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ELEMENTS OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT
A Text-Book for Use in Public Schools, High Schools and Normal Schools
and a Manual of Reference for Teachers
ALEX. L. PETERMAN
Late Principal and Professor of Civil Government in the Normal School
of the Kentucky State College, and Member of the Kentucky State Senate
New York Cincinnati Chicago
American Book Company
Revised to 1916.
To the thousands of devoted Teachers in every part of the land, who are
training the boys and girls of to-day to a true conception of American
citizenship, and to a deeper love for our whole country, this little
book is dedicated by a Brother in the work.
This text-book begins "at home." The starting-point is the family, the
first form of government with which the child comes in contact. As his
acquaintance with rightful authority increases, the school, the civil
district, the township, the county, the State, and the United States
are taken up in their order.
The book is especially intended for use in the public schools. The
plan is the simplest yet devised, and is, therefore, well adapted to
public school purposes. It has been used by the author for many years,
in public schools, normal schools, and teachers' institutes. It
carefully and logically follows the much praised and much neglected
synthetic method. All students of the science of teaching agree that
beginners in the study of government should commence with the known,
and gradually proceed to the unknown. Yet it is believed this is the
first textbook that closely follows this method of treating the subject.
The constant aim has been to present the subject in a simple and
attractive way, in accordance with sound principles of teaching - that
children may grow into such a knowledge of their government that the
welfare of the country may "come home to the business and bosoms" of
The recent increase of interest among the people upon the subject of
government is a hopeful sign. It will lead to a better knowledge of
our political institutions, and hence give us better citizens. Good
citizenship is impossible unless the people understand the government
under which they live.
It is certainly strange that every State in the Union maintains a
system of public schools for the purpose of training citizens, and that
the course of study in so many States omits civil government, the
science of citizenship.
The author's special thanks are due Hon. Joseph Desha Pickett, Ph.D.,
Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, for the suggestion
which led to the preparation of the work and for excellent thoughts
upon the plan. The author also desires to confess his obligation to
President James K. Patterson, Ph.D., and Professor R. N. Roark, A.M.,
of the Kentucky State College, Lexington, for valuable suggestions as
to the method of treatment and the scope of the book.
The author has derived much assistance from the many admirable works
upon the same subject, now before the country. But he has not
hesitated to adopt a treatment different from theirs when it has been
deemed advisable. He submits his work to a discriminating public, with
the hope that he has not labored in vain in a field in which so many
ALEX. L. PETERMAN.
A FEW WORDS TO TEACHERS.
1. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY. - Every school should teach, and every child
should study, the principles of our government, in order:
1. That by knowing his country better he may learn to love it more.
The first duty of the school is to teach its pupils to love "God, home,
and native land."
2. That the child may learn that there is such a thing as just
authority; that obedience to it is right and manly; that we must learn
to govern by first learning to obey.
3. That he may know his rights as a citizen, and, "knowing, dare
maintain;" that he may also know his _duties_ as a citizen, and,
knowing, may perform them intelligently and honestly.
4. That he may understand the sacredness of the right of suffrage, and
aid in securing honest elections and honest discharge of official
5. That he may better understand the history of his country, for the
history of the United States is largely the history of our political
2. ORAL INSTRUCTION. - There is no child in your school too young to
learn something of geography, of history, and of civil government.
These three subjects are so closely related that it is easier and
better to teach them together. All pupils not prepared for the
text-book should, at least on alternate days, be instructed by the
teacher in a series of familiar talks, beginning with "The Family," and
proceeding slowly to "The School," "The Civil District or Township,"
"The County," "The State," and "The United States." In this system of
oral instruction, which is the best possible preparation for the formal
study of civil government, the plan and outlines of this book may be
used by the teacher with both profit and pleasure.
3. PROPER AGE FOR STUDY OF THE TEXT-BOOK. - The plan and the style of
this book are so simple that the subject will be readily understood by
pupils reading in the "Fourth Reader." Even in our ungraded country
schools the average pupil of twelve years is well prepared to begin the
study of the text-book in civil government. It is a serious mistake to
postpone this much neglected subject until a later age. Let it be
introduced early, that the child's knowledge of his government may
"grow with his growth, and strengthen with his strength."
4. TWO PARTS. - It will be observed that the book is divided into two
parts: the former treating the subject concretely, the latter treating
Beginners should deal with things, not theories; hence, the abstract
treatment of civil government is deferred until the pupil's mind is
able to grasp it.
For the same reason, definitions in the first part of the book are few
and simple, the design of the author being to illustrate rather than to
define; to lead the child to see, rather than to burden his mind with
fine-spun statements that serve only to confuse. In an elaborate work
for advanced students the method of treatment would, of course, be
5. TOPICAL METHOD. - The subject of each paragraph is printed in
bold-faced type, thus specially adapting the book to the topical method
of recitation. This feature also serves as a guide to the pupil in the
preparation of his lesson.
