by the State constitution or by act of the State legislature. In some
cases the district consists of a single county; usually it includes two
or more counties, the court being held successively in each county of
In each district there is usually one district judge, who is elected by
the people, appointed by the governor, or elected by the legislature.
The term of office in most States is four, six, or eight years.
In some of the districts of certain States there are criminal courts
having jurisdiction in criminal cases, and chancery courts or courts of
common pleas having jurisdiction in certain civil cases.
In some States there is a high court of chancery having State
jurisdiction, and in others there is a superior court which has State
jurisdiction, and whose rank is between the supreme court and the
ORGANIZATION. - Congress organizes the public domain into Territories,
fixes their boundaries, and establishes their governments. The act of
organization is passed as soon as the population is dense enough to
require governmental authority.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT. - The governor and the secretary of the Territory
are appointed by the President of the United States, with the consent
of the United States Senate, and serve for four years, unless removed.
The governor appoints a treasurer, an auditor or comptroller, a
superintendent of public instruction, an attorney-general, and several
other territorial officers.
LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT. - The legislature consists of a senate of eight
or fifteen members, and a house of representatives of sixteen or thirty
members elected by the people of the Territory. The senate is
sometimes called the upper house of the legislature. Although the
governor and the legislature rule the Territory, all laws passed by
them must be submitted to Congress, and, if disapproved, they become
null and void.
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT. - The judiciary consists of a supreme court and
inferior courts. The chief justice and two or more associate justices
of the supreme court are appointed for four years by the President,
with the consent of the Senate. The inferior courts are established by
the territorial legislature.
REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS. - Each Territory elects a delegate to the
Congress of the United States. Territorial delegates serve upon
committees, and have the right to debate, but not to vote. Their real
duties are as agents of their respective Territories.
LAWS. - Territories are governed by the laws of Congress, by the common
law, and by the laws passed by the territorial legislatures. The
governor may pardon offenses against territorial laws, and may grant
reprieves for offenses against the laws of Congress, until the cases
can be acted upon by the President.
LOCAL AFFAIRS. - The local interests of a Territory are similar to those
of a State. Taxation, schools, public works, and the administration of
justice are supported by the people. The people of the Territories
have no voice in the election of President, and none in the government
of the United States except through their delegates in Congress.
PURPOSES. - The chief purposes of the territorial government are to give
the people the protection of the law, and to prepare the Territory for
admission into the Union as a State. A State is a member of the Union,
with all the rights and privileges of self-government; a Territory is
under the Union, subject at all times, and in all things, to regulation
by the government of the United States.
All the States, except the original thirteen (including Maine, Vermont,
Kentucky, and West Virginia) and California and Texas, have had
territorial governments. A Territory is not entirely self-governing;
it may be called a State in infancy, requiring the special care of the
United States to prepare it for statehood and for admission into the
Union "upon an equal footing with the original States in all respects."
Hawaii and Alaska illustrate the territorial form of government
described above. The following are exceptions to the rule:
The District of Columbia is neither a State nor a Territory. It
resembles a Territory in being directly governed by Congress in such
manner as that body may choose, but it differs from a Territory since
it can never become a State.
It is not represented in the government of the United States, and its
inhabitants have no voice in local matters. Its affairs are
administered by three commissioners, appointed by the President, with
the consent of the Senate, and they are subject to the laws of Congress.
Porto Rico and Philippines have each a legislature and are governed
much like a Territory; but their people are not citizens of the United
States. They are practically colonies.
1. Is it better that judges be elected, or that they be appointed? Why?
2. Why should a judge's term of office be lengthy?
3. Who is chief justice of this State?
4. Who is the judge of the circuit or district court of this district?
5. At what dates does this court hold sessions in this county?
6. How many organized Territories now in the United States? Give their
7. When did this State cease to be a Territory?
8. Why should delegates from the Territories not have the privilege of
voting in Congress?
QUESTION FOR DEBATE.
