
apportioned with some reference to the amount of taxes paid by
different parts of the state.[10] When New York made its senate a
supreme court of appeal, it was in deliberate imitation of the House
of Lords. On the other hand, the House of Representatives answered to
the House of Commons as it used to be in the days when its power was
really limited by that of the upper house and the king. At the present
day the English of Commons is a supreme body. In case of a serious
difference with the House of Lords, the upper house must yield, or
else new peers will be created in sufficient number to reverse its
vote; and the lords always yield before this point is reached. So,
too, though the veto power of the sovereign has never been explicitly
abolished, it has not been exercised since 1707, and would not now be
tolerated for a moment. In America there is no such supreme body. The
bill passed by the lower house may be thrown out by the upper house,
or if it passes both it may be vetoed by the governor; and unless the
bill can again pass both houses by more than a simple majority, the
veto will stand. In most of the states a two-thirds vote in the
affirmative is required.

[Footnote 10: See my _Critical Period of American History_, p.


1. The dissolution of assemblies and parliaments:--

  a. The governor's power over the assembly in the colonies.
  b. The king's power over parliament in England.
  c. The danger of dissolution in the time of the Stuarts.
  d. The safety of dissolution in modern England.
  e. The frequency of dissolution before the Revolution.

2. Representation of the people in the provisional government
of Massachusetts:--

  a. The committees of correspondence.
  b. Their function, with an illustration from the "tea-ships."
  c. The provincial congress.
  d. The committee of safety.
  e. The return to the two-chambered legislature of the charter.

3. Executive powers in the provisional government of Massachusetts;--

  a. The foremost executive officer.
  b. Where the power of governor was really vested.
  c. Why the name of president was preferred to that of governor.
  d. The example of Massachusetts followed elsewhere.
  e. The end of provisional government in 1780.

4. The council transformed to a senate:--

  a. The principle of reviewing the acts of the popular assembly.
  b. The borrowing of Roman names.
  c. The qualifications and service of senators.
  d. The lieutenant-governor.

5. Our state governments patterned after the government of

  a. The governor and the king.
  b. The Senate and the House of Lords.
  c. The House of Representatives and the House of Commons.
  d. Some differences between the British system and the American.

Section 3. _The State Governments._

[Sidenote: Later modifications.]
During the present century our state governments have undergone
more or less revision, chiefly in the way of abolishing property
qualifications for offices making the suffrage universal, and electing
officers that were formerly appointed. Only in Delaware does there
still remain a property qualification for senators. There is no longer
any distinction in principle between the upper and lower houses of the
legislature. Both represent population, the usual difference being
that the senate consists of fewer members who represent larger
districts. Usually, too, the term of the representatives is two years,
and the whole house is elected at the same time, while the term of
senators is four years, and half the number are elected every two
years. This system of two-chambered legislatures is probably retained
chiefly through a spirit of conservatism, because it is what we
are used to. But it no doubt has real advantages in checking hasty
legislation. People are always wanting to have laws made about all
sorts of things, and in nine cases out of ten their laws would be
pernicious laws; so that it is well not to have legislation made too

[Sidenote: The suffrage.]
The suffrage by which the legislature is elected is almost universal.
It is given in all the states to all male citizens who have reached
the age of one-and-twenty. In many it is given also to _denizens_
of foreign birth who have declared an intention of becoming citizens.
In some it is given without further specification to every male
_inhabitant_ of voting age. Residence in the state for some
period, varying from three months to two years and a half, is also
generally required; sometimes a certain length of residence in the
county, the town, or even in the voting precinct, is prescribed. In
many of the states it is necessary to have paid one's poll-tax. There
is no longer any property qualification, though there was until
recently in Rhode Island, Criminals, idiots, and lunatics are excluded
from the suffrage. Some states also exclude duellists and men who bet
on elections. Connecticut and Massachusetts shut out persons who are
unable to read. In no other country has access to citizenship and the
suffrage been made so easy.

[Sidenote: Separation between legislation and the executive.]
A peculiar feature of American governments, and something which it is
hard for Europeans to understand, is the almost complete separation
between the executive and the legislative departments. In European
countries the great executive officers are either members of the
legislature, or at all events have the right to be present at its
meetings and take part in its discussions; and as they generally have
some definite policy by which they are to stand or fall, they are wont
to initiate legislation and to guide the course of the discussion. But
in America the legislatures, having no such central points about which
to rally their forces, carry on their work in an aimless, rambling
sort of way, through the agency of many standing committees. When
a measure is proposed it is referred to one of the committees for
examination before the house will have anything to do with it. Such a
preliminary examination is of course necessary where there is a vast
amount of legislative work going on. But the private and disconnected
way in which our committee work is done tends to prevent full and
instructive discussion in the house, to make the mass of legislation,
always chaotic enough, somewhat more chaotic, and to facilitate the
various evil devices of lobbying and log-rolling.

In pointing out this inconvenience attendant upon the American plan of
separating the executive and legislative departments, I must not be
understood as advocating the European plan as preferable for this
country. The evils that inevitably flow from any fundamental change in
the institutions of a country are apt to be much more serious than the
evils which the change is intended to remove. Political government is
like a plant; a little watering and pruning do very well for it, but
the less its roots are fooled with, the better. In the American system
of government the independence of the executive department, with
reference to the legislative, is fundamental; and on the whole it is
eminently desirable. One of the most serious of the dangers which
beset democratic government, especially where it is conducted on a
great scale, is the danger that the majority for the time being will
use its power tyrannically and unscrupulously, as it is always tempted
to do. Against such unbridled democracy we have striven to guard
ourselves by various constitutional checks and balances. Our written
constitutions and our Supreme Court are important safeguards, as
will be shown below. The independence of our executives is another
important safeguard. But if our executive departments were mere
committees of the legislature--like the English cabinet, for
example--this independence could not possibly be maintained; and the
loss of it would doubtless entail upon us evils far greater than those
which mow flow from want of leadership in our legislatures.[11]

[Footnote 11: In two admirable essays on "Cabinet Responsibility and
the Constitution," and "Democracy and the Constitution," Mr. Lawrence
Lowell has convincingly argued that the American system is best
adapted to the circumstances of this country. Lowell, _Essays on
Government_, pp. 20-117, Boston, 1890.]

We must remember that government is necessarily a cumbrous affair,
however conducted.

The only occasion on which the governor is a part of the legislature
is when he signs or vetoes a bill. Then he is virtually in himself
a third house.[12] As an executive officer the governor is far less
powerful than in the colonial times. We shall see the reason of
this after we have enumerated some of the principal offices in the
executive department. There is always a secretary of state, whose main
duty is to make and keep the records of state transactions. There is
always a state treasurer, and usually a state auditor or comptroller
to examine the public accounts and issue the warrants without which
the treasurer cannot pay out a penny of the state's money. There is
almost always an attorney-general, to appear for the state in the
supreme court in all cases in which the state is a party, and in
all prosecutions for capital offences. He also exercises some
superintendence over the district attorneys, and acts as legal adviser
to the governors and the legislature. There is also in many states
a superintendent of education; and in some there are boards of
education, of health, of lunacy and charity, bureau of agriculture,
commissioners of prisons, of railroads, of mines, of harbours, of
immigration, and so on. Sometimes such boards are appointed by the
governor, but such officers as the secretary of state, the treasurer,
auditor, and attorney-general are, in almost all the states, elected
by the people. They are not responsible to the governor, but to the
people who elect them. They are not subordinate to the governor, but
are rather his colleagues. Strictly speaking, the governor is not the
head of the executive department, but a member of it. The executive
department is parcelled out in several pieces, and his is one of the

[Footnote 12: The state executive.]

[Sidenote: The governor's functions: 1. Advisor of legislature. 2.
Commander of state militia. 3. Royal prerogative of pardon. 4. Veto power.]
The ordinary functions of the governor are four in number. 1. He
sends a message to the legislature, at the beginning of each session,
recommending such measures as he would like to see embodied in
legislation. 2. He is commander-in-chief of the state militia, and as
such can assist the sheriff of a county in putting down a riot, or
the President of the United States, in the event of a war. On such
occasions the governor may become a personage of immense importance,
as, for example, in our Civil War, when President Lincoln's demands
for troops met with such prompt response from the men who will be
known to history as the great "war governors." 3. The governor is
invested with the royal prerogative of pardoning criminals, or
commuting the sentences pronounced upon them by the courts. This power
belongs to kings in accordance with the old feudal notion that the
king was the source or fountain of justice. When properly used it
affords an opportunity for rectifying some injustice for which the
ordinary machinery of the law could not provide, or for making such
allowances for extraordinary circumstances as the court could not
properly consider. In our country it is too often improperly used to
enable the worst criminals to escape due punishment, just because
it is a disagreeable duty to hang them. Such misplaced clemency is
pleasant for the murderers, but it makes life less secure for honest
men and women, and in the less civilized regions of our country it
encourages lynch law. 4. In all the states except Rhode Island,
Delaware, Ohio, and North Carolina, the governor has a veto upon the
acts of the legislature, as above explained; and in ordinary times
this power, which is not executive but legislative, is probably the
governor's most important and considerable power. In thirteen of
the states the governor can veto particular items in a bill for the
appropriation of public money, while at the same time he approves
the rest of the bill. This is a most important safeguard against
corruption, because where the governor does not have this power it is
possible to make appropriations for unworthy or scandalous purposes
along with appropriations for matters of absolute necessity, and then
to lump them all together in the same bill, so that the governor must
either accept the bad along with the good or reject the good along
with the bad. It is a great gain when the governor can select the
items and veto some while approving others. In such matters the
governor is often more honest and discreet than the legislature, if
for no other reason, because he is one man, and responsibility can be
fixed upon him more clearly than upon two or three hundred.

Such, in brief outline, is the framework of the American state
governments. But our account would be very incomplete without some
mention of three points, all of them especially characteristic of
the American state, and likely to be overlooked or misunderstood by

[Sidenote: In building the state, the local self-government was left
_First_, while we have rapidly built up one of the greatest
empires yet seen upon the earth, we have left our self-government
substantially unimpaired in the process. This is exemplified in
two ways: first, in the relationship of the state to its towns
and counties, and, secondly, in its relationship to the federal
government. Over the township and county governments the state
exercises a general supervision; indeed, it clothes them with their
authority. Townships and counties have no sovereignty; the state, on
the other hand, has many elements of sovereignty, but it does not use
them to obliterate or unduly restrict the control of the townships
and counties over their own administrative work. It leaves the local
governments to administer themselves. As a rule there is only just
enough state supervision to harmonize the working of so many local
administrations. Such a system of government comes as near as possible
toward making all American citizens participate actively in the
management of public affairs. It generates and nourishes a public
spirit and a universal acquaintance with matters of public interest
such as has probably never before been seen in any great country.
Public spirit of equal or greater intensity may have been witnessed
in small and highly educated communities, such as ancient Athens or
mediaeval Florence, but in the United States it is diffused over an
area equal to the whole of Europe. Among the leading countries of the
world England is the one which comes nearest to the United States
in the general diffusion of enlightened public spirit and political
capacity throughout all classes of society.

[Sidenote: Instructive contrast with France.]
A very notable contrast to the self-government which has produced such
admirable results is to be seen in France, and as contrasts are
often instructive, let me mention one or two features of the French
government. There is nothing like the irregularity and spontaneity
there that we have observed in our survey of the United States.
Everything is symmetrical. France is divided into eighty-nine
_departments_, most of them larger than the state of Delaware,
some of them nearly as large as Connecticut, and the administration
of one department is exactly like that of all the others. The chief
officer of the department is the prefect, who is appointed by
the minister of the interior at Paris. The prefect is treasurer,
recruiting officer, school superintendent, all in one, and he appoints
nearly all inferior officers. The department has a council, elected
by universal suffrage, but it has no power of assessing taxes. The
central legislature in Paris decides for it how much money it shall
use and how it shall raise it. The department council is not even
allowed to express its views on political matters; it can only attend
to purely local details of administration.

The smallest civil division in France is the _commune_, which may
be either rural or urban. The commune has a municipal council which
elects a mayor; but when once elected the mayor becomes directly
responsible to the prefect of the department, and through him to the
minister of the interior. If these greater officers do not like what
the mayor does, they can overrule his acts or even suspend him from
office; or upon their complaint the President of the Republic can
remove him.

[Sidenote: In France whether it is nominally a despotic empire or a
republic at the top, there is scarcely any self-government at the
bottom. Hence government there rests on an insecure foundation.]
Thus in France people do not manage their own affairs, but they are
managed for them by a hierarchy of officials with its head at Paris.
This system was devised by the Constituent Assembly in 1790 and
wrought into completeness by Napoleon in 1800. The men who devised
it in 1790 actually supposed that they were inaugurating a system or
political freedom(!), and unquestionably it was a vast improvement
upon the wretched system which it supplanted; but as contrasted with
American methods and institutions, it is difficult to call it anything
else than a highly centralized despotism. It has gone on without
essential change through all the revolutions which have overtaken
France since 1800. The people have from time to time overthrown an
unpopular government at Paris, but they have never assumed the direct
control of their own affairs.

Hence it is commonly remarked that while the general intelligence
of the French people is very high, their intelligence in political
matters is, comparatively speaking, very low. Some persons try to
explain this by a reference to peculiarities of race. But if we
Americans were to set about giving to the state governments things
to do that had better be done by counties and towns, and giving the
federal government things to do that had better be done by the states,
it would not take many generations to dull the keen edge of our
political capacity. We should lose it as inevitably as the most
consummate of pianists will lose his facility if he stops practising.
It is therefore a fact of cardinal importance that in the United
States the local governments of township, county, and city are left to
administer themselves instead of being administered by a great bureau
with its head at the state capital. In a political society thus
constituted from the beginning it has proved possible to build up
our Federal Union, in which the states, while for certain purposes
indissolubly united, at the same time for many other purposes retain
their self-government intact. As in the case of other aggregates, the
nature of the American political aggregate has been determined by the
nature of its political units.

[Sidenote: Vastness of the functions retained by the states in the
American Union.]
_Secondly_, let us observe how great are the functions retained
by our states under the conditions of our Federal Union. The
powers granted to our federal government, such as the control over
international questions, war and peace, the military forces, the
coinage, patents and copyrights, and the regulation of commerce
between the states and with foreign countries,--all these are powers
relating to matters that affect all the states, but could not be
regulated harmoniously by the separate action of the states. In order
the more completely to debar the states from meddling with such
matters, they are expressly prohibited from entering into agreements
with each other or with a foreign power; they cannot engage in war,
save in case of actual invasion or such imminent danger as admits of
no delay; without consent of Congress they cannot keep a military or
naval force in time of peace, or impose custom-house duties. Besides
all this they are prohibited from granting titles of nobility, coining
money, emitting bills of credit, making anything but gold and silver
coin a tender in payment of debts, passing bills of attainder, _ex
post facto_ laws, or laws impairing the obligation of contracts.
The force of these latter restrictions will be explained hereafter.
Such are the limitations of sovereignty imposed upon the states within
the Federal Union.

Compared with the vast prerogatives of the state legislatures, these
limitations seem small enough. All the civil and religious rights
of our citizens depend upon state legislation; the education of the
people is in the care of the states; with them rests the regulation
of the suffrage; they prescribe the rules of marriage, the legal
relations of husband and wife, of parent and child; they determine the
powers of masters over servants and the whole law of principal and
agent, which is so vital a matter in all business transactions; they
regulate partnership, debt and credit, insurance; they constitute all
corporations, both private and municipal, except such as specially
fulfill the financial or other specific functions of the federal
government; they control the possession, distribution, and use of
property, the exercise of trades, and all contract relations; and they
formulate and administer all criminal law, except only that which
concerns crimes committed against the United States, on the high seas,
or against the law of nations. Space would fail in which to enumerate
the particulars of this vast range of power; to detail its parts would
be to catalogue all social and business relationships, to examine all
the foundations of law and order.[13]

[Footnote 13: Woodrow Wilson, _The State: Elements of Historical and
Practical Politics_, p. 437.]

This enumeration, by Mr. Woodrow Wilson, is so much to the point that I
content myself with transcribing it. A very remarkable illustration of
the preponderant part played by state law in America is given by Mr.
Wilson, in pursuance of the suggestion of Mr. Franklin Jameson.[14]
Consider the most important subjects of legislation in England during
the present century, the subjects which make up almost the entire
constitutional history of England for eighty years. These subjects are
Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, the abolition of slavery,
the amendment of the poor-laws, the reform of municipal corporations,
the repeal of the corn laws, the admission of Jews to parliament, the
disestablishment of the Irish church, the alteration of the Irish land
laws, the establishment of national education, the introduction of the
ballot, and the reform of the criminal law. In the United States only
two of these twelve great subjects could be dealt with by the federal
government: the repeal of the corn laws, as being a question of national
revenue and custom-house duties, and the abolition of slavery, by virtue
of a constitutional amendment embodying some of the results of our Civil
War. All the other questions enumerated would have to be dealt with by
our state governments; and before the war that was the case with the
slavery question also. A more vivid illustration could not be asked for.

[Footnote 14: Jameson, "The Study of the Constitutional
History of the States" _J.H.U. Studies_, IV., v.]

How complete is the circle of points in which the state touches the
life of the American citizen, we may see in the fact that our
state courts make a complete judiciary system, from top to bottom
independent of the federal courts.[15] An appeal may be carried from
a state court to a federal court in cases which are found to involve
points of federal law, or in suits arising between citizens of
different states, or where foreign ambassadors are concerned. Except
for such cases the state courts make up a complete judiciary world of
their own, quite outside the sphere of the United States courts.

[Footnote 15: Independence of the state courts.]

[Sidenote: Constitution of the state courts.]
We have already had something to say about courts in connection with
those primitive areas for the administration of justice, the hundred
and the county. In our states there are generally four grades of
courts. There are, first, the _justices of the peace _, with
jurisdiction over "petty police offences and civil suits for trifling
sums." They also conduct preliminary hearings in cases where persons
are accused of serious crimes, and when the evidence seems to warrant
it they may commit the accused person for trial before a higher court.
The mayor's court in a city usually has jurisdiction similar to that
of justices of the peace. Secondly, there are _county_ and
_municipal courts_, which hear appeals from justices of the peace
and from mayor's courts, and have original jurisdiction over a more
important grade of civil and criminal cases. Thirdly, there are
_superior courts_, having original jurisdiction over the most
important cases and over wider of the state areas of country, so that
they do not confine their sessions to one place, but move about from
place to place, like the English _justices in eyre_. Cases are
carried up, on appeal, from the lower to the superior court. Fourthly,
there is in every state a _supreme court_, which generally has no
original jurisdiction, but only hears appeals from the decisions of
the other courts. In New York there is a "supremest" court, styled
the _court of appeals_, which has the power of revising sundry
judgments of the supreme court; and there is something similar in New
Jersey, Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana.[16]

[Footnote 16: Wilson. The State, pp. 509-513.]

[Sidenote: Elective and appointive judges.]
In the thirteen colonies the judges were appointed by the governor,
with or without the consent of the council, and they held office
during life or good behaviour. Among the changes made in our state
constitutions since the Revolution, there have been few more important
than those which have affected the position of the judges. In most of
the states they are now elected by the people for a term of years,
sometimes as short as two years. There is a growing feeling that this
change was a mistake. It seems to have lowered the general character
of the judiciary. The change was made by reasoning from analogy: it
was supposed that in a free country all offices ought to be elective
and for short terms. But the case of a judge is not really analogous
to that of executive officers, like mayors and governors and
presidents. The history of popular liberty is much older than the
history of the United States, and it would be difficult to point to
an instance in which popular liberty has ever suffered from the
life tenure of judges. On the contrary, the judge ought to be as
independent as possible of all transient phases of popular sentiment,
and American experience during the past century seems to teach us that
in the few states where the appointing of judges during life or good
behaviour has prevailed, the administration of justice has been better
than in the states where the judges have been elected for specified
terms. Since 1869 there has been a marked tendency toward lengthening
the terms of elected judges, and in several states there has been a
return to the old method of appointing judges by the governor, subject
to confirmation by the senate.[17] It is one of the excellent features
of our system of federal government, that the several states can thus
try experiments each for itself and learn by comparison of results.
When things are all trimmed down to a dead level of uniformity by the
central power, as in France, a prolific source of valuable experiences
is cut off and shut up.

[Footnote 17: For details, see the admirable monograph of Henry Hitchcock,
_American State Constitutions_, p. 53.]


1. Modifications of state government during the present century:--

  a. Property qualifications for office.
  b. The distinction between the upper and the lower house.
  c. The advantage in retaining a two-chambered legislature.

2. The suffrage:--

  a. The persons to whom it is granted.
  b. The qualifications established.
  c. The persons excluded from its exercise.

3. The separation of the executive and legislative departments:--

  a. The relation of the great executive officers to legislation in
  b. The work of legislation in the United States.
  c. The most serious of the dangers that beset democratic
  d. Important safeguards against such a danger.

4. The state executive:--

  a. The governor as a part of the legislature.
  b. Officers always belonging to executive departments.
  c. Officers frequently belonging to executive departments.
  d. The relation of the governor to other elected executive

5. The ordinary functions of the governor:--

  a. Advising the legislature.
  b. Commanding the militia.
  c. Pardoning criminals or commuting their sentences.
  d. Vetoing acts of the legislature.

6. Why is the power to veto particular items in a bill appropriating
public money an important safeguard against corruption?

7. Local self-government in the United States left unimpaired:--

  a. The extent of state supervision of towns and counties.
  b. The spirit thus developed in American citizens.

8. A lesson from the symmetry of the French government:--

  a. The departments and their administration.
  b. The prefect and his duties.
  c. The department council and its sphere of action.
  d. The commune.
  e. The French system contrasted with the American.
  f. A common view of the political intelligence of the French.
  g. The probable effect of excessive state control upon the
      political intelligence of Americans.

9. The greatness of the functions retained by the states under
the federal government:--

  a. Powers granted to the government of the United States.
  b. The reason for granting such powers,
  c. The powers denied to the states.
  d. The reason for such prohibitions.
  e. The vast range of powers exercised by the states.
  f. The most important subjects of legislation in England for the past
      eighty years.
  g. The governments, state or national, to which these twelve
      subjects would have fallen in the United States.

10. Speak of the independence of the state courts.

11. In what cases only may matters be transferred from them to
a federal court?

12. The constitution of the state courts:--

  a. Justices of the peace; the mayor's court.
  b. County and municipal courts.
  c. The superior courts.
  d. The supreme court.
  e. Still higher courts in certain states.

13. The selection of judges and their terms of service:--

  a. In the thirteen colonies.
  b. In most of the states since the Revolution.
  c. The reasons for a life tenure.
  d. The tendency since 1869.

14. Mention a conspicuous advantage of our system of government over the


1. Was there ever a charter government in your state? If so, where is
the charter at the present time? What is its present value? Try to see
it, if possible. Pupils of Boston and vicinity, for example, may
examine in the office of the secretary of state, at the state house, the
charter of King Charles (1629) and that of William and Mary (1692).

2. When was your state organized under its present government? If it is
not one of the original thirteen, what was its history previous to
organization; that is, who owned it and controlled it, and how came it
to become a state?

3. What are the qualifications for voting in your state?

4. What are the arguments in favour of an educational qualification for
voters (as, for example, the ability to read the Constitution of the
United States)? What reasons might be urged against such qualifications?

5. Who is the governor of your state? What political party supported him
for the position? For what ability or eminent service was he selected?

6. Give illustrations of the governor's exercise of the four functions
of advising, vetoing, pardoning, and commanding (consult the newspapers
while the legislature is in session).

7. Mention some things done by the governor that are not included
in the enumeration of his functions in the text.

8. Visit, if practicable, the State House. Observe the various offices,
and consider the general nature of the business done there. Attend a
session of the Senate or the House of Representatives. Obtain some
"orders of the day."

9. If the legislature is in session, follow its proceedings in the
newspapers. What important measures are under discussion? On what sort
of questions are party lines pretty sharply drawn? On what sort of
questions are party distinctions ignored?

10. Consult the book of general or public statutes, and report on
the following points:--

  a. The magnitude of the volume.
  b. Does it contain all the laws? If not, what are omitted?
  c. Give some of the topics dealt with.
  d. Where are the laws to be found that have been made since the printing
     of the volume?
  e. Are the originals of the laws in the volume? If not, where are they
      and in what shape?

11. Is everybody expected to know all the laws?

12. Does ignorance of the law excuse one for violating it?

13. Suppose people desire the legislature to pass some law, as, for
example, a law requiring towns and cities to provide flags for
school-houses, how is the attention of the legislature secured? What are
the various stages through which the bill must pass before it can become
a law? Why should there be so many stages?

14. Give illustrations of the exercise of federal government, state
government, and local government, in your own town or city. Of which
government do you observe the most signs? Of which do you observe the
fewest signs? Of which government do the officers seem most sensitive to
local opinion?

15. Are the sessions of the legislature in your state annual or
biennial? What is the argument for each system?

For answers to numbers 16, 17, 18, and 19, consult the public statutes,
a lawyer, or some intelligent business man. A fair idea of the
successive steps in the courts may be obtained from a good unabridged
dictionary by looking up the technical terms employed in these

16. What is the difference between a civil action and a criminal?

  a. In respect to the object to be gained in each?
  b. In respect to the party that is the plaintiff?
  c. In respect to the consequences to the defendant if the case goes
      against him?

17. Give an outline of the procedure in a minor criminal action that is
tried without a jury in a lower court. Consider
(1) the complaint, (2) the warrant, (3) the return, (4) the recognizance,
(5) the subpoena, (6) the arraignment, (7) the plea, (8) the testimony,
(9) the arguments,(10) the judgment and sentence, and (11) the penalty and
its enforcement.

What is an appeal?--This procedure seems cumbrous, but it
is founded in common sense. What one of the foregoing steps, for
example, would you omit? Why?

18. Give an outline of the procedure in a criminal action that is tried
with a jury in a higher court. The action is begun in a lower court
where the first five stages are the same as in number 17. Then follow
(6) the examination of witnesses, (7) the binding over of the accused to
appear before the higher court for trial, (8) the sending of the
complaint and the proceedings thereon to the district or county
attorney, (9) the indictment, (10) the action of the grand jury upon the
indictment, (11) the challenging of jurors before the trial, (12) the
arraignment, (13) the plea, (14) the testimony, (15) the arguments, (16)
the charge to the jury, (17) the verdict, and (18) the sentence, with
its penalty and the enforcement of it. What are "exceptions?"--Why
should there be a jury in the higher court when there is none in the
lower? What is the objection to dispensing with any one of the foregoing
steps? Does this machinery make it difficult to punish crime? Why should
an accused person receive so much consideration?

19. Give an outline of the procedure in a minor civil action. Consider
(1) the writ, (2) the attachment, (3) the summons to the defendant, (4)
the return, (5) the pleading, (6) the testimony, (7) the arguments, (8)
the judgment or decision of the judge, and (9) the execution.--If the
action is conducted in a higher court, then a jury decides the question
at issue, the judge instructing the jurors in points of law.

20. Suppose an innocent man is tried for an alleged crime and
acquitted, has he any redress?

21. Is the enforcement of law complete and satisfactory in your

22. What is your opinion of the general security of person and property
in your community?

23. Is there any connection between public sentiment about a law and the
enforcement of that law? If so, what is it?

24. Any one of the twelve subjects of legislation cited on page 177 may
be taken as a special topic. Consult any modern history of England.

25. Which do you regard as the more important possession for the
citizen,--an acquaintance with the principles and details of government
and law, or a law-abiding and law-supporting spirit? What reasons have
you for your opinion? Where is your sympathy in times of disorder, with,
those who defy the law or with those who seek to enforce it? (Suppose a
case in which you do not approve the law, and then answer.)

26. May you ever become an officer of the law? Would you as a citizen be
justified in withholding from an officer that obedience and moral
support which you as an officer might justly demand from every citizen?


The State.--For the founding of the several colonies, their charters,
etc., the student may profitably consult the learned monographs in
Winsor's _Narrative and Critical History of America_, 8 vols.,
Boston, 1886-89. A popular account, quite full in details, is given in
Lodge's _Short History of the English Colonies in America_,
N. Y., 1881. There is a fairly good account of the revision and
transformation of the colonial governments in Bancroft's _History of
the United States_, final edition, N.Y., 1886, vol. v. pp. 111-125.

The series of "American Commonwealths," edited by H.E. Scudder, and
published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., will be found helpful. The
following have been published: Johnston, _Connecticut: a Study
of a Commonwealth-Democracy_, 1887; Roberts, _New York: the
Planting and Growth of the Empire State_, 2 vols., 1887; Browne,
_Maryland: the History of a Palatinate_, 2d ed., 1884; Cooke,
_Virginia: a History of the People_, 1883; Shaler, _Kentucky:
a Pioneer Commonwealth_, 1884; King, _Ohio: First Fruits of
the Ordinance of 1787_,1888; Dunn, _Indiana: a Redemption from
Slavery_, 1888; Cooley, _Michigan: a History of Governments_,
1885; Carr, _Missouri: a Bone of Contention_, 1888; Spring,
_Kansas: the Prelude to the War for the Union_, 1885; Royce,
_California: a Study of American Character_, 1886; Barrows,
_Oregon: the Struggle for Possession_, 1883.

In connection with the questions on page 183, the student is advised
to consult Dole's _Talks about Law: a Popular Statement of What
our Law is and How it is Administered_, Boston, 1887. This book
deserves high praise. In a very easy and attractive way it gives an
account of such facts and principles of law as ought to be familiarly
understood by every man and woman.



[Sidenote: In the American state there is a power above the
Toward the close of the preceding chapter[1] I spoke of three points
especially characteristic of the American state, and I went on to
mention two of them. The third point which I had in mind is so
remarkable and important as to require a chapter all to itself. In the
American state the legislature is not supreme, but has limits to its
authority prescribed by a written document, known as the Constitution;
and if the legislature happens to pass a law which violates the
constitution, then whenever a specific case happens to arise in which
this statute is involved, it can be brought before the courts, and
the decision of the court, if adverse to the statute, annuls it and
renders it of no effect. The importance of this feature of civil
government in the United States can hardly be overrated. It marks a
momentous advance in civilization, and it is especially interesting as
being peculiarly American. Almost everything else in our fundamental
institutions was brought by our forefathers in a more or less highly
developed condition from England; but the development of the written
constitution, with the consequent relation of the courts to the
law-making power, has gone on entirely upon American soil.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 172.]

[Sidenote: Germs of the idea of a written constitution.]
[Sidenote: Our indebtedness to the Romans.]
[Sidenote: Mediæval charters.]
The germs of the written constitution existed a great while ago.
Perhaps it would not be easy to say just when they began to exist.
It was formerly supposed by such profound thinkers as Locke and such
persuasive writers as Rousseau, that when the first men came together
to live in civil society, they made a sort of contract with one
another as to what laws they would have, what beliefs they would
entertain, what customs they would sanction, and so forth. This
theory of the Social Contract was once famous, and exerted a notable
influence on political history, and it is still interesting in the
same way that spinning-wheels and wooden frigates and powdered wigs
are interesting; but we now know that men lived in civil society,
with complicated laws and customs and creeds, for many thousand years
before the notion had ever entered anybody's head that things could
be regulated by contract. That notion we owe chiefly to the ancient
Romans, and it took them several centuries to comprehend the idea and
put it into practice. We owe them a debt of gratitude for it. The
custom of regulating business and politics and the affairs of life
generally by voluntary but binding agreements is something without
which we moderns would not think life worth living. It was after the
Roman world--that is to say, Christendom, for in the Middle Ages the
two terms were synonymous--had become thoroughly familiar with the
idea of contract, that the practice grew up of granting written
charters to towns, or monasteries, or other corporate bodies. The
charter of a mediaeval town was a kind of written contract by which
the town obtained certain specified immunities or privileges from the
sovereign or from a great feudal lord, in exchange for some specified
service which often took the form of a money payment. It was common
enough for a town to buy liberty for hard cash, just as a man might
buy a farm. The word _charter_ originally meant simply a paper or
written document, and it was often applied to deeds for the transfer
of real estate. In contracts of such importance papers or parchment
documents were drawn up and carefully preserved as irrefragable
evidences of the transaction. And so, in quite significant phrase the
towns zealously guarded their charters as the "title-deeds of their

[Sidenote: The "Great Charter" (1215).]
After a while the word charter was applied in England to a particular
document which specified certain important concessions forcibly wrung by
the people from a most unwilling sovereign. This document was called
_Magna Charta_, or the "Great Charter," signed at Runnymede, June 15,
1215, by John, king of England. After the king had signed it and gone
away to his room, he rolled in a mad fury on the floor, screaming
curses, and gnawing sticks and straw in the impotence of his, wrath.[2]
Perhaps it would be straining words to call a transaction in which the
consent was so one-sided a "contract," but the idea of Magna Charta was
derived from that of the town charters with which people were already
familiar. Thus a charter came to mean "a grant made by the sovereign
either to the whole people or to a portion of them, securing to them the
enjoyment of certain rights." Now in legal usage a charter differs from
a constitution in this, that the former is granted by the sovereign,
while the latter is established by the people themselves: both are the
fundamental law of the land.[3] a The distinction is admirably
expressed, but in history it is not always easy to make it. Magna Charta
was in form a grant by the sovereign, but it was really drawn up by the
barons, who in a certain sense represented the English people; and
established by the people after a long struggle which was only in its
first stages in John's time. To some extent it partook of the nature of
a written constitution.