6. SUGGESTIVE QUESTIONS. - In deference to the best professional
thought, the author has omitted all questions upon the text, knowing
that every live teacher prefers to frame his own questions. The space
usually allotted to questions upon the text is devoted to suggestive
questions, intended to lead the pupil to think and to investigate for
The author sincerely hopes that the teacher will not permit the pupil
to memorize the language of the book, but encourage him to express the
thought in his own words.
Introductory; Definition; Purposes; Members; Rights; Duties; Officers;
Powers; Duties; Responsibility; Suggestive Questions
THE SCHOOL AND SCHOOL DISTRICT.
Introductory; Definition and Purposes; Formation; Functions; Members;
Children; Rights; Duties; Parents; Rights and Duties; Government;
Officers; Appointment; Duties; Teacher; Powers; Duties; Suggestive
THE CIVIL DISTRICT.
Introductory; Civil Unit Defined; General Classes; Civil District;
Number; Size; Purposes; Government; Citizens; Rights; Duties; Officers;
Justice of the Peace; Election; Term of Office; Duties; Constable;
Election; Term of Office; Duties; Suggestive Questions
THE TOWNSHIP, OR TOWN.
Introductory; Formation; Number; Size; Purposes; Citizens; Rights;
Duties; Government; Corporate Power; Officers; Legislative Department;
People; Trustees; Executive Department; Clerk; Treasurer; School
Directors; Assessors; Supervisors; Constables; Other Officers; Judicial
Department; Justices; Suggestive Questions
Introductory; Purposes; Formation; Area; County Seat; Government;
Corporate Power; Departments; Officers; Legislative Department; County
Commissioners, or Board of Supervisors; Executive Department; County,
Attorney, or Prosecuting Attorney; County Superintendent of Schools;
Sheriff; Treasurer; Auditor; County Clerk, or Common Pleas Clerk;
Recorder, or Register; Surveyor; Coroner; Other Officers; Judicial
Department; County Judge, or Probate Judge; Suggestive Questions
MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS - VILLAGES, BOROUGHS, AND CITIES.
The Village or Borough; Incorporation; Government; Officers; Duties;
The City; Incorporation; Wards; City Institutions; Finances; Citizens;
Rights and Duties; Government; Officers; Duties; Commission Plan of
City Government; Recall; Suggestive Questions
Introductory; Definition; Formation of Original States; Admission of
New States; Purposes; Functions; Institutions; Citizens; Rights;
Duties; Constitution; Formation and Adoption; Purposes; Value;
Contents; Bill of Rights; Suggestive Questions
THE STATE - (_Continued_).
Government Departments; Legislative Department; Qualifications;
Privileges; Power; Sessions; Functions; Forbidden Powers; The Senate;
House of Representatives; Direct Legislation; Suggestive Questions
THE STATE - (_Continued_).
Executive Department; Governor; Term; Qualifications; Powers; Duties;
Lieutenant-Governor; Secretary of State; Auditor; Comptroller;
Treasurer; Attorney-General; Superintendent of Public Instruction;
Other Officers; Suggestive Questions
THE STATE - (_Continued_).
Judicial Department; Purposes; Supreme Court; District, or Circuit
Court; Territories; Executive Department; Legislative Department;
Judicial Department; Representation in Congress; Laws; Local Affairs;
Purposes; Hawaii and Alaska; District of Columbia; Porto Rico and the
Philippines; Suggestive Questions
THE UNITED STATES.
Introductory; Formation; Form of Government; Purposes; Functions;
Citizens; Naturalization; Rights; Aliens; Constitution; Formation;
Necessity; Amendment; Departments; Suggestive Questions
THE UNITED STATES - (_Continued_).
Legislative Department; Congress; Privileges of the Houses; Privileges
and Disabilities of Members; Powers of Congress; Forbidden Powers;
Senate; House of Representatives; The Speaker; Other Officers;
THE UNITED STATES - (_Continued_).
Executive Department; President; Qualifications; Election;
Inauguration; Official Residence; Dignity and Responsibility; Messages;
Duties and Powers; Cabinet; Department of State; Diplomatic Service;
Consular Service; Treasury Department; Bureaus; War Department;
Bureaus; Military Academy; Navy Department; Naval Academy; Post-Office
Department; Bureaus; Interior Department; Department of Justice; of
Agriculture; of Commerce; of Labor; Separate Commissions; Suggestive
THE UNITED STATES - (_Continued_).