_Resolved_, That the judges of the higher courts should be appointed by
the governor, and hold their positions during life and good behavior.
THE UNITED STATES.
INTRODUCTORY. - Each division of government which we have considered
exists for only a part of the whole people. The government of one
State has no authority over the people of other States; but the
government of the United States, often called the national government
or federal government, is for the good of the entire country, and its
authority is over the whole people.
All these divisions of government - the family, the school, the township
or civil district, the county, the State, and the United States - are
dependent upon one another.
If family government were destroyed, society would be ruined and other
governments would be worthless.
If there were no schools, the people would be so ignorant that free
government would be impossible.
If the township or civil district were neglected, local government
would be inefficient.
If the States were blotted out, the national government would assume
all power, and the freedom of the people would be greatly abridged, and
perhaps finally lost.
If the national government were dismembered, the States would be weak,
helpless, at war with one another, and at the mercy of foreign nations.
The distribution of power among the several political organizations
prevents any of them from assuming too much authority, and thus tends
to preserve the liberties of the people.
FORMATION. - The national government is based upon the Constitution of
the United States. It was formed by the union of the several States
under the Constitution, and its powers are set forth in that
instrument. The thirteen original States ratified the Constitution of
the United States between December 7, 1787, and May 29, 1790, and thus
organized the national government. It thus became, and has continued
to be, the government of the whole people, "by the people and for the
FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
The national government, like the government of each State, is a
republic; that is, the authority is exercised by the representatives of
the people. As all power resides in the people, our government is
called a democracy. As the people elect officers or representatives to
act for them in the performance of public duties, it is called a
Our system of government is different from those of all other nations,
because part of the political power is vested in the State, and part in
the nation; that is, in the United States.
The national Constitution enumerates the powers which may be exercised
by the national government, and reserves all other powers "to the
States respectively, or to the people." Because of this dual or double
character of our system of government, John Quincy Adams called it "a
PURPOSES. - The purposes of the national government are clearly and
forcibly set forth in the "preamble," or opening clause, of the
Constitution of the United States;
1. "To form a more perfect _union_;"
2. "To establish _justice_;"
3. "To insure domestic _tranquillity_;"
4. "To provide for the common _defense_;"
5. "To promote the general _welfare_;"
6. "To secure the blessings of _liberty_ to ourselves and our
Before the Revolutionary war, the American colonies were subject to
Great Britain. By the Declaration of Independence these colonies
became "free and independent States." During the period between the
Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the national
Constitution, the union between the States was weak and unsatisfactory.
Instead of there being "domestic tranquillity," the States were engaged
in constant quarrels. There was no power to provide for the "common
defense" of the people against foreign enemies; each State must protect
itself as best it could. No provision could be made for the "general
welfare" by the passage and enforcement of broad measures for the whole
country. Under the Articles of Confederation, as was said at that
time, the States might "declare everything, but do nothing." The
adoption of the national Constitution and the formation of the national
government made the inhabitants of the States one people, and have
since brought the United States to be "the first of the nations of the
FUNCTIONS. - The functions of the national government are numerous and
important. In adopting the national Constitution, the States delegated
or ceded to the United States those powers which are necessary to the
strength and greatness of a nation.
The national government administers those public affairs which concern
the whole people, such as the regulation of commerce, the granting of
patents, and the coinage of money; and also those which pertain to the
United States as a nation dealing with other nations, such as declaring
war and making treaties of peace.
The subjects upon which the national Congress may enact laws, and
consequently the subjects included in the functions of the national
government, are enumerated in Section 8, Article I. of the Constitution.
The people who reside in the United States are either citizens or
aliens. The national Constitution declares that "All persons born or
naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction
thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein
they reside." Women and children are citizens, though not entitled to
A citizen is a member of the body politic, bound to allegiance, and
entitled to protection at home and abroad. He can renounce his
allegiance - that is, lay down his citizenship - by becoming the subject
of some other country. Wherever he goes, until he renounces his
allegiance, he is a citizen of the United States, and is shielded from
insult by the might and majesty of the whole nation. Citizenship is
therefore valuable for its protection abroad, as well as for its rights
and privileges at home.
