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4. How do State institutions develop the self-reliance of the people?

5. Name some acts of government which you have seen the State perform.

6. What are charitable institutions?

7. How is justice administered?

8. Wherein are the people of this country freer than other people?

9. How long must a person live in this State to entitle him to vote?

10. What is meant by being secure in person?

11. Read the bill of rights in the constitution of your State.

12. What is a body politic?

13. Why can not the whole people assemble to form a State constitution?

14. What is meant by taking private property for public use?

15. How may the right to speak and print be abused?

16. What is meant by the military being subordinate to the civil power?

17. Are all cases tried by jury?


_Resolved_, That there should be an educational qualification for


THE STATE - (Continued).

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS. - The State government is based upon the State
constitution. It has a legislative department charged with the making
of the laws, an executive department to enforce the laws, and a
judicial department to explain and apply the laws. Each of the
departments is independent of the others, being supreme within its own

The American people believe that the functions of making, of enforcing,
and of explaining the laws, should forever be separate and distinct.
Experience has shown that it is dangerous to the liberties of the
people to permit either of the three departments of government to
trespass upon the functions of the others. Therefore, the limits of
each department are well defined, and its power closely guarded, by the
constitution and laws of the State.


The legislative or law-making power of the State is vested in the
legislature, sometimes called the general assembly, and in some States
known as the general court, or legislative assembly. The legislature
is composed of two bodies, or houses, called respectively the Senate
and the House of Representatives. In New York the latter body is known
as the Assembly, in New Jersey it is called the General Assembly and in
some States the House of Delegates. A bill must be passed by both
branches of the legislature in order to become a law. The proceedings
of the legislature should be made public, and therefore the sessions
are open, and the constitution requires each house to keep and publish
a daily record, called the _Journal_.

QUALIFICATIONS. - The State constitution prescribes the age, the length
of residence, and other legal qualifications for membership in each
branch of the legislature. The constitutions of most States fix a
longer term of office and require a more mature age for senators than
for representatives. In addition to these legal qualifications a
legislator should be a man of unswerving honesty, of broad information,
of close thought, well versed in the principles of government,
acquainted with the needs of the country, and faithful to the interests
of the whole people.

PRIVILEGES. - Each branch of the legislature consists of members elected
by the people. Senators and representatives are responsible for their
official acts to the people, and to the people alone. Except for
treason, felony, and breach of the peace, members of the legislature
are privileged from arrest while attending the sessions of their
respective houses, and while going thereto and returning therefrom.
For any speech or debate in either house, a member thereof can not be
questioned in any other place.

Each house adopts rules for its own government. Each house also elects
its own officers, except that in most States the people elect a
lieutenant-governor, who is also president of the Senate. These
various privileges are granted in the State constitution in order that
the actions of the legislature may be free from all outside influences.

POWER. - The constitution of the State defines the limits of the power
vested in the legislative department. The legislature may enact any
law not forbidden by the Constitution of the State or of the United
States. Every act passed is binding upon the people unless it is
declared by the courts to be unconstitutional. An act of the
legislature, when declared to be unconstitutional, thereby becomes
void; that is, it ceases to have any legal force.

SESSIONS. - The legislature meets at the State Capitol. In a few States
the legislature holds annual sessions, but in far the greater number it
meets biennially; that is, once every two years. In many States the
constitution limits the session to a certain number of days, but in a
few of these States the legislature may extend its session by a special
vote of two-thirds of each house. A majority constitutes a quorum for
business, but a smaller number may meet and adjourn from day to day in
order that the organization may not be lost.

FUNCTIONS. - The legislature enacts laws upon a great variety of
subjects. It fixes the rate of State taxation, it provides for the
collection and distribution of State revenue, creates offices and fixes
salaries, provides for a system of popular education, and makes laws
relating to public works, the administration of justice, the conduct of
elections, the management of railways and other corporations, the
maintenance of charitable and other institutions, the construction and
repair of public roads, the organization of the militia, the conduct of
prisons and reformatories, and a number of other public interests.

FORBIDDEN POWERS. - The Constitution of the United States forbids any
State to exercise certain powers:

(1) No State can enter into any treaty, alliance, confederation,
contract, or agreement with any other State, or with a foreign power;
issue commissions to vessels authorizing them to capture and destroy
the merchant ships of other nations; coin money; issue paper money;
make any thing but gold and silver coin a legal tender for the payment
of debts; pass any bill inflicting the penalty of death without a
regular trial, or any law fixing a penalty for acts done before its
adoption, or any law affecting the provisions of contracts made before
its passage; or grant any title of nobility.