[Footnote 2: Green, _Hist. of the English People_, vol. i. p.

[Footnote 3: Bouvier, _Law Dictionary_, 12th ed., vol. i. p.

[Sidenote: The "Bill of Rights" (1689).]
Let us now observe what happened early in 1689, after James II had
fled from England. On January 28th parliament declared the throne
vacant. Parliament then drew up the "Declaration of Rights," a
document very similar in purport to the first eight amendments to
our Federal Constitution, and on the 13th of February the two houses
offered the crown to William and Mary on condition of their accepting
this declaration of the "true, ancient, and indubitable rights of the
people of this realm." The crown having been accepted on these terms,
parliament in the following December enacted the famous "Bill of
Rights," which simply put their previous declaration into the form of
a declaratory statute. The Bill of Rights was not--even in form--a
grant from a sovereign; it was an instrument framed by the
representatives of the people, and without promising to respect
it William and Mary could no more have mounted the throne than a
president of the United States could be inducted into office if he
were to refuse to take the prescribed oath of allegiance to the
Federal Constitution. The Bill of Rights was therefore, strictly
speaking, a piece of written constitution; it was a constitution as
far as it went.

[Sidenote: Foreshadowing of the American idea by Sir Harry Vane
The seventeenth century, the age when the builders of American
commonwealths were coming from England, was especially notable in
England for two things. One was the rapid growth of modern commercial
occupations and habits, the other was the temporary overthrow of
monarchy, soon followed by the final subjection of the crown to
parliament. Accordingly the sphere of contract and the sphere of
popular sovereignty were enlarged in men's minds, and the notion of a
written constitution first began to find expression. The "Instrument
of Government" which in 1653 created the protectorate of Oliver
Cromwell was substantially a written constitution, but it emanated
from a questionable authority and was not ratified. It was drawn up
by a council of army officers; and "it broke down because the first
parliament summoned under it refused to acknowledge its binding
force." [4] The dissolution of this parliament accordingly left Oliver
absolute dictator. In 1656, when it seemed so necessary to decide what
sort of government the dictatorship of Cromwell was to prepare the way
for, Sir Harry Vane proposed that a _national convention_ should
be called for drawing up a written constitution.[5] The way in which
he stated his case showed that he had in him a prophetic foreshadowing
of the American idea as it was realized in 1787. But Vane's ideas were
too far in advance of his age to be realized then in England. Older
ideas, to which men were more accustomed, determined the course of
events there, and it was left for Americans to create a government by
means of a written constitution. And when American statesmen did so,
they did it without any reference to Sir Harry Vane. His relation to
the subject has been discovered only in later days, but I mention him
here in illustration of the way in which great institutions grow. They
take shape when they express the opinions and wishes of a multitude
of persons; but it often happens that one or two men of remarkable
foresight had thought of them long beforehand.

[Footnote 4: Gardiner, _Constitutional Documents of the Puritan
Revolution_, p. lx.]

[Footnote 5: See Hosmer's _Young Sir Henry Vane_, pp.
432-444,--one of the best books ever written for the reader who wishes
to understand the state of mind among the English people in the crisis
when they laid the foundations of the United States.]

[Sidenote: The Mayflower compact(1620).]
In America the first attempts at written constitutions were in the
fullest sense made by the people, and not through representatives but
directly. In the Mayflower's cabin, before the Pilgrims had landed on
Plymouth rock, they subscribed their names to a compact in which they
agreed to constitute themselves into a "body politic," and to enact such
laws as might be deemed best for the colony they were about to
establish; and they promised "all due submission and obedience" to such
laws. Such a compact is of course too vague to be called a constitution.
Properly speaking, a written constitution is a document which defines
the character and powers of the government to which its framers are
willing to entrust themselves. Almost any kind of civil government might
have been framed under the Mayflower compact, but the document is none
the less interesting as an indication of the temper of the men who
subscribed their names to it.

[Sidenote: The "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" (1639).]
The first written constitution known to history was that by which the
republic of Connecticut was organized in 1639. At first the affairs
of the Connecticut settlements had been directed by a commission
appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts, but on the 14th of
January, 1639, all the freemen of the three river towns--Windsor,
Hartford, and Wethersfield--assembled at Hartford, and drew up a
written constitution, consisting of eleven articles, in which the
frame of government then and there adopted was distinctly described.
This document, known as the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut",
created the government under which the people of Connecticut lived for
nearly two centuries before they deemed it necessary to amend it. The
charter granted to Connecticut by Charles II. in 1662 was simply a
royal recognition of the government actually in operation since the
adoption of the Fundamental Orders.

[Sidenote: Germinal development of the colonial charter toward the
modern state constitution.]
In those colonies which had charters these documents served, to a
certain extent, the purposes of a written constitution. They limited the
legislative powers of the colonial assemblies. The question sometimes
came up as to whether some statute made by the assembly was not in
excess of the powers conferred by the charter. This question usually
arose in connection with some particular law case, and thus came before
the courts for settlement,--first before the courts of the colony;
afterwards it might sometimes be carried on appeal before the Privy
Council in England. If the court decided that the statute was in
transgression of the charter, the statute was thereby annulled.[6] The
colonial legislature, therefore, was not a supreme body, even within the
colony; its authority was restricted by the terms of the charter. Thus
the Americans, for more than a century before the Revolution, were
familiarized with the idea of a legislature as a representative body
acting within certain limits prescribed by a written document. They had
no knowledge or experience of a supreme legislative body, such as the
House of Commons has become since the founders of American states left
England. At the time of the Revolution, when the several states framed
new governments, they simply put a written constitution into the
position of supremacy formerly occupied by the charter. Instead of a
document expressed in terms of a royal grant, they adopted a document
expressed in terms of a popular edict. To this the legislature must
conform; and people were already somewhat familiar with the method of
testing the constitutionality of a law by getting the matter brought
before the courts. The mental habit thus generated was probably more
important than any other single circumstance in enabling our Federal
Union to be formed. Without it, indeed, it would have been impossible to
form a durable union.

[Footnote 6: Bryce, _American Commonwealth_, vol. i. pp. 243,

[Sidenote: Abnormal development of the state constitution, encroaching
upon the province of the legislature.]
[Sidenote: The Swiss "Referendum" 196]
Before pursuing this subject, we may observe that American state
constitutions have altered very much in character since the first part
of the present century. The earlier constitutions were confined to a
general outline of the organization of the government. They did not
undertake to make the laws, but to prescribe the conditions under
which laws might be made and executed. Recent state constitutions
enter more and more boldly upon the general work of legislation. For
example, in some states they specify what kinds of property shall be
exempt from seizure for debt, they make regulations as to railroad
freight-charges, they prescribe sundry details of practice in the
courts, or they forbid the sale of intoxicating liquors. Until
recently such subjects would have been left to the legislatures, no
one would have thought of putting them into a constitution. The motive
in so doing is a wish to put certain laws into such a shape that it
will be difficult to repeal them. What a legislature sees fit to enact
this year it may see fit to repeal next year. But amending a state
constitution is a slow and cumbrous process. An amendment may be
originated in the legislature, where it must secure more than a mere
majority--perhaps a three fifths or two thirds vote--in order to pass;
in some states it must be adopted by two successive legislatures,
perhaps by two thirds of one and three fourths of the next; in some
states not more than one amendment can be brought before the same
legislature; in some it is provided that amendments must not be
submitted to the people oftener than once in five years; and so
on. After the amendment has at length made its way through the
legislature, it must be ratified by a vote of the people at the next
general election. Another way to get a constitution amended is to call
a convention for that purpose. In order to call a convention, it is
usually necessary to obtain a two thirds vote in the legislature; but
in some states the legislature is required at stated intervals to
submit to the people the question of holding such a convention, as
in New Hampshire every seven years; in Iowa, every ten years; in
Michigan, every sixteen years; in New York, Ohio, Maryland, and
Virginia, every twenty years.[7] A convention is a representative
body elected by the people to meet at some specified time and
place for some specified purpose, and its existence ends with the
accomplishment of that purpose. It is in this occasional character
that the convention differs from an ordinary legislative assembly.
With such elaborate checks against hasty action, it is to be presumed
that if a law can be once embodied in a state constitution, it will be
likely to have some permanence. Moreover, a direct vote by the people
gives a weightier sanction to a law than a vote in the legislature.
There is also, no doubt, a disposition to distrust legislatures and in
some measure do their work for them by direct popular enactment. For
such reasons some recent state constitutions have come almost to
resemble bodies of statutes. Mr. Woodrow Wilson suggestively compares
this kind of popular legislation with the Swiss practice known as the
_Referendum_; in most of the Swiss cantons an important act of
the legislature does not acquire the force of law until it has been
_referred_ to the people and voted on by them. "The objections
to the, _referendum_,"  says Mr. Wilson, "are, of course, that it
assumes a discriminating judgment and a fullness of information on the
part of the people touching questions of public policy which they do
not often possess, and that it lowers the sense of responsibility on
the part of legislators."  [8] Another serious objection to our recent
practice is that it tends to confuse the very valuable distinction
between a constitution and a body of statutes, to necessitate a
frequent revision of constitutions, and to increase the cumbrousness
of law-making. It would, however, be premature at the present time to
pronounce confidently upon a practice of such recent origin. It is
clear that its tendency is extremely democratic, and that it implies
a high standard of general intelligence and independence among the
people. If the evils of the practice are found to outweigh its
benefits, it will doubtless fall into disfavour.

[Footnote 7: See Henry Hitchcock's admirable monograph, _American
State Constitutions_, p. 19.]

[Footnote 8: Wilson. The State, p. 490.]

QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT. What is to be said with regard to the following

I. A power above the legislature:--

  a. The constitution.
  b. The relation of the courts to laws that violate the constitution.
  c. The importance of this relation.
  d. The American origin of the written constitution.

2. The germs of the idea of a written constitution:--

  a. The theory of a "social contract."
  b. The objection to this theory.
  c. Roman origin of the idea of contract.

3. Mediæval charters:--

  a. The charter of a town.
  b. The word _charter_.
  c. Magna Charta.
  d. The difference between a charter and a constitution.
  e. The form of Magna Charta as contrasted with its essential nature.

4. Documents somewhat resembling written constitutions:--

  a. The Declaration of Rights.
  b. The Bill of Rights.

5. The foreshadowing of the American idea of written constitutions:--

a. Two conditions especially notable in England in the seventeenth
  b. The influence of these conditions on popular views of government.
  c. The "Instrument of Government."
  d. Sir Harry Vane's proposition.
  e. Why allude to Vane's scheme when nothing came of it?

6. Early suggestions of written constitutions in America:--

  a. The compact on the Mayflower.
  b. Wherein the compact fell short of a written constitution.
  c. The "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut."

7. The development of the colonial charter into a written constitution:--

  a. The limitation of the powers of colonial assemblies.
  b. The decision of questions relating to the transgression of a charter
      by a colonial legislature.
  c. The colonial assembly as contrasted with the House of
  d. The difference between the written constitution and the
      charter for which it was substituted.
  e. The readiness of the people to adopt written constitutions.

8. The extensive development of the written constitution in
some states:--

  a. The simplicity of the earlier constitutions.
  b. Illustrations of the legislative tendencies of later constitutions.
  c. The motive for such extension of a constitution.
  d. The difficulty of amending a constitution.
  e. The legislative method of amendment.
  f. The convention method of amendment.
  g. The presumed advantage of embodying laws in the constitution.
  h. A comparison with the Swiss Referendum.
  i. Objections to the Swiss Referendum.
  j. Other objections to the practice of putting laws into the


1. Do you belong to any society that has a constitution? Has the society
rules apart from the constitution? Which may be changed the more
readily? Why not put all the rules into the constitution?

2. Read the constitution of your state in part or in full. Give some
account of its principal divisions, of the topics it deals with, and its
magnitude or fullness. Are there any amendments? If so, mention two or
three, and give the reasons for their adoption. Is there any declaration
of rights in it? If so, what are some of the rights declared, and whose
are they said to be?

3. Where is the original of your state constitution kept? What sort of
looking document do you suppose it to be? Where would you look for a
copy of it? If a question arises in any court about the interpretation
of the constitution, must the original be produced to settle the wording
of the document?

4. Has any effort been made in your state to put into the constitution
matters that have previously been subjects of legislative action? If so,
give an account of the effort, and the public attitude towards it.

5. Which is preferable,--a constitution that commands the approval of
the people as a whole or that which has the support of a dominant
political party only?

6. Suppose it is your personal conviction that a law is
unconstitutional, may you disregard it? What consequences might ensue
from such disregard?

7. May people honestly and amicably differ about the interpretation of
the constitution or of a law, in a particular case? If important
interests are dependent on the interpretation, how can the true one be
found out? Does a lawyer's opinion settle the interpretation? What value
has such an opinion? Where must people go for authoritative and final
interpretations of the laws? Can they get such interpretations by simply
asking for them?

8. The constitution of New Hampshire provides that when the governor
cannot discharge the duties of his office, the president of the senate
shall assume them. During the severe sickness of a governor recently,
the president of the senate hesitated to act in his stead; it was not
clear that the situation was grave enough to warrant such a course.
Accordingly the attorney-general of the state brought an action against
the president of the senate for not doing his duty; the court considered
the situation, decided against the president of the senate, and ordered
him to become acting governor. Why was this suit necessary? Was it
conducted in a hostile spirit? Wherein did the decision help the state?
Wherein did it help the defendant? Wherein may it possibly prove helpful
in the future history of the state?

9. Mention particular things that the governor, the legislature, and the
judiciary of your state have done or may do. Then find the section or
clause or wording in your state constitution that gives authority for
each of these things. For example, read the particular part that
authorizes your legislature:--

  a. To incorporate a city.
  b. To compel children to attend school.
  c. To buy uniforms for a regiment of soldiers.
  d. To establish a death penalty.
  e. To send a committee abroad to study a system of waterworks.

10. Trace the authority of a school-teacher, a policeman, a selectman, a
mayor, or of any public officer, back to some part of your constitution.

11. Mention any parts of your constitution that seem general and
somewhat indefinite, and that admit, therefore, of much freedom in

12. Show how the people are, in one aspect, subordinate to the
constitution; in another, superior to it.


Written Constitutions.--Very little has been written or published with
reference to the history of the development of the idea of a written
constitution. The student will find some suggestive hints in Hannis
Taylor's _Origin and Growth of the English Constitution_, vol. i,
Boston, 1889. See Henry Hitchcock's _American State Constitutions; a
Study of their Growth_, N.Y., 1887, a learned and valuable essay. See
also _J.H.U. Studies_, I., xi., Alexander Johnston, _The Genesis of a
New England State (Connecticut)_; III., ix.-x., Horace Davis, _American
Constitutions_; also Preston's _Documents Illustrative of American
History_, 1606-1863, N.Y., 1886; Stubbs, _Select Charters and other
Illustrations of English Constitutional History_, Oxford, 1870;
Gardiner's _Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution_, Oxford,



Section 1. _Origin of the Federal Union._

Having now sketched the origin and nature of written constitutions, we
are prepared to understand how by means of such a document the
government of our Federal Union was called into existence. We have
already described so much of the civil government in operation in the
United States that this account can be made much more concise than if we
had started at the top instead of the bottom and begun to portray our
national government before saying a word about states and counties and
towns. Bit by bit the general theory of American self-government has
already been set before the reader. We have now to observe, in
conclusion, what a magnificent piece of constructive work has been
performed in accordance with that general theory. We have to observe the
building up of a vast empire out of strictly self-governing elements.

[Sidenote: English institutions in all the colonies.]
There was always one important circumstance in favour of the union of
the thirteen American colonies into a federal nation. The inhabitants
were all substantially one people. It is true that in some of the
colonies there were a good many persons not of English ancestry, but
the English type absorbed and assimilated everything else.

All spoke the English language, all had English institutions. Except
the development of the written constitution, every bit of civil
government described in the preceding pages came to America directly
from England, and not a bit of it from any other country, unless by
being first filtered through England. Our institutions were as English
as our speech. It was therefore comparatively easy for people in one
colony to understand people in another, not only as to their words but
as to their political ideas. Moreover, during the first half of the
eighteenth century, the common danger from the aggressive French
enemy on the north and west went far toward awakening in the thirteen
colonies a common interest. And after the French enemy had been
removed, the assertion by parliament of its alleged right to tax the
Americans threatened all the thirteen legislatures at once, and thus
in fact drove the colonies into a kind of federal union.

[Sidenote: The New England confederacy (1643-84).]
[Sidenote: Albany Congress(1754).]
[Sidenote: Stamp Act Congress (1765).]
Confederations among states have generally owed their origin, in
the first instance, to military necessities. The earliest league in
America, among white people at least, was the confederacy of New
England colonies formed in 1643, chiefly for defence against the
Indians. It was finally dissolved amid the troubles of 1684, when the
first government of Massachusetts was overthrown. Along the Atlantic
coast the northern and the southern colonies were for some time
distinct groups, separated by the unsettled portion of the central
zone. The settlement of Pennsylvania, beginning in 1681, filled this
gap and made the colonies continuous from the French frontier of
Canada to the Spanish frontier of Florida. The danger from France
began to be clearly apprehended after 1689, and in 1698 one of the
earliest plans of union was proposed by William Penn. In 1754, just
as the final struggle with France was about to begin, there came
Franklin's famous plan for a permanent federal union; and this plan
was laid before a congress assembled at Albany for renewing the
alliances with the Six Nations.[1] Only seven colonies were
represented in this congress. Observe the word "congress." If it
had been a legislative body it would more likely have been called
a "parliament." But of course it was nothing of the sort. It was a
diplomatic body, composed of delegates representing state governments,
like European congresses,--like the Congress of Berlin, for example,
which tried to adjust the Eastern Question in 1878. Eleven years after
the Albany Congress, upon the news that parliament had passed the
Stamp Act, a congress of nine colonies assembled at New York in
October, 1765, to take action thereon.

[Footnote 1: Franklin's plan was afterward submitted to the several
legislatures of the colonies, and was everywhere rejected because the
need for union was nowhere strongly felt by the people.]

[Sidenote: Committees of Correspondence (1772-75).]
Nine years elapsed without another congress. Meanwhile the political
excitement, with occasional lulls, went on increasing, and some sort
of cooperation between the colonial governments became habitual. In
1768, after parliament had passed the Townshend revenue acts, there
was no congress, but Massachusetts sent a circular letter to the other
colonies, inviting them to cooperate in measures of resistance, and
the other colonies responded favourably. In 1772, as we have seen,
committees of correspondence between the towns of Massachusetts acted
as a sort of provisional government for the commonwealth. In 1773
Dabney Carr, of Virginia, enlarged upon this idea, and committees of
correspondence were forthwith instituted between the several colonies.
Thus the habit of acting in concert began to be formed. In 1774,
after parliament had passed an act overthrowing the government of
Massachusetts, along with other offensive measures, a congress
assembled in September at Philadelphia, the city most centrally
situated as well as the largest. If the remonstrances adopted at this
congress had been heeded by the British government, and peace had
followed, this congress would probably have been as temporary an
affair as its predecessors; people would probably have waited until
overtaken by some other emergency. But inasmuch as war followed,
the congress assembled again in May, 1775, and thereafter became
practically a permanent institution until it died of old age with the
year 1788.

[Sidenote: Continental Congress (1774-1789).]
This congress was called "continental" to distinguish it from the
"provincial congresses" held in several of the colonies at about the
same time. The thirteen colonies were indeed but a narrow strip on the
edge of a vast and in large part unexplored continent, but the word
"continental" was convenient for distinguishing between the whole
confederacy and its several members.

[Sidenote: The several states were never at any time sovereign
[Sidenote: The Articles of Confederation]
The Continental Congress began to exercise a certain amount of
directive authority from the time of its first meeting in 1774. Such
authority as it had arose simply from the fact that it represented an
agreement on the part of the several governments to pursue a certain
line of policy. It was a diplomatic and executive, but scarcely yet a
legislative body. Nevertheless it was the visible symbol of a kind of
union between the states. There never was a time when any one of the
original states exercised singly the full powers of sovereignty. Not
one of them was ever a small sovereign state like Denmark or Portugal.
As they acted together under the common direction of the British
government in 1759, the year of Quebec, so they acted together under
the common direction of that revolutionary body, the Continental
Congress, in 1775, the year of Bunker Hill. In that year a
"continental army" was organized in the name of the "United Colonies."
In the following year, when independence was declared, it was done
by the concerted action of all the colonies; and at the same time a
committee was appointed by Congress to draw up a written constitution.
This constitution, known as the "Articles or Confederation," was
submitted to Congress in the autumn of 1777, and was sent to the
several states to be ratified. A unanimous ratification was necessary,
and it was not until March 1781, that unanimity was secured and the
articles adopted.

Meanwhile the Revolutionary War had advanced into its last stages,
having been carried on from the outset under the general direction
of the Continental Congress. When reading about this period of our
history, the student must be careful not to be misled by the name
"congress" into reasoning as if there were any resemblance whatever
between that body and the congress which was created by our Federal
Constitution. The Continental Congress was not the parent of our
Federal Congress; the former died without offspring, and the latter
had a very different origin, as we shall soon see. The former simply
bequeathed to the latter a name, that was all.

[Sidenote: Nature and powers of the Continental Congress]
The Continental Congress was an assembly of delegates from the thirteen
states, which from 1774 to 1783 held its sessions at Philadelphia.[2] It
owned no federal property, not even the house in which it assembled, and
after it had been turned out of doors by a mob of drunken soldiers in
June, 1783, it flitted about from place to place, sitting now at
Trenton, now at Annapolis, and finally at New York.[3] Each state sent
to it as many delegates as it chose, though after the adoption of the
articles no state could send less than two or more than seven. Each
state had one vote, and it took nine votes, or two thirds of the whole,
to carry any measure of importance. One of the delegates was chosen
president or chairman of the congress, and this position was one of
great dignity and considerable influence, but it was not essentially
different from the position, of any of the other delegates. There were
no distinct executive officers. Important executive matters were at
first assigned to committees, such as the Finance Committee and the
Board of War, though at the most trying time the finance committee was a
committee of one, in the person of Robert Morris, who was commonly
called the Financier. The work of the finance committee was chiefly
trying to solve the problem of paying bills without spending money, for
there was seldom any money to spend. Congress could not tax the people
or recruit the army. When it wanted money or troops, it could only ask
the state governments for them; and generally it got from a fifth to a
fourth part of the troops needed, but of money a far smaller proportion.
Sometimes it borrowed money from Holland or France, but often its only
resource was to issue paper promises to pay, or the so-called
Continental paper money. There were no federal courts,[4] nor marshals
to execute federal decrees. Congress might issue orders, but it had no
means of compelling obedience.

[Footnote 2: Except for a few days in December, 1776, when it fled
to Baltimore; and again from September, 1777, to June, 1778, when
Philadelphia was in possession of the British; during that interval
Congress held its meetings at York in Pennsylvania.]

[Footnote 3: See my _Critical Period of American History_, pp.
112, 271, 306]

[Footnote 5: Except the "Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture," for
an admirable account of which see Jameson's _Essays in the
Constitutional History of the United States_, pp. 1-45.]

[Sidenote: It was not fully endowed with sovereignty.]
The Continental Congress was therefore not in the full sense a
sovereign body. A government is not really a government until it can
impose taxes and thus command the money needful for keeping it in
existence. Nevertheless the Congress exercised some of the most
indisputable functions of sovereignty. "It declared the independence
of the United States; it contracted an offensive and defensive
alliance with France; it raised and organized a Continental army; it
borrowed large sums of money, and pledged what the lenders understood
to be the national credit for their repayment; it issued an
inconvertible paper currency, granted letters of marque, and built a
navy." [6] Finally it ratified a treaty of peace with Great Britain. So
that the Congress was really, in many respects, and in the eyes of the
world at large, a sovereign body. Time soon showed that the continued
exercise of such powers was not compatible with the absence of the
power to tax the people. In truth the situation of the Continental
Congress was an illogical situation. In the effort of throwing off
the sovereignty of Great Britain, the people of these states were
constructing a federal union faster than they realized. Their theory
of the situation did not keep pace with the facts, and their first
attempt to embody their theory, in the Articles of Confederation, was
not unnaturally a failure.

[Footnote 6: _Critical Period_, p. 93.]

[Sidenote: Decline of the Continental Congress.]
At first the powers of the Congress were vague. They were what are
called "implied war powers;" that is to say, the Congress had a war
with Great Britain on its hands, and must be supposed to have power to
do whatever was necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion.
At first, too, when it had only begun to issue paper money, there
was a momentary feeling of prosperity. Military success added to its
appearance of strength, and the reputation of the Congress reached its
high water mark early in 1778, after the capture of Burgoyne's army
and the making of the alliance with France. After that time, with the
weary prolonging of the war, the increase of the public debt, and the
collapse of the paper currency, its reputation steadily declined.
There was also much work to be done in reorganizing the state
governments, and this kept at home in the state legislatures many of
the ablest men who would otherwise have been sent to the Congress.
Thus in point of intellectual capacity the latter body was distinctly
inferior in 1783 to what it had been when first assembled nine years

[Sidenote: Anarchical tendencies.]
The arrival of peace did not help the Congress, but made matters worse.
When the absolute necessity of presenting a united front to the common
enemy was removed, the weakness of the union was shown in many
ways that were alarming. The _sentiment_ of union was weak. In spite of
the community in language and institutions, which was so favourable to
union, the people of the several states had many local prejudices which
tended to destroy the union in its infancy. A man was quicker to
remember that he was a New Yorker or a Massachusetts man than that he
was an American and a citizen of the United States. Neighbouring states
levied custom-house duties against one another, or refused to admit into
their markets each other's produce, or had quarrels about boundaries
which went to the verge of war. Things grew worse every year until by
the autumn of 1786, when the Congress was quite bankrupt and most of the
states nearly so, when threats of secession were heard both in New
England and in the South, when there were riots in several states and
Massachusetts was engaged in suppressing armed rebellion, when people in
Europe were beginning to ask whether we were more likely to be seized
upon by France or reconquered piecemeal by Great Britain, it came to be
thought necessary to make some kind of a change.

[Sidenote: The Federal Convention (1787).]

Men were most unwillingly brought to this conclusion, because they were
used to their state assemblies and not afraid of them, but they were
afraid of increasing the powers of any government superior to the states,
lest they should thus create an unmanageable tyranny. They believed that
even anarchy, though a dreadful evil, is not so dreadful as despotism,
and for this view there is much to be said. After no end of trouble a
convention was at length got together at Philadelphia in May, 1787, and
after four months of work with closed doors, it was able to offer to the
country the new Federal Constitution. Both in its character and in
the work which It did, this Federal Convention, over which Washington
presided, and of which Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton were members,
was one of the most remarkable deliberative bodies known to history.

We have seen that the fundamental weakness of the Continental Congress
lay in the fact that it could not tax the people. Hence although it
could for a time exert other high functions of sovereignty, it could
only do so while money was supplied to it from other sources than
taxation; from contributions made by the states in answer to its
"requisitions," from foreign loans, and from a paper currency. But such
resources could not last long. It was like a man's trying to live upon
his own promissory notes and upon gifts and unsecured loans from his
friends. When the supply of money was exhausted, the Congress soon found
that it could no longer comport itself as a sovereign power; it could
not preserve order at home, and the situation abroad may be illustrated
by the fact that George III. kept garrisons in several of our
northwestern frontier towns and would not send a minister to the United
States. This example shows that, among the sovereign powers of a
government, the power of taxation is the fundamental one upon which all
the others depend. Nothing can go on without money.

But the people of the several states would never consent to grant the
power of taxation, to such a body as the Continental Congress, in
which they were not represented. The Congress was not a legislature,
but a diplomatic body; it did not represent the people, but the state
governments; and a large state like Pennsylvania had no more weight in
it than a little state like Delaware. If there was to be any central
assembly for the whole union, endowed with the power of taxation,
it must be an assembly representing the American people just as the
assembly of a single state represented the people of the state.

As soon as this point became clear, it was seen to be necessary to
throw the Articles of Confederation overboard, and construct a new
national government. As was said above, our Federal Congress is not
descended from the Continental Congress. Its parentage is to be sought
in the state legislatures. Our federal government was constructed
after the general model of the state governments, with some points
copied from British usages, and some points that were original and


1. What are the reasons for reserving the Constitution of the
United States for the concluding chapter?

2. Circumstances that favoured union of the colonies:--

  a. The origin of their inhabitants.
  b. All the details of their civil government.
  c. The ease with which they understood one another.
  d. Their common dangers, two in particular.

3. Earlier unions among the colonies:--

  a. The New England Confederacy,--its time, purpose, and
  b. The French danger, and plans to meet it.
  c. The Albany Congress,--its nature and immediate purpose.
  d. The Stamp Act Congress.

4. Committees of correspondence:--

  a. The circular letter of Massachusetts in 1768.
  b. Town committees of correspondence in Massachusetts in
  c. Colonial committees of correspondence in 1773.
  d. The habit established through these committees.

5. The Continental Congress:--

  a. The immediate causes that led to it.
  b. How it might have been temporary.
  c. How it became permanent.
  d. Its date, place of meeting, and duration.
  e. Why "continental" as distinguished from "provincial?"
  f. The nature and extent of its authority.
  g. The states represented in it never fully sovereign.

6. Give an account of the "Articles of Confederation."

7. Distinguish between the Continental Congress and the

8. The powers of the Continental Congress:--
  a. Its homelessness and wandering.
  b. Its delegates and their voting power.
  c. Its presiding officer.
  d. Its management of executive matters.
  e. The finance committee and its problems.
  f. The raising of money.
  g. The compelling of obedience.

9. The Continental Congress not a sovereign body:--

  a. The nature of real government.
  b. Some functions of sovereignty exercised by the Congress.
  c. The situation illogical.

10. Explain the "implied war powers" of the Congress.

11. When was the Congress at the height of its reputation, and

12. Explain the decline in its reputation from 1778 to 1783.

13. The alarming weakness of the union after 1783:--

  a. The effect of peace upon the union.
  b. Local prejudices.
  c. State antagonisms.
  d. The gloomy outlook in 1786.

14. The Federal Convention in 1787:--

  a. The reluctance to make the change that was felt to be needed.
  b. Some facts about the Convention.
  c. The character of its delegates.
  d. The fundamental weakness of the Continental Congress.
  e. The fundamental power of a strong government.
  f. The objection to granting the power of taxation to the Continental
  g. The sort of assembly demanded for exercising the taxing power.
  h. The model on which the federal government was built.

Section 2. _The Federal Congress._

[Sidenote: The House of Representatives.]
The federal House of Representatives is descended, through the state
houses of representatives, from the colonial assemblies. It is an
assembly representing the whole population of the country as if it were
all in one great state. It is composed of members chosen every other
year by the people of the states. Persons in any state who are qualified
to vote for state representatives are qualified to vote for federal
representatives. This arrangement left the power of regulating the
suffrage in the hands of the several states, where it still remains,
save for the restriction imposed in 1870 for the protection of the
southern freedmen. A candidate for election to the House of
Representatives must be twenty-five years old, must have been seven
years a citizen of the United States, and must be an inhabitant of the
state in which he is chosen.

[Sidenote: The three fifths compromise.]
As the Federal Congress is a taxing body, representatives and direct
taxes are apportioned among the several states according to the same
rule, that is, according to population. At this point a difficulty
arose in the Convention as to whether slaves should be counted as
population. If they were to be counted, the relative weight of the
slave states in all matters of national legislation would be much
increased. The northern states thought, with reason, that it would
be unduly increased. The difficulty was adjusted by a compromise
according to which five slaves were to be reckoned as three persons.
Since the abolition of slavery this provision has become obsolete, but
until 1860 it was a very important factor in American history.[7]

In the federal House of Representatives the great states of course
have much more weight than the small states. In 1790 the four largest
states had 32 representatives, while the other nine had only 33. The
largest state, Virginia, had 10 representatives to 1 from Delaware.
These disparities have increased. In 1880, out of thirty-eight states
the nine largest had a majority of the house, and the largest state,
New York, had 34 representatives to 1 from Delaware.