NATURALIZATION. - Naturalized citizens are persons of foreign birth who
have become citizens by naturalization, after a continuous residence of
at least five years in the United States. A foreigner is naturalized
by appearing in court, declaring his intention to become a citizen of
the United States, and his purpose to renounce all allegiance to
foreign governments. After two years more, he must appear in open
court, renounce upon oath all foreign allegiance, and swear to support
the Constitution of the United States. If he bears any title of
nobility, he must renounce it. Naturalized citizens have all the
rights and privileges that belong to native-born citizens, except that
no naturalized person can become President or Vice President of the
RIGHTS. - The Constitution of the United States does not contain a
formal bill of rights, as do most of the State constitutions, but it
names the following as among the rights of citizens:
(1) "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens of the several States";
That is, a citizen who removes into another State shall enjoy all the
rights and privileges that belong to its citizens.
(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 crime." A demand for the delivery of a fugitive criminal is
called a requisition.
(3) "No person held to service or labor 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 labor; but shall
be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may
This provision refers to the capture and return of fugitive slaves, and
is rendered void by the abolition of slavery.
(4) "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
This clause does not authorize the carrying of concealed weapons.
(5) "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."
(6) "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."
(7) _a_. "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;
_b_. "Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice
put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled, in any
criminal case, to be a witness against himself;
_c_. "Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
_d_. "Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just
The first part of this clause secures a civil trial to every private
citizen. The land and naval forces, and the militia when in actual
service, are under military law, usually called martial law.
(8) "In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right
_a_. "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;
_b_. "To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;
_c_. "To be confronted with the witnesses against him;
_d_. "To have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor;
_e_. "And to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."
(9) "In suits at 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 re-examined in any court of the
United States than according to the rules of the common law."
(10) "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted."
(11) "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 jurisdiction."
(12) "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, color, or previous condition of servitude."
(13) "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Aliens are subjects of foreign governments. They are not citizens of
this country, and, in general, have no right to take part in its
political affairs. Throughout the Union aliens have full social and
moral rights; in some States their property rights are restricted; and
in a few States they have certain political rights.
NATURE OF THE CONSTITUTION.
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the whole
land. It is a written instrument, and is often called the fundamental
Neither the laws of any State nor the laws of the United States must
conflict with the Constitution. It is the basis of our system of
government, the model upon which all State constitutions are framed,
and the foundation of our greatness as a people. It defines the limits
of the national government, and enumerates the powers of each of its
departments. It declares what public interests are within the scope of
the national government, reserves certain powers to the States, and
provides that neither State nor nation shall enact certain specified
FORMATION. - The national Constitution was framed by a convention of
delegates from twelve of the thirteen original States, Rhode Island
alone being unrepresented. The convention was called for the purpose
of revising the Articles of Confederation under which the States were
at the time united.
The convention met at Philadelphia, on Monday, May 14, 1787, and
organized on the 25th day of the same month by electing as its
president George Washington, one of the delegates from Virginia. The
Articles of Confederation were readily seen to be inadequate to the
purposes of a national government, and the convention proceeded to
draught a "Constitution for the United States of America."
The convention completed its labors, submitted the Constitution to the
several States for their ratification, and adjourned on the 17th of
September, 1787. All the States ratified the Constitution, the last
being Rhode Island, whose convention, called for the purpose, passed
the ordinance of ratification, May 29, 1790.
NECESSITY. - The necessity for a written national constitution is
readily seen. The preamble states the purposes of the Constitution,
which are also the purposes of the national government. The
Constitution defines the limits of State and of national power, and
thus prevents conflicts of authority which would otherwise arise
between the State and the United States. Through the Constitution, the
people, who are the sources of all just authority, grant to the
government certain powers, and reserve all other powers to themselves.