(2) No State can, without the consent of Congress, lay a tax or duty on
imports or exports, except what is necessary in executing its
inspection laws. The net proceeds of all duties laid by any State for
this purpose must be paid into the treasury of the United States; and
all such laws are subject to the revision and control of Congress.
Without the consent of Congress, no State can tax ships, keep troops or
ships of war in time of peace, or engage in war unless invaded or in
imminent danger.

(3) "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."

(4) "[No] State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in
aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any
claim for loss or emancipation of any slave."

THE SENATE. - The Senate is a less numerous body than the House of
Representatives. The presiding officer is addressed as "Mr. President"
or "Mr. Speaker," the title varying in different States. There is also
a chief clerk, with assistants, who keeps the records; a
sergeant-at-arms, who preserves order on the floor; a doorkeeper, who
has charge of the senate chamber and its entrances, and a number of
subordinate officers.

The Senate has two functions not belonging to the House of
Representatives: 1. When the governor nominates persons for appointment
as officers of the State, unless the Senate advises and consents to the
nominations, the appointments are void; 2. When the House of
Representatives presents articles of impeachment against an officer of
the State, the Senate sits as a court to try the charges.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. - The House of Representatives is often called
the popular branch of the legislature. It is sometimes designated as
the "House." The title of the presiding officer is "Mr. Speaker." The
other officers usually have the same titles and duties as those of the

In many States bills raising revenue, and in some States bills making
appropriations, must originate in the House of Representatives. This
body also has the sole power of impeachment. Usually when charges
affecting the official conduct of an officer of the State are brought
before the legislature, the House of Representatives appoints a
committee to investigate the charges and report. If the report
warrants further action, the House adopts charges of official
misconduct, or of high crimes and misdemeanors in office. This
proceeding is called an _impeachment_.

The Senate sits as a court of impeachment, hears the evidence, listens
to the argument by the managers and the counsel for the accused, and
then condemns or acquits. The judgment in cases of impeachment is
removal from office and disqualification to hold any office of honor,
trust, or profit under the State.

DIRECT LEGISLATION. - In order to give fuller and quicker effect to the
will of the people in law making, recent provisions in the
constitutions of some States provide for the initiative and referendum.
By the initiative a certain number of voters may petition for the
enactment of a law set forth in the petition. If the legislature does
not pass the act petitioned for, it may be enacted by the people,
voting on it in a general or special election - the referendum. On
petition of a certain number of voters also, a referendum may be
ordered as to a bill passed by the legislature, to which the
petitioners object, giving the people the opportunity to ratify or
reject the proposed law.

These methods of direct legislation have been applied also to the
making of constitutional amendments, and to some city, as well as some
state governments.


1. Why is the State legislature composed of two houses?

2. Why should the proceedings of the legislature be public?

3. Why should senators and representatives be free from arrest while
discharging their public duties?

4. How often does the legislature of this State meet?

5. What is the limit of its session?

6. Can its session be extended?

7. What is a reformatory?

8. What are the age and number of years of residence required of a
State senator in this State? Who is the senator from this district?

9. What is a bill for raising revenue?

10. What are the age and number of years of residence required of a
representative in this State? Who is the representative from this


_Resolved_, That a State legislature should not have more than forty
senators and one hundred representatives.


THE STATE - (Continued).

When the laws are enacted it becomes necessary that some one be charged
with seeing that they are duly executed and obeyed. The people's
representatives in the legislative department make the laws. The
people's servants in the executive department execute the laws.


The chief executive officers of the State are the governor, the
lieutenant-governor, the secretary of state, the auditor or
comptroller, the treasurer, the attorney-general, and the
superintendent of public instruction, who, in most States, are elected
by the people. Besides these, an adjutant-general, a commissioner of
agriculture, a commissioner of insurance, railway commissioners, a
register of the land office or land commissioner, and in some States
other subordinate officers, are usually appointed by the governor, and
confirmed by the Senate.

The higher State offices are provided for in the constitution, while
the subordinate offices are created by act of the legislature. Several
States have no lieutenant-governor; in some the secretary of state and
the superintendent of public instruction are appointed by the governor,
and in others some of the subordinate officers are elected by the
people. The titles of many of these officers vary in different States.

The terms of the State officers elected by the people are usually alike
in the same State, but in some States there are differences. In
several States the terms of the auditor and the treasurer are less than
those of the other officers.