[Footnote 7: See my _Critical Period_, pp. 257-262.]

[Sidenote: The Connecticut compromise]
This feature of the House of Representatives caused
the smaller states in the Convention to oppose the whole scheme of
constructing a new government. They were determined that great and
small states should have equal weight in Congress. Their steadfast
opposition threatened to ruin everything, when fortunately a method
of compromise was discovered. It was intended that the national
legislature, in imitation of the state legislatures, should have an
upper house or senate; and at first the advocates of a strong national
government proposed that the senate also should represent population,
thus differing from the lower house only in the way in which we have
seen that it generally differed in the several states. But it happened
that in the state of Connecticut the custom was peculiar. There it
had always been the custom to elect the governor and upper house by a
majority vote of the whole people, while for each township there was
an equality of representation In the lower house. The Connecticut
delegates in the Convention, therefore, being familiar with a
legislature in which the two houses were composed on different
principles, suggested a compromise. Let the House of Representatives,
they said, represent the people, and let the Senate represent the
states; let all the states, great and small, be represented equally
in the federal Senate. Such was the famous "Connecticut Compromise."
Without it the Convention would probably have broken up without
accomplishing anything. When it was adopted, half the work of making
the new government was done, for the small states, having had their
fears thus allayed by the assurance that they were to be equally
represented in the Senate, no longer opposed the work but cooperated
in it most zealously.

[Sidenote: The Senate]
Thus it came to pass that the upper house of our national legislature
is composed of two senators from each state. As they represent the
state, they are chosen by its legislature and not by the people; but
when they have taken their seats in the senate they do not vote
by states, like the delegates in the Continental Congress. On the
contrary each senator has one vote, and the two senators from the same
state may, and often do, vote on opposite sides.

In accordance with the notion that an upper house should be somewhat
less democratic than a lower house, the term of office for senators
was made longer than for representatives. The tendency is to make the
Senate respond more slowly to changes in popular sentiment, and
this is often an advantage. Popular opinion is often very wrong at
particular moments, but with time it is apt to correct its mistakes.
We are usually in more danger of suffering from hasty legislation than
from tardy legislation. Senators are chosen for a term of six years,
and one third of the number of terms expire every second year, so
that, while the whole Senate may be renewed by the lapse of six years,
there is never a "new Senate." The Senate has thus a continuous
existence and a permanent organization; whereas each House of
Representatives expires at the end of its two years' term, and is
succeeded by a "new House," which requires to be organized by electing
its officers, etc., before proceeding to business. A candidate for the
senatorship must have reached the age of thirty, must have been nine
years a citizen of the United States, and must be an inhabitant of the
state which he represents.

The constitution leaves the times, places, and manner of holding
elections for senators and representatives to be prescribed in each
state by its own legislature; but it gives to Congress the power to
alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing senators.

Here we see a vestige of the original theory according to which the
Senate was to be peculiarly the home of state rights.

[Sidenote: Electoral districts.]
[Sidenote: "Gerrymandering."]
In the composition of the House of Representatives the state
legislatures play a very important part. For the purposes of the
election a state is divided into districts corresponding to the number
of representatives the state is entitled to send to Congress. These
electoral districts are marked out by the legislature, and the division
is apt to be made by the preponderating party with an unfairness that is
at once shameful and ridiculous. The aim, of course, is so to lay out
the districts as to secure in the greatest possible number of them a
majority for the party which conducts the operation. This is done
sometimes by throwing the greatest possible number of hostile voters
into a district which is anyhow certain to be hostile, sometimes by
adding to a district where parties are equally divided some place in
which the majority of friendly voters is sufficient to turn the scale.
There is a district in Mississippi (the so-called Shoe String district)
250 miles long by 30 broad, and another in Pennsylvania resembling a
dumb-bell.... In Missouri a district has been contrived longer, if
measured along its windings, than the state itself, into which as large
a number as possible of the negro voters have been thrown.[8] This
trick is called "gerrymandering," from Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts,
who was vice-president of the United States from 1813 to 1817. It seems
to have been first devised in 1788 by the enemies of the Federal
Constitution in Virginia, in order to prevent the election of James
Madison to the first Congress, and fortunately it was unsuccessful.[9]
It was introduced some years afterward into Massachusetts. In 1812,
while Gerry was governor of that state, the Republican legislature
redistributed the districts in such wise that the shapes of the towns
forming a single district in Essex county gave to the district a
somewhat dragon-like contour. This was indicated upon a map of
Massachusetts which Benjamin Russell, an ardent Federalist and editor of
the "Centinel," hung up over the desk in his office. The celebrated
painter, Gilbert Stuart, coming into the office one day and observing
the uncouth figure, added with his pencil a head, wings, and claws, and
exclaimed, "That will do for a salamander!" "Better say a Gerrymander!"
growled the editor; and the outlandish, name, thus duly coined, soon
came into general currency.


[Footnote 8: Tyler's _Patrick Henry_, p. 313.]

[Footnote 9: _Winsor's Memorial History of Boston_, vol. iii. p. 212;
see also Bryce, _loc. cit_. The word is sometimes incorrectly pronounced
"jerrymander." Mr. Winsor observes that the back line of the creature's
body forms a profile caricature of Gerry's face, with the nose at

[Sidenote: The election their at large.]
When after an increase in its number of representatives the state has
failed to redistribute its districts, the additional member or members
are voted for upon a general state ticket, and are called
"representatives at large." In Maine, where the census of 1880 had
_reduced_ the number of representatives and there was some delay in the
redistribution, Congress allowed the State in 1882 to elect all its
representatives upon a general ticket. The advantage of the district
system is that the candidates are likely to be better known by
neighbours, but the election at large is perhaps more likely to secure
able men.[10] It is the American custom to nominate only residents of the
district as candidates for the House of Representatives. A citizen of
Albany, for example, would not be nominated for the district in which
Buffalo is situated. In the British practice, on the other hand, if an
eminent man cannot get a nomination in his own county or borough, there
is nothing to prevent his standing for any other county or borough. This
system seems more favourable to the independence of the legislator than
our system. Some of its advantages are obtained by the election at

[Footnote 10: The difference is similar to the difference between the
French _scrutin d'arrondissement_ and _scrutin de liste_.]

[Sidenote: Time of assembling.]
Congress must assemble at least once in every year, and the constitution
appoints the first Monday in December for the time of meeting; but
Congress can, if worth while, enact a law changing the time. The
established custom is to hold the election for representatives upon the
same day as the election for president, the Tuesday after the first
Monday in November. As the period of the new administration does not
begin until the fourth day of the following March, the new House of
Representatives does not assemble until the December following that
date, unless the new president should at some earlier moment summon an
extra session of Congress. It thus happens that ordinarily the
representatives of the nation do not meet for more than a year after
their election; and as their business is at least to give legislative
expression to the popular opinion which elected them, the delay is in
this instance regarded by many persons as inconvenient and injudicious.

Each house is judge of the elections, qualifications, and returns of its
own members; determines its own rules of procedure, and may punish its
members for disorderly behaviour, or by a two thirds vote expel a
member. Absent members may be compelled under penalties to attend. Each
house is required to keep a journal of its proceedings and at proper
intervals to publish it, except such parts as for reasons of public
policy had better be kept secret. At the request of one fifth of the
members present, the yeas and nays must be entered on the journal.
During the session of Congress neither house may, without consent of the
other, adjourn for more than three days, or to any other place than that
in which Congress is sitting.

[Sidenote: Privileges of members.]
Senators and representatives receive a salary fixed by law, and as they
are federal functionaries they are paid from the federal treasury. In
all cases, except treason or felony or breach of the peace, they are
privileged from arrest during their attendance in Congress, as also
while on their way to it and while returning home; "and for any speech
or debate in either house they shall not be questioned in any other
place." These provisions are reminiscences of the evil days when the
king strove to interfere, by fair means or foul, with free speech in
parliament; and they are important enough to be incorporated in the
supreme law of the land. No person can at the same time hold any civil
office under the United States government and be a member of either
house of Congress.

[Sidenote: The Speaker.]
The vice-president is the presiding officer of the Senate, with power
to vote only in case of a tie. The House of Representatives elects its
presiding officer, who is called the Speaker. In the early history of
the House of Commons, its presiding officer was naturally enough its
_spokesman_. He could speak for it in addressing the crown. Henry
of Keighley thus addressed the crown in 1301, and there were other
instances during that century, until in 1376 the title of Speaker was
definitely given to Sir Thomas Hungerford, and from that date the list
is unbroken. The title was given to the presiding officers of the
American colonial assemblies, and thence it passed on to the state and
federal legislatures. The Speaker presides over the debates, puts the
question, and decides points of order. He also appoints the committees
of the House of Representatives, and as the initiatory work in our
legislation is now so largely done by the committees, this makes him
the most powerful officer of the government except the President.

[Sidenote: Impeachment in England]
The provisions for impeachment of public officers are copied from the
custom in England. Since the fourteenth century the House of Commons
has occasionally exercised the power of impeaching the king's
ministers and other high public officers, and although the power was
not used during the sixteenth century it was afterward revived and
conclusively established. In 1701 it was enacted that the royal pardon
could not be pleaded against an impeachment, and this act finally secured
the responsibility of the king's ministers to Parliament. An impeachment
is a kind of accusation or indictment brought against a public officer
by the House of Commons. The court in which the case is tried is the House
of Lords, and the ordinary rules of judicial procedure are followed.
The regular president of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor, who
is the highest judicial officer in the kingdom. A simple majority vote
secures conviction, and then it is left for the House of Commons to
say whether judgment shall be pronounced or not.

[Sidenote: Impeachment in the United States.]
In the United States the House of Representatives has the sole
power of impeachment, and the Senate has the sole power to try all
impeachments. When the president of the United States is tried,
the chief-justice must preside. As a precaution against the use of
impeachment for party purposes, a two thirds vote is required for
conviction; and this precaution proved effectual (fortunately, as most
persons now admit) in the famous case of President Johnson in 1868. In
case of conviction the judgment cannot extend further than "to removal
from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of
honour, trust, or profit under the United States;" but the person
convicted is liable afterward to be tried and punished by the ordinary
process of law.

[Sidenote: Veto power of the president]
The provisions of the Constitution for legislation are admirably
simple. All bills for raising revenue must originate in the lower
house, but the upper house may propose or concur with amendments, as
on other bills. This provision was inherited from Parliament, through
the colonial legislatures. After a bill has passed both houses it must
be sent to the president for approval. If he approves it, he signs
it; if not, he returns it to the house in which it originated, with
a written statement of his objections, and this statement must be
entered in full upon the journal of the house. The bill is then
reconsidered, and if it obtains a two thirds vote, it is sent,
together with the objections, to the other house. If it there
likewise obtains a two thirds vote, it becomes a law, in spite of the
objections. Otherwise it fails. If the president keeps a bill longer
than ten days (Sundays excepted) without signing it, it becomes a law
without his signature; unless Congress adjourns before the expiration
of the ten days, in which case it fails to become a law, just as if
it had been vetoed. This method of vetoing a bill just before the
expiration of a Congress, by keeping it in one's pocket, so to speak,
was dubbed a "pocket veto," and was first employed by President
Jackson in 1829. The president's veto power is a qualified form of
that which formerly belonged to the English sovereign but has now, as
already observed, become practically obsolete. As a means of guarding
the country against unwise legislation, it has proved to be one of the
most valuable features of our Federal Constitution. In bad hands it
cannot do much harm, it can only delay for a short time a needed law.
But when properly used it can save the country from, laws that if once
enacted would sow seeds of disaster very hard to eradicate; and it has
repeatedly done so. A single man will often act intelligently where
a group of men act foolishly, and, as already observed, he is apt to
have a keener sense of responsibility.


What is to be said with regard to the following topics?

1. The House of Representatives:--

  a. Its relation to the people.
  b. The term of service.
  c. Qualifications of those who may vote for representatives.
  d. Qualifications for membership.
  e. The three fifths compromise.

2. The Connecticut Compromise.

  a. The powers of the different states in the House.
  b. Opposition to the scheme of a new government.
  c. What the advocates of a strong government wanted the Senate to
  d. A peculiar Connecticut system.
  e. The suggestion of the Connecticut delegates.
  f. The effect of the compromise.

3. The Senate:--

  a. The number of senators.
  b. The method of electing senators.
  c. The voting of senators.
  d. The term of service.
  e. The maintenance of a continuous existence.
  f. A comparison with the House in respect to nearness to the people.
  g. Qualifications for membership.

4. Elections for senators and representatives:--

  a. Times, places, and manner of holding elections.
  b. The power of Congress over state regulations.
  c. Electoral districts.
  d. The temptation to unfairness in laying out electoral districts.
  e. Illustrations of unfair divisions.
  f. "Gerrymandering."
  g. Representatives at large.
  h. The advantage of the district system.
  i. The British system and its advantage.

5. The assembling of Congress:--

  a. The time of assembling.
  b. The interval between a member's election and the beginning of his
  c. The disadvantage of this long interval.

6. What is the duty of each house in respect (1) to its membership,
(2) its rules, (3) its records, and (4) its adjournment.

7. Give an account (1) of the pay of a congressman, (2) of his freedom
from arrest, (3) of his responsibility for words spoken in debate, and
(4) of his right to hold other office.

8. Tell (1) who preside in Congress, (2) how the name _speaker_
originated, (3) what the speaker's duties are, and (4) what his power
in the government is.

9. Impeachment of public officers:--

  a. Old English usage.
  b. The conduct of an impeachment trial in England.
  c. The conduct of an impeachment trial in the United States.
  d. The penalty in case of conviction.

10. The provisions of the Constitution for legislation:--

  a. Bills for raising revenue.
  b. How a bill becomes a law.
  c. The president's veto power.
  d. Passage of a bill over the president's veto.
  e. The "pocket veto."
  f. The veto power in England.
  g. The value of the veto power.

Section 3. _The Federal Executive._

[Sidenote: The title of "President."]
In signing or vetoing bills passed by Congress the president shares in
legislation, and is virtually a third house. In his other capacities
he is the chief executive officer of the Federal Union; and inasmuch
as he appoints the other great executive officers, he is really the
head of the executive department, not--like the governor of a state--a
mere member of it. His title of "President" is probably an inheritance
from the presidents of the Continental Congress. In Franklin's plan
of union, in 1754, the head of the executive department was called
"Governor General," but that title had an unpleasant sound to American
ears. Our great-grandfathers liked "president" better, somewhat as the
Romans, in the eighth century of their city, preferred "imperator" to
"rex." Then, as it served to distinguish widely between the head of
the Union and the heads of the states, it soon fell into disuse in the
state governments, and thus "president" has come to be a much grander
title than "governor," just as "emperor" has come to be a grander
title than "king." [11]

[Footnote 11: See above p. 163.]

[Sidenote: The electoral college.]
There was no question which perplexed the Federal Convention more than
the question as to the best method of electing the president. There
was a general distrust of popular election for an office so exalted.
At one time the Convention decided to have the president elected by
Congress, but there was a grave objection to this; it would be likely
to destroy his independence, and make him the tool of Congress.
Finally the device of an electoral college was adopted. Each state
is entitled to a number of electors equal to the number of its
representatives in Congress, _plus_ two, the number of its
senators. Thus to-day Delaware, with 1 representative, has 3 electors;
Missouri, with 14 representatives, has 16 electors; New York, with
34 representatives, has 36 electors. No federal senator or
representative, or any person holding civil office under the United
States, can serve as an elector. Each state may appoint or choose its
electors in such manner as it sees fit; at first they were more often
than otherwise chosen by the legislatures, now they are always elected
by the people. The day of election must be the same in all the states.

By an act of Congress passed in 1792 it is required to be within 34 days
preceding the first Wednesday in December. A subsequent act in 1845
appointed the Tuesday following the first Monday in November as election

By the act of 1792 the electors chosen in each state are required to
assemble on the first Wednesday in December at some place in the state
which is designated by the legislature. Before this date the governor of
the state must cause a certified list of the names of the electors to be
made out in triplicate and delivered to the electors. Having met
together they vote for president and vice-president, make out a sealed
certificate of their vote in triplicate, and attach to each copy a copy
of the certified list of their names. One copy must be delivered by a
messenger to the president of the Senate at the federal capital before
the first Wednesday in January; the second is sent to the same officer
through the mail; the third is to be deposited with the federal judge of
the district in which the electors meet. If by the first Wednesday in
January the certificate has not been received at the federal capital,
the secretary of state is to send a messenger to the district judge and
obtain the copy deposited with him. The interval of a month was allowed
to get the returns in, for those were not the days of railroad and
telegraph. The messengers were allowed twenty-five cents a mile, and
were subject to a fine of a thousand dollars for neglect of duty. On the
second Wednesday in February, Congress is required to be in session, and
the votes received are counted and the result declared.[12]

[Footnote 12: See note on p. 278.]

[Sidenote: The twelfth amendment (1804).]
At first the electoral votes did not state whether the candidates named
in them were candidates for the presidency or for the vice-presidency.
Each elector simply wrote down two names, only one of which could be the
name of a citizen of his own state. In the official count the candidate
who had the largest number of votes, provided they were a majority of
the whole number, was declared president, and the candidate who had the
next to the largest number was declared vice-president. The natural
result of this was seen in the first contested election in 1796, which
made Adams president, and his antagonist vice-president. In the next
election in 1800 it gave to Jefferson and his colleague Burr exactly the
same number of votes. In such a case the House of Representatives must
elect, and such intrigues followed for the purpose of defeating
Jefferson that the country was brought to the verge of civil war. It
thus became necessary to change the method. By the twelfth amendment to
the constitution, declared in force in 1804, the present method was
adopted. The electors make separate ballots for president and for
vice-president. In the official count the votes for president are first
inspected. If no candidate has a majority, then the House of
Representatives must immediately choose the president from the three
names highest on the list. In this choice the house votes by states,
each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose must consist of at
least one member from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all
the states is necessary for a choice. Then if no candidate for the
vice-presidency has a majority, the Senate makes its choice from the two
names highest on the list; a quorum for the purpose consists of two
thirds of the whole number of senators, and a majority of the whole
number is necessary to a choice. Since this amendment was made there has
been one instance of an election of the president by the House of
Representatives,--that of John Quincy Adams in 1825; and there has been
one instance of an election of the vice-president by the Senate,--that
of Richard Mentor Johnson in 1837.

[Sidenote: The electoral commission (1877).]
One serious difficulty was not yet foreseen and provided for--that of
deciding between two conflicting returns sent in by two hostile sets of
electors in the same state, each list being certified by one of two
rival governors claiming authority in the same state. Such a case
occurred in 1877, when Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina were the
scene of struggles between rival governments. Ballots for Tilden and
ballots for Hayes were sent in at the same time from these states, and
in the absence of any recognized means of determining which ballots to
count, the two parties in Congress submitted the result to arbitration.
An "electoral commission" was created for the occasion, composed of five
senators, five representatives, and five judges of the supreme court;
and this body decided what votes were to be counted. It was a clumsy
expedient, but infinitely preferable to civil war. The question of
conflicting returns has at length been set at rest by the act of 1887,
which provides that no electoral votes can be rejected in counting
except by the concurrent action of the two houses of Congress.

[Sidenote: Presidential succession.]
The devolution of the presidential office in case of the president's
death has also been made the subject of legislative change and
amendment. The office of vice-president was created chiefly for the
purpose of meeting such an emergency. Upon the accession of the
vice-president to the presidency, the Senate would proceed to elect its
own president _pro tempore_. An act of 1791 provided that in case of the
death, resignation or disability of both president and vice-president,
the succession should devolve first upon the president _pro tempore_ of
the Senate and then upon the speaker of the House of Representatives,
until the disability should be removed or a new election be held. But
supposing a newly elected president to die and be succeeded by the
vice-president before the assembling of the newly elected Congress; then
there would be no president _pro tempore_ of the Senate and no speaker
of the House of Representatives, and thus the death of one person might
cause the presidency to lapse. Moreover the presiding officers of the
two houses of Congress might be members of the party defeated in the
last presidential election; indeed, this is often the case. Sound policy
and fair dealing require that a victorious party shall not be turned out
because of the death of the president and vice-president. Accordingly an
act of 1886 provided that in such an event the succession should devolve
upon the members of the cabinet in the following order: secretary of
state, secretary of the treasury, secretary of war, attorney-general,
postmaster-general, secretary of the navy, secretary of the interior.
This would seem to be ample provision against a lapse.

[Sidenote: Original purpose of the electoral college not fulfilled.]
To return to the electoral college: it was devised as a safeguard
against popular excitement. It was supposed that the electors in their
December meeting would calmly discuss the merits of the ablest men in
the country and make an intelligent selection for the presidency. The
electors were to use their own judgment, and it was not necessary
that all the electors chosen in one state should vote for the same
candidate. The people on election day were not supposed to be voting
for a president but for presidential electors. This theory was never
realized. The two elections of Washington, in 1788 and 1792, were
unanimous. In the second contested election, that of 1800, the
electors simply registered the result of the popular vote, and it has
been so ever since. Immediately after the popular election, a whole
month before the meeting of the electoral college, we know who is to
be the next president. There is no law to prevent an elector from
voting for a different pair of candidates from those at the head of
the party ticket, but the custom has become as binding as a statute.
The elector is chosen to vote for specified candidates, and he must do

[Sidenote: Electors formerly chosen in many states by districts; now
usually on a general ticket.]
On the other hand, it was not until long after 1800 that all the
electoral votes of the same state were necessarily given to the same
pair of candidates. It was customary in many states to choose the
electors by districts. A state entitled to ten electors would choose
eight of them in its eight congressional districts, and there were
various ways of choosing the other two. In some of the districts one
party would have a majority, in others the other, and so the electoral
vote of the state would be divided between two pairs of candidates.
After 1830 it became customary to choose the electors upon a general
ticket, and thus the electoral vote became solid in each state.[13]

[Footnote 13: In 1860 the vote of New Jersey was divided between Lincoln
and Douglas, but that was because the names of three of
the seven Douglas electors were upon two different tickets, and
thus got a majority of votes while the other four fell short. In
1892 the state of Michigan chose its electors by districts.]

[Sidenote: Minority presidents.]
[Sidenote: Advantages of the electoral system.]
This system, of course, increases the chances of electing presidents who
have received a minority of the popular vote. A candidate may carry one
state by an immense majority and thus gain 6 or 8 electoral votes; he
may come within a few hundred of carrying another state and thus lose 36
electoral votes. Or a small third party may divert some thousands of
votes from the principal candidate without affecting the electoral vote
of the state. Since Washington's second term we have had twenty-three
contested elections,[14] and in nine of these the elected president has
failed to receive a majority of the popular vote; Adams in 1824 (elected
by the House of Representatives), Polk in 1844, Taylor in 1848, Buchanan
in 1856, Lincoln in 1860, Hayes in 1876, Garfield in 1880, Cleveland in
1884, Harrison in 1888. This has suggested more or less vague
speculation as to the advisableness of changing the method of electing
the president. It has been suggested that it would be well to abolish
the electoral college, and resort to a direct popular vote, without
reference to state lines. Such a method would be open to one serious
objection. In a closely contested election on the present method the
result may remain doubtful for three or four days, while a narrow
majority of a few hundred votes in some great state is being ascertained
by careful counting. It was so in 1884. This period of doubt is sure to
be a period of intense and dangerous excitement. In an election without
reference to states, the result would more often be doubtful, and it
would be sometimes necessary to count every vote in every little
out-of-the-way corner of the country before the question could be
settled. The occasions for dispute would be multiplied a hundred fold,
with most demoralizing effect. Our present method is doubtless clumsy,
but the solidity of the electoral colleges is a safeguard, and as all
parties understand the system it is in the long run as fair for one as
for another.

[Footnote 14: All have been contested, except Monroe's re-election in
1820, when there was no opposing candidate.]

[Sidenote: Nomination of candidates by congressional caucus
The Constitution says nothing about the method of nominating candidates
for the presidency, neither has it been made the subject of legislation.
It has been determined by convenience. It was not necessary to nominate
Washington, and the candidacies of Adams and Jefferson were also matters
of general understanding. In 1800 the Republican and Federalist members
of Congress respectively held secret meetings or caucuses, chiefly for
the purpose of agreeing upon candidates for the vice-presidency and
making some plans for the canvass. It became customary to nominate
candidates in such congressional caucuses, but there was much hostile
comment upon the system as undemocratic. Sometimes the "favourite son"
of a state was nominated by the legislature, but as the means of travel
improved, the nominating convention came to be preferred. In 1824 there
were four candidates for the presidency,--Adams, Jackson, Clay, and
Crawford. Adams was nominated by the legislatures of most of the New
England states; Clay by the legislature of Kentucky, followed by the
legislatures of Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, and Louisiana; Crawford by the
legislature of Virginia; and Jackson by a mass convention of the people
of Blount County in Tennessee, followed by local conventions in many
other states. The congressional caucus met and nominated Crawford, but
this endorsement did not help him,[15] and this method was no longer
tried. In 1832 for the first time the candidates were all nominated in
national conventions.

[Footnote 15: Stanwood, _History of Presidential Elections_, pp.

[Sidenote: Nomination conventions.]
[Sidenote: The "primary."]
These conventions, as fully developed, are representative bodies
chosen for the specific purpose of nominating candidates and making
those declarations of principle and policy known as "platforms." Each
state is allowed twice as many delegates as it has electoral votes.
The delegates are chosen by local conventions in their several
states, viz., two for each congressional district by the party
convention of that district, and four for the whole state (called
delegates-at-large) by the state convention. As each convention is
composed of delegates from primaries, it is the composition of the
primaries which determines that of the local conventions, and it is
the composition of the local conventions which determines that of the
national.[16] The "primary" is the smallest nominating convention. It
stands in somewhat the same relation to the national convention as the
relation of a township or ward to the whole United States. A primary
is a little caucus of all the voters of one party who live within the
bounds of the township or ward. It differs in composition from the
town-meeting in that all its members belong to one party. It has two
duties: one is to nominate candidates for the local offices of the
township or ward; the other is to choose delegates to the county or
district convention. The primary, as its name indicates, is a primary
and not a representative assembly. The party voters in a township or
ward are usually not too numerous to meet together, and all ought to
attend such meetings, though in practice too many people stay away. By
the representative system, through various grades of convention, the
wishes and character of these countless little primaries are at
length expressed in the wishes and character of the national party
convention, and candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency are

[Footnote 16: Bryce, _American Commonwealth_, vol. ii. p. 145; see
also p. 52.]

[Sidenote: Qualifications for the presidency.]
The qualifications for the two offices are of course the same.
Foreign-born citizens are not eligible, though this restriction did
not include such as were citizens of the United States at the time
when the Constitution was adopted. The candidate must have reached the
age of thirty-five, and must have been fourteen years a resident of
the United States.

[Sidenote: The term of office]
The president's term of office is four years. The Constitution says
nothing about his re-election, and there is no written law to prevent
his being re-elected a dozen times. But Washington, after serving two
terms, refused to accept the office a third time. Jefferson in 1808
was "earnestly besought by many and influential bodies of citizens to
become a candidate for a third term;" [17] and had he consented there
is scarcely a doubt that he would have been elected. His refusal
established a custom which has never been infringed, though there were
persons in 1876 and again in 1880 who wished to secure a third term
for Grant.

[Footnote 17: Morse's _Jefferson_, p. 318.]

[Sidenote: Powers and duties of the President]
The president is commander-in-chief of the military and naval forces
of the United States, and of the militia of the several states when
actually engaged in the service of the United States; and he has the
royal prerogative of granting reprieves and pardons for offences
against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.[18]

[Footnote 18: See above, p. 221.]

He can make treaties with foreign powers, but they must be confirmed
by a two thirds vote of the Senate. He appoints ministers to foreign
countries, consuls, and the greater federal officers, such as the
heads of executive departments and judges of the Supreme Court, and
all these appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. He
also appoints a vast number of inferior officers, such as postmasters
and revenue collectors, without the participation of the Senate. When
vacancies occur during the recess of the Senate, he may fill them by
granting commissions to expire at the end of the next session. He
commissions all federal officers. He receives foreign ministers. He
may summon either or both houses of Congress to an extra session, and
if the two houses disagree with regard to the time of adjournment, he
may adjourn them to such time as he thinks best, but of course not
beyond the day fixed for the beginning of the next regular session.

[Sidenote: The President's message.]
The president must from time to time make a report to Congress on the
state of affairs in the country and suggest such a line of policy or
such special measures as may seem good to him. This report has taken
the form of an annual written message. Washington and Adams began
their administrations by addressing Congress in a speech, to which
Congress replied; but it suited the opposite party to discover in this
an imitation of the British practice of opening Parliament with
a speech from the sovereign. It was accordingly stigmatized as
"monarchical," and Jefferson (though without formally alleging any
such reason) set the example, which has been followed ever since,
of addressing Congress in a written message.[19] Besides this annual
message, the president may at any time send in a special message
relating to matters which in his opinion require immediate attention.

[Footnote 19: Jefferson, moreover, was a powerful writer and a poor

The effectiveness of a president's message depends of course on the
character of the president and the general features of the political
situation. That separation between the executive and legislative
departments, which is one of the most distinctive features of civil
government in the United States, tends to prevent the development of
leadership. An English prime minister's policy, so long as he remains
in office, must be that of the House of Commons; power and responsibility
are concentrated. An able president may virtually direct the policy of
his party in Congress, but he often has a majority against him in one
house and sometimes in both at once. Thus in dividing power we divide
and weaken responsibility. To this point I have already alluded as
illustrated in our state governments.[20]

[Footnote 20: The English method, however, would probably not work
well in this country, and might prove to be a source of great and
complicated dangers. See above, p. 169.]

[Sidenote: Executive departments]
[Sidenote: The cabinet]
The Constitution made no specific provisions for the creation of
executive departments, but left the matter to Congress. At the
beginning of Washington's administration three secretaryships were
created,--those of state, treasury, and war; and an attorney-general
was appointed. Afterward the department of the navy was separated
from that of war, the postmaster-general was made a member of the
administration, and as lately as 1849 the department of the interior
was organized. The heads of these departments are the president's
advisers, but they have as a body no recognized legal existence or
authority. They hold their meetings in a room at the president's
executive mansion, the White House, but no record is kept of their
proceedings and the president is not bound to heed their advice. This
body has always been called the "Cabinet," after the English usage. It
is like the English cabinet in being composed of heads of executive
departments and in being, as a body, unknown to the law; in other
respects the difference is very great. The English cabinet is the
executive committee of the House of Commons, and exercises a guiding
and directing influence upon legislation. The position of the president is
not at all like that of the prime minister; it is more like that of
the English sovereign, though the latter has not nearly so much power
as the president; and the American cabinet in some respects resembles
the English privy council, though it cannot make ordinances.

[Sidenote: The secretary of state.]
The secretary of state ranks first among our cabinet officers. He is
often called our prime minister or "premier," but there could not be
a more absurd use of language. In order to make an American personage
corresponding to the English prime minister we must first go to the
House of Representatives, take its committee of ways and means and
its committee on appropriations, and unite them into one committee of
finance; then we must take the chairman of this committee, give him
the power of dissolving the House and ordering a new election, and
make him master of all the executive departments, while at the
same time we strip from the president all real control over the
administration. This exalted finance-chairman would be much like the
First Lord of the Treasury, commonly called the prime minister. This
illustration shows how wide the divergence has become between our
system and that of Great Britain.

Our secretary of state is our minister of foreign affairs, and is the
only officer who is authorized to communicate with other governments in
the name of the president. He is at the head of the diplomatic and
consular service, issuing the instructions to our ministers abroad, and
he takes a leading part in the negotiation of treaties. To these
ministerial duties he adds some that are more characteristic of his
title of secretary. He keeps the national archives, and superintends the
publication of laws, treaties, and proclamations; and he is the keeper
of the great seal of the United States.