Judicial Department; Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts; Supreme Court of the
United States; Jurisdiction; Dignity; United States Circuit Courts of
Appeals; United States District Court; Court of Customs Appeals; Court
of Claims; Other Courts; Term of Service; Officers of Courts;
Origin and Necessity; For the People; Kinds; Forms of Civil Government;
Monarchy; Aristocracy; Democracy; Suggestive Questions
Rights and Duties; Relation of Rights and Duties; Civil Rights and
Duties; Industrial Rights and Duties; Social Rights and Duties; Moral
Rights and Duties; Political Rights and Duties; Suggestive Questions
LAW AND LIBERTY.
Origin; Kinds of Law; Courts; Suits; Judges; Grand Jury; Trial Jury;
Origin of Juries; Officers of Courts; Legal Proceedings; Suggestive
SUFFRAGE AND ELECTIONS.
Suffrage; Importance; Elections; Methods of Voting; Officers of
Elections; Bribery; Suggestive Questions
THE AUSTRALIAN BALLOT SYSTEM,
Origin; In the United States; Principles; Requirements; Voting;
Advantages; Forms of Ballots; In Louisville; In Massachusetts; In
Indiana; Suggestive Questions
PARTIES AND PARTY MACHINERY.
Origin; Necessity; Party Machinery; Committees; Conventions; Calling
Conventions; Local and State Conventions; National Convention;
Platform; Nominations; Primary Elections; Caucuses; Suggestive Questions
Bills; Introduction; Committees; Reports; Amendments; Passage;
REVENUE AND TAXATION.
Revenue; Taxation; Necessity of Taxation; Direct Taxes; Indirect Taxes;
Customs or Duties; Internal Revenue; Suggestive Questions
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
ELEMENTS OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT
INTRODUCTORY. - People living in the United States owe respect and
obedience to not less than four different governments; that is, to four
forms of organized authority. They have duties, as citizens of a
township or civil district, as citizens of a county, as citizens of
some one of the States, and as citizens of the United States. All
persons are, or have been, members of a family; some also live under a
village or city government; and most children are subject to the
government, of some school. Many people in this country live under six
governments - namely, the family, the township or civil district, the
village or city, the county, the State, and the United States; while
children who live in villages or cities, and attend school, are subject
to seven different governments. These organizations are so closely
related that the duties of the people as citizens of one do not
conflict with their duties as citizens of the others. The better
citizen a person is of one of these governments the better citizen he
is of all governments under which he lives.
DEFINITION. - Each of us is a member of some family. We were born into
the family circle, and our parents first taught us to obey. By
insisting upon obedience, parents govern their children, and thus keep
them from evil and from danger. The family, then, is a form of
government, established for the good of the children themselves, and
the first government that each of us must obey.
PURPOSES. - The family exists for the rearing and training of children,
and for the happiness and prosperity of parents. All children need the
comforts and restraints of home life. They are growing up to be
citizens and rulers of the country, and should learn to rule by first
learning to obey. The lessons of home prepare them for life and for
The members of the family are the father, the mother, and the children;
and the family government exists for all, especially for the children,
that they may be protected, guided, and taught to become useful men and
women. The welfare of each and of all depends upon the family
government, upon the care of the parents and the obedience of the
RIGHTS. - The members have certain rights; that is, certain just claims
upon the family. Each has a right to all the care and protection that
the family can give: a right to be kindly treated; a right to be spoken
to in a polite manner; a right to food, clothing, shelter, and an
opportunity to acquire an education; a right to the advice and warning
of the older members; a right to the respect of all.
DUTIES. - As each of the members has his rights, each also has his
duties; for where a right exists, a duty always exists with it. It is
the duty of each to treat the others kindly; to teach them what is
right and what is wrong; to aid them in their work; to comfort them in
their sorrows; and to rejoice with them in their gladness. It is the
duty of the children to love their parents; to obey them in all things;
to respect older persons; and to abstain from bad habits and bad
The officers of the family government are the father and the mother.
They were made officers when they were married, so that the rulers of
the family are also members of the family. The office of a parent is a
holy office, and requires wisdom for the proper discharge of its duties.
POWERS. - The parents have power to make rules, to decide when these
have been broken, and to insist that they shall be obeyed. They make
the law of the family, enforce the law, and explain the law. They have
supreme control over their children in all the usual affairs of life,
until the children arrive at the legal age - twenty-one years.
DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITY. - Parents should be firm and just in their
rulings; they should study the welfare of their children, and use every
effort to train them to lives of usefulness and honor. It is the duty
of parents to provide their children with food, clothing, shelter, and
the means of acquiring an education. There is no other responsibility
so great as the responsibility of fathers and mothers. They are
responsible for themselves, and the law makes them partly responsible
for the conduct of their children. Therefore, one of the highest
duties of a parent to his children is to exact obedience in all right
things, in order that the children may be trained to true manhood and
To the teacher - Do not assign to the average class more than two or
three pages of the text as a lesson. Make haste slowly. When each
chapter is completed let it be reviewed at once, while the pupil's
interest is fresh.