GOVERNOR: TERM, QUALIFICATIONS. - The supreme executive authority is
vested in the governor, who is therefore sometimes called the chief
executive of the State. His position is one of great dignity and

The term of office is one, two, three, or four years, varying in
different States, and in some the constitution prohibits any person
from serving two terms in succession.

The legal qualifications of the office of governor vary in different
States. He must be a citizen of the United States; must have resided
in the State at least a fixed term of years; must not be under a
certain age, usually thirty years; and in some States must own property
of a given value.

POWERS, DUTIES. - The governor is commander-in-chief of the military
forces of the State, and represents it in its dealings with other
States. He may call on all other executive officers for written
information concerning their respective duties. He is presumed to be
well informed upon the affairs of the people, and is therefore required
to give the legislature information as to the condition of the State,
and to recommend the passage of such laws as he deems proper and

The governor may call special meetings of the legislature to consider
questions of great and immediate public concern. At the opening of
each session he addresses a regular message to the legislature, and
from time to time submits special messages upon various subjects.

All acts of the legislature are presented for his approval and
signature. If he approves and signs them, they become laws; if he
retains them for a certain number of days without signing them, they
become laws without his signature; if he refuses to approve them, he
returns them within the specified time to the house in which they
originated, with a statement of his objections.

This action is called a veto, and the vetoed measure, in order to
become a law, must pass both houses again, and in some States must
secure a two thirds vote of each house.

The governor may grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of
impeachment, and in some States, of treason. In some States this power
is limited by a board of pardons, which must recommend a pardon before
it can be granted by the governor; and in others the consent of one
branch of the legislature must be obtained.

Treason against the States consists in an open or overt act of "levying
war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and

_To reprieve_ is to delay or postpone for a time the execution of the
sentence of death upon a criminal.

_To pardon_ is to annul a sentence by forgiving the offense against the
law, and by releasing the offender.

The governor may also _commute_ the sentence of an offender by
exchanging the penalty for one less severe.

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: - The term and qualifications of the
lieutenant-governor are the same as those of the governor. The
lieutenant-governor is also president or speaker of the Senate, but
votes only in case of a tie. In States having no lieutenant-governor,
the Senate elects its presiding officer.

In case of the death or resignation of the governor, the
lieutenant-governor becomes governor of the State. In States having no
lieutenant-governor, special laws provide for filling vacancies in the
office of governor.

When the chief executive is absent from the State, or disabled, the
lieutenant-governor performs the duties of the office.

SECRETARY OF STATE. - The secretary of state is the keeper of all State
papers, and usually of the great seal of the State. In some States he
is _ex officio_ auditor. He keeps a record of the proceedings and acts
of the legislature and of the executive department of the State

He certifies to the correctness of State documents and commissions,
indexes the laws, and attends to their printing and distribution,
except in States having a superintendent of printing. He receives and
preserves the returns of elections, and in some States has charge of
the State buildings at the capital.

AUDITOR, OR COMPTROLLER. - The auditor is the financial agent of the
State, and in some States acts as register of the land office, and in
others as commissioner of insurance. He is also the State's
bookkeeper, and attends to the collection of its revenue. He examines
and adjusts claims and accounts against the State, and orders the
payment of such as he approves. He receives moneys paid to the State,
deposits them with the treasurer, and takes receipt therefor. No funds
can be paid out of the State treasury except upon the auditor's
warrant. He makes an annual or biennial report, showing the financial
condition of the State. In some States having no auditor, these
various duties fall to other officers, chiefly to the secretary of

TREASURER. - The treasurer is custodian of the funds of the State. He
receives the State's revenues from the auditor, and pays them out only
upon the auditor's warrant, keeping an accurate account of all sums
paid. The treasurer and the auditor (and also the secretary of state
when he handles State funds) give heavy bonds for the faithful
performance of their duties.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL. - The attorney-general is a lawyer who acts as
attorney for the State in law cases to which the State is a party. His
duties pertain chiefly to the higher courts of the State. He is the
legal adviser of the State officers, and, when requested by them, gives
opinions upon points of law.

He prosecutes persons who are indebted to the State, and assists in
bringing to justice those charged with crime. He represents the State
in its legal business in the supreme court at Washington, and in the
other courts of the United States.

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION. - The superintendent of public
instruction has charge of the public school system, and thus
superintends one of the largest interests of the State. He has the
general management of State teachers' institutes, and in some States he
has an official connection with the State university and the State
normal schools, either as a member of the faculty or as president or
secretary of the board of trustees.