[Sidenote: Diplomatic and consular service.]
Our foreign relations are cared for in foreign countries by two distinct
classes of officials: ministers and consuls. The former represent the
United States government in a diplomatic capacity; the latter have
nothing to do with diplomacy or politics, but look after our commercial
interests in foreign countries. Consuls exercise a protective care over
seamen, and perform various duties for Americans abroad. They can take
testimony and administer estates. In some non-Christian countries, such
as China, Japan, and Turkey, they have jurisdiction over criminal cases
in which Americans are concerned. Formerly our ministers abroad were of
only three grades: (1) "envoys extraordinary and ministers
plenipotentiary;" (2) "ministers resident;" (3) _chargés d'affaires_.
The first two are accredited by the president to the head of government
of the countries to which they are sent; the third are accredited by the
secretary of state to the minister of foreign affairs in the countries
to which they are sent. We still retain these grades, which correspond
to the lower grades of the diplomatic service in European countries.
Until lately we had no highest grade answering to that of "ambassador,"
perhaps because when our diplomatic service was organized the United
States did not yet rank among first-rate powers, and could not expect to
receive ambassadors. Great powers, like France and Germany, send
ambassadors to each other, and envoys to inferior powers, like Denmark
or Greece or Guatemala. When we send envoys to the great powers, we rank
ourselves along with inferior powers; and diplomatic etiquette as a rule
obliges the great powers to send to us the same grade of minister that
we send to them. There were found to be some practical inconveniences
about this, so that in 1892 the highest grade was adopted and our
ministers to Great Britain and France were made ambassadors.

[Sidenote: The secretary of the treasury.]
The cabinet officer second in rank and in some respects first in
importance is the secretary of the treasury. He conducts the financial
business of the government, superintends the collection of revenue,
and gives warrants for the payment of moneys from the treasury. He
also superintends the coinage, the national banks, the custom-houses,
the coast-survey and lighthouse system, the marine hospitals, and
life-saving service.[21] He sends reports to Congress, and suggests
such measures as seem good to him. Since the Civil War his most
weighty business has been the management of the national debt. He
is aided by two assistant secretaries, six auditors, a register, a
comptroller, a solicitor, a director of the mint, commissioner of
internal revenue, chiefs of the bureau of statistics and bureau of
engraving and printing, etc. The business of the treasury department
is enormous, and no part of our government has been more faithfully
administered. Since 1789 the treasury has disbursed more than seven
billions of dollars without one serious defalcation. No man directly
interested in trade or commerce can be appointed secretary of the
treasury, and the department has almost always been managed by "men of
small incomes bred either to politics or the legal profession." [22]

[Footnote 21: Many of these details concerning the executive
departments are admirably summarized, and with more fullness
than comports with the design of the present work, in Thorpe's
_Government of the People of the United States_, pp. 183-193.]

[Footnote 22: Schouler, _Hist. of the U.S._, vol. i. p. 95.]

[Sidenote: War and navy.]
The war and navy departments need no special description here. The
former is divided into ten and the latter into eight bureaus.
The naval department, among many duties, has charge of the naval
observatory at Washington and publishes the nautical almanac.

[Sidenote: Interior.]
The department of the interior conducts a vast and various business,
as is shown by the designations of its eight bureaus, which deal with
public lands, Indian affairs, pensions, patents, education (chiefly in
the way of gathering statistics and reporting upon school affairs),
agriculture, public documents, and the census. In 1889 the bureau of
agriculture was organized as a separate department. The weather bureau
forms a branch of the department of agriculture.

[Sidenote: Postmaster-general and attorney-general.]
The departments of the postmaster-general and attorney-general need
no special description. The latter was organized in 1870 into the
department of justice. The attorney-general is the president's legal
adviser, and represents the United States in all law-suits to which
the United States is a party. He is aided by a solicitor-general and
other subordinate offices.


1. Speak (1) of the president's share in legislation; (2) of his
relation to the executive department, and (3) of the origin
of his title.

2. The electoral college:--

  a. The method of electing the president a perplexing question.
  b. The constitution of the electoral college, with illustrations.
  c. Qualifications for serving as an elector.
  d. The method of choosing electors.
  e. The time of choosing electors.
  f. When and where the electors vote.
  g. The number and disposition of the certificates of their
  h. The declaration of the result.

3. What was the method of voting in the electoral college before
1804? Illustrate the working of this method in 1796 and 1800.

4. The amendment of 1804:--

  a. The ballots of the electors.
  b. The duty of the House if no candidate for the presidency
     receives a majority of the electoral votes.
  c. The duty of the Senate if no candidate for the vice-presidency
     receives a majority of the electoral votes.
  d. Illustrations of the working of this amendment in 1825
     and 1837.

5. The electoral commission of 1877:--

  a. A difficulty not foreseen.
  b. Conflicting returns in 1877.
  c. The plan of arbitration adopted.

6. The presidential succession:--

  a. The office of vice-president.
  b. The act of 1791.
  c. The possibility of a lapse of the presidency.
  d. The possibility of an unfair political overthrow.
  e. The act of 1886.

7. Compare the original purpose of the electoral college with
the fulfillment of that purpose.

8. Explain the transition from a divided electoral vote in a state
to a solid electoral vote.

9. Show how a minority of the people may elect a president.
Who have been elected by minorities?

10. What is the advantage of the electoral system over a direct
popular vote?

11. Methods of nominating candidates for the presidency and
vice-presidency before 1832:--

  a. The absence of constitutional and legislative requirements.

  b. Presidents not nominated.
  c. Nominations by congressional caucuses.
  d. Nominations by state legislatures.
  e. Nominations by local conventions.

12. Nominations by national conventions in 1832 and since:--

  a. The nature of a national convention.
  b. The platform.
  c. The number of delegates from a state, and their election.
  d. The relation of the "primaries" to district, state, and
     national conventions.
  e. The nature of the primary.
  f. Its two duties.
  g. The duty of the voter to attend the primaries.

13. The presidency:--
  a. Qualifications for the office.
  b. The term of office.

14. Powers and duties of the president:--
  a. As a commander-in-chief.
  b. In respect to reprieves and pardons.
  c. In respect to treaties with foreign powers.
  d. In respect to the appointment of federal officers.
  e. In respect to summoning and adjourning Congress.
  f. In respect to reporting the state of affairs in the country
       to Congress.

15. The president's message:--
  a. The course of Washington and Adams.
  b. The example of Jefferson.
  c. The effectiveness of the message.
  d. Power and responsibility in the English system.

e. Power and
     responsibility in the American system.

16. Executive departments:--
  a. The departments under Washington.
  b. Later additions to the departments.
  c. The "Cabinet."
  d. The resemblance between the English cabinet and our own.
  e. The difference between the English cabinet and our own.

17. The secretary of state:--
  a. Is he a prime minister?
  b. What would be necessary to make an American personage
     correspond to an English prime minister?
  c. What are the ministerial duties of the secretary of state?
  d. What other duties has he more characteristic of his title?

18. Our diplomatic and consular service:--
  a. The distinction between ministers and consuls.
  b. Three grades of ministers.
  c. The persons to whom the three grades are accredited.
  d. The grade of ambassador.

19. The secretary of the treasury:--
  a. His rank and importance.
  b. His various duties.
  c. His chief assistants.
  d. The administration of the treasury department since 1789.

20. The duties of the remaining cabinet officers:--
  a. Of the secretary of war.
  b. Of the secretary of the navy.
  c. Of the secretary of the interior.
  d. Of the postmaster-general.
  e. Of the attorney-general.

Section 4. _The Nation and the States._

We have left our Federal Convention sitting a good while at
Philadelphia, while we have thus undertaken to give a coherent account
of our national executive organization, which has in great part grown
up since 1789 with the growth of the nation. Observe how wisely the
Constitution confines itself to a clear sketch of fundamentals, and
leaves as much as possible to be developed by circumstances. In this
feature lies partly the flexible strength, the adaptableness, of our
Federal Constitution. That strength lies partly also in the excellent
partition of powers between the federal government and the several

[Sidenote: Difference between confederation and federal union.]
We have already remarked upon the vastness of the functions retained
by the states. At the same time the powers granted to Congress have
proved sufficient to bind the states together into a union that is
more than a mere confederation. From 1776 to 1789 the United States
_were_ a confederation; after 1789 it was a federal nation. The
passage from plural to singular was accomplished, although it took
some people a good while to realize the fact. The German language
has a neat way of distinguishing between a loose confederation and a
federal union. It calls the former a _Staatenbund_ and the latter
a _Bundesstaat_. So in English, if we liked, we might call the
confederation a _Band-of-States_ and the federal union a _Banded-State_.
There are two points especially in our Constitution which transformed
our country from a Band-of-States into a Banded-State.

[Sidenote: Powers granted to Congress.]
The first was the creation of a federal House of Representatives, thus
securing for Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, duties,
imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common
welfare of the United States. Other powers are naturally attached to
this,--such as the power to borrow money on the credit of the United
States; to regulate foreign and domestic commerce; to coin money
and fix the standard of weights and measures; to provide for
the punishment of counterfeiters; to establish post-offices and
post-roads; to issue copyrights and patents; to define and punish
felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of
nations; to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and
make rules concerning captures on land and water; to raise and
support an army and navy, and to make rules for the regulation of
the land and naval forces; to provide for calling out the militia
to suppress insurrections and repel invasions, and to command this
militia while actually employed in the service of the United States.
The several states, however, train their own militia and appoint
the officers. Congress may also establish a uniform rule of
naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies. It
also exercises exclusive control over the District of Columbia,[23]
as the seat of the national government, and over forts, magazines,
arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings, which it erects
within the several states upon land purchased for such purposes with
the consent of the state legislature.

[Footnote 23: Ceded to the United States by Maryland and Virginia.]

[Sidenote: The "Elastic Clause."]
Congress is also empowered "to make all laws which shall be necessary
and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all
other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the
United States, or in any department or office thereof." This may be
called the Elastic Clause of the Constitution; it has undergone a
good deal of stretching for one purpose and another, and, as we shall
presently see, it was a profound disagreement in the interpretation of
this clause that after 1789 divided the American people into two great
political parties.

[Sidenote: Powers denied to the states.]
[Sidenote: Paper currency.]
The national authority of Congress is further sharply defined by the
express denial of sundry powers to the several states. These we have
already enumerated.[24] There was an especial reason for prohibiting
the states from issuing bills of credit, or making anything but gold
and silver coin a tender in payment of debts. During the years 1785
and 1786 a paper money craze ran through the country; most of the
states issued paper notes, and passed laws obliging their citizens to
receive them in payment of debts. Now a paper dollar is not money, it
is only the government's promise to pay a dollar. As long as you can
send it to the treasury and get a gold dollar in exchange, it is worth
a dollar. It is this exchangeableness that makes it worth a dollar.
When government makes the paper dollar note a "legal tender." i.e.,
when it refuses to give you the gold dollar and makes you take its
note instead, the note soon ceases to be worth a dollar. You would
rather have the gold than the note, for the mere fact that government
refuses to give the gold shows that it is in financial difficulties.
So the note's value is sure to fall, and if the government is in
serious difficulty, it falls very far, and as it falls it takes more
of it to buy things. Prices go up. There was a time (1864) during our
Civil War when a paper dollar was worth only forty cents and a barrel
of flour cost $23. But that was nothing to the year 1780, when the
paper dollar issued by the Continental Congress was worth only a mill,
and flour was sold in Boston for $1,575 a barrel! When the different
states tried to make paper money, it made confusion worse confounded,
for the states refused to take each other's money, and this helped to
lower its value. In some states the value of the paper dollar fell in
less than a year to twelve or fifteen cents. At such times there is
always great demoralization and suffering, especially among the poorer
people; and with all the experience of the past to teach us, it may
now be held to be little less than a criminal act for a government,
under any circumstances, to make its paper notes a legal tender. The
excuse for the Continental Congress was that it was not completely a
government and seemed to have no alternative, but there is no doubt
that the paper currency damaged the country much more than the arms of
the enemy by land or sea. The feeling was so strong about it in the
Federal Convention that the prohibition came near being extended to
the national government, but the question was unfortunately left

[Footnote 24: See above, p.175]

[Footnote 25: See my _Critical Period of American History_, pp.
168-186, 273-276.]

[Sidenote: Powers denied to Congress.]
[Sidenote: Bills of attainder.]
Some express prohibitions were laid upon the national government. Duties
may be laid upon imports but not upon exports; this wise restriction was
a special concession to South. Carolina, which feared the effect of an
export duty upon rice and indigo. Duties and excises must be uniform
throughout the country, and no commercial preference can be shown to one
state over another; absolute free trade is the rule between the states.
A census must be taken every ten years in order to adjust the
representation, and no direct tax can be imposed except according to the
census. No money can be drawn from the treasury except "in consequence
of appropriations made by law," and accounts must be regularly kept and
published. The privilege of the writ of _habeas corpus_ cannot be
suspended except "when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public
safety may require it;" and "no bill of attainder, or _ex post facto_
law," can be passed. A bill of attainder is a special legislative act by
which a person may be condemned to death, or to outlawry and banishment,
without the opportunity of defending himself which he would have in a
court of law. "No evidence is necessarily adduced to support it," [26] and
in former times, especially in the reign of Henry VIII., it was a
formidable engine for perpetrating judicial murders. Bills of attainder
long ago ceased to be employed in England, and the process was abolished
by statute in 1870.

[Footnote 26: Taswell-Langmead, _English Constitutional History_,
p. 385.]

[Sidenote: Intercitizenship.]
No title of nobility can be granted by the United States, and no federal
officer can accept a present, office, or title from a foreign state
without the consent of Congress. "No religious test shall ever be
required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the
United States." Full faith and credit must be given in each state to the
public acts and records, and to the judicial proceedings of every other
state; and it is left for Congress to determine the manner in which such
acts and proceedings shall be proved or certified. The citizens of each
state are "entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the
several states." There is mutual extradition of criminals, and, as a
concession to the southern states it was provided that fugitive slaves
should be surrendered to their masters. The United States guarantees to
every state a republican form of government, it protects each state
against invasion; and on application from the legislature of a state, or
from the executive when the legislature cannot be convened, it lends a
hand in suppressing insurrection.

[Sidenote: Mode of making amendments.]
Amendments to the Constitution may at any time be proposed in
pursuance of a two thirds vote in both houses of Congress, or by a
convention called at the request of the legislatures of two thirds of
the states. The amendments are not in force until ratified by three-fourths
of the states, either through their legislatures or through
special conventions, according to the preference of Congress. This
makes it difficult to change the Constitution, as it ought to be; but
it leaves it possible to introduce changes that are very obviously
desirable. The Articles of Confederation could not be amended except
by a unanimous vote of the states; and this made their amendment
almost impossible.

After assuming all debts contracted and engagements made by the United
States before its adoption, the Constitution goes on to declare itself
the supreme law of the land. By it, and by the laws and treaties made
under it, the judges in every state are bound, in spite of anything
contrary in the constitution or laws of any state.


1. In what two features of the Constitution does its strength
largely lie?

2. Distinguish between the United States as a confederation and the
United States as a federal union. How does the German language bring out
the distinction?

3. What was the first important factor in transforming our
country from a Band-of-States to a Banded-State?

4. The powers granted to Congress:--
  a. Over taxes, money, and commerce.
  b. Over postal affairs, and the rights of inventors and authors.
  c. Over certain crimes.
  d. Over war and military matters.
  e. Over naturalization and bankruptcy.
  f. Over the District of Columbia and other places.
  g. The "elastic clause" and its interpretation.

5. The powers denied to the states:--
  a. An enumeration of these powers.
  b. The prohibition of bills of credit, in particular.
  c. The paper money craze of 1785 and 1786.
  d. Paper money as a "legal tender."
  e. The depreciation of paper money during the Civil War.
  f. The depreciation of the Continental currency in 1780.
  g. The demoralization caused by the states making paper money.
  h. The lesson of experience.

6. Prohibitions upon the national government:--
  a. The imposition of duties and taxes.
  b. The payment of money.
  c. The writ of _habeas corpus_.
  d. _Ex post facto_ laws.
  e. Bills of attainder.
  f. Titles and presents.

7. Duties of the states to one another:--
  a. In respect to public acts and records, and judicial proceedings.
  b. In respect to the privileges of citizens.
  c. In respect to fugitives from justice.

8. What is the duty of the United States to every state in
respect (1) to form of government, (2) invasion, and (3)

9. Amendments to the Constitution:--
  a. Two methods of proposing amendments.
  b. Two methods of ratifying amendments,
  c. The difficulty of making amendments.
  d. Amendment of the Articles of Confederation.

10. What is meant by the Constitution's declaring itself the
supreme law of the land?

Section 5. _The Federal Judiciary_.

[Sidenote: Need for a federal judiciary.]
The creation of a federal judiciary was the second principal feature in
the Constitution, which transformed our country from a loose
confederation into a federal nation, from a _Band-of-States_ into a
_Banded-State_. We have seen that the American people were already
somewhat familiar with the method of testing the constitutionality of a
law by getting the matter brought before the courts.[27] In the case of
a conflict between state law and federal law, the only practicable
peaceful solution is that which is reached through a judicial decision.
The federal authority also needs the machinery of courts in order to
enforce its own decrees.

[Footnote 27: See above p. 194.]

[Sidenote: Federal courts and judges.]
[Sidenote: District attorneys and marshals.]
The federal judiciary consists of a supreme court, circuit courts, and
district courts.[28] At present the supreme court consists of a chief
justice and eight associate justices. It holds annual sessions in the
city of Washington, beginning on the second Monday of October. Each of
these nine judges is also presiding judge of a circuit court. The area
of the United States, not including the territories, is divided into
nine circuits, and in each circuit the presiding judge is assisted
by special circuit judges. The circuits are divided into districts,
fifty-six in all, and in each of these there is a special district
judge. The districts never cross state lines. Sometimes a
state is one district, but populous states with much business are
divided into two or even three districts. "The circuit courts sit
in the several districts of each circuit successively, and the law
requires that each justice of the supreme court shall sit in each
district of his circuit at least once every two years." [29] District
judges are not confined to their own districts; they may upon occasion
exchange districts as ministers exchange pulpits. A district judge
may, if need be, act as a circuit judge, as a major may command a
regiment. All federal judges are appointed by the president, with the
consent of the Senate, to serve during good behaviour. Each district
has its _district attorney_, whose business is to prosecute
offenders against the federal laws and to conduct civil cases in
which the national government is either plaintiff or defendant. Each
district has also its marshal, who has the same functions under the
federal court as the sheriff under the state court. The procedure of
the federal court usually follows that of the courts of the state in
which it is sitting.

[Footnote 28: See the second note on p.278.]

[Footnote 29: See Wilson, _The State_, p. 554. I have closely
followed, though, with much abridgment, the excellent description of
our federal judiciary, pp. 555-561.]

[Sidenote: The federal jurisdiction.]
The federal jurisdiction covers two classes of cases: (1) those
which come before it "_because of the nature of the questions
involved_: for instance, admiralty and maritime cases, navigable
waters being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal
authorities, and cases arising out of the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States or out of conflicting grants made by
different states"; (2) those which come before it "_because of the
nature of the parties to the suit_," such as cases affecting the
ministers of foreign powers or suits between citizens of different

The division of jurisdiction between the upper and lower federal
courts is determined chiefly by the size and importance of the cases.
In cases where a state or a foreign minister is a party the supreme
court has original jurisdiction, in other cases it has appellate
jurisdiction, and "any case which involves the interpretation of the
Constitution can be taken to the supreme court, however small the sum
in dispute." If a law of any state or of the United States is decided
by the supreme court to be in violation of the Constitution, it
instantly becomes void and of no effect. In this supreme exercise
of jurisdiction, our highest federal tribunal is unlike any other
tribunal known to history. The supreme court is the most original of
all American institutions. It is peculiarly American, and for its
exalted character and priceless services it is an institution of which
Americans may well be proud.


1. What was the second important factor in transforming our country
from a Band-of-States to a Banded-State?

2. Why was a federal judiciary deemed necessary?

3. The organization of the federal judiciary:--
  a. The supreme court and its sessions.
  b. The circuit courts.
  c. The district courts.
  d. Exchanges of service.
  e. Appointment of judges.
  f. The United States district attorney.
  g. The United States marshal.

4. The jurisdiction of the federal courts:--
  a. Cases because of the nature of the questions involved.
  b. Cases because of the nature of the parties to the suit.
  c. The division of jurisdiction between the upper and the lower
  d. Wherein the supreme court is the most original of American

Section 6. _Territorial Government._

[Sidenote: The Northwest Territory.]
[Sidenote: The Ordinance of 1787.]
The Constitution provided for the admission of new states to the
Union, but it does not allow a state to be formed within another
state. A state cannot "be formed by the junction of two or more
states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of
the states concerned as well as of the Congress." Shortly before the
making of the Constitution, the United States had been endowed for the
first time with a public domain. The territory northwest of the Ohio
River had been claimed, on the strength of old grants and charters, by
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia. In 1777 Maryland
refused to sign the Articles of Confederation until these states
should agree to cede their claims to the United States, and thus in
1784 the federal government came into possession of a magnificent
territory, out of which five great states--Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, and Wisconsin--have since been made. While the Federal
Convention was sitting at Philadelphia, the Continental Congress at
New York was doing almost its last and one of its greatest pieces
of work in framing the Ordinance of 1787 for the organization and
government of this newly acquired territory. The ordinance created a
territorial government with governor and two-chambered legislature,
courts, magistrates, and militia. Complete civil and religious liberty
was guaranteed, negro slavery was prohibited, and provision was made
for free schools.[30]

[Footnote 30: The manner in which provision should be made for these
schools had been pointed out two years before in the land-ordinance of
1785, as heretofore explained. See above, p. 86.]

[Sidenote: Other territories and their government.]
In 1803 the enormous territory known as Louisiana, comprising
everything (except Texas) between the Mississippi River and the crest
of the Rocky Mountains, was purchased from France. A claim upon the
Oregon territory was soon afterward made by discovery and exploration,
and finally settled in 1846 by treaty with Great Britain. In 1848 by
conquest and in 1853 by purchase the remaining Pacific lands were
acquired from Mexico. All of this vast region has been at some time
under territorial government. As for Texas, on the other hand, it
has never been a territory. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1836 and
remained an independent state until 1845, when it was admitted to
the Union. Territorial government has generally passed through three
stages: first, there are governors and judges appointed by the
president; then as population increases, there is added a legislature
chosen by the people and empowered to make laws subject to
confirmation by Congress; finally, entire legislative independence is
granted. The territory is then ripe for admission to the Union as a


1. What is the constitutional provision for admitting new states?

2. What states claimed the territory northwest of the Ohio river? On
what did they base their claims?

3. Why was this territory ceded to the general government?

4. What states have since been made out of this territory?

5. What was the Ordinance of 1787?

6. What were the principal provisions of this ordinance?

7. Give an account of the Louisiana purchase?

8. Give an account of the acquisition of the Oregon territory.

9. Give an account of the acquisition of the remaining Pacific lands.

10. How came Texas to belong to the United States?

11. How much of the public domain has been at some time under
territorial government?

12. Through what three stages has territorial government usually

Section 7. _Ratification and Amendments._

[Sidenote: Concessions to the South.]
Thus the work of the Ordinance of 1787 was in a certain sense
supplementary to the work of framing the Constitution. When the latter
instrument was completed, it was provided that "the ratifications
of the conventions of nine states shall be sufficient for the
establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the
same." The Constitution was then laid before the Continental Congress,
which submitted it to the states. In one state after another,
conventions were held, and at length the Constitution was ratified.
There was much opposition to it, because it seemed to create a strange
and untried form of government which might develop into a
tyranny. There was a fear that the federal power might crush out
self-government in the states. This dread was felt in all parts of the
country. Besides this, there was some sectional opposition between
North and South, and in Virginia there was a party in favour of a
separate southern confederacy. But South Carolina and Georgia were won
over by the concessions in the Constitution to slavery, and especially
a provision that the importation of slaves from Africa should not
be prohibited until 1808. By winning South Carolina and Georgia the
formation of a "solid South" was prevented.

[Sidenote: Bill of Rights proposed.]
The first states to adopt the Constitution were Delaware,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut, with slight
opposition, except in Pennsylvania. Next came Massachusetts, where the
convention was very large, the discussion very long, and the action
in one sense critical. One chief source of dissatisfaction was the
absence of a sufficiently explicit Bill of Rights, and to meet this
difficulty, Massachusetts ratified the Constitution, but proposed
amendments, and this course was followed by other states. Maryland and
South Carolina came next, and New Hampshire made the ninth. Virginia
and New York then ratified by very narrow majorities and after
prolonged discussion. North Carolina did not come in until 1789, and
Rhode Island not until 1790.

[Sidenote: The first ten amendments.]

In September, 1789, the first ten amendments were proposed by
Congress, and in December, 1791, they were declared in force. Their
provisions are similar to those of the English Bill of Rights, enacted
in 1689,[31] but are much more full and explicit. They provide for
freedom of speech and of the press, the free exercise of religion, the
right of the people to assemble and petition Congress for a redress
of grievances, their right to bear arms, and to be secure against
unreasonable searches and seizures. The quartering of soldiers is
guarded, general search-warrants are prohibited, jury trial is
guaranteed, and the taking of private property for public use without
due compensation, as well as excessive fines and bail and the
infliction of "cruel and unusual punishment" are forbidden. Congress
is prohibited from establishing any form of religion.

[Footnote 31: See above, p. 190. This is further elucidated in
Appendixes B and D.]

Finally, it is declared that "the enumeration of certain rights shall
not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,"
and that "the powers not granted to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the
states respectively, or to the people."


1. What provision did the Constitution make for its own ratification?

2. What was the general method of ratification in the states?

3. On what general grounds did the opposition to the Constitution seem
to be based?

4. By what feature in the Constitution was the support of South
Carolina and Georgia assured? Why was this support deemed peculiarly

5. What five states ratified the Constitution with little or no

6. What was the objection of Massachusetts and some other states to
the Constitution? What course, therefore, did they adopt?

7. What three states after Massachusetts by their ratification made
the adoption of the Constitution secure?

8. What four states subsequently gave in their support?

9. Give an account of the adoption of the first ten amendments.

10. For what do these amendments provide?

11. What powers are reserved to the states?

Section 8. _A Few Words about Politics._

[Sidenote: Federal taxation.]
A chief source of the opposition to the new federal government was the
dread of federal taxation. People who found it hard to pay their town,
county, and state taxes felt that it would be ruinous to have to pay
still another kind of tax. In the mere fact of federal taxation,
therefore, they were inclined to see tyranny. With people in such a
mood it was necessary to proceed cautiously in devising measures of
federal taxation.

[Sidenote: Excise.]
This was well understood by our first secretary of the treasury,
Alexander Hamilton, and in the course of his administration of the
treasury he was once roughly reminded of it. The two methods of federal
taxation adopted at his suggestion were duties on imports and excise on
a few domestic products, such as whiskey and tobacco. The excise, being
a tax which people could see and feel, was very unpopular, and in 1794
the opposition to it in western Pennsylvania grew into the famous
"Whiskey Insurrection," against which President Washington thought it
prudent to send an army of 16,000 men. This formidable display of
federal power suppressed the insurrection without bloodshed.

[Sidenote: Tariff.]
Nowhere was there any such violent opposition to Hamilton's scheme of
custom-house duties on imported goods. People had always been familiar
with such duties. In the colonial times they had been levied by the
British government without calling forth resistance until Charles
Townshend made them the vehicle of a dangerous attack upon American
self-government.[32] After the Declaration of Independence, custom-house
duties were levied by the state governments and the proceeds were paid
into the treasuries of the several states. Before 1789, much trouble had
arisen from oppressive tariff-laws enacted by some of the states against
others. By taking away from the states the power of taxing imports, the
new Constitution removed this source of irritation. It became possible
to lighten the burden of custom-house duties, while by turning the full
stream of them into the federal treasury an abundant national revenue
was secured at once. Thus this part of Hamilton's policy met with
general approval. The tariff has always been our favourite device for
obtaining a national revenue. During our Civil War, indeed, the
national, government resorted extensively to direct taxation, chiefly in
the form of revenue stamps, though it also put a tax upon
billiard-tables, pianos, gold watches, and all sorts of things. But
after the return of peace these unusual taxes were one after another
discontinued, and since then our national revenue has been raised, as in
Hamilton's time, from duties on imports and excise on a few domestic
products, chiefly tobacco and distilled liquors.

[Footnote 32: See my _War of Independence_, pp. 58-83; and my
_History of the United States, for Schools_, pp. 192-203.]

[Sidenote: Origin of American political parties.]
Hamilton's measures as secretary of the treasury embodied an entire
system of public policy, and the opposition to them resulted in the
formation of the two political parties into which, under one name or
another, the American people have at most times been divided. Hamilton's
opponents, led by Jefferson, objected to his principal measures that
they assumed powers in the national government which were not granted to
it by the Constitution. Hamilton then fell back upon the Elastic
Clause[33] of the Constitution, and maintained that such powers were
_implied_ in it. Jefferson held that this doctrine of "implied powers"
stretched the Elastic Clause too far. He held that the Elastic Clause
ought to be construed strictly and narrowly; Hamilton held that
it ought to be construed loosely and liberally. Hence the names
"strict-constructionist" and "loose-constructionist," which mark perhaps
the most profound and abiding antagonism in the history of American

[Footnote [33]: Article I, section viii, clause 18; see above, p. 245.]

Practically all will admit that the Elastic Clause, if construed
strictly, ought not to be construed _too_ narrowly; and, if construed
liberally, ought not to be construed _too_ loosely. Neither party has
been consistent in applying its principles, but in the main we can call
Hamilton the founder of the Federalist party, which has had for its
successors the National Republicans of 1828, the Whigs of 1833 to 1852,
and the Republicans of 1854 to the present time; while we can call
Jefferson the founder of the party which called itself Republican from
about 1792 to about 1828, and since then has been known as the
Democratic party. This is rather a rough description in view of the real
complication of the historical facts, but it is an approximation to the

[Sidenote: Tariff, Internal Improvements, and National Bank.]
It is not my purpose here to give a sketch of the history of American
parties. Such a sketch, if given in due relative proportion, would
double the size of this little book, of which the main purpose is to
treat of civil government in the United States with reference to its
_origins_. But it may here be said in general that the practical
questions which have divided the two great parties have been concerned
with the powers of the national government as to (1) the _Tariff_; (2)
the making of roads, improving rivers and harbours, etc., under the
general head of _Internal Improvements_; and (3) the establishment of a
_National Bank_, with the national government as partner holding shares
in it and taking a leading part in the direction of its affairs. On the
question of such a national bank the Democratic party achieved a
complete and decisive victory under President Tyler. On the question of
internal improvements the opposite party still holds the ground, but
most of its details have been settled by the great development of the
powers of private enterprise during the past sixty years, and it is not
at present a "burning question." The question of the tariff, however,
remains to-day as a "burning question," but it is no longer argued on
grounds of constitutional law, but on grounds of political economy.
Hamilton's construction of the Elastic Clause has to this extent
prevailed, and mainly for the reason that a liberal construction of that
clause was needed in order to give the national government enough power
to restrict the spread of slavery and suppress the great rebellion of
which slavery was the exciting cause.

[Sidenote: Civil service reform.]
Another political question, more important, if possible, than that of
the Tariff, is to-day the question of the reform of the Civil Service;
but it is not avowedly made a party question. Twenty years ago both
parties laughed at it; now both try to treat it with a show of respect
and to render unto it lip-homage; and the control of the immediate
political future probably lies with the party which treats it most
seriously. It is a question that was not distinctly foreseen in the days
of Hamilton and Jefferson, when the Constitution was made and adopted;
otherwise, one is inclined to believe, the framers of the Constitution
would have had something to say about it. The question as to the Civil
Service arises from the fact that the president has the power of
appointing a vast number of petty officials, chiefly postmasters and
officials concerned with the collection of the federal revenue. Such
officials have properly nothing to do with politics; they are simply the
agents or clerks or servants of the national government in conducting
its business; and if the business of the national government is to be
managed on such ordinary principles of prudence as prevail in the
management of private business, such servants ought to be selected for
personal merit and retained for life or during good behaviour. It did
not occur to our earlier presidents to regard the management of the
public business in any other light than this.

[Sidenote: Origin of the "spoils system."]
But as early as the beginning of the present century a vicious system
was growing up in New York and Pennsylvania. In those states the
appointive offices came to be used as bribes or as rewards for partisan
services. By securing votes for a successful candidate, a man with
little in his pocket and nothing in particular to do could obtain some
office with a comfortable salary. It would be given him as a reward, and
some other man, perhaps more competent than himself, would have to be
turned out in order to make room for him. A more effective method of
driving good citizens "out of politics" could hardly be devised. It
called to the front a large class of men of coarse moral fibre who
greatly preferred the excitement of speculating in politics to earning
an honest living by some ordinary humdrum business. The civil service of
these states was seriously damaged in quality, politics degenerated into
a wild scramble for offices, salaries were paid to men who did little or
no public service in return, and thus the line which separates taxation
from robbery was often crossed.