The Constitution prescribes the functions of each department of the
government, and thus preserves the liberties of the people by
preventing either Congress, the executive department, or the judiciary
from exercising powers not granted to it.
AMENDMENT. - The Constitution prescribes two methods by which it may be
1. By a two thirds vote of both houses Congress may propose to the
several States amendments to the Constitution.
2. Upon the application of two thirds of the States, Congress shall
call a convention of delegates from the several States for proposing
An amendment proposed by either method, "when ratified by the
legislatures of three fourths of the States, or by conventions in three
fourths thereof, shall be valid to all intents and purposes as a part
of this Constitution."
Twenty-one amendments have been proposed by Congress, and seventeen of
these have been ratified by three fourths of the State legislatures,
and have become parts of the Constitution. The other four proposed
amendments were rejected. Congress has never called a convention to
propose amendments, and no State has ever called a convention to
consider those amendments proposed by Congress.
DEPARTMENTS. - The functions of each branch of government are carefully
marked in the Constitution, and the people and their representatives
jealously guard the rights of each department. They believe that the
duties of the law-making power, those of the law-enforcing power, and
those of the law-explaining power can not be too clearly separated. If
the same officers could make the law, enforce the law, and explain the
law, there would be no limit to their authority, and therefore no
security to the people.
The framers of the Constitution were wise men; they had seen the abuse
of power by Great Britain while the colonies were under her sway, and
they determined to guard the liberties of the people by forever
separating the legislative, the executive, and the judicial functions.
Their example has been followed in the constitutions of all the States.
The President has no right to interfere with the decisions of the
courts, and, except by his veto, can not interfere with the action of
Congress can not question the decisions of courts, nor can it interfere
with the legal actions of the President, except that the Senate may
refuse to confirm his appointments to office.
Even the Supreme Court of the United States can not call in question
the official acts of the President, so long as he conforms to the law;
nor has it any power over the acts of Congress, except merely to decide
upon the constitutionality of the laws when they are properly brought
While, therefore, Congress and the President have some remote influence
upon the actions of each other, neither has the slightest right to
invade the functions of the Supreme Court, or of any other court, even
the humblest in the land.
1. Why do foreigners become naturalized?
2. What is a title of nobility?
3. What officer of a State makes requisition for the delivery of a
criminal held by another State?
4. When was slavery abolished in the United States?
5. What is the purpose of a militia force?
6. What is a capital crime?
7. Why is the accused entitled to a speedy and public trial?
8. Why is the Constitution called the fundamental law?
9. Read in the history of the United States the account of the
formation of the Constitution.
10. How many States were needed to ratify the Constitution in order
that it might go into effect?
11. Read the amendments to the Constitution.
12. Can you name any proposed amendments that have been recently
QUESTION FOR DEBATE.
_Resolved_, That a written constitution is best for a free country.
THE UNITED STATES - (Continued).
CONGRESS. - The legislative authority of the national government is
vested in the Congress of the United States, consisting of a senate and
a house of representatives. The senators represent the States, and the
representatives represent the people. Congress holds annual sessions
at the city of Washington, the seat of the national government. A
measure must pass both houses, and be approved by the President, in
order to become a law; or if vetoed, it fails, unless it again passes
both houses by a two thirds vote.
Senators and representatives receive an annual salary of seven thousand
five hundred dollars each; and are allowed mileage, or traveling
expenses, of twenty cents for each mile in going to and returning from
the session of Congress.
PRIVILEGES OF THE HOUSES. - There are certain constitutional privileges
guaranteed to Congress in order that its action in legislation may be
free from undue influence from other departments of the government.
"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.
"Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its own members;" that is, each House declares who
are entitled to membership therein.
"Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its
members for disorderly conduct, and with the concurrence of two thirds
expel a member."
Each house keeps and publishes a journal of its proceedings, "excepting
such parts as may, in their judgment, require secrecy; and the yeas and