See that the "Suggestive Questions" at the end of the chapter are not
neglected. If necessary, devote special lessons to their
consideration. Assign the "questions" to the members of the class, to
be answered on the following day, giving not more than two "questions"
to any pupil.
1. Name some of the restraints of home life.
2. Why does the welfare of all depend upon the family government?
3. Why do rights and duties always exist together?
4. Name some bad habits.
5. Why should children abstain from bad habits?
6. What is true manhood?
7. Are disobedient children apt to make good citizens?
8. Should a father permit his bad habits to be adopted by his children?
INTRODUCTORY. - When children reach the age of six or seven years, they
enter the public school and become subject to its rules. We are born
under government, and we are educated under it. We are under it at
home, in school, and in after life. Law and order are everywhere
necessary to the peace, safety, liberty, and' happiness of the people.
True liberty and true enlightenment can not exist unless regulated by
DEFINITION AND PURPOSES. - A school district or sub-district is a
certain portion of the town or county laid off and set apart for the
purpose of establishing and maintaining a public school. It exists for
educational reasons only, and is the unit of educational work. The
public schools are supported by funds raised partly by the State, and
partly by the county or the township. They are frequently called
common schools or free schools. It is the duty of the State to provide
all children with the means of acquiring a plain English education, and
the State discharges this duty by dividing the county into districts of
such size that a school-house and a public school arc within reach of
FORMATION. - The limits of the school district are usually fixed by the
chief school officer of the county, by the town, by the school board,
or by the people living in the neighborhood. In most of the States
districts vary greatly in size and shape; but in some of the States
they have a regular form, each being about two miles square.
FUNCTIONS. - The functions, or work, of the school are solely
educational. The State supports a system of public schools in order
that the masses of the people may be educated. The country needs good
citizens: to be good citizens the people must be intelligent, and to be
intelligent they must attend School.
The members of the school district are the people living in it. All
are interested, one way or another, in the success of the school. In
most States the legal voters elect the school board, or trustees, and
in some States levy the district school taxes. Those who are neither
voters nor within the school age are interested in the intelligence and
good name of the community, and are therefore interested in the public
CHILDREN. - The children within the-school age are the members of the
school, and they are the most important members of the school district.
It is for their good that the school exists. The State has provided
schools in order that its children may be educated, and thus become
useful men and women and good citizens.
RIGHTS. - Children, as members of the school, have important rights and
duties. It is the right, one of the highest rights, of every child to
attend the full session of the public school. Whoever prevents him
from exercising this right commits an offense against the child and
against the State. The State taxes its citizens to maintain a system
of schools for the benefit of every child, and so every child has a
right to all the State has provided for him.
DUTIES. - As it is the right, it is also the duty of all children to
attend the full session of the public school, or of some other equally
good. They should be regular and punctual in their attendance; they
should yield prompt and cheerful obedience to the school government,
and try to avail themselves of all advantages that the school can give.
As it is the duty of the State to offer a plain English education to
every child, so it is the duty of all children to make the most of all
means the State has provided for their education.
PARENTS, THEIR RIGHTS AND DUTIES. - All parents have the right to send
their children to the public school, and it is also their duty to
patronize the public school, or some other equally as good. Fathers
and mothers who deprive their children of the opportunities of
acquiring an education do them lasting injury. Parents should use
every effort to give their children at least the best education that
can be obtained in the public schools.
The school has rules to govern it, that the pupil may be guided,
directed, and protected in the pursuit of knowledge. Schools can not
work without order, and there can be no order without government. The
members of the school desire that good order be maintained, for they
know their success depends upon it; so that school, government, like
all other good government, exists by the consent and for the good of
OFFICERS. - The school, like all other governments, has its officers.
These are the school board, or trustees, and the teacher. They are
responsible for the government and good conduct of the school. There
are, in most governments, three kinds of officers, corresponding to the
three departments of government - the legislative, the judicial, and the
executive. The legislative department of the government makes the
laws, the judicial department explains them, and the executive
department executes them. School officers are mostly executive; that
is, their chief duties are to enforce the laws made by the legislature
for the government of the public schools. As they also make rules for
the school, their duties are partly legislative.
APPOINTMENT, TERM OF OFFICE. - The district officers are usually elected
by the legal voters of the school district; but in some States they are
appointed by the county superintendent, or county school commissioner
as he is often called. In most States the term of office is three
years, but in some it is two years, and in others it is only one year.
Trustees or directors usually receive no pay for their services.
DUTIES. - In most States it is the duty of the district officers to