[Sidenote: "Rotation in Office."]
[Sidenote: The "spoils system" made national]
About the same time there grew up an idea that there is something
especially democratic, and therefore meritorious, about "rotation in
office." Government offices were regarded as plums at which every one
ought to be allowed a chance to take a bite. The way was prepared in
1820 by W.H. Crawford, of Georgia, who succeeded in getting the law
enacted that limits the tenure of office for postmasters, revenue
collectors, and other servants of the federal government to four years.
The importance of this measure was not understood, and it excited very
little discussion at the time. The next presidential election which
resulted in a change of party was that of Jackson in 1828, and then the
methods of New York and Pennsylvania were applied on a national scale.
Jackson cherished the absurd belief that the administration of his
predecessor Adams had been corrupt, and he turned men out of office with
a keen zest. During the forty years between Washington's first
inauguration and Jackson's the total number of removals from office was
74, and out of this number 5 were defaulters. During the first year of
Jackson's administration the number of changes made in the civil
service was about 2,000. [34] Such was the abrupt inauguration upon a
national scale of the so-called "spoils system." The phrase originated
with W. L. Marcy, of New York, who in a speech in the senate in 1831
declared that "to the victors belong the spoils." The man who said this
of course did not realize that he was making one of the most shameful
remarks recorded in history. There was, however, much aptness in his
phrase, inasmuch as it was a confession that the business of American
politics was about to be conducted on principles fit only for the
warfare of barbarians.

[Footnote 34: Sumner's _Jackson_, p. 147.]

In the canvass of 1840 the Whigs promised to reform the civil service,
and the promise brought them many Democratic votes; but after they had
won the election, they followed Jackson's example. The Democrats
followed in the same way in 1845, and from that time down to 1885 it was
customary at each change of party to make a "clean sweep" of the
offices. Soon after the Civil War the evils of the system began to
attract serious attention on the part of thoughtful people. The "spoils
system" has helped to sustain all manner of abominations, from grasping
monopolies and civic jobbery down to political rum-shops. The virus runs
through everything, and the natural tendency of the evil is to grow with
the growth of the country.

[Sidenote: The Civil Service Act of 1883.]
In 1883 Congress passed the Civil Service Act, allowing the president to
select a board of examiners on whose recommendation appointments are
made. Candidates for office are subjected to an easy competitive
examination. The system has worked well in other countries, and under
Presidents Arthur and Cleveland it was applied to a considerable part of
the civil service. It has also been adopted in some states and cities.
The opponents of reform object to the examination that it is not always
intimately connected with the work of the office,[35] but, even if this
were so, the merit of the system lies in its removal of the offices from
the category of things known as "patronage." It relieves the president
of much needless work and wearisome importunity. The president and the
heads of departments appoint (in many cases, through subordinates) about
115,000 officials. It is therefore impossible to know much about their
character or competency. It becomes necessary to act by advice, and the
advice of an examining board is sure to be much better than the advice
of political schemers intent upon getting a salaried office for their
needy friends. The examination system has made a fair beginning and will
doubtless be gradually improved and made more stringent. Something too
has been done toward stopping two old abuses attendant upon political
canvasses,--(1) forcing government clerks, under penalty of losing their
places, to contribute part of their salaries for election purposes; (2)
allowing government clerks to neglect their work in order to take an
active part in the canvass. Before the reform of the civil service can
be completed, however, it will be necessary to repeal Crawford's act of
1820 and make the tenure of postmasters and revenue collectors as secure
as that of the chief justice of the United States.

[Footnote 35: The objection that the examination questions are
irrelevant to the work of the office is often made the occasion of gross
exaggeration. I have given, in Appendix I, an average sample of the
examination papers used in the customs service. It is taken from
Comstock's _Civil Service in the United States_, New York, Holt & Co.,
1885, an excellent manual with very full particulars.]

[Sidenote: The Australian ballot-system.]
Another political reform which promises excellent results is the
adoption by many states of some form of the Australian ballot-system,
for the purpose of checking intimidation and bribery at elections. The
ballots are printed by the state, and contain the names of all the
candidates of all the parties. Against the name of each candidate the
party to which he belongs is designated, and against each name there is
a small vacant space to be filled with a cross. At the polling-place the
ballots are kept in an inclosure behind a railing, and no ballot can be
brought outside under penalty of fine or imprisonment[36]. One ballot is
nailed against the wall outside the railing, so that it may be read at
leisure. The space behind the railing is divided into separate booths
quite screened from each other. Each booth is provided with a pencil and
a convenient shelf on which to write. The voter goes behind the railing,
takes the ballot which is handed him, carries it into one of the booths,
and marks a cross against the names of the candidates for whom he votes.
He then puts his ballot into the box, and his name is checked off on the
register of voters of the precinct. This system is very simple, it
enables a vote to be given in absolute secrecy, and it keeps "heelers"
away from the polls. It is favourable to independence in voting,[37] and
it is unfavourable to bribery, because unless the briber can follow his
man to the polls and see how he votes, he cannot be sure that his bribe
is effective. To make the precautions against bribery complete it will
doubtless be necessary to add to the secret ballot the English system of
accounting for election expenses. All the funds used in an election must
pass through the hands of a small local committee, vouchers must be
received for every penny that is expended, and after the election an
itemized account must be made out and its accuracy attested under oath
before a notary public. This system of accounting has put an end to
bribery in England.[38]

[Footnote 36: This is a brief description of the system lately adopted
in Massachusetts. The penalty here mentioned is a fine not exceeding a
thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both such
fine and such imprisonment.]

[Footnote 37: It is especially favourable to independence in voting, if
the lists of the candidates are placed in a single column, without
reference to party (each name of course, having the proper party
designation, "Rep.," "Dem.," "Prohib.," etc., attached to it). In such
case it must necessarily take the voter some little time to find and
mark each name for which he wishes to vote. If, however, the names of
the candidates are arranged according to their party, all the
Republicans in one list, all the Democrats in another, etc., this
arrangement is much less favourable to independence in voting and much
less efficient as a check upon bribery; because the man who votes a
straight party ticket will make all his marks in a very short time,
while the "scratcher," or independent voter, will consume much more time
in selecting his names. Thus people interested in seeing whether a man
is voting the straight party ticket or not can form an opinion from the
length of time he spends in the booth. It is, therefore, important that
the names of all candidates should be printed in a single column.]

[Footnote 38: An important step in this direction has been taken in the
New York Corrupt Practices Act of April, 1890. See Appendix J.]

Complaints of bribery and corruption have attracted especial attention
in the United States during the past few years, and it is highly
creditable to the good sense of the people that measures of prevention
have been so promptly adopted by so many states. With an independent and
uncorrupted ballot, and the civil service taken "out of politics," all
other reforms will become far more easily accomplished. These ends will
presently be attained. Popular government makes many mistakes, and
sometimes it is slow in finding them out; but when once it has
discovered them it has a way of correcting them. It is the best kind of
government in the world, the most wisely conservative, the most steadily
progressive, and the most likely to endure.


1. What was a chief source of opposition to the new federal government?

2. What necessity for caution existed in devising methods to raise money?

3. Hamilton's scheme of excise:--
  a. The things on which excise was laid.
  b. The unpopularity of the scheme.
  c. The "Whiskey Insurrection."
  d. Its suppression by Washington.

4. Hamilton's tariff scheme:--
  a. The class of things on which duties were placed.
  b. Popular acquiescence in the plan.
  c. Effect of diverting the stream of custom-house revenue from its old
     destination in the several state treasuries to its new destination in
      the federal treasury.
  d. Direct taxation during the Civil War.
  e. Methods pursued since the Civil War.

5. The origin of American political parties:--
  a. Jefferson's objection to Hamilton's policy.
  b. Hamilton's defence of his policy.
  c. Jefferson's view of the Elastic Clause.
  d. Hamilton's view of the Elastic Clause.
  e. Two names suggestive of an abiding antagonism in American politics.
  f. A view of the Elastic Clause that commends itself to all.
  g. The party of Hamilton and its successors.
  h. The party of Jefferson and its successor.

6. Great practical questions that have divided parties:--
  a. The Tariff.
  b. Internal Improvements.
  c. A National Bank.
  d. The present attitude towards these three questions.
  e. The shifting of ground in arguing the tariff question.
  f. The reason for this change of base.

7. Civil Service reform:--

  a. The attitude of parties a few years ago.
  b. The present attitude of the same parties.
  c. A question not foreseen.
  d. The number of officers appointed.
  e. The non-political nature of their duties.
  f. The principles that should prevail in their selection and

8. The "spoils system":--
  a. Early appointive officers in New York and Pennsylvania,
  b. The driving of good citizens out of politics.
  c. The character of the men called to the front.
  d. The effect on civil service and on politics.

9. Rotation in office:--
  a. A new idea about government offices.
  b. Crawford's law of 1820.
  c. Failure to grasp its significance.
  d. Jackson's course in 1829.
  e. Removals from office down to Jackson's time.
  f. Removals during the first year of Jackson's administration.
  g. Origin of the phrase, "spoils system."
  h. Promises and practice down to 1885.
  i. The evils conspicuous since the Civil War.

10. The Civil Service Act of 1883.
  a. A board of examiners.
  b. Competitive examination of candidates.
  c. The spread of the principles of the reform.
  d. The merit of the system.
  e. Two old abuses stopped.
  f. Further measures needed.

11. The Australian ballot system:--
  a. The object of this system.
  b. The printing of the ballots.
  c. What a ballot contains.
  d. Ballots at the polling-places.
  e. The booths.
  f. The manner of voting.
  g. The advantages of the system.
  h. An additional precaution against bribery.

12. What is the attitude of the people towards bribery and corruption?

13. What reforms must be accomplished before others can make
much headway?


1. How much money is needed by the United States government for the
expenses of a year? How much is needed for the army, the navy, the
interest on the public debt, pensions, rivers and harbours, ordinary
civil expenses, etc.? (Answer for any recent year.)

2. From what sources does the revenue come? Tell how much revenue each
of the several sources has yielded in any recent year.

3. What is the origin of the word _tariff_?

4. What is meant by _protection_? What is meant by _free
trade_? What is meant by a _tariff for revenue only_? What is
meant by _reciprocity_? Give illustrations.

5. What are some of the reasons assigned for protection?

6. What are some of the reasons assigned for free trade?

7. Which policy prevails among the states themselves?

8. Which policy prevails between the United States and other nations?

9. Mention all the kinds of United States money in circulation. Bring
into the class a national bank bill, a gold certificate, a silver
certificate, any piece that is used as money, and inquire wherein its
value lies, what it can or cannot be used for, what the United States
will or will not give in exchange for it, and whether it is worth its
face in gold or not.

10. Is it right to buy silver at seventy-five cents and then put
it into circulation stamped a dollar, the Government receiving the
profit? Can you get a gold dollar for a silver one?

11. Is a promise to pay a dollar a real dollar? May it be as good as a
dollar? If so, under what conditions?

12. If gold were as common as gravel, what characteristics of it
universally recognized would remain unchanged? What would become of
its purchasing power, if it cost little or no labour to obtain it? Why
is it accepted as a standard of value?

13. During the Civil War gold was said to fluctuate in value, because
it took two dollars of paper money, sometimes more, sometimes less,
to buy one dollar in gold. Where was the real changing? What was the
cause of it?

14. What men are at the head of the national government at the present
time? (Think of the executive department and its primary divisions,
the legislative department, and the judicial.)

15. What salaries are paid these officers? Compare American salaries
with European salaries for corresponding high positions.

16. Should a president serve a second term? What is the advantage of
such service? What is the objection to it? Is a single term of six
years desirable?

17. Ought the president to be elected directly by the people?

18. Name in order the persons entitled to succeed to the presidency in
case of vacancy.

19. Who is your representative in Congress?

20. Who are your senators in Congress?

21. What is the pay of members of Congress? Who determines the
compensation? What is there to prevent lavish or improper pay?

22. There is said to be "log-rolling" in legislation at times. What is
the nature of this practice? Is it right?

23. Is the senator or the representative of higher dignity? Why?

24. Why should members of Congress be exempted from arrest in certain

25. Find authority in the Constitution for various things that
Congress has done, such as the following:--
  a. It has established a military academy at West Point.
  b. It has given public lands to Pacific railroads.
  c. It has authorized uniforms for letter carriers.
  d. It has ordered surveys of the coast.
  e. It has established the Yellowstone National Park.
  f. It has voted millions of dollars for pensions.
  g. It refused during the Civil War to pay its promises with silver or
  h. It bought Alaska of Russia.
  i. It has adopted exclusive measures towards the Chinese.

26. Reverse the preceding exercise. That is, cite clauses of the
Constitution, and tell what particular things Congress has done because
of such authority. For example, what specific things have been done
under the following powers of Congress?--
  a. To collect taxes.
  b. To regulate commerce with foreign nations.
  c. To coin money.
  d. To establish post-roads.
  e. To provide for the common defence.
  f. To provide for the general welfare.

27. Compare the strength of the national government to-day with its
strength in the past.

28. Who are citizens according to the Constitution? Is a woman a
citizen? Is a child a citizen? Are Indians citizens? Are foreigners
residing in this country citizens? Are children born abroad of
American parents citizens? Can one person be a citizen of two nations
at the same time, or of two states, or of two towns? Explain.

29. To what laws is an American vessel on the ocean subject?

30. Show how the interests and needs of the various sections of
the country present wide differences. Compare mining sections with
agricultural, and both with manufacturing; Pacific states with
Atlantic; Northern states with Southern. What need of mutual
consideration exists?

31. Name all the political divisions from the smallest to the greatest
in which you live. A Cambridge (Mass.) boy might, for example, say, "I
live in the third precinct of the first ward, in the first Middlesex
representative district, the third Middlesex senatorial district, the
third councillor district, and the fifth congressional district.
My city is Cambridge; my county, Middlesex, etc." Name the various
persons who represent you in these several districts.

32. May state and local officers exercise authority on United States
government territory, as, for example, within the limits of an arsenal
or a custom-house? May national government officers exercise authority
in states and towns?

33. What is a _sovereign_ state? Is New York a sovereign state?
the United States? the Dominion of Canada? Great Britain? Explain.

34. When sovereign nations disagree, how can a settlement be
effected? What is the best way to settle such a disagreement?
Illustrate from history the methods of negotiation, of arbitration,
and of war.

35. When two states of the Federal Union disagree, what solution of
the difficulty is possible?

       *       *       *       *       *


THE FEDERAL UNION.--For the origin of our federal constitution, see
Bancroft's _History of the United States_, final edition, vol.
vi., N.Y., 1886; Curtis's _History of the Constitution_, 2 vols.,
N.Y., 1861, new edition, vol. i., 1889; and my _Critical Period of
American History_, Boston, 1888, with copious references in the
bibliographical note at the end. Once more we may refer advantageously
to _J.H.U. Studies_, II., v.-vi., H.C. Adams, _Taxation in
the United States_, 1789-1816; VIII, i.-ii., A.W. Small, _The
Beginnings of American Nationality_. See also Jameson's _Essays
in the Constitutional History of the United States in the Formative
Period_, 1775-1789, Boston, 1889, a very valuable book.

On the progress toward union during the colonial period, see especially
Frothingham's _Rise of the Republic of the United States_, Boston, 1872;
also Scott's _Development of Constitutional Liberty in the English
Colonies of America_, N.Y., 1882.

By far the ablest and most thorough book on the government of the
United States that has ever been published is Bryce's _American
Commonwealth_, 2 vols., London and N.Y., 1888. No American
citizen's education is properly completed until he has read the whole
of it carefully. In connection therewith, the work of Tocqueville,
_Democracy in America_, 2 vols., 6th ed., Boston, 1876, is
interesting. The Scotchman describes and discusses the American
commonwealth of to-day, the Frenchman that of sixty years ago. There
is an instructive difference in the methods of the two writers,
Tocqueville being inclined to draw deductions from ingenious
generalizations and to explain as natural results of democracy sundry
American characteristics that require a different explanation. His
great work is admirably reviewed and criticised by Bryce, in the
_J.H.U. Studies_, V., ix., _The Predictions of Hamilton and De

The following manuals may be recommended: Thorpe, _The_
_Government of the People of the United States_, Phila., 1889;
Martin's _Text Book on Civil Government in the United States_,
N.Y. and Chicago, 1875 (written with special reference to
Massachusetts); Northam's _Manual of Civil Government_, Syracuse,
1887 (written with special reference to New York); Ford's _American
Citizen's Manual_, N.Y., 1887; Rupert's _Guide to the Study of
the History and the Constitution of the United States_, Boston,
1888; Andrews's _Manual of the Constitution of the United
States_, Cincinnati, 1874; Miss Dawes, _How we are Governed_,
Boston, 1888; Macy, _Our Government: How it Grew, What it Does, and
How it Does it_, Boston, 1887. The last is especially good, and
mingles narrative with exposition in an unusually interesting way.
Nordhoff's _Politics for Young Americans_, N.Y., 1887, is a book
that ought to be read by all young Americans for its robust and sound
political philosophy. It is suitable for boys and girls from twelve to
fifteen years old. C.F. Dole's _The Citizen and the Neighbour_,
Boston, 1887, is a suggestive and stimulating little book. For a
comparative survey of governmental institutions, ancient and modern,
see Woodrow Wilson's _The State: Elements of Historical and
Practical Politics_, Boston, 1889. An enormous mass of matter is
compressed into this volume, and, although it inevitably suffers
somewhat from extreme condensation, it is so treated as to be both
readable and instructive. The chapter on _The State and Federal
Governments of the United States_ has been published separately,
and makes a convenient little volume of 131 pages. Teachers should
find much help in MacAlister's _Syllabus of a Course of Elementary
Instruction in United States History and Civil Government_, Phila.,

The following books of the "English Citizen Series," published by
Macmillan & Co., may often be profitably consulted: M.D. Chalmers,
_Local Government_; H.D. Traill, _Central Government_; F.W. Maitland,
_Justice and Police_; Spencer Walpole, _The Electorate and the
Legislature_; A.J. Wilson, _The National Budget_; T.H. Farrer, _The
State in its Relations to Trade_; W.S. Jevons, _The State in its
Relations to Labour_. The works on the English Constitution by Stubbs,
Gneist, Taswell-Langmead, Freeman, and Bagehot are indispensable to a
thorough understanding of civil government in the United States: Stubbs,
_Constitutional History of England_, 3 vols., London, 1875-78; Gneist,
_History of the English Constitution_, 2d ed., 2 vols., London, 1889;
Taswell-Langmead, _English Constitutional History_, 3d ed., Boston,
1886; Freeman, _The Growth of the English Constitution_, London, 1872;
Bagehot, _The English Constitution_, revised ed., Boston, 1873. An
admirable book in this connection is Hannis Taylor's (of Alabama)
_Origin and Growth of the English Constitution_, Boston, 1889. In
connection with Bagehot's _English Constitution_ the student may
profitably read Woodrow Wilson's _Congressional Government_, Boston,
1885, and A.L. Lowell's _Essays in Government_, Boston, 1890. See also
Sir H. Maine, _Popular Government_, London, 1886; Sir G.C. Lewis on _The
Use and Abuse of Certain Political Terms_, London, 1832; _Methods of
Observation and Reasoning in Politics_, 2 vols., London, 1852; and
_Dialogue on the Best Form of Government_, London, 1863.

Among the most valuable books ever written on the proper sphere
and duties of civil government are Herbert Spencer's _Social
Statics_, London, 1851; _The Study of Sociology_, 9th ed.,
London, 1880; _The Man_ versus _The State_, London, 1884;
they are all reprinted by D. Appleton & Co., New York. The views
expressed in _Social Statics_ with regard to the tenure of land
are regarded as unsound by many who are otherwise in entire sympathy
with Mr. Spencer's views, and they are ably criticised in Bonham's
_Industrial Liberty_, N.Y., 1888. A book of great merit, which
ought to be reprinted as it is now not easy to obtain, is Toulmin
Smith's _Local Self-Government and Centralization_, London, 1851.
Its point of view is sufficiently indicated by the following admirable
pair of maxims (p. 12):--

LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT _is that system of Government under which the
greatest number of minds, knowing the most, and having the fullest
opportunities of knowing it, about the special matter in hand, and
having the greatest interest in its well-working, have the management
of it, or control over it._

CENTRALIZATION _is that system of government under which the
smallest number of minds, and those knowing the least, and having the
fewest opportunities of knowing it, about the special matter in
hand, and having the smallest interest in its well-working, have the
management of it, or control over it._

An immense amount of wretched misgovernment would be avoided if all
legislators and all voters would engrave these wholesome definitions
upon their minds. In connection with the books just mentioned much
detailed and valuable information may be found in the collections of
essays edited by J.W. Probyn, _Local Government and Taxation_ [in
various countries], London, 1875; _Local Government and Taxation
in the United_ _Kingdom_, London, 1882. See also R.T. Ely's
_Taxation in American States and Cities_, N.Y., 1889.

The most elaborate work on our political history is that of Hermann
von Holst, _Constitutional and Political History of the United
States_, translated from the German by J.J. Lalor, vols. i.-vi.
(1787-1859), Chicago, 1877-89. In spite of a somewhat too pronounced
partisan bias, its value is great. See also Schouler's _History
of the United States under the Constitution_, vols. i.-iv.
(1783-1847), new ed., N.Y., 1890. The most useful handbook, alike
for teachers and for pupils, is Alexander Johnston's _History of
American Politics_, 2d ed., N.Y., 1882. _The United States_,
N.Y., 1889, by the same author, is also excellent. Every school
should possess a copy of Lalor's _Cyclopaedia of Political Science,
Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States_,
3 vols., Chicago, 1882-84. The numerous articles in it relating to
American history are chiefly by Alexander Johnston, whose mastery of
his subject was simply unrivalled. His death in 1889, at the early age
of forty, must be regarded as a national calamity. For a manual of
constitutional law, Cooley's _General Principles of Constitutional
Law in the United States of America_, Boston, 1880, is to be
recommended. The reader may fitly supplement his general study of
civil government by the little book of E.P. Dole, _Talks about
Law: a Popular Statement of What our Law is and How it is to be
Administered_, Boston, 1887.

In connection with the political history, Stanwood's _History of
Presidential Elections_, 2d ed., Boston, 1888, will be found
useful. See also Lawton's _American Caucus System_, N.Y., 1885.
On the general subject of civil service reform, see Eaton's _Civil
Service in Great Britain: a History of Abuses and Reforms, and their
Bearing upon American Politics_, N.Y., 1880. Comstock's _Civil
Service in the United States_, N.Y., 1885, is a catalogue of
offices, with full account of civil service rules, examinations,
specimens of examination papers, etc.; also some of the state rules,
as in New York, Massachusetts, etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

I would here call attention to some publications by the Directors
of the Old South Studies in History and Politics,--first, _The
Constitution of the United States, with Historical and Bibliographical
Notes and Outlines, for Study_, prepared by E.D. Mead (sold by
D.C. Heath and Co., Boston, for 25 cents); secondly, the _Old
South Leaflets_, furnished to schools and the trade by the same
publishers, at 5 cents a copy or $3.00 a hundred. These leaflets are
for the most part reprints of important original papers, furnished
with valuable historical and bibliographical notes. The eighteen
issued up to this time (July, 1890) are as follows: 1. The
Constitution of the United States; 2. The Articles of Confederation;
3. The Declaration of Independence; 4. Washington's Farewell Address;
5. Magna Charta; 6. Vane's "Healing Question;" 7. Charter of
Massachusetts Bay, 1629; 8. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639;
9. Franklin's Plan of Union, 1754; 10. Washington's Inaugurals;
11. Lincoln's Inaugurals and Emancipation Proclamation; 12. The
Federalist, Nos. 1 and 2; 13. The Ordinance of 1787; 14. The
Constitution of Ohio; 15. Washington's "Legacy"; 16. Washington's
Letter to Benjamin Harrison, Governor of Virginia, on the Opening of
Communication with the West; 17. Verrazano's Voyage, 1524; 18. Federal
Constitution of the Swiss Confederation.

Howard Preston's _Documents Illustrative of American History_,
N.Y., 1886, contains the following: First Virginia Charter, 1606;
Second Virginia Charter, 1609; Third Virginia Charter, 1612; Mayflower
Compact, 1620; Massachusetts Charter, 1629; Maryland Charter, 1632;
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639; New England Confederation,
1643; Connecticut Charter, 1662; Rhode Island Charter, 1663;
Pennsylvania Charter, 1681; Perm's Plan of Union, 1697; Georgia
Charter, 1732; Franklin's Plan of Union, 1754; Declaration of Rights,
1765; Declaration of Rights, 1774; Non-Importation Agreement, 1774;
Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776; Declaration of Independence, 1776;
Articles of Confederation, 1777; Treaty of Peace, 1783; Northwest
Ordinance, 1787; Constitution of the United States, 1787; Alien and
Sedition Laws, 1798; Virginia Resolutions, 1798; Kentucky Resolutions,
1798; Kentucky Resolutions, 1799; Nullification Ordinance, 1832;
Ordinance of Secession, 1860; South Carolina Declaration of
Independence, 1860; Emancipation Proclamation, 1863.

See also Poore's _Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial
Charters, and other Organic Laws of the United States_, 2 vols.,
Washington, 1877.

The series of essays entitled _The Federalist_, written by
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, in 1787-88, while the ratification of the
Constitution was in question, will always remain indispensable as an
introduction to the thorough study of the principles upon which our
federal government is based. The most recent edition is by
H.C. Lodge, N.Y., 1888. For the systematic and elaborate study of the
Constitution, see Foster's _References to the Constitution of the
United States_, a little pamphlet of 50 pages published by the
"Society for Political Education," 330 Pearl St., New York, 1890,
price 25 cents. The student who should pursue to the end the line of
research marked out in this pamphlet ought thereby to become quite an
authority on the subject.

For very pleasant and profitable reading, in connection with the
formation and interpretation of the Constitution, and the political
history of our country from 1763 to 1850, we have the "American
Statesmen Series," edited by J.T. Morse, and published by Houghton,
Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1882-90: _Benjamin Franklin_, by J.T.
Morse; _Patrick Henry_, by M.C. Tyler; _Samuel Adams_, by
J.K. Hosmer; _George Washington_, by H.C. Lodge, 2 vols.;
_John Adams and Thomas Jefferson_, by J.T. Morse; _Alexander
Hamilton_, by H.C. Lodge; _Gouverneur Morris_, by T. Roosevelt;
_James Madison_, by S.H. Gay; _James Monroe_ by D.C. Gilman;
_Albert Gallatin_, by J.A. Stevens; _John Randolph_, by H.
Adams; _John Jay_, by G. Pellew; _John Marshall_, by A.B.
Magruder; _John Quincy Adams_, by J.T. Morse; _John C. Calhoun_,
by H. von Holst; _Andrew Jackson_, by W.G. Sumner; _Martin Van
Buren_, by E.M. Shepard; _Henry Clay_, by C. Schurz, 2 vols.;
_Daniel Webster_, by H.C. Lodge; _Thomas H, Benton_, by T. Roosevelt.

In connection with the questions on page 269 relating to tariff,
currency, etc., references to some works on political economy are
needed. The arguments in favour of protectionism are set forth in
Bowen's _American Political Economy_, last ed., N.Y., 1870;
the arguments in favour of free trade are set forth in Perry's
_Political Economy_, 19th ed., N.Y., 1887; and for an able and
impartial historical survey, Taussig's _Tariff History of the United
States_, N.Y., 1888, may be recommended. For a lucid view of
currency, see Jevons's _Money and the Mechanism of Exchange_,
N.Y., 1875.

A useful work on the Australian method of voting is Wigmore's _The
Australian Ballot System_, 2d ed., Boston, 1890.

In connection with some of the questions on page 271, the student may
profitably consult Woolsey's _International Law_, 5th ed., N.Y.,
1879. NOTE TO PAGE 226.

By the act of February 3, 1887, the second Monday in January is fixed
for the meeting of the electoral colleges in all the states. The
provisions relating to the first Wednesday in January are repealed.
The interval between the second Monday in January and the second
Wednesday in February remains available for the settlement of disputed


In order to relieve the supreme court of the United States, which
had come to be overburdened with business, a new court, with limited
appellate jurisdiction, called the _circuit court of appeals_,
was organized in 1892. It consists primarily of nine _appeal
judges_, one for each of the nine circuits. For any given circuit
the supreme court justice of the circuit, the appeal judge of the
circuit, and the circuit judge constitute the court of appeal.



_Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States
of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence
Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and

ARTICLE I.--The style of this Confederacy shall be, "The United States
of America."

ART. II.--Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and
independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not
by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in
Congress assembled.

ART. III.--The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league
of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security
of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding
themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or
attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion,
sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

ART. IV.--The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and
intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union,
the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and
fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges
and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people
of each State shall have free ingress and egress to and from any
other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and
commerce subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as
the inhabitants thereof respectively; provided that such restrictions
shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported
into any State to any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant;
provided also, that no imposition, duties, or restriction
shall be laid by any State on the property of the United States or
either of them. If any person guilty of, or charged with, treason,
felony, or other high misdemeanour in any State shall flee from
justice and be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon
demand of the governor or executive power of the State from which he
fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of
his offense. Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these
States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts
and magistrates of every other State.

ART. V.--For the more convenient management of the general interests
of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such
manner as the Legislature of each State shall direct, to meet in
Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power
reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at
any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the
remainder of the year. No State shall be represented in Congress by
less than two, nor by more than seven members; and no person shall be
capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term
of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of
holding any office under the United States for which he, or another
for his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind.
Each State shall maintain its own delegates in any meeting of the
States and while they act as members of the Committee of the States.
In determining questions in the United States, in Congress assembled,
each State shall have one vote. Freedom of speech and debate in
Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place
out of Congress; and the members of Congress shall be protected in
their persons from arrests and imprisonment during the time of their
going to and from, and attendance on, Congress, except for treason,
felony, or breach of the peace.

ART. VI.--No State, without the consent of the United States, in
Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy
from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance, or treaty
with any king, prince, or state; nor shall any person holding any
office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of them,
accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind
whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state; nor shall the United
States, in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation, or
alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United
States, in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for
which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.

No State shall lay any imposts or duties which may interfere with
any stipulations in treaties entered into by the United States, in
Congress assembled, with any king, prince, or state, in pursuance of
any treaties already proposed by Congress to the courts of France and

No vessel of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State,
except such number only as shall be deemed necessary by the United
States, in Congress assembled, for the defence of such State or its
trade, nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time
of peace, except such number only as, in the judgment of the United
States, in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison
the forts necessary for the defence of such State; but every State
shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia,
sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly
have ready for use in public stores a due number of field-pieces and
tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage.

No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United
States, in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded
by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution
being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the
danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay till the United
States, in Congress assembled, can be consulted; nor shall any State
grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of
marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the
United States, in Congress assembled, and then only against the
kingdom or state, and the subjects thereof, against which war has been
so declared, and under such regulations as shall be established by the
United States, in Congress assembled, unless such State be infested
by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that
occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the
United States, in Congress assembled, shall determine otherwise.

ART. VII.--When land forces are raised by any State for the common
defence, all officers of or under the rank of Colonel shall be
appointed by the Legislature of each State respectively by whom such
forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct,
and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the

ART. VIII.--All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be
incurred for the common defence, or general welfare, and allowed by
the United States, in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of
a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in
proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted to,
or surveyed for, any person, as such land and the buildings and
improvements thereon shall be estimated, according to such mode as the
United States, in Congress assembled, shall, from time to time, direct
and appoint. The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and
levied by the authority and direction of the Legislatures of the
several States, within the time agreed upon by the United States, in
Congress assembled.

ART. IX.--The United States, in Congress assembled, shall have the
sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war,
except in the cases mentioned in the sixth Article; of sending and
receiving ambassadors; entering into treaties and alliances, provided
that no treaty of commerce shall be made, whereby the legislative
power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such
imposts and duties on foreigners as their own people are subjected to,
or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of
goods or commodities whatever; of establishing rules for deciding, in
all cases, what captures on land and water shall be legal, and in what
manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the
United States shall be divided or appropriated; of granting letters of
marque and reprisal in times of peace; appointing courts for the trial
of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas; and establishing
courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of
captures; provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a
judge of any of the said courts.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall also be the last
resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting,
or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning
boundary jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever; which authority
shall always be exercised in the manner following: Whenever the
legislative or executive authority, or lawful agent of any State in
controversy with another, shall present a petition to Congress,
stating the matter in question, and praying for a hearing, notice
thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or
executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day
assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents,
who shall then be directed to appoint, by joint consent,
commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and
determining the matter in question; but if they cannot agree, Congress
shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from
the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out
one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to
thirteen; and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine
names, as Congress shall direct, shall, in the presence of Congress,
be drawn out by lot; and the persons whose names shall be so drawn,
or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and
finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the
judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination; and
if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without
showing reasons which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being
present, shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to
nominate three persons out of each State, and the secretary of
Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and
the judgment and sentence of the court, to be appointed in the manner
before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the
parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to
appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless
proceed to pronounce sentence or judgment, which shall in like manner
be final and decisive; the judgment or sentence and other proceedings
being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the
acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned; provided,
that every commissioner, before he sits in judgment, shall take an
oath, to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or
superior court of the State where the cause shall be tried, "well and
truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the
best of his judgment, without favour, affection, or hope of reward."
Provided, also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the
benefit of the United States.

