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."
"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."
PRIVILEGES AND DISABILITIES OF MEMBERS. - The Constitution of the United
States sets forth the following privileges and disabilities relating to
membership in both the Senate and the House of Representatives:
(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 of office."
The purpose of the first part of this clause is to prevent members of
Congress from voting to create offices, or to affix high salaries to
offices, with the hope of being appointed to fill them.
(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."
(4) "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 and comfort to the enemies thereof. But
Congress may, by a vote of two thirds of each House, remove such
The purpose of the clause was to exclude from office all those who had
sworn, as officers of the State or the nation, to support the
Constitution of the United States, and who afterward engaged in war
against the Union. An act of Congress enabling them to hold office was
called a removal of their disabilities. This clause of the
Constitution is practically void as regards all past offenses, as the
disabilities of nearly all to whom it applied have been removed by
POWERS OF CONGRESS. - Congress has power:
(1) To _levy and collect taxes_, duties on imported goods, and revenues
from articles of manufacture, "to pay the debts and provide for the
common defense and general welfare of the United States."
(2) "To _borrow money_ on the credit of the United States."
The usual method of borrowing money is to issue government bonds, which
are promises to pay the sums specified in them at a given time, with
interest at a given rate. The bonds are sold, usually at their face
value, and the proceeds applied to public purposes. United States
bonds can not be taxed by a State.
(3) "To _regulate commerce_ with foreign nations, and among the several
States, and with the Indian tribes."
(4) "To establish a uniform rule of _naturalisation_, 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;"
That is, to grant _copyrights_ to authors, and to issue _patents_ to
(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."
_Piracy_ is robbery committed at sea.
(11) "To _declare war_; grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make
rules concerning captures on land and water."
_Letters of marque_ are commissions issued to private parties,
authorizing them to cross the frontiers of another nation, and to seize
the persons and property of its subjects.
_Reprisal_ is the forcible taking of the property or persons of the
subjects of another nation, in return for injuries done to the
government granting the letters. Vessels carrying letters of marque
and reprisal are called _privateers_.
(12) "To raise and support _armies_."
(13) "To provide and maintain a _navy_."
(14) "To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and
(15) "To provide for calling forth the _militia_ to execute the laws of
the Union, suppress insurrection 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."
(17) "To exercise exclusive legislation" over the _District of
Columbia_, "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
(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."
(19) "Congress may determine the time of choosing the _electors_" for
President and Vice President of the United States, "and the day on
which they shall give their votes, which day shall be the same
throughout the United States."
(20) "Congress may, by law, provide for the case of removal, death,
resignation, or inability of both the President and Vice President,
declaring what officer shall then act as President."
(21) "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."
(22) "The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of
(23) "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
(24) "_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."
(25) "The Congress shall have power to dispose of, and to 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."
(26) Congress has "power to enforce, by appropriate legislation," all
provisions of the Constitution.
Under the authority "to provide for the general welfare of the United
States," Congress exercises powers which are implied - that is,
understood - but which are not expressly named in the Constitution. The
grants of public lands to railway and canal companies, the annual
appropriations for the improvement of rivers and harbors, and numerous
similar laws are based upon implied powers.
FORBIDDEN POWERS. - The following powers are expressly denied to the
(1) "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."
_Habeas corpus_ means "Thou mayst have the body." A person in prison,
claiming to be unlawfully detained, or the friend of such a person,
applies to the judge of a court for a writ of _habeas corpus_. The
judge issues the writ, which directs the officer to bring the body of
the prisoner into court at a certain time and place, in order that the
legality of the imprisonment may be tested.
The case against the prisoner is not tried under the writ of _habeas
corpus_, but the judge inquires whether any crime is charged, or
whether there is a legal cause for the arrest. If the imprisonment is
illegal, the judge orders the prisoner released; if the prisoner is
lawfully held, the judge remands him to prison. This writ secures the
freedom of every person unless detained upon legal charges. Therefore,
there is no power in this wide country that can arrest and imprison
even the humblest citizen except upon legal grounds. The writ of
_habeas corpus_ is the most famous writ known to the law, the strongest
safeguard of the personal liberty of the citizens, and is regarded with
almost a sacred reverence by the people.