He is an officer of, and usually president of, the State board of
education, a body generally consisting of from three to seven members,
and in most States composed, in part, of other high officers of the
State. The State board of education decides questions of school law,
and performs other important duties varying in different States.

The superintendent of public instruction makes an annual or biennial
report to the legislature, showing the condition of the public schools
and suggesting amendments to the system. In many States the
superintendent is elected by the people; in some he is appointed by the
governor; in others he is elected by the State board of education, and,
as president or secretary of that board, is _ex efficio_ superintendent
of public instruction.

OTHER OFFICERS. - The _adjutant-general_ is the active officer of the
State militia.

The _commissioner of agriculture_, sometimes called the secretary of
the board of agriculture, looks after the agricultural interests of the

The _commissioner of insurance_ oversees the insurance companies doing
business in the State.

The _railway commissioners_ assess the value of railway property, and
to a limited extent regulate charges on railway lines.

The _register of the land office, or land commissioner_, keeps in his
office the patents or title-deeds of land issued by the State in its
early settlement, and furnishes copies of land patents and warrants to
those who desire them. In a few States this officer is elected by the

The _State librarian_ has charge of the State library, and in some
States is superintendent of the State buildings at the capital.

In a few States there are other executive officers, among whom may be

A _surveyor-general_, who surveys the public lands, and keeps in his
office maps of counties and townships;

A _State engineer_, who superintends the construction and repair of
canals and levees;

A _commissioner of statistics_, who collects statistics relating to
public interests;

A _commissioner of immigration_, who attends to the interests of

A _labor commissioner_, who looks after the interests of the laboring

A _bank inspector_, or _superintendent of banking_, who inspects State
banks for the protection of the public; and

A _State examiner_, who investigates the conduct of State institutions,
and inspects the State offices, in order to secure honesty and
efficiency in public affairs.

In some States two or more of these offices are combined, and in others
their duties are performed by the higher officers of the State.


1. What is the term of office and what the name of the governor of this

2. What are the age and the length of residence required of him?

3. How many terms can he serve in succession?

4. Has this State a lieutenant-governor?

5. If so, name his qualifications.

6. What is the great seal of the State?

7. What is the necessity of an auditor?

8. Why should the superintendent of public instruction make a report?


_Resolved_, That the governor should hold the power of veto.


THE STATE - (Continued).


PURPOSES. - The judicial department of the State government exists for
the sole purpose of administering justice; that is, for the purpose of
interpreting the laws and of applying them to particular cases. The
legislature makes the laws, but it can not execute them. The governor
recommends the passage of certain laws, and holds the veto power; but
he has no law-making power, nor can he try the most trivial suit.

So the judiciary has no voice in making or in executing the laws, its
sole function being to decide their meaning and to apply them in
securing justice. The legislative and executive departments may
assist, but it is the peculiar province of the judiciary to protect
society and to maintain the rights of the people.

SUPREME COURT. - The higher courts of the State are of two
classes - those whose jurisdiction includes the entire State, and those
whose jurisdiction is confined to particular districts.

The Supreme Court, called in some States the Court of Appeals, is the
highest court of the State. The number of the judges of the supreme
court varies in the different States, there being a chief justice and
from two to eight associate justices in each State.

In some States the Justices are elected by the people; in others they
are elected by the legislature; and in some they are appointed by the
governor, and confirmed by the Senate.

The term of office is lengthy, not less than four years in any State,
except Vermont, where it is two years; six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
twelve, fourteen, or fifteen years in most States; twenty-one years in
Pennsylvania; during good behavior in Massachusetts; until the judges
are seventy years of age in New Hampshire; and practically for life in
Rhode Island.

The jurisdiction of the supreme court, or court of appeals, extends
over the entire State. It holds sessions at the State capital, and in
some States at other prominent places, and is chiefly engaged in the
trial of cases in which appeals have been taken from the decisions of
the lower courts.

Its decision is final, but in cases in which it is alleged that the
State law is in conflict with the constitution or laws of the United
States, appeals may be taken to the United States Supreme Court at

DISTRICT, OR CIRCUIT COURT. - The people most commonly resort to the
district court, circuit court, or superior court, as it is variously
called in different States, to secure justice. In it are tried the
great body of important civil and criminal cases, and also appeals from
the lower courts.

The jurisdiction of the district court is limited to a district created

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Online LibraryAlexander L. PetermanElements of Civil Government → online text (page 5 of 16)