All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under
different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions, as they
may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are
adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same
time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of
jurisdiction, shall, on the petition of either party to the Congress
of the United States, be finally determined, as near as may be, in the
same manner as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting
territorial jurisdiction between different States.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall also have the sole and
exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin
struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States;
fixing the standard of weights and measures throughout the United
States; regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the
Indians, not members of any of the States; provided that the
legislative right of any State, within its own limits, be not
infringed or violated; establishing and regulating post-offices from
one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting
such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be
requisite to defray the expenses of the said office; appointing all
officers of the land forces in the service of the United States,
excepting regimental officers; appointing all the officers of the
naval forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the service
of the United States; making rules for the government and regulation
of the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall have authority
to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be
denominated "A Committee of the States," and to consist of one
delegate from each State, and to appoint such other committees and
civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs
of the United States under their direction; to appoint one of their
number to preside; provided that no person be allowed to serve in the
office of president more than one year in any term of three years; to
ascertain the necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of
the United States, and to appropriate and apply the same for defraying
the public expenses; to borrow money or emit bills on the credit of
the United States, transmitting every half year to the respective
States an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted; to
build and equip a navy; to agree upon the number of land forces, and
to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to
the number of white inhabitants in such State, which requisition shall
be binding; and thereupon the Legislature of each State shall
appoint the regimental officers, raise the men, and clothe, arm, and
equip them in a soldier-like manner, at the expense of the United
States; and the officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall
march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the
United States, in Congress assembled; but if the United States, in
Congress assembled, shall, on consideration of circumstances, judge
proper that any State should not raise men, or should raise a smaller
number than its quota, and that any other State should raise a greater
number of men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be
raised, officered, clothed, armed, and equipped in the same manner as
the quota of such State, unless the Legislature of such State shall
judge that such extra number cannot be safely spared out of the same,
in which case they shall raise, officer, clothe, arm, and equip as
many of such extra number as they judge can be safely spared, and the
officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall march to the
place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States,
in Congress assembled.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall never engage in a war,
nor grant letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace, nor enter
into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value
thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense
and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit hills,
nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate
money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war to be built or
purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor
appoint a commander-in-chief of the army or navy, unless nine States
assent to the same, nor shall a question on any other point, except
for adjourning from day to day, be determined, unless by the votes of
a majority of the United States, in Congress assembled.

The Congress of the United States shall have power to adjourn to any
time within the year, and to any place within the United States, so
that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration than the space
of six months, and shall publish the journal of their proceedings
monthly, except such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances, or
military operations as in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas
and nays of the delegates of each State, ion any question, shall be
entered on the journal when it is desired by any delegate; and the
delegates of a State, or any of them, at his or their request, shall
be furnished with a transcript of the said journal except such parts
as are above excepted, to lay before the Legislatures of the several

Art. X.--The Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be
authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers
of Congress as the United States, in Congress assembled, by the
consent of nine States, shall, from time to time, think expedient
to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the
said Committee, for the exercise of which, by the Articles of
Confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United
States assembled is requisite.

Art. XI.--Canada, acceding to this Confederation, and joining in the
measures of the United States, shall he admitted into, and entitled
to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be
admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine

Art. XII.--All bills of credit emitted, moneys borrowed, and debts
contracted by or under the authority of Congress, before the
assembling of the United States, in pursuance of the present
Confederation, shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the
United States, for payment and satisfaction whereof the said United
States and the public faith are hereby solemnly pledged.

Art. XIII.--Every State shall abide by the determinations of the
United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which by
this Confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this
Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the
Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time
hereafter be made in any of them, unless such alteration be agreed to
in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the
Legislatures of every State.

And whereas it hath pleased the great Governor of the world to incline
the hearts of the Legislatures we respectively represent in Congress
to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify, the said Articles of
Confederation and perpetual Union, know ye, that we, the undersigned
delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that
purpose, do, by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our
respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each
and every of the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union,
and all and singular the matters and things therein contained. And
we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective
constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the
United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which by the
said Confederation are submitted to them; and that the Articles
thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively
represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at
Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the
year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, and in
the third year of the independence of America.

       *       *       *       *       *




We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for
the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and oar posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


[Footnote 1: Compare this Preamble with Confed. Art. I. and III.]

[Footnote 2: Compare Art. I. Sections i.-vii. with Confed. Art. V.]

_Section I. Congress in General._

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress
of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of

_Section II. House of Representatives._

1. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen
every second year by the people of the several States, and the
electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for
electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.

2. No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained the
age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United
States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that
State in which he shall be chosen.

3. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the
several States which may be included within this Union, according to
their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the
whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a
term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all
other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years
after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and
within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they
shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed
one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one
Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State
of _New Hampshire_ shall be entitled to choose three, _Massachusetts_
eight, _Rhode Island_ and _Providence Plantations_ one, _Connecticut_
five, _New York_ six, _New Jersey_ four, _Pennsylvania_ eight, _Delaware_
one, _Maryland_ six, _Virginia_ ten, _North Carolina_ five, _South
Carolina_ five, and _Georgia_ three.

4. When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, the
executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such

5. The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other
officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

_Section III. Senate._

1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators
from each State, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and
each Senator shall have one vote.

2. Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the
first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three
classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated
at the expiration of the second year; of the second class, at the
expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class, at the
expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every
second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation or otherwise
during the recess of the legislature of any State, the executive
thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the
legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.

3. No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age
of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States,
and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for
which he shall be chosen.

4. The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the
Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

5. The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President
_pro tempore_ in the absence of the Vice-President, or when he
shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

6. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When
sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When
the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall
preside: and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of
two thirds of the members present.

7. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to
removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office
of honour, trust, or profit under the United States; but the party
convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and subject to indictment,
trial, judgment, and punishment, according to law.

_Section IV. Both Houses._

1. The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and
Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature
thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such
regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such
meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by
law appoint a different day.

_Section V. The Houses Separately._

1. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall
constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn
from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of
absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each
house may provide.

2. Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its
members for disorderly behaviour, and with the concurrence of two
thirds, expel a member. 3. Each house shall keep a journal of its
proceedings, and from to time publish the same, excepting such parts
as may in their judgment require secrecy, and the yeas and nays of the
members of either house on any question shall, at the desire of one
fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.

4. Neither house, during the session of Congress, shall, without the
consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any
other place than that in which the two houses shall be sitting.

_Section VI. Privileges and Disabilities of Members._

1. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for
their services, to be ascertained by law and paid out of the Treasury
of the United States. They shall, in all cases except treason, felony,
and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their
attendance at the session of their respective houses, and in going to
and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either
house they shall not be questioned in any other place.

2. No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he
was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of
the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments
whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no person
holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either
house during his continuance in office.

_Section VII. Mode of Passing Laws._

1. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments
as on other bills.

2. Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives
and the Senate shall, before it become a law, be presented to the
President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if
not he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which
it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large
on their journal and proceed to reconsider it. If after such
reconsideration two thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill,
it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by
which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds
of that house it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes
of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of
the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the
journal of each house respectively. If any bill shall not be returned
by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall
have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as
if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent
its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

3. Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the
Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a
question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of
the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be
approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two
thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the
rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

_Section VIII. Powers granted to Congress.[3]_

[Footnote 3: Compare Sections viii. and ix. with Confed. Art. IX.;
clause 1 of Section viii with Confed. Art. VIII; and clause 12 of
Section viii. with Confed. Art. VII.]

The Congress shall have, power:

1. To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the
debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the
United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform
throughout the United States;

2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several
States, and with the Indian tribes;

4. To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on
the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign, coin,
and fix the standard of weights and measures;

6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and
current coin of the United States;

7. To establish post-offices and post-roads;

8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for
limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their
respective writings and discoveries;

9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

10. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high
seas and offenses against the law of nations;

11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules
concerning captures on land and water;

12. To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that
use shall be for a longer term than two years;

13. To provide and maintain a navy;

14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and
naval forces.

15. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of
the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;

16. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia,
and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service
of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the
appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia
according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

17. To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over
such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of
particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of
the Government of the United States, and to exercise like authority
over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of
the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts,
magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;

18. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying
into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by
this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any
department or officer thereof.[4]

[Footnote 4: This is the Elastic Clause in the interpretation of which
arose the original and fundamental division of political parties.
See above, pp. 245, 259.]

_Section IX. Powers denied to the United States._

1. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States
now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by
the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight,
but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding
ten dollars for each person.

2. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may
require it.

3. No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.

4. No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in
proportion to the census or enumeration hereinbefore directed to be taken.

5. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.

6. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or
revenue to the ports of one State over those of another; nor shall
vessels bound to or from one State be obliged to enter, clear, or pay
duties in another.

7. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of
appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the
receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from
time to time.

8. No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States; and no
person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without
the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office,
or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign

_Section X. Powers denied to the States._[5]

[Footnote 5: Compare Section X with Confed. Art. VI]

1. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;
grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of
credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of
debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing
the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

2. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or
duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary
for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties
and imposts, laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the
use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be
subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

3. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of
tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any
agreement or compact with another State or with a foreign power, or
engage in war, unless actually invaded or in such imminent danger as
will not admit of delay.


[Footnote 6: Compare Art. II. with Confed. Art. X.]

_Section I. President and Vice-President_.

1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United
States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four
years, and together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term,
be elected as follows:

2. Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof
may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of
Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in
the Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an
office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed
an elector.

3. The electors shall meet in their respective States and vote
by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an
inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a
list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for
each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to
the seat of government of the United States, directed to the President
of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of
the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates,
and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest
number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority
of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than
one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then
the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of
them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the
five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose
the President. But in choosing the President the votes shall be taken
by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a
quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from
two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall
be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the
President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the
electors shall be the Vice-President. But if there should remain two
or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by
ballot the Vice-President. [7]

[Footnote 7: This clause of the Constitution has been amended. See
Amendments, Art. XII.]

4. The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors and
the day on which they shall give their votes, which day shall be the
same throughout the United States.

5. No person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United
States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be
eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of
thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the
United States.

6. In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his
death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of
the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President, and
the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death,
resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice-President,
declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer
shall act accordingly until the disability be removed or a President
shall be elected.

7. The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a
compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during
the period for which he may have been elected, and he shall not
receive within that period any other emolument from the United States
or any of them.

8. Before he enter on the execution of his office he shall take the
following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my
ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United

_Section II. Powers of the President._

1. The President shall be Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy
of the United States, and of the militia of the several States when
called into the actual service of the United States; he may require
the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the
executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of
their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves
and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of

2. He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the
Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present
concur; and he shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent
of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and
consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the
United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided
for, and which shall be established by law; but the Congress may by
law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think
proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads
of departments.

3. The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may
happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which
shall expire at the end of their next session.

_Section III. Duties of the President._

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the
state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures
as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary
occasions, convene both houses, or either of them, and in case of
disagreement between them with respect to the time of adjournment,
he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall
receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care
that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the
officers of the United States.

_Section IV. Impeachment._

The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United
States shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction
of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


[Footnote 8: Compare Art. III. with the first three paragraphs of
Confed. Art. IX.]

_Section I. United States Courts._

The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme
Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time
to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and
inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and
shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation
which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

_Section II. Jurisdiction of the United States Courts._

1. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity,
arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and
treaties made, or which shall he made, under their authority; to all
cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to
all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to
which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two
or more States; between a State and citizens of another State; between
citizens of different States; between citizens of the same State
claiming lands under grants of different States, and between a State,
or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens, or subjects.[9]

[Footnote 9: This clause has been amended. See Amendments, Art. XI.]

2. In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and
consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme
Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before
mentioned the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as
to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as
the Congress shall make.

3. The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be
by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said
crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any
State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may
by law have directed.

_Section III. Treason._

1. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war
against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and
comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the
testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in
open court.

2. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason,
but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or
forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.


[Footnote 10: Compare Art. IV. with Confed. Art. IV.]

_Section I. State Records._

Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts,
records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress
may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records,
and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

_Section II. Privileges of Citizens, etc._

1. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several States.

2. A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime,
who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on
demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be
delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the

3. No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or
regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but
shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or
labour may be due.[11]

[Footnote 11: This clause has been cancelled by Amendment XIII., which
abolishes slavery.]

_Section III. New States and Territories._[12]

[Footnote 12: Compare section iii. with Confed. Art. XI.]

1. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no
new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any
other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more
States or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of
the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

2. The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful
rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property
belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall
be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States or of
any particular State.

_Section IV. Guarantee to the States._

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a
republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against
invasion, and on application of the legislature, or of the executive
(when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.


[Footnote 13: Compare Art. V. with Confed. Art. XIII.]

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States,
shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which in either
case shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of this
Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of
the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the
one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress,
provided that no amendments which may be made prior to the year one
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first
and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that
no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage
in the Senate.


1. All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the
adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United
States under this Constitution as under the confederation.[14]

[Footnote 14: Compare clause I with Confed. Art. XII.]

2. This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be
made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary

3. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members
of the several State legislatures, and all executive and judicial
officers both of the United States and of the several States, shall
be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no
religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office
or public trust under the United States.[15]

[Footnote 15: Compare clauses 2 and 3 with Confed. Art. XIII. and
addendum, "And whereas," etc.]


The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be
sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so
ratifying the same.

  Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the States
  present,[16] the seventeenth day of September, in the year of
  our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven,
  and of the Independence of the United States of America
  the twelfth. In witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed
  our names.

[Footnote 16: Rhode Island sent no delegates to the Federal

  George Washington, President, and Deputy from VIRGINIA.
  NEW HAMPSHIRE--John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman.
  MASSACHUSETTS--Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King.
  CONNECTICUT--William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman.
  NEW YORK--Alexander Hamilton.
  NEW JERSEY--William Livingston, David Brearly, William
  Patterson, Jonathan Dayton.
  PENNSYLVANIA--Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert
  Morris, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll,
  James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris.
  DELAWARE--George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson,
  Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom.
  MARYLAND--James McHenry, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer,
  Daniel Carroll.
  VIRGINIA--John Blair, James Madison, Jr.
  NORTH CAROLINA--William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight,
  Hugh Williamson.
  SOUTH CAROLINA--John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney,
  Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler.
  GEORGIA--William Few, Abraham Baldwin.
  Attest: William Jackson, Secretary.

       *       *       *       *       *



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

[Footnote 17: Amendments I. to X. were proposed by Congress, Sept. 25,
1789, and declared in force Dec. 15, 1791.]


A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free
state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be


No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without
the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be
prescribed by law.


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause,
supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous
crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except
in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when
in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any
person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy
of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be
a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use without just compensation.


In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to
a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and
district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district
shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the
witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining
witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his


In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed
twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no
fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the
United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively or to the people.


The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to
extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against
one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens
or subjects of any foreign State.


1. The electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by
ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall
not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall
name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in
distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they
shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President and of
all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes
for each; which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed
to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the
President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the
presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the
certificates and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the
greatest number of votes for President shall be the President, if such
number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if
no person have such majority, then from the persons having the
highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as
President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by
ballot, the President. But in choosing the President the votes shall
be taken by States, the representation from each State having one
vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members
from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall
be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall
not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve
upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the
Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or
other constitutional disability of the President.

[Footnote 18: Compare Amendment X. with Confed. Art. II.]

[Footnote 19: Proposed by Congress March 5, 1794, and declared in force
Jan, 8, 1798.]

[Footnote 20: Proposed by Congress Dec. 12, 1803, and declared in force
Sept. 25, 1804.]

2. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President
shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole
number of electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then
from the two highest numbers on the list the Senate shall choose the
Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two thirds
of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number
shall be necessary to a choice.

3. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of
President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United


1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall
exist within the United States or any place subject to their

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate


1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and

[Footnote 21: Proposed by Congress Feb. 1, 1865, and declared in force
Dec. 18, 1865.]

[Footnote 22: Proposed by Congress June 16, 1866, and declared in force
July 28, 1868.] subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of
the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State
shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or
immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State
deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process
of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States
according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of
persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right
to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and
Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the
executive and judicial officers of a State, or the members of the
legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such
State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United
States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion,
or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced
in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear
to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such

S. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or
elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil
or military, under the United States or under any State, who, having
previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of
the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as
an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the
Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection
or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies
thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two thirds of each house,
remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by
law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties
for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be
questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume
or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or
rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or
emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations, and claims
shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article. ARTICLE XV. [23]

[Footnote 23: Proposed by Congress Feb. 26, 1869, and declared in force
March 30, 1870.]

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of
race, colour, or previous condition of servitude.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
appropriate legislation.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Footnote 24: From Madison's _Journal_, in Eliot's _Debates_,
vol. v. p. 554.]

MONDAY, _September_ 17. _In Convention_--The engrossed
Constitution being read, Doctor Franklin rose with a speech in his
hand, which he had reduced to writing for his own convenience, and
which Mr. Wilson read in the words following:

MR. PRESIDENT: I confess that there are several parts of this
Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I
shall never approve them. For, having lived long, I have experienced
many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller
consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects which I
once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that, the
older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay
more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as
most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and
that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele, a
Protestant, in a dedication tells the Pope that the only difference
between our churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their
doctrines, is, 'the Church of Rome is infallible, and the Church of
England is never in the wrong.' But though many private persons think
almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect,
few express it so naturally as a certain French lady who, in a dispute
with her sister, said, 'I don't know how it happens, sister, but I meet
with nobody but myself that is always in the right--_il n'y a que moi
qui a toujours raison.' In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this
Constitution, with all its faults, if they are such, because I think a
General Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government
but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and
believe further, that this is likely to be well administered for a
course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done
before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic
government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any
other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better
Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the
advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men
all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their
local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a
perfect production be expected? It, therefore, astonishes me, sir, to
find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does: and I
think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to
hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of
Babel, and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet
hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I
consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and
because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had
of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a
syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born and here they
shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to
report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans
in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and
thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting
naturally in our favour among foreign nations as well as among
ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength and
efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the
people, depends on opinion--on the general opinion of the goodness of
the government as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors.
I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes, as a part of the people, and
for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in
recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress and confirmed by
the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future
thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered. On
the whole, sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the
Convention who may still have objections to it would, with me, on this
occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest
our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

He then moved that the Constitution be signed by the members, and
offered the following as a convenient form, viz.: "Done in Convention
by the unanimous consent of _the States_ present the seventeenth
of September, etc. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed
our names." This ambiguous form had been drawn up by Mr. Gouverneur
Morris, in order to gain the dissenting members, and put into the
hands of Doctor Franklin, that it might have the better chance of
success. [Considerable discussion followed, Randolph and Gerry stating
their reasons for refusing to sign the Constitution. Mr. Hamilton
expressed his anxiety that every member should sign. A few characters
of consequence, he said, by opposing or even refusing to sign the
Constitution, might do infinite mischief by kindling the latent sparks
that lurk under an enthusiasm in favour of the Convention which may
soon subside. No man's ideas were more remote from the plan than his
own were known to be; but is it possible to deliberate between anarchy
and convulsion on one side, and the chance of good to be expected from
the plan on the other? This discussion concluded, the Convention voted
that its journal and other papers should be retained by the President,
subject to the order of Congress.] The members then proceeded to sign
the Constitution as finally amended. The Constitution being signed by
all the members except Mr. Randolph, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Gerry, who
declined giving it the sanction of their names, the Convention
dissolved itself by an adjournment sine die.

Whilst the last members were signing, Doctor Franklin, looking towards
the President's chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to
be painted, observed to a few members near him that painters had found
it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun.
I have, said he, often and often, in the course of the session, and
the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that
behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising
or setting; but now, at length, I have the happiness to know that it
is a rising, and not a setting, sun.



[Footnote 25: I have, by permission, reproduced the _Old South
Leaflet_, with its notes, etc., in full.]


JOHN, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Date of
Normandy, Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his Archbishops, Bishops,
Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, Foresters, Sheriffs, Governors,
Officers, and to all Bailiffs, and his faithful subjects, greeting.
Know ye, that we, in the presence of God, and for the salvation of
our soul, and the souls of all our ancestors and heirs, and unto the
honour of God and the advancement of Holy Church, and amendment of
our Realm, by advice of our venerable Fathers, Stephen, Archbishop
of Canterbury, Primate of all England and Cardinal of the Holy Roman
Church: Henry, Archbishop of Dublin; William, of London; Peter, of
Winchester; Jocelin of Bath and Glastonbury; Hugh, of Lincoln; Walter,
of Worcester; William, of Coventry: Benedict, of Rochester--Bishops:
of Master Pandulph, Sub-Deacon and Familiar of our Lord the Pope;
Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights-Templars in England; and of the
noble Persons, William Marescall, Earl of Pembroke; William, Earl of
Salisbury; William, Earl of Warren; William, Earl of Arundel; Alan de
Galloway, Constable of Scotland; Warin FitzGerald, Peter FitzHerbert,
and Hubert de Burgh, Seneschal of Poitou; Hugh de Neville, Matthew
FitzHerbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip of Albiney, Robert
de Roppell, John Mareschal, John FitzHugh, and others, our liegemen,
have, in the first place, granted to God, and by this our present
Charter confirmed, for us and our heirs for ever:--

1. That the Church of England shall be free, and have her whole rights,
and her liberties inviolable; and we will have them so observed, that it
may appear thence that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned chief
and indispensable to the English Church, and which we granted and
confirmed by our Charter, and obtained the confirmation of the same from
our Lord the Pope Innocent III., before the discord between us and our
barons, was granted of mere free will; which Charter we shall observe,
and we do will it to be faithfully observed by our heirs for ever.

2. We also have granted to all the freemen of our kingdom, for us and
for our heirs for ever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and
holden by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs for ever: If
any of our earls, or barons, or others, who hold of us in chief by
military service, shall die, and at the time of his death his heir
shall be of full age, and owe a relief, he shall have his inheritance
by the ancient relief--that is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl,
for a whole earldom, by a hundred pounds; the heir or heirs of a
baron, for a whole barony, by a hundred pounds; the heir or heirs of a
knight, for a whole knight's fee, by a hundred shillings at most; and
whoever oweth less shall give less, according to the ancient custom of

3. But if the heir of any such shall be under age, and shall be in
ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without
relief and without fine.

4. The keeper of the land of such an heir being under age, shall
take of the land of the heir none but reasonable issues, reasonable
customs, and reasonable services, and that without destruction and
waste of his men and his goods; and if we commit the custody of any
such lands to the sheriff, or any other who is answerable to us for
the issues of the land, and he shall make destruction and waste of the
lands which he hath in custody, we will take of him amends, and the
land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee,
who shall answer for the issues to us, or to him to whom we shall
assign them; and if we sell or give to any one the custody of any such
lands, and he therein make destruction or waste, he shall lose the
same custody, which shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men
of that fee, who shall in like manner answer to us as aforesaid.

5. But the keeper, so long as he shall have the custody of the land,
shall keep up the houses, parks, warrens, ponds, mills, and other
things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land; and
shall deliver to the heir, when he comes of full age, his whole land,
stocked with ploughs and carriages, according as the time of wainage
shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonably bear.

6. Heirs shall be married without disparagement, and so that before
matrimony shall be contracted, those who are near in blood to the heir
shall have notice. 7. A widow, after the death of her husband, shall
forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage and inheritance;
nor shall she give anything for her dower, or her marriage, or her
inheritance, which her husband and she held at the day of his death;
and she may remain in the mansion house of her husband forty days
after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned.

8. No widow shall be distrained to marry herself, so long as she has a
mind to live without a husband; but yet she shall give security that
she will not marry without our assent, if she hold of us; or without
the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she hold of another.

9. Neither we nor our bailiffs shall seize any land or rent for any
debt so long as the chattels of the debtor are sufficient to pay the
debt; nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained so long
as the principal debtor has sufficient to pay the debt; and if the
principal debtor shall fail in the payment of the debt, not having
wherewithal to pay it, then the sureties shall answer the debt; and
if they will they shall have the lands and rents of the debtor, until
they shall be satisfied for the debt which they paid for him, unless
the principal debtor can show himself acquitted thereof against the
said sureties.

10. If any one have borrowed anything of the Jews, more or less, and
die before the debt be satisfied, there shall be no interest paid for
that debt, so long as the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may
hold; and if the debt falls into our hands, we will only take the
chattel mentioned in the deed.

11. And if any one shall die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall
have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if the deceased left
children under age, they shall have necessaries provided for them,
according to the tenement of the deceased; and out of the residue the
debt shall be paid, saving, however, the service due to the lords, and
in like manner shall it be done touching debts due to others than the

12. _No scutage or aid[26] shall be imposed in our kingdom, unless
by the general council of our kingdom_; except for ransoming our
person, making our eldest son a knight, and once for marrying our
eldest daughter; and for these there shall be paid no more than a
reasonable aid. In like manner it shall be concerning the aids of the
City of London.

[Footnote 26: In the time of the feudal system _scutage_ was a
direct tax in commutation for military service; _aids_ were
direct taxes paid by the tenant to his lord for ransoming his person
if taken captive, and for helping defray the expenses of knighting his
eldest son and marrying his eldest daughter.]

13. And the City of London shall have all its ancient liberties and
free customs, as well by land as by water: furthermore, we will and
grant that all other cities and boroughs, and towns and ports, shall
have all their liberties and free customs.

14. _And for holding the general council of the kingdom concerning
the assessment of aids, except in the three cases aforesaid, and
for the assessing of scutages, we shall cause to be summoned the
archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons of the realm,
singly by our letters. And furthermore, we shall cause to be summoned
generally, by our sheriffs and bailiffs, all others who hold of us
in chief, for a certain day, that is to say, forty days before their
meeting at least, and to a certain place; and in all letters of such
summons we will declare the cause of such summons. And summons being
thus made, the business shall proceed on the day appointed, according
to the advice of such as shall be present, although all that were
summoned come not._

15. We will not for the future grant to any one that he may take aid
of his own free tenants, unless to ransom his body, and to make his
eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter; and for
this there shall be only paid a reasonable aid.

16. No man shall be distrained to perform more service for a knight's
fee, or other free tenement, than is due from thence.

17. Common pleas shall not follow our court, but shall be holden in
some place certain.

18. Trials upon the Writs of Novel Disseisin,[27] and of Mort
d'ancestor,[28] and of Darrein Presentment,[29] shall not be taken but
in their proper counties, and after this manner: We, or if we should
be out of the realm, our chief justiciary, will send two justiciaries
through every county four times a year, who, with four knights of each
county, chosen by the county, shall hold the said assizes[30] in the
county, on the day, and at the place appointed.

[Footnote 27: Dispossession.]

[Footnote 28: Death of the ancestor; that is, in cases of disputed
succession to land.]

[Footnote 29: Last presentation to a benefice.]

[Footnote 30: The word Assize here means an assembly of knights or
other substantial persons, held at a certain time and place where
they sit with the Justice. 'Assisa' or 'Assize' is also taken
for the court, place, or time at which the writs of Assize are
taken.--_Thompson's Notes._]

19. And if any matters cannot be determined on the day appointed
for holding the assizes in each county, so many of the knights and
freeholders as have been at the assizes aforesaid shall stay to decide
them as is necessary, according as there is more or less business.

20. A freeman shall not be amerced for a small offence, but only
according to the degree of the offence; and for a great crime
according to the heinousness of it, saving to him his contenement;[31]
and after the same manner a merchant, saving to him his merchandise.
And a villein shall be amerced after the same manner, saving to him
his wainage, if he falls under our mercy; and none of the aforesaid
amerciaments shall be assessed but by the oath of honest men in the

[Footnote 31: "That by which a person subsists and which is essential
to his rank in life."]

21. Earls and barons shall not be amerced but by their peers, and
after the degree of the offence.

22. No ecclesiastical person shall be amerced for his lay tenement,
but according to the proportion of the others aforesaid, and not
according to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

23. Neither a town nor any tenant shall be distrained to make bridges
or embankments, unless that anciently and of right they are bound to
do it.

24. No sheriff, constable, coroner, or other our bailiffs, shall hold
"Pleas of the Crown." [32]

[Footnote 32: These are suits conducted in the name of the Crown
against criminal offenders.]

25. All counties, hundreds, wapentakes, and trethings, shall stand at
the old rents, without any increase, except in our demesne manors.

26. If any one holding of us a lay fee die, and the sheriff, or our
bailiffs, show our letters patent of summons for debt which the dead
man did owe to us, it shall be lawful for the sheriff or our bailiff
to attach and register the chattels of the dead, found upon his lay
fee, to the amount of the debt, by the view of lawful men, so as
nothing be removed until our whole clear debt be paid; and the rest
shall be left to the executors to fulfil the testament of the dead;
and if there be nothing due from him to us, all the chattels shall
go to the use of the dead, saving to his wife and children their
reasonable shares.[33]

[Footnote 33: A person's goods were divided into three parts, of which
one went to his wife, another to his heirs, and a third he was at
liberty to dispose of. If he had no child, his widow had half; and if he
had children, but no wife, half was divided amongst them. These several
sums were called "reasonable shares." Through the testamentary
jurisdiction they gradually acquired, the clergy often contrived to get
into their own hands all the residue of the estate without paying the
debts of the estate.]

27. If any freeman shall die intestate, his chattels shall be
distributed by the hands of his nearest relations and friends, by view
of the Church, saving to every one his debts which the deceased owed
to him.

28. No constable or bailiff of ours shall take corn or other chattels
of any man unless he presently give him money for it, or hath respite
of payment by the goodwill of the seller.

29. No constable shall distrain any knight to give money for
castle-guard, if he himself will do it in his person, or by another
able man, in case he cannot do it through any reasonable cause. And if
we have carried or sent him into the army, he shall be free from such
guard for the time he shall be in the army by our command.

30. No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or any other, shall take horses
or carts of any freeman for carriage, without the assent of the said

31. Neither shall we nor our bailiffs take any man's timber for our
castles or other uses, unless by the consent of the owner of the

32. We will retain the lands of those convicted of felony only one
year and a day, and then they shall be delivered to the lord of the

[Footnote 34: All forfeiture for felony has been abolished by the 33
and 34 Vic., c. 23. It seems to have originated in the destruction
of the felon's property being part of the sentence, and this "waste"
being commuted for temporary possession by the Crown.]

33. All kydells[35] (wears) for the time to come shall be put down in
the rivers of Thames and Medway, and throughout all England, except
upon the sea-coast.

[Footnote 35: The purport of this was to prevent inclosures of common
property, or committing a "Purpresture." These wears are now called
"kettles" or "kettle-nets" in Kent and Cornwall.]

34. The writ which is called _præcipe_, for the future, shall not be
made out to any one, of any tenement, whereby a freeman may lose his

35. There shall be one measure of wine and one of ale through our
whole realm; and one measure of corn, that is to say, the London
quarter; and one breadth of dyed cloth, and russets, and haberjeets,
that is to say, two ells within the lists; and it shall be of weights
as it is of measures.

36. _Nothing from henceforth shall be given or taken for a writ of
inquisition of life or limb, but it shall be granted freely, and not

[Footnote 36: This important writ, or "writ concerning hatred and
malice," may have been the prototype of the writ of _habeas
corpus_, and was granted for a similar purpose.]

37. If any do hold of us by fee-farm, or by socage, or by burgage, and
he hold also lands of any other by knight's service, we will not have
the custody of the heir or land, which is holden of another man's fee
by reason of that fee-farm, socage,[37] or burgage; neither will we
have the custody of the fee-farm, or socage, or burgage, unless
knight's service was due to us out of the same fee-farm. We will not
have the custody of an heir, nor of any land which he holds of another
by knight's service, by reason of any petty serjeanty[38] by which he
holds of us, by the service of paying a knife, an arrow, or the like.

[Footnote 37: "Socage" signifies lands held by tenure of performing
certain inferior offices in husbandry, probably from the old French
word _soc_, a plough-share.]

[Footnote 38: The tenure of giving the king some small weapon of war in
acknowledgment of lands held.]

38. No bailiff from henceforth shall pat any man to his law[39] upon
his own bare saying, without credible witnesses to prove it.

[Footnote 39: Equivalent to putting him to his oath. This alludes to
the Wager of Law, by which a defendant and his eleven supporters or
"compurgators" could swear to his non-liability, and this amounted to
a verdict in his favour.]

39. _No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised, or
outlawed, or banished, or any ways destroyed, nor will we pass upon
him, nor will we send upon him, unless by the lawful judgment of his
peers, or by the law of the land._

40. _We will sell to no man, we will not deny to any man, either
justice or right._

41. All merchants shall have safe and secure conduct, to go out of,
and to come into England, and to stay there and to pass as well by
land as by water, for buying and selling by the ancient and allowed
customs, without any unjust tolls; except in time of war, or when they
are of any nation at war with us. And if there be found any such in
our land, in the beginning of the war, they shall be attached, without
damage to their bodies or goods, until it be known unto us, or our
chief justiciary, how our merchants be treated in the nation at war
with us; and if ours be safe there, the others shall be safe in our

42. It shall be lawful, for the time to come, for any one to go out
of our kingdom, and return safely and securely by land or by water,
saving his allegiance to us; unless in time of war, by some short
space, for the common benefit of the realm, except prisoners and
outlaws, according to the law of the land, and people in war with us,
and merchants who shall be treated as is above mentioned.[40]

[Footnote 40: The Crown has still technically the power of confining
subjects within the kingdom by the writ "ne exeat regno," though the
use of the writ is rarely resorted to.]

43. If any man hold of any escheat,[41] as of the honour of
Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other escheats
which be in our hands, and are baronies, and die, his heir shall give
no other relief, and perform no other service to us than he would to
the baron, if it were in the baron's hand; and we will hold it after
the same manner as the baron held it.

[Footnote 41: The word _escheat_ is derived from the French
_escheoir_, to return or happen, and signifies the return of
an estate to a lord, either on failure of tenant's issue or on his
committing felony. The abolition of feudal tenures by the Act of
Charles II. (12 Charles II. c. 24) rendered obsolete this part and
many other parts of the Charter.]

44. Those men who dwell without the forest from henceforth shall not
come before our justiciaries of the forest, upon common, summons, but
such as are impleaded, or are sureties for any that are attached for
something concerning the forest.[42]

[Footnote 42: The laws for regulating the royal forests, and
administering justice in respect of offences committed in their
precincts, formed a large part of the law.]

45. We will not make any justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs,
but of such as know the law of the realm and mean duly to observe it.

46. All barons who have founded abbeys, which they hold by charter
from the kings of England, or by ancient tenure, shall have the
keeping of them, when vacant, as they ought to have.

47. All forests that have been made forests in our time shall
forthwith be disforested; and the same shall be done with the
water-banks that have been fenced in by us in our time.

48. All evil customs concerning forests, warrens, foresters, and
warreners, sheriffs and their officers, water-banks and their keepers,
shall forthwith be inquired into in each county, by twelve sworn
knights of the same county, chosen by creditable persons of the same
county; and within forty days after the said inquest be utterly
abolished, so as never to be restored: so as we are first acquainted
therewith, or our justiciary, if we should not be in England.

49. We will immediately give up all hostages and charters delivered
unto us by our English subjects, as securities for their keeping the
peace, and yielding us faithful service.

50. We will entirely remove from their bailiwicks the relations of
Gerard de Atheyes, so that for the future they shall have no bailiwick
in England; we will also remove Engelard de Cygony, Andrew, Peter, and
Gyon, from the Chancery; Gyon de Cygony, Geoffrey de Martyn, and his
brothers; Philip Mark, and his brothers, and his nephew, Geoffrey, and
their whole retinue.

51. As soon as peace is restored, we will send out of the kingdom all
foreign knights, cross-bowmen, and stipendiaries, who are come with
horses and arms to the molestation of our people.

52. If any one has been dispossessed or deprived by us, without the
lawful judgment of his peers, of his lands, castles, liberties, or
right, we will forthwith restore them to him; and if any dispute arise
upon this head, let the matter be decided by the five-and-twenty
barons hereafter mentioned, for the preservation of the peace. And for
all those things of which any person has, without the lawful judgment
of his peers, been dispossessed or deprived, either by our father King
Henry, or our brother King Richard, and which we have in our hands, or
are possessed by others, and we are bound to warrant and make good,
we shall have a respite till the term usually allowed the crusaders;
excepting those things about which there is a plea depending, or
whereof an inquest hath been made, by our order before we undertook
the crusade; but as soon as we return from our expedition, or if
perchance we tarry at home and do not make our expedition, we will
immediately cause full justice to be administered therein.

53. The same respite we shall have, and in the same manner, about
administering justice, disafforesting or letting continue the forests,
which Henry our father, and our brother Richard, have afforested; and
the same concerning the wardship of the lands which are in another's
fee, but the wardship of which we have hitherto had, by reason of a
fee held of us by knight's service; and for the abbeys founded in any
other fee than our own, in which the lord of the fee says he has a
right; and when we return from our expedition, or if we tarry at home,
and do not make our expedition, we will immediately do full justice to
all the complainants in this behalf.

54. No man shall be taken or imprisoned upon the appeal[43] of a woman,
for the death of any other than her husband.

[Footnote 43: An _Appeal_ here means an "accusation." The appeal
here mentioned was a suit for a penalty in which the plaintiff was a
relation who had suffered through a murder or manslaughter. One of the
incidents of this "Appeal of Death" was the Trial by Battle. These
Appeals and Trial by Battle were not abolished before the passing of
the Act 59 Geo. III., c. 46.]

55. All unjust and illegal fines made by us, and all amerciaments
imposed unjustly and contrary to the law of the land, shall
be entirely given up, or else be left to the decision of the
five-and-twenty barons hereafter mentioned for the preservation of
the peace, or of the major part of them, together with the aforesaid
Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and others
whom he shall think fit to invite; and if he cannot be present, the
business shall notwithstanding go on without him; but so that if one
or more of the aforesaid five-and-twenty barons be plaintiffs in
the same cause, they shall be set aside as to what concerns this
particular affair, and others be chosen in their room, out of the said
five-and-twenty, and sworn by the rest to decide the matter.

56. If we have disseised or dispossessed the Welsh of any lands,
liberties, or other things, without the legal judgment of their peers,
either in England or in Wales, they shall be immediately restored to
them; and if any dispute arise upon this head, the matter shall be
determined in the Marches by the judgment of their peers; for tenements
in England according to the law of England, for tenements in Wales
according to the law of Wales, for tenements of the Marches according to
the law of the Marches: the same shall the Welsh do to us and our

57. As for all those things of which a Welshman hath, without the lawful
judgment of his peers, been disseised or deprived of by King Henry our
father, or our brother King Richard, and which we either have in our
hands or others are possessed of, and we are obliged to warrant it, we
shall have a respite till the time generally allowed the crusaders;
excepting those things about which a suit is depending, or whereof an
inquest has been made by our order, before we undertook the crusade: but
when we return, or if we stay at home without performing our expedition,
we will immediately do them full justice, according to the laws of the
Welsh and of the parts before mentioned.

58. We will without delay dismiss the son of Llewellin, and all the

Welsh hostages, and release them from the engagements they have
entered into with us for the preservation of the peace.

59. We will treat with Alexander, King of Scots, concerning the
restoring his sisters and hostages, and his right and liberties, in
the same form and manner as we shall do to the rest of our barons
of England; unless by the charters which we have from his father,
William, late King of Scots, it ought to be otherwise; and this shall
be left to the determination of his peers in our court.

60. All the aforesaid customs and liberties, which we have granted to
be holden in our kingdom, as much as it belongs to us, all people of
our kingdom, as well clergy as laity, shall observe, as far as they
are concerned, towards their dependents.

61. And whereas, for the honour of God and the amendment of our
kingdom, and for the better quieting the discord that has arisen
between us and our barons, we have granted all these things aforesaid;
willing to render them firm and lasting, we do give and grant our
subjects the underwritten security, namely that the barons may choose
five-and-twenty barons of the kingdom, whom they think convenient; who
shall take care, with all their might, to hold and observe, and cause
to be observed, the peace and liberties we have granted them, and by
this our present Charter confirmed in this manner; that is to say,
that if we, our justiciary, our bailiffs, or any of our officers,
shall in any circumstance have failed in the performance of them
towards any person, or shall have broken through any of these articles
of peace and security, and the offence be notified to four barons
chosen out of the five-and-twenty before mentioned, the said four
barons shall repair to us, or our justiciary, if we are out of the
realm, and, laying open the grievance, shall petition to have it
redressed without delay: and if it be not redressed by us, or if we
should chance to be out of the realm, if it should not be redressed by
our justiciary within forty days, reckoning from the time it has been
notified to us, or to our justiciary (if we should be out of the
realm), the four barons aforesaid shall lay the cause before the rest
of the five-and-twenty barons; and the said five-and-twenty barons,
together with the community of the whole kingdom, shall distrain and
distress us in all the ways in which they shall be able, by seizing
our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other manner they can,
till the grievance is redressed, according to their pleasure; saving
harmless our own person, and the persons of our Queen and children;
and when it is redressed, they shall behave to us as before. And any
person whatsoever in the kingdom may swear that he will obey the
orders of the five-and-twenty barons aforesaid in the execution of the
premises, and will distress us, jointly with them, to the utmost of
his power; and we give public and free liberty to any one that shall
please to swear to this, and never will hinder any person from taking
the same oath.

62. As for all those of our subjects who will not, of their own
accord, swear to join the five-and-twenty barons in distraining and
distressing us, we will issue orders to make them take the same oath
as aforesaid. And if any one of the five-and-twenty barons dies, or
goes out of the kingdom, or is hindered any other way from
carrying the things aforesaid into execution, the rest of the said
five-and-twenty barons may choose another in his room, at their
discretion, who shall be sworn in like manner as the rest. In all
things that are committed to the execution of these five-and-twenty
barons, if, when they are all assembled together, they should happen
to disagree about any matter, and some of them, when summoned, will
not or cannot come, whatever is agreed upon, or enjoined, by the major
part of those that are present shall be reputed as firm and valid as
if all the five-and-twenty had given their consent; and the aforesaid
five-and-twenty shall swear that all the premises they shall
faithfully observe, and cause with all their power to be observed. And
we will procure nothing from any one, by ourselves nor by another,
whereby any of these concessions and liberties may be revoked or
lessened; and if any such thing shall have been obtained, let it be
null and void; neither will we ever make use of it either by ourselves
or any other. And all the ill-will, indignations, and rancours that
have arisen between us and our subjects, of the clergy and laity, from
the first breaking out of the dissensions between us, we do fully
remit and forgive: moreover, all trespasses occasioned by the said
dissensions, from Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign till the
restoration of peace and tranquillity, we hereby entirely remit to
all, both clergy and laity, and as far as in us lies do fully forgive.
We have, moreover, caused to be made for them the letters patent
testimonial of Stephen, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry, Lord
Archbishop of Dublin, and the bishops aforesaid, as also of Master
Pandulph, for the security and concessions aforesaid.

63. Wherefore we will and firmly enjoin, that the Church of England be
free, and that all men in our kingdom have and hold all the aforesaid
liberties, rights, and concessions, truly and peaceably, freely and
quietly, fully and wholly to themselves and their heirs, of us and our
heirs, in all things and places, forever, as is aforesaid. It is also
sworn, as well on our part as on the part of the barons, that all the
things aforesaid shall be observed in good faith, and without evil
subtilty. Given under our hand, in the presence of the witnesses above
named, and many others, in the meadow called Runingmede, between
Windsor and Staines, the 15th day of June, in the 17th year of our

       *       *       *       *       *

The translation here given is that published in Sheldon Amos's work
on _The English Constitution_. The translation given by Sir E.
Creasy was chiefly followed in this, but it was collated with another
accurate translation by Mr. Richard Thompson, accompanying his
_Historical Essay on Magna Charta_, published in 1829, and also
with the Latin text. "The explanation of the whole Charter," observes
Mr. Amos, must be sought chiefly in detailed accounts of the Feudal
system in England, as explained in such works as those of Stubbs,
Hallam, and Blackstone. The scattered notes here introduced have
only for their purpose to elucidate the most unusual and perplexing
expressions. The Charter printed in the Statute Book is that issued
in the ninth year of Henry III., which is also the one specially
confirmed by the Charter of Edward I. The Charter of Henry III.
differs in some (generally) insignificant points from that of John.
The most important difference is the omission in the later Charter of
the 14th and 15th Articles of John's Charter, by which the King is
restricted from levying aids beyond the three ordinary ones, without
the assent of the 'Common Council of the Kingdom.' and provision is
made for summoning it. This passage is restored by Edward I. Magna
Charter has been solemnly confirmed upwards of thirty times. See the
chapter on the Great Charter, in Green's _History of the English
People_. See also Stubbs's _Documents Illustrative of English
History_. "The whole of the constitutional history of England,"
says Stubbs, "is a commentary on this Charter, the illustration of
which must be looked for in the documents that precede and follow."

       *       *       *       *       *



I. Edward, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and
Duke Guyan, to all those that these present letters shall hear or see,
greeting. Know ye that we, to the honour of God and of holy Church,
and to the profit of our realm, have granted for us and our heirs,
that the Charter of Liberties and the Charter of the Forest, which
were made by common assent of all the realm in the time of King Henry
our father, shall be kept in every point without breach. And we will
that the same Charters shall be sent under our seal as well to our
justices of the forest as to others, and to all sheriffs of shires,
and to all our other officers, and to all our cities throughout the
realm, together with our writs in the which it shall be contained that
they cause the foresaid Charters to be published, and to declare to
the people that we have confirmed them in all points; and that our
justices, sheriffs, mayors, and other ministers, which under us have
the laws of our land to guide, shall allow the said Charters pleaded
before them in judgment in all their points; that is to wit, the Great
Charter as the common law, and the Charter of the Forest according to
the assize of the Forest, for the wealth of our realm.

II. And we will that if any judgment be given from henceforth,
contrary to the points of the Charters aforesaid, by the justices or
by any other our ministers that hold plea before them against the
points of the Charters, it shall be undone and holden for naught.

III. And we will that the same Charters shall be sent under our seal
to cathedral churches throughout our realm, there to remain, and shall
be read before the people two times by the year. IV. And that all
archbishops and bishops shall pronounce the sentence of great
excommunication against all those that by word, deed, or counsel do
contrary to the foresaid Charters, or that in any point break or undo
them. And that the said curses be twice a year denounced and published
by the prelates aforesaid. And if the prelates or any of them be
remiss in the denunciation of the said sentences, the Archbishops of
Canterbury and York for the time being, as is fitting, shall compel
and distrain them to make that denunciation in form aforesaid.

V. And for so much as divers people of our realm are in fear that the
aids and tasks which they have given to us beforetime towards our wars
and other business, of their own grant and goodwill, howsoever they
were made, might turn to a bondage to them and their heirs, because
they might be at another time found in the rolls, and so likewise the
prises taken throughout the realm by our ministers; we have granted
for us and our heirs, that we shall not draw such aids, tasks, nor
prises into a custom, for anything that hath been done heretofore, or
that may be found by roll or in any other manner.

VI. Moreover we have granted for us and our heirs, as well to
archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, and other folk of holy Church,
as also to earls, barons, and to all the commonalty of the land, that
for no business from henceforth will we take such manner of aids,
tasks, nor prises but by the common consent of the realm, and for the
common profit thereof, saving the ancient aids and prises due and

VII. And for so much as the more part of the commonalty of the realm
find themselves sore grieved with the matelote of wools, that is to
wit, a toll of forty shillings for every sack of wool, and have made
petition to us to release the same; we, at their requests, have
clearly released it, and have granted for us and our heirs that we
shall not take such thing nor any other without their common assent
and goodwill; saving to us and our heirs the custom of wools, skins,
and leather, granted before by the commonalty aforesaid. In witness
of which things we have caused these our letters to be made patents.
Witness Edward our son, at London, the 10th day of October, the
five-and-twentieth of our reign.

And be it remembered that this same Charter, in the same terms, word
for word, was sealed in Flanders under the King's Great Seal, that is
to say, at Ghent, the 5th day of November, in the 52th year of the
reign of our aforesaid Lord the King, and sent into England.

       *       *       *       *       *

The words of this important document, from Professor Stubbs's
translation, are given as the best explanation of the constitutional
position and importance of the Charters of John and Henry III. See
historical notice in Stubbs's _Documents Illustrative of English
History_, p. 477. This is far the most important of the numerous
ratifications of the Great Charter. Hallam calls it "that famous
statute, inadequately denominated the Confirmation of the Charters,
because it added another pillar to our constitution, not less important
than the Great Charter itself." It solemnly confirmed the two Charters,
the Charter of the Forest (issued by Henry II. in 1217--see text in
Stubbs, p. 338) being then considered as of equal importance with Magna
Charta itself, establishing them in all points as the law of the land;
but it did more. "Hitherto the king's prerogative of levying money by
name of _tallage_ or _prise_, from his towns and tenants in
demesne, had passed unquestioned. Some impositions, that especially on
the export of wool, affected all the king's subjects. It was now the
moment to enfranchise the people and give that security to private
property which Magna Charta had given to personal liberty." Edward's
statute binds the king never to take any of these "aids, tasks, and
prises" in future, save by the common assent of the realm. Hence, as
Bowen remarks, the Confirmation of the Charters, or an abstract of it
under the form of a supposed statute _de tallagio non concedendo_
(see Stubbs, p. 487), was more frequently cited than any other enactment
by the parliamentary leaders who resisted the encroachments of Charles I.
The original of the _Confirmatio Chartarum_, which is in Norman French,
is still in existence, though considerably shriveled by the fire which
damaged so many of the Cottonian manuscripts in 1731.


An island in the Thames between Staines and Windsor had been chosen as
the place of conference: the King encamped on one bank, while the
barons--covered the marshy flat, still known by the name of Runnymede,
on the other. Their delegates met in the island between them, but the
negotiations were a mere cloak to cover John's purpose of unconditional
submission. The Great Charter was discussed, agreed to, and signed in a
single day. One copy of it still remains in the British Museum, injured
by age and fire, but with the royal seal still hanging from the brown,
shrivelled parchment. It is impossible to gaze without reverence on the
earliest monument of English freedom which we can see with our own eyes
and touch with our own hands, the great Charter to which from age to age
patriots have looked back as the basis of English liberty. But in itself
the Charter was no novelty, nor did it claim to establish any new
constitutional principles. The Charter of Henry the First formed the
basis of the whole, and the additions to it are for the most part formal
recognitions of the judicial and administrative changes introduced by
Henry the Second. But the vague expressions of the older charters were
now exchanged for precise and elaborate provisions. The bonds of
unwritten custom which the older grants did little more than recognize
had proved too weak to hold the Angevins; and the baronage now threw
them aside for the restraints of written law. It is in this way that the
Great Charter marks the transition from the age of traditional rights,
preserved in the nation's memory and officially declared by the Primate,
to the age of written legislation, of Parliaments and Statutes, which
was soon to come. The Church had shown its power of self-defence in the
struggle over the interdict, and the clause which recognized its rights
alone retained the older and general form. But all vagueness ceases when
the Charter passes on to deal with the rights of Englishmen at large,
their right to justice, to _security of person and property, to good
government_. 'No freeman,' ran the memorable article that lies at the
base of our whole judicial system, 'shall be seized or imprisoned, or
dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any way brought to ruin; we will not go
against any man nor send against him, save by legal judgment of his
peers or by the law of the land.' 'To no man will we sell,' runs
another, 'or deny, or delay, right or justice.' The great reforms of the
past reigns were now formally recognized; judges of assize were to hold
their circuits four times in the year, and the Court of Common Pleas was
no longer to follow the King in his wanderings over the realm, but to
sit in a fixed place. But the denial of justice under John was a small
danger compared with the lawless exactions both of himself and his
predecessor. Richard had increased the amount of the scutage which Henry
II. had introduced, and applied it to raise funds for his ransom. He had
restored the Danegeld, or land tax, so often abolished, under the new
name of 'carucage,' had seized the wool of the Cistercians and the plate
of the churches, and rated movables as well as land. John had again
raised the rate of scutage, and imposed aids, fines, and ransoms at his
pleasure without counsel of the baronage. The Great Charter met this
abuse by the provision on which our constitutional system rests. With
the exception of the three customary feudal aids which still remained to
the crown, 'no scutage or aid shall be imposed in our realm save by the
Common Council of the realm;' and to this Great Council it was provided
that prelates and the greater barons should be summoned by special writ,
and all tenants in chief through the sheriffs and bailiffs, at least
forty days before. But it was less easy to provide means for the control
of a King whom no man could trust, and a council of twenty-four barons
was chosen from the general body of their order to enforce on John the
observance of the Charter, with the right of declaring war on the King
should its provisions be infringed. Finally, the Charter was published
throughout the whole country, and sworn to at every hundred-mote and
town-mote by order from the King.--_Green's Short History of the English
People_, p. 123.

       *       *       *       *       *




Whereas the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, assembled at
Westminster, lawfully, fully, and freely representing all the estates of
the people of this realm, did upon the thirteenth day of February, in
the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty-eight [o.s.],[44]
present unto their Majesties, then called and known by the names and
style of William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange, being present
in their proper persons, a certain Declaration in writing, made by the
said Lords and Commons, in the words following, viz.:

[Footnote 44: In New Style Feb. 23, 1689.]

Whereas the late King James II., by the assistance of divers evil
counsellors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour
to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion, and the laws and
liberties of this kingdom:

1. By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and
suspending of laws, and the execution of laws, without consent of

2. By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly
petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power.

3. By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the Great
Seal for erecting a court, called the Court of Commissioners for
Ecclesiastical Causes.

4. By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of
prerogative, for other time and in other manner than the same was
granted by Parliament.

5. By raising and keeping a
standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of
Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law.

6. By causing several good subjects, being Protestants, to be
disarmed, at the same time when Papists were both armed and employed
contrary to law.

7. By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in

8. By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes
cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and
illegal causes.

9. And whereas of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified
persons have been returned, and served on juries in trials, and
particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not

10. And excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in
criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty
of the subjects.

11. And excessive fines have been imposed; and illegal and cruel
punishments inflicted.

12. And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures
before any conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the
same were to be levied.

All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and
statutes, and freedom of this realm.

And whereas the said late King James II. having abdicated the
government, and the throne being thereby vacant, his Highness the Prince
of Orange (whom it hath pleased Almighty God to make the glorious
instrument of delivering this kingdom from popery and arbitrary power)
did (by the advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and divers
principal persons of the Commons) cause letters to be written to the
Lords Spiritual and Temporal, being Protestants, and other letters to
the several counties, cities, universities, boroughs, and cinque ports,
for the choosing of such persons to represent them as were of right to
be sent to Parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon the
two-and-twentieth day of January, in this year one thousand six hundred
eighty and eight,[45] in order to such an establishment, as that their
religion, laws, and liberties might not again be in danger of being
subverted; upon which letters elections have been accordingly made.

[Footnote 45: In New Style Feb. 1, 1689.]

And thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons,
pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now
assembled in a full and free representation of this nation, taking
into their most serious consideration the best means for attaining the
ends aforesaid, do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case
have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient
rights and liberties, declare:

1. That the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of
laws by regal authority, without consent of Parliament, is illegal.

2. That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the execution
of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of
late, is illegal.

3. That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners
for Ecclesiastical Causes, and all other commissions and courts of
like nature, are illegal and pernicious.

4. _That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence
and prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time or in
other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal._[46]

5. _That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King,
and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are

6. _That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom
in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against

7. _That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their
defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law._[49]

8. That election of members of Parliament ought to be free.

9. _That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in
Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or
place out of Parliament._[50]

10. _That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive
fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted._[51]

11. _That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and
jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be

[Footnote 46: Compare this clause 4 with clauses 12 and 14 of Magna
Charta, and with Art. I. Section vii. clause 1 of the Constitution of
the United States.]

[Footnote 47: Compare clause 5 with Amendment I.]

[Footnote 48: Compare clause 6 with Amendment III.]

[Footnote 49: Compare clause 7 with Amendment II.]

[Footnote 50: Compare clause 9 with Constitution, Art. I. Section vi.
clause 1.]

[Footnote 51: Compare clause 10 with Amendment VIII.]

[Footnote 52: Compare clause 11 with Amendments VI. and VII.]

12. That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of
particular persons before conviction are illegal and void.

13. And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending,
strengthening, and preserving of the laws, Parliament ought to be held

And they do claim, demand, and insist upon all and singular the
premises, as their undoubted rights and liberties; and that no
declarations, judgments, doings or proceedings, to the prejudice of
the people in any of the said premises, ought in any wise to be drawn
hereafter into consequence or example.

To which demand of their rights they are particularly encouraged by
the declaration of his Highness the Prince of Orange, as being the
only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy therein.

Having therefore an entire confidence that his said Highness the
Prince of Orange will perfect the deliverance so far advanced by him,
and will still preserve them from the violation of their rights,
which they have here asserted, and from all other attempts upon their
religion, rights, and liberties:

II. The said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, assembled at
Westminster, do resolve, that William and Mary, Prince and Princess of
Orange, be, and be declared, King and Queen of England, France, and
Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, to hold the crown and
royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to them the said Prince
and Princess during their lives, and the life of the survivor of them;
and that the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in, and
executed by, the said Prince of Orange, in the names of the said Prince
and Princess, during their joint lives; and after their deceases, the
said crown and royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to be to
the heirs of the body of the said Princess; and for default of such
issue to the Princess Anne of Denmark, and the heirs of her body; and
for default of such issue to the heirs of the body of the said Prince of
Orange. And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do pray the
said Prince and Princess to accept the same accordingly.

The act goes on to declare that, their Majesties having accepted the
crown upon these terms, the rights and liberties asserted and claimed
in the said declaration are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights
and liberties of the people of this kingdom, and so shall be esteemed,
allowed, adjudged, deemed, and taken to be, and that all and every
the particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly holden and
observed, as they are expressed in the said declaration; and all
officers and ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majesties and
their successors according to the same in all times to come.

The act then declares that William and Mary are and of right ought
to be King and Queen of England, etc.; and it goes on to regulate the
succession after their deaths.

The passing of the Bill of Rights in 1689 restored to the monarchy
the character which it had lost under the Tudors and the Stuarts. The
right of the people through its representatives to depose the King,
to change the order of succession, and to set on the throne whom they
would, was now established. All claim of divine right, or hereditary
right independent of the law, was formally put an end to by the
election of William and Mary. Since their day no English sovereign has
been able to advance any claim to the crown save a claim which rested
on a particular clause in a particular Act of Parliament. William,
Mary, and Anne were sovereigns simply by virtue of the Bill of Rights.
George the First and his successors have been sovereigns solely by
virtue of the Act of Settlement. An English monarch is now as much the
creature of an Act of Parliament as the pettiest tax-gatherer in his
realm.--_Green's Short History_, p. 673.

       *       *       *       *       *




_The first written constitution that created a government._

Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise disposition
of his diuyne pruidence so to Order and dispose of things that we the
Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Harteford and Wethersfield are
now cohabiting and dwelling in and vppon the River of Conectecotte and
the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are
gathered togather the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace
and vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent
Gouerment established according to God, to order and dispose of the
affayres of the people at all seasons as occation shall require; doe
therefore assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State
or Comonwelth; and doe, for our selues and our Successors and such as
shall be adioyned to vs att any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination
and Confederation togather, to mayntayne and p'rsearue the liberty and
purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus w'ch we now p'rfesse, as also
the disciplyne of the Churches, w'ch according to the truth of the
said gospell is now practised amongst vs; As also in o'r Ciuell
Affaires to be guided and gouerned according to such Lawes,
Rules, Orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered & decreed, as

1. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that there shall be yerely two
generall Assemblies or Courts, the one the second thursday in Aprill,
the other the second thursday in September, following; the first shall
be called the Courte of Election, wherein shall be yerely Chosen from
tyme to tyme soe many Magestrats and other publike Officers as shall be
found requisitte: Whereof one to be chosen Gouernour for the yeare
ensueing and vntill another be chosen, and noe other Magestrate to be
chosen for more than one yeare; p'ruided allwayes there be sixe chosen
besids the Gouernour; w'ch being chosen and sworne according to an Oath
recorded for that purpose shall haue power to administer iustice
according to the Lawes here established, and for want thereof according
to the rule of the word of God; w'ch choise shall be made by all that
are admitted freemen and haue taken the Oath of Fidellity, and doe
cohabitte w'thin this Jurisdiction, (hauing beene admitted Inhabitants
by the maior p'rt of the Towne wherein they liue,) or the mayor p'rte of
such as shall be then p'rsent.

2. It is Ordered, sentensed and decreed, that the Election of the
aforesaid Magestrats shall be on this manner: euery p'rson p'rsent
and quallified for choyse shall bring in (to the p'rsons deputed to
receaue them) one single pap'r w'th the name of him written in
yet whom he desires to haue Gouernour, and he that hath the greatest
number of papers shall be Gouernor for that yeare. And the rest of
the Magestrats or publike Officers to be chosen in this manner: The
Secretary for the tyme being shall first read the names of all that
are to be put to choise and then shall seuerally nominate them
distinctly, and euery one that would hane the p'rson nominated to be
chosen shall bring in one single paper written vppon, and he that
would not haue him chosen shall bring in a blanke: and euery one that
hath more written papers then blanks shall be a Magistrat for that
yeare; w'ch papers shall be receaued and told by one or more that
shall be then chosen by the court and sworne to be faythfull therein;
but in case there should not be sixe chosen as aforesaid, besids the
Gouernor, out of those w'ch are nominated, then he or they w'ch haue
the most written pap'rs shall be a Magestrate or Magestrats for the
ensueing yeare, to make vp the foresaid number.

3. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Secretary shall not
nominate any p'rson, nor shall any p'rson be chosen newly into the
Magestracy w'ch was not p'rpownded in some Generall Courte before, to
be nominated the next Election; and to that end yt shall be lawfull
for ech of the Townes aforesaid by their deputyes to nominate any two
whom they conceaue fitte to be put to election; and the Courte may
ad so many more as they iudge requisitt.

4. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed that noe p'rson be chosen

Gouernor aboue once in two yeares, and that the Gouernor be always
a member of some approved congregation, and formerly of the
Magestracy w'th this Jurisdiction; and all the Magestrats Freemen of
this Comonwelth: and that no Magestrate or other publike officer shall
execute any p'rte of his or their Office before they are seuerally
sworne, w'ch shall be done in the face of the Courte if they be
p'rsent, and in case of absence by some deputed for that purpose.

5. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that to the aforesaid Conrte
of Election the seu'rall Townes shall send their deputyes, and when
the Elections are ended they may p'rceed in any publike searuice as at
other Courts. Also the other Generall Courte in September shall be for
makeing of lawes, and any other publike occation, w'ch conserns the
good of the Comonwelth.

6. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Gou'rnor shall,
ether by himselfe or by the secretary, send out sumons to the
Constables of eu'r Towne for the cauleing of these two standing
Courts, on month at lest before their seu'rall tymes: And also if the
Gou'rnor and the gretest p'rte of the Magestrats see cause vppon any
spetiall occation to call a generall Courte, they may giue order to
the secretary soe to doe w'thin fowerteene dayes warneing; and
if vrgent necessity so require, vppon a shorter notice, giueing
sufficient grownds for yt to the deputyes when they meete, or els
be questioned for the same; And if the Gou'rnor and Mayor p'rte of
Magestrats shall ether neglect or refuse to call the two Generall
standing Courts or ether of them, as also at other tymes when the
occations of the Comonwelth require, the Freemen thereof, or the Mayor
p'rte of them, shall petition to them soe to doe: if then yt be ether
denyed or neglected the said Freemen or the Mayor p'rte of them shall
haue power to giue order to the Constables of the seuerall Townes to
doe the same, and so may meete togather, and ehuse to themselues a
Moderator, and may p'rceed to do any Acte of power, w'ch any other
Generall Courte may.

7. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed that after there are warrants
giuen out for any of the said Generall Courts, the Constable or
Constables of ech Towne shall forthw'th give notice distinctly to the
inhabitants of the same, in some Publike Assembly or by goeing or
sending from howse to howse, that at a place and tyme by him or
them lymited and sett, they meet and assemble the: selues togather
to elect and chuse certen deputyes to be att the Generall Courte then
following to agitate the afayres of the comonwelth; w'ch said Deputyes
shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the seu'rall
Townes and haue taken the oath of fidellity; p'ruided that non be
chosen a Deputy for any Generall Courte w'ch is not a Freeman of this

The foresaid deputyes shall be chosen in manner following: euery
p'rson that is p'rsent and quallified as before exp'rssed, shall bring
the names of such, written in seu'rrall papers, as they desire to haue
chosen for that Imployment. and these 3 or 4, more or lesse, being the
number agreed on to be chosen for that tyme, that haue greatest
number of papers written for the: shall be deputyes for that
Courte; whose names shall be endorsed on the backe side of the warrant
and returned into the Courte, w'th the Constable or Constables hand
vnto the same.

8. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that Wyndsor, Hartford and
Wethersfield shall haue power, ech Towne, to send fower of their freemen
as deputyes to euery Generall Courte; and whatsoeuer other Townes shall
be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many
deputyes as the Courte shall judge meete, a resonable p'rportion to the
number of Freemen that are in the said Townes being to be attended
therein; w'ch deputyes shall have the power of the whole Towne to giue
their voats and alowance to all such lawes and orders as may be for the
publike good, and unto w'ch the said Townes are to be bownd.

9. It is ordered and decreed, that the deputyes thus chosen shall haue
power and liberty to appoynt a tyme and a place of meeting togather
before any Generall Courte to aduise and consult of all such things as
may concerne the good of the publike, as also to examine their owne
Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the gretest
p'rte of them find any election to be illegall they may seclud such for
p'rsent from their meeting, and returne the same and their resons to the
Courte; and if yt proue true, the Courte may fyne the p'rty or p'rtyes
so intruding and the Towne, if they see cause, and giue out a warrant to
goe to a newe election in a legall way, either in p'rte or in whole.
Also the said deputyes shall haue power to fyne any that shall be
disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due tyme or place
according to appoyntment; and they may returne the said fynes into the
Courte if yt be refused to be paid, and the tresurer to take notice of
yt, and to estreete or levy the same as he doth other fynes.

10. It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that euery Generall Courte,
except such as through neglecte of the Gou'rnor and the greatest p'rte
of Magestrats the Freemen themselves doe call, shall consist of the
Gouernor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and 4 other
Magestrats at lest, w'th the mayor p'rte of the deputyes of the geuerall
Townes legally chosen; and in case the Freemen or mayor p'rte of them,
through neglect or refusall of the Gouernor and mayor p'rte of the
magestrats, shall call a Courte, y't shall consist of the mayor p'rte of
Freemen that are p'rsent or their deputyes, w'th a Moderator chosen by
the: In w'ch said Generall Courts shall consist the supreme power of the
Comonwelth, and they only shall haue power to make laws or repeale the:,
to graunt leuyes, to admitt of Freemen, dispose of lands vndisposed of,
to seuerall Townes or p'rsons, and also shall haue power to call ether
Courte or Magestrate or any other p'rson whatsoeuer into question for
any misdemeanour, and may for just causes displace or deale otherwise
according to the nature of the offence; and also may deale in any other
matter that concerns the good of this comonwelth, excepte election of
Magestrats, w'ch shall be done by the whole boddy of Freemen.

In w'ch Courte the Gouernour or Moderator shall haue power to order the
Courte to giue liberty of spech, and silence vnceasonable and disorderly
speakeings, to put all things to voate, and in case the vote be equall
to haue the casting voice. But non of these Courts shall be adiorned or
dissolued w'thout the consent of the maior p'rte of the Court.

11. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that when any Generall Courte
vppon the occations of the Comonwelth haue agreed vppon any sume or
somes of mony to be leuyed vppon the seuerall Townes w'thin this
Jurisdiction, that a Comittee be chosen to sett out and appoynt w't
shall be the p'rportion of euery Towne to pay of the said letiy,
p'rvided the Comittees be made up of an equall number out of each Towne.

14'th January, 1638, the 11 Orders abouesaid are voted.


I ---- being now chosen to be Gou'rnor wthin this Jurisdiction, for
the yeare ensueing, and vntil a new be chosen, doe sweare by the
greate and dreadfull name of the everliueing God, to p'rmote the
publicke good and peace of the same, according to the best of my
skill; as also will mayntayne all lawfull priuiledges of this
Comonwealth; as also that all wholesome lawes that are or shall be
made by lawfull authority here established, be duly executed; and will
further the execution of Justice according to the rule of Gods word;
so helpe me God, in the name of the Lo: Jesus Christ.


I, ---- being chosen a Magestrate w'thin this Jurisdiction for the
yeare ensueing, doe sweare by the great and dreadfull name of the
euerliueing God, to p'rmote the publike good and peace of the same,
according to the best of my skill, and that I will mayntayne all the
lawfull priuiledges thereof according to my vnderstanding, as also
assist in the execution of all such wholsome lawes as are made or
shall be made by lawfull authority heare established, and will further
the execution of Justice for the tyme aforesaid according to the
righteous rule of Gods word; so helpe me God, etc.

[Until 1752, the legal year in England began March 25 (Lady Day), not
January 1. All the days between January 1 and March 25 of the year
which we now call 1639 were therefore then a part of the year 1638; so
that the date of the Constitution is given by its own terms as 1638,
instead of 1639.]



1. The thirteen original states.

2. States formed directly from other states.
     Vermont from territory disputed between New York and
     New Hampshire, Kentucky from Virginia, Maine
     from Massachusetts, West Virginia from Virginia.

3. States from the Northwest Territory (see p. 253).
     Ohio,                         Michigan,
     Indiana,                      Wisconsin,
     Illinois,                     Minnesota, in part.

4. States from other territory ceded by states.
     Tennessee, ceded by North Carolina,
     Alabama, ceded by South Carolina and Georgia,
     Mississippi, ceded by South Carolina and Georgia.

5. States from the Louisiana purchase (see p. 253).
     Louisiana,                    North Dakota,
     Arkansas,                     South Dakota,
     Missouri,                     Montana,
     Kansas,                       Minnesota, in part,
     Nebraska,                     Wyoming, in part,
     Iowa,                         Colorado, in part.

6. States from Mexican cessions.
     California,                   Wyoming, in part,
     Nevada,                       Colorado, in part.

7. States from territory defined by treaty with Great Britain
(see p. 254).
     Oregon,             Washington,            Idaho.

8. States from other sources.
     Florida, from a Spanish cession,
     Texas, by annexation (see p. 254).



(_Ratio of representation based on census of_ 1890--173,901.)

                                     Popula-            Popula-  Rep
                                     tion to  Area in   tion,     in   Elect.
Dates.         No.  Names.           sq.m.    sq. m.    1890.    Cong  vote
                                                                 1892. 1892.
Ratified the Constitution.
1787, Dec. 7    1   Delaware           82.1     2,050     168,493   1    3
      Dec. 12   2   Pennsylvania      111.2    45,215   5,258,014  30   32
      Dec. 18   3   New Jersey        179.7     7,815   1,444,933   8   10
1788, Jan. 2    4   Georgia            30.8    59,475   1,837,353  11   13
      Jan. 9    5   Connecticut       149.5     4,990     746,258   4    6
      Feb. 6    6   Massachusetts     269.2     8,315   2,238,943  13   15
      April 28  7   Maryland           85.3    12,210   1,042,390   6    8
      May 23    8   South Carolina     37.6    30,570   1,151,149   7    9
      June 21   9   New Hampshire      40.4     9,305     376,530   2    4
      June 25  10   Virginia           39.     42,450   1,655,980  10   12
      July 26  11   New York          121.9    49,170   5,997,853  34   35
1789, Nov. 21  12   North Carolina     30.9    52,250   1,617,947   9   11
1790, May 29   13   Rhode Island      276.4     1,250     345,506   2    4

Admitted to the Union.
1791, March 4  14   Vermont            34.6    9,565     332,422   2    4
1792, June 1   15   Kentucky           46.    40,400   1,858,635  11   13
1796, June 1   16   Tennessee          42.    42,050   1,767,518  10   12
1803, Feb. 19  17   Ohio               89.4   41,060   3,672,316  21   23
1812, April 30 18   Louisiana          22.9   48,720   1,118,587   6    8
1816, Dec. 11  19   Indiana            60.3   36,350   2,192,404  13   15
1817, Dec. 10  20   Mississippi        42.7   46,810   1,289,600   7    9
1818, Dec. 3   21   Illinois           67.5   56,650   3,826,351  22   24
1819, Dec. 14  22   Alabama            28.9   52,250   1,513,017   9   11
1820, March 15 23   Maine              20.    33,040     661,086   4    6
1821, Aug. 10  24   Missouri           38.5   69,415   2,679,184  15   17
1836, June 15  25   Arkansas           20.9   53,850   1,128,179   6    8
1837, Jan. 25  26   Michigan           35.5   58,915   2,093,889  12   14
1845, March 3  27   Florida             6.6   58,680     391,422   2    4
1815, Dec. 29  28   Texas               8.4  265,780   2,235,523  13   15
1846, Dec. 28  29   Iowa               34.1   56,025   1,911,896  11   13
1848, May 29   30   Wisconsin          30.    56,040   1,686,880  10   12
1850, Sept. 9  31   California          7.6  158,360   1,208,130   7    9
1858, May 11   32   Minnesota          15.6   83,365   1,301,826   7    9
1859, Feb. 14  33   Oregon              3.2   96,030     313,767   2    4
1861, Jan. 29  34   Kansas             17.3   82,080   1,427,096   8   10
1863, June 19  35   West Virginia      30.7   24,780     762,794   4    6
1864, Oct. 31  36   Nevada              0.4  110,700      45,761   1    3
1867, March 1  37   Nebraska           13.6   77,510   1,058,910   6    8
1876, Aug. 1   38   Colorado            3.9  103,925     412,198   2    4
1889, Nov. 2 { 39   North Dakota }      2.5   70,795     182,719   1    3
             { 40   South Dakota }      4.2   77,650     328,808   2    4
1889, Nov. 8   41   Montana             0.9  146,080     132,159   1    3
1889, Nov. 11  42   Washington          5.    69,180     349,390   2    4
1890, July 3   43   Idaho               0.9   84,800      84,385   1    3
1890, July 10  44   Wyoming             0.6   97,890      60,705   1    3

1850, Sept. 9       Utah                2.4   84,970     207,905
1850, Sept. 9       New Mexico          1.2  122,580     153,593
1863, Feb. 24       Arizona             0.5  113,020      59,620
1868, July 27       Alaska                   577,390   no census
1834, June 30       Indian Territory          31,400   no census
1889, April 22      Oklahoma            1.5   39,030      61,834
1791, Mar 3         Dist. of C.     3,291.1       70     230,392

1892, total House of Representatives 356 + Senate 88 = electoral votes,



_Showing Percentages of Urban Population._

Date. |   Pop. of U.S. |  No. of  |  Pop. of Cities. |  % of
      |                |  Cities  |                  |of Urban Pop.
1790  |    3,929,214   |     6    |       131,472    |    3.33
1800  |    5,308,483   |     6    |       210,873    |    3.9
1810  |    7,239,881   |    11    |       356,920    |    4.9
1820  |    9,633,822   |    13    |       474,135    |    4.9
1830  |   12,866,020   |    26    |       864,509    |    6.7
1840  |   17,069,453   |    44    |     1,453,994    |    8.5
1850  |   23,191,876   |    85    |     2,897,586    |   12.5
1860  |   31,443,321   |   141    |     5,072,256    |   16.1
1870  |   38,558,371   |   226    |    8,071,875     |   20.9
1880  |   50,155,783   |   286    |    11,318,597    |   22.5
1890  |   62,622,250   |   443    |    18,235,670    |   29.1



Applicant's No..


DIRECTIONS.--1. The number above is _your examination number_.
Write it at the top of every sheet given you in this examination.

2. Fill promptly all the blanks in this sheet. Any omission may
lead to the rejection of your papers.

3. Write all answers and exercises in ink.

4. Write your name on no other sheet but this.

Place this sheet in the envelope. Write your number on the envelope
and seal the same.


I declare upon my honour as follows:

1. My true and full name is (if female, please say whether
Mrs. or Miss)

2. Since my application was made I have been living at (give
all the places)

3. My post-office address in full is

4. If examined within twelve months for the civil service--for
any post-office, custom-house, or Department at Washington--state
the time, place, and result.

5. If you have ever been in the civil service, state where and
in what position, and when you left it and the reasons therefor.

6. Are you now under enlistment in the army or navy?

7. If you have been in the military or naval service of the
United States, state which, and whether you were honourably
discharged, when, and for what cause.

8. Since my application no change has occurred in my health
or physical capacity except the following:

9. I was born at ----, on the ---- day of ----, 188.

10. My present business or employment is

11. I swore to my application for this examination as near as
I can remember at (town or city of) ----, on the ---- day
of ----, 188.

All the above statements are true, to the best of my knowledge
and belief.

(_Signature in usual form_.)------------

Dated at the city of ----, State of ----, this ---- day
of ----, 188_.


_Question 1._ One of the examiners will distinctly read (at a
rate reasonable for copying) fifteen lines from the Civil-Service Law
or Rules, and each applicant will copy the same below from the reading
as it proceeds.

_Question 2._ Write below at length the names of fifteen States
and fifteen cities of the Union.

_Question 3. Copy the following precisely_:

"And in my opinion, sir, this principle of claiming monopoly of office
by the right of conquest, unless the public shall effectually rebuke
and restrain it, will effectually change the character of our
Government. It elevates party above country; it forgets the common
weal in the pursuit of personal emolument; it tends to form, it does
form, we see that it has formed, a political combination, united by
no common principles or opinions among its members, either upon the
powers of the Government or the true policy of the country, but held
together simply as an association, under the charm of a popular
head, seeking to maintain possession of the Government by a vigorous
exercise of its patronage, and for this purpose agitating and alarming
and distressing social life by the exercise of a tyrannical party
proscription. Sir, if this course of things cannot be checked, good
men will grow tired of the exercise of political privileges. They will
see that such elections are but a mere selfish contest for office,
and they will abandon the Government to the scramble of the bold, the
daring, and the desperate."--_Daniel Webster on Civil Service, in

_Question 4._ Correct any errors in spelling which you find in
the following sentences, writing your letters so plainly that no one
of them can be mistaken:

Unquestionebly every federil offeser should be able to spell corectly
the familier words of his own languege.

Lose her hankercheif and elivate her head immediatly or she will
spedily loose her life by strangelation.


_Question 1._ Multiply 2341705 by 23870 and divide the product by

_Give operation in full._

_Question 2._ Divide two hundred and five thousand two hundred
and five, and two hundred and five ten-thousandths, by one hundred
thousand one hundred, and one hundredth.

_Question 3._ Multiply 10-2/3 by 7-1/8 and divide the product by
9-1/2, reducing the same to the simplest form.

_Give operation in full._

_Question 4._ The annual cost of the public schools of a city
is $36,848. What school-tax must be assessed, the cost of collecting
being 2 per cent., and 6 per cent of the assessed tax being

_Give operation in full._

_Question 5._ Add 7-3/4, 3/5 of 6-2/9, 8-11/12, 6-1/2 divided by
8-1/8, and reduce to lowest terms.

_Give operation in full._

_Question 6._ The Government sold 3000 old muskets at 22-1/2 per
cent, of their cost. The purchaser becoming insolvent paid only 13 per
cent. of the price he agreed to pay; that is, he paid $900. What did
each musket cost the Government?

_Give operation in full._

_Question 7._ What will it cost to carpet a room 36 feet wide by
72 feet long with 3/4 width carpet at $2.12 per yard, including cost
of carpet-lining at 11 cents a square yard and 12 cents a yard for
making and laying the carpet?

_Give operation in full_.

_Question_ 8. A owned 7/8 of a ship and sold 4/5 of his share to
B, who sold 5/9 of what he bought to C, who sold 6/7 of what he bought
to D. What part of the whole vessel did D buy?

_Give operation in full_.

_Question_ 9. A man bought a cargo of wool and sold seven
thousand and forty-five ten-thousandths of it. How much had he left?

_Give operation in full in decimal fractions_.

_Question_ 10. A merchant imported from Bremen 32 pieces of linen
of 32 yards each, on which he paid for the duties, at 24 per cent,
$122.38, and other charges to the amount of $40.96. What was the
invoice value per yard, and the cost per yard after duties and charges
were paid?

_Give operation, in full_.


_Question_ 1. On a mortgage for $3,125, dated July 5, 1880
(interest at 3-1/2 per cent), a payment of $840 was made April 23,
1881. What amount was due January 17, 1882?

_Give operation in full_.

_Question_ 2. The Government sold an old vessel for $160,000,
payable two fifths in eight months and the residue in seventeen months
from the sale. What was the present cash value of the vessel, the
current rate of interest on money being five per cent?

_Give operation in full_.

_Question_ 3. Write a promissory note to be given by J. Brown
to J. Smith, for 60 days, without grace, for $500, at 5 per cent
interest, and state what amount will be due at maturity of the note.

_Question_ 4. James X. Young, a contractor, had the following
dealings with the Treasury Department: He furnished January 4, 1882,
14 tables at $16 each; June 6, 1882, 180 desks at $18.50 each;
December 7, 1882, 150 chairs at $2 each, and July 18, 1883, 14
book-cases at $90 each. He was paid cash as follows: January 31, 1882,
$224; June 30, $1,800; December 18, $300; and July 31, 1883, he was
allowed on settlement $75 for cartage and charged $25 for breakages.
State his account and show balance due.


_Question_ 1. State the meaning of tense and of mood, and explain
the difference between them in the English language or grammar.

_Question_ 2. Correct any errors you find in the following

The boy done it, and he is as restless here as he will be if he was
with you.

He had did it and spoke of doing it before we come here.

_Question_ 3. Write a letter to Senator Jackson answering in full
his letter of September 7 to the Secretary of the Treasury in which
he asks: "How must my nephew proceed to obtain a clerkship in the
Treasury Department, under the Civil-Service Law, and what are the
requisite qualifications of a good clerk?"


_Question_ 1. Write without abbreviation the names of fifteen
seaports of the Union.

_Question_ 2. Name four of the principal tributaries of the
Mississippi River.

_Question_ 3. Bound the State in which you live.

_Question_ 4. Which States are peninsular, and upon what waters
are they situated?

_Question_ 5. Name six of the principal railroads in the United

_Question_ 6. Name seven of the leading agricultural products of
the United States, and state in what section of the country each is
most extensively cultivated.




Approved by the Governor April 4, 1890. Passed, three fifths being

_The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and
Assembly, do enact as follows:_

SECTION 1. Title five of the Penal Code, entitled "Of crimes against
the elective franchise," is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

Section 41. It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or
indirectly, by himself or through any other person:

1. To pay, lend, or contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend, or
contribute any money or other valuable consideration, to or for any
voter, or to or for any other person, to induce such voter to vote or
refrain from voting at any election, or to induce any voter to vote
or refrain from voting at such election for any particular person or
persons, or to induce such voter to come to the polls or remain away
from the polls at such election, or on account of such voter having
voted or refrained from voting or having voted or refrained from
voting for any particular person, or having come to the poll or
remained away from the polls at such election.

2. To give, offer, or promise any office, place, or employment, or
to promise to procure or endeavour to procure any office, place, or
employment to or for any voter, or to or for any other person, in
order to induce such voter to vote or refrain from voting at any
election, or to induce any voter to vote or refrain from voting at
such election for any particular person or persons.

3. To make any gift, loan, promise, offer, procurement, or agreement,
as aforesaid, to, for, or with any person in order to induce such
person to procure or endeavour to procure the election of any person,
or the vote of any voter at any election.

4. To procure or engage, promise or endeavour to procure, in
consequence of any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement, or
agreement, the election of any person or the vote of any voter at such

5. To advance or pay or cause to be paid any money or other valuable
thing to or for the use of any other person with the intent that the
same, or any part thereof, shall be used in bribery at any election,
or to knowingly pay, or cause to be paid, any money or other valuable
thing to any person in discharge or repayment of any money, wholly or
in part, expended in bribery at any election.

Section 41_a_. It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or
indirectly, by himself or through any other person:

1. To receive, agree, or contract for, before or during an election,
any money, gift, loan, or other valuable consideration, office, place,
or employment for himself or any other person, for voting or agreeing
to vote, or for coming or agreeing to come to the polls, or for
remaining, away or agreeing to remain away from the polls, or for
refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting, or for voting or
agreeing to vote or refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting for
any particular person or persons at any election.

2. To receive any money or other valuable thing during or after an
election on account of himself or any other person having voted or
refrained from voting at such election, or on account of himself
or any other person having voted or refrained from voting for any
particular person at such election, or on account of himself or any
other person having come to the polls or remained away from the polls
at such election, or on account of having induced any other person to
vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for any
particular person or persons at such election.

41_b_. It shall be unlawful for any candidate for public office,
before or during an election, to make any bet or wager with a voter,
or take a share or interest in or in any manner become a party to any
such bet or wager, or provide or agree to provide any money to be used
by another in making such bet or wager, upon any event or contingency
whatever. Nor shall it be lawful for any person, directly or
indirectly, to make a bet or wager with a voter, depending upon
the result of any election, with the intent thereby to procure the
challenge of such voter, or to prevent him from voting at such

Section 41_c_. It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or
indirectly, by himself or any other person in his behalf, to make use
of, or threaten to make use of, any force, violence, or restraint, or
to inflict or threaten the infliction by himself, or through any other
person, of any injury, damage, harm, or loss, or in any manner to
practice intimidation upon or against any person, in order to induce
or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting at any election,
or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or
persons at any election, or on account of such person having voted or
refrained from voting at any election. And it shall be unlawful for
any person by abduction, duress, or any forcible or fraudulent device
or contrivance whatever to impede, prevent, or otherwise interfere
with, the free exercise of the elective franchise by any voter; or to
compel, induce, or prevail upon any voter either to give or refrain
from giving his vote at any election, or to give or refrain from
giving his vote for any particular person at any election. It shall
not be lawful for any employer in paying his employees the salary or
wages due them to inclose their pay in "pay envelopes" upon which
there is written or printed any political mottoes, devices, or
arguments containing threats, express or implied, intended or
calculated to influence the political opinions or actions of such
employees. Nor shall it be lawful for any employer, within ninety days
of general election to put up or otherwise exhibit in his factory,
work-shop, or other establishment or place where his employees may be
working, any hand-bill or placard containing any threat, notice, or
information that in case any particular ticket or candidate shall be
elected, work in his place or establishment will cease, in whole or in
part, or his establishment be closed up, or the wages of his workmen
be reduced, or other threats, express or implied, intended or
calculated to influence the political opinions or actions of his
employees. This section shall apply to corporations, as well as to
individuals, and any person or corporation violating the provisions
of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and any
corporation violating this section shall forfeit its charter.

Section 41_d_. Every candidate who is voted for at any public
election held within this state shall, within ten days after such
election, file as hereinafter provided an itemized statement, showing
in detail all the moneys contributed or expended by him, directly or
indirectly, by himself or through any other person, in aid of his
election. Such statement shall give the names of the various persons
who received such moneys, the specific nature of each item, and the
purpose for which it was expended or contributed. There shall be
attached to such statement an affidavit subscribed and sworn to by
such candidate, setting forth in substance that the statement thus
made is in all respects true, and that the same is a full and detailed
statement of all moneys so contributed or expended by him, directly
or indirectly, by himself or through any other person in aid of his
election. Candidates for offices to be filled by the electors of the
entire state, or any division or district thereof greater than a
county, shall file their statements in the office of the secretary of
state. The candidates for town, village, and city offices, excepting
the city of New York, shall file their statements in the office of the
town, village, or city clerk respectively, and in cities wherein there
is no city clerk, with the clerk of the common council wherein the
election occurs. Candidates for all other offices, including all
offices in the city and county of New York, shall file their
statements in the office of the clerk of the county wherein the
election occurs.

Section 41_e_. A person offending against any provision of
sections forty-one and forty-one-a of this act is a competent witness
against another person so offending, and may be compelled to attend
and testify upon any trial, hearing, proceeding, or investigation in
the same manner as any other person. But the testimony so given shall
not be used in any prosecution or proceeding, civil or criminal,
against the person so testifying. A person so testifying shall not
thereafter be liable to indictment, prosecution, or punishment for the
offense with reference to which his testimony was given and may plead
or prove the giving of testimony accordingly, in bar of such an
indictment or prosecution.

Section 41_f_. Whosoever shall violate any provision of this title, upon
conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail
for not less than three months nor more than one year. The offenses
described in section[53] forty-one and forty-one-a of this act are hereby
declared to be infamous crimes. When a person is convicted of any
offense mentioned in section forty-one of this act he shall in addition
to the punishment above prescribed, forfeit any office to which he may
have been elected at the election with reference to which such offense
was committed; and when a person is convicted of any offense mentioned
in section forty-one-a of this act he shall in addition to the
punishment above prescribed be excluded from the right of suffrage for a
period of five years after such conviction, and it shall be the duty of
the county clerk of the county in which any such conviction shall be
had, to transmit a certified copy of the record of conviction to the
clerk of each county of the state, within ten days thereafter, which
said certified copy shall be duly filed by the said county clerks in
their respective offices. Any candidate for office who refuses or
neglects to file a statement as prescribed in section forty-one-d of
this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, punishable as above
provided and shall also forfeit his office.

[Footnote 53: So in the original.]

Section 41_g_. Other crimes against the elective franchise are
defined, and the punishment thereof prescribed by special statutes.

Section 2. Section forty-one of the Penal Code, as it existed prior to
the passage of this act, is hereby repealed.

Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately. APPENDIX K.




            PRECINCT, WARD,

           OF (CITY OR TOWN),

            NOVEMBER__, 18__.

                  [Fac-Simile of Signature of Secretary.]
                  _Secretary of the Commonwealth_.


With explanations and illustration.

Prepared by the Ballot Act League with the approval of the Secretary
of the Commonwealth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some representative districts elect one, some two, and a few three
representatives to the General Court. Worcester County elects four
commissioners of insolvency instead of three as in other counties.

No county commissioners or special commissioners will be voted for in
the cities of Boston and Chelsea or the county of Nantucket.

       *       *       *       *       *

Forms for nominating candidates can be had at the department of the
Secretary of the Commonwealth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Carefully observe the official specimen ballots to be posted and
published just before election day.

To vote for a Person, mark a Cross X

GOVERNOR                            Vote for ONE.
OLIVER AMES, of Easton               Republican.
WILLIAM H EARLE, of Worcester        Prohibition.
WILLIAM E. RUSSELL, of Cambridge     Democratic.

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR                 Vote for ONE.
JOHN BASCOM, of Williamstown         Prohibition.
JOHN Q.A. BRACKETT, of Arlington     Republican.
JOHN W. CORCORAN, of Clinton         Democratic.

SECRETARY                           Vote for ONE.
WILLIAM S. OSGOOD, of Boston         Democratic.
HENRY R. PEIRCE, of Abington         Republican.
HENRY C. SMITH, of Williamsburg      Prohibition.

TREASURER                           Vote for ONE.
JOHN M. FISHER, of Attleborough      Prohibition.
GEORGE A. MARDEN, of Lowell          Republican.
HENRY O. THACHER, of Yarmouth        Democratic.

AUDITOR                             Vote for ONE.
CHARLES R. LADD, of Springfield      Republican.
EDMUND A. STOWE, of Hudson           Prohibition.
WILLIAM A. WILLIAMS, of Worcester    Democratic.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL                    Vote for ONE.
ALLEN COFFIN, of Nantucket           Prohibition.
SAMUEL O. LAMB, of Greenfield        Democratic.
ANDREW J. WATERMAN, of Pittsfield    Republican.

COUNCILLOR, Third District          Vote for ONE.
ROBERT O. FULLER, of Cambridge       Republican.
WILLIAM E. PLUMMER, of Newton        Democratic.
SYLVANUS C. SMALL, of Winchester     Prohibition.

SENATOR, Third Middlesex District   Vote for ONE.
FREEMAN HUNT, of Cambridge           Democratic.
CHESTER W. KINGSLEY, of Cambridge   /Republican.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Northern District Vote for ONE.
CHARLES S. LINCOLN, of Somerville     Democratic.
JOHN M. READ, of Lowell               Prohibition.
WILLIAM B. STEVENS, of Stoneham       Republican.

in the Square at the right of the name.

First Middlesex District.                       Vote for TWO.

WILLIAM H. MARBLE, of Cambridge             Prohibition.  __
ISAAC McLEAN, of Cambridge                  Democratic.   __
GEORGE A. PERKINS, of Cambridge             Democratic.   __
JOHN READ, of Cambridge                     Republican.   __
CHESTER V. SANGER, of Cambridge             Republican.   __
WILLIAM A. START, of Cambridge              Prohibition.  __

SHERIFF                                         Vote for ONE.

HENRY G. CUSHING, of Lowell                 Republican.   __
HENRY G. HARKINS, of Lowell                 Prohibition.  __
WILLIAM H. SHERMAN, of Ayer                 Democratic.   __

JOHN W. ALLARD, of Framingham               Democratic.   __
GEORGE J. BURNS, of Ayer                    Republican.   __
WILLIAM P. CUTTER, of Cambridge             Prohibition.  __
FREDERIC T. GREENHALGE, of Lowell           Republican.   __
JAMES HICKS, of Cambridge.                  Prohibition.  __
JOHN C. KENNEDY, of Newton                  Republican.   __
RICHARD J. McKELLEGET, of Cambridge         Democratic.   __
EDWARD D. McVEY, of Lowell                  Democratic.   __
ELMER A. STEVENS, of Somerville             Prohibition.  __

COUNTY COMMISSIONER                             Vote for ONE.

WILLIAM S. FROST, of Marlborough            Republican.   __
JOSEPH W. BARBER, of Sherborn               Prohibition.  __
JAMES SKINNER, of Woburn                    Democratic.   __

SPECIAL COMMISSIONERS                           Vote for TWO.

HENRY BRADLEE, of Medford                   Democratic.   __
LYMAN DYKE, of Stoneham                     Republican.   __
JOHN J. DONOVAN, of Lowell                  Democratic.   __
WILLIAM E. KNIGHT, of Shirley               Prohibition.  __
ORSON E. MALLORY, of Lowell                 Prohibition.  __
EDWIN E. THOMPSON, of Woburn                Republican.   __



Give your name and residence to the ballot clerk, who, on finding your
name on the check list, will admit you within the rail and hand you a

Go alone to one of the voting shelves and there unfold your ballot.

Mark a cross X in the square at the right of the name of each person
for whom you wish to vote. No other method of marking, such as erasing
names, will answer.

Thus, if you wished to vote for John Bowles for Governor, you would
mark your ballot in this way:--

GOVERNOR                           Vote for ONE
JOHN BOWLES, of Taunton             Prohibition.   X
THOMAS E. MEANS, of Boston          Democratic.
ELIJAH SMITH, of Pittsfield         Republican.

If you wish to vote for a person whose name is not on the ballot,
write, or insert by a sticker, the name in the blank line at the end
of the list of candidates for the office, and mark a cross X in the
square at the right of it. Thus, if you wished to vote for George T.
Morton, of Chelsea, for Governor, you would prepare your ballot in
this way:--

GOVERNOR                           Vote for ONE
JOHN BOWLES, of Taunton             Prohibition.
THOMAS E. MEANS, of Boston          Democratic.
ELIJAH SMITH, of Pittsfield         Republican.
_George T. Morton, of Chelsea_                     X

Notice, that for some offices you may vote for "two" or "three"
candidates, as stated in the ballot at the right of the name of the
office to be voted for, e.g.: "COMMISSIONERS OF INSOLVENCY. Vote for

If you spoil a ballot, return it to the ballot clerk, who will give
you another. You cannot have more than two extra ballots, or three in
all. You cannot remain within the rail more than ten minutes, and in
case all the shelves are in use and other voters waiting, you are
allowed only five minutes at the voting shelf.

Before leaving the voting shelf, fold your ballot in the same way as
it was folded when you received it, and keep it so folded until you
place it in the ballot box.

Do not show any one how you have marked your ballot.

Go to the ballot box and give your name and residence to the officer
in charge.

Put your folded ballot in the box with the certificate of the
Secretary of the Commonwealth uppermost and in sight.

You are not allowed to carry away a ballot, whether spoiled or not.

A voter who declares to the presiding official (under oath, if
required) that he was a voter before May 1, 1857, and cannot read, or
that he is blind or physically unable to mark his ballot, can receive
the assistance of one or two of the election officers in the marking
of his ballot.

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