(2) "No bill of attainder or _ex post facto_ law shall be passed" by
A _bill of attainder_ is an act of a legislative body inflicting the
penalty of death without a regular trial. An _ex post facto_ law is a
law which fixes a penalty for acts done before the law was passed, or
which increases the penalty of a crime after it is committed. Laws for
punishing crime more severely can take effect only after their passage;
they can not affect a crime committed before they were passed.
(3) "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.
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
(4) "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."
(5) "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 Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or
title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign State."
(6) "Congress shall make no law respecting 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."
(7) "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."
The Constitution of the United States forbids the national government
from exercising certain other powers, relating principally to slavery;
but such denials are rendered useless by the freedom of the slaves.
THE UNITED STATES SENATE.
The Senate is composed of two senators from each State, elected by
direct vote of the people; and therefore each State has an equal
representation, without regard to its area or the number of its people.
The term of a United States senator is six years, and one third of the
Senate is elected every two years.
A senator must be thirty years old, for nine years a citizen of the
United States, and must be an inhabitant of the State for which he
shall be chosen.
A vacancy which occurs in any State's representation in the United
States Senate is filled by an election for the unexpired term; but the
legislature of any State may empower the governor to make temporary
appointments until such election is held.
The Vice President of the United States is _ex officio_ president of
the Senate, but has no vote except when the Senate is equally divided
upon a question. The Senate elects its other officers, including a
president _pro tempore_, or temporary president, who presides when the
Vice President is absent.
The Senate is a continuous body; that is, it is always organized, and
when it meets it may proceed at once to business.
When the House of Representatives impeaches an officer of the United
States, the impeachment is tried before the Senate sitting as a court.
The Senate has the sole power to try impeachments, and it requires two
thirds of the senators present to convict. Judgment in cases of
impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and
disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, 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.
All treaties made by the President of the United States with foreign
countries must be laid before the Senate for ratification. If two
thirds of the Senate vote for the treaty, it is ratified; otherwise, it
Treaties are compacts or contracts between two or more nations made
with a view to the public welfare of each, and are usually formed by
agents or commissioners appointed by the respective governments of the
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
The House of Representatives, often called the lower House of Congress,
is a much larger body than the Senate. The last apportionment of
representatives, made in 1911, gave the House four hundred and
thirty-five members, and this went into effect with the Sixty-third
Congress, beginning on the 4th of March, 1913.
A census of the people is made every ten years, and upon this as a
basis Congress fixes the number of representatives for the entire
country, and the number to which each State shall be entitled for the
next ten years thereafter. Each legislature divides the State into as
many Congress districts as the State is entitled to representatives,
and each district elects a representative by direct vote of the people.
The term of office is two years, and the terms of all representatives
begin and end at the same time.
A representative must be twenty-five years old, must have been a
citizen of the United States seven years, and must be an inhabitant of
the State in which he is elected.
A vacancy in a State's representation in the lower house of Congress is
filled by special election called by the governor for that purpose.
"All bills for raising revenue" - that is, all bills providing for
taxation - "must originate in the House of Representatives; but the
Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as in other bills."
Taxation is called the strongest function of government, and therefore
the Constitution provides that the first step must be taken by the
House of Representatives, because all its members are elected every two
years by the people, and are supposed to represent the people's views.
The Constitution provides that "the House of Representatives shall have
the sole power of impeachment;" that is, the House of Representatives
must formulate and present the charges to the Senate, and prosecute the
accused at its bar. An impeachment by the House of Representatives
corresponds to an indictment by a grand jury; specific charges must be
made before a trial can be held in any court.
THE SPEAKER. - The speaker is elected by the representatives. He is a
member of the House, and is nominated for the speakership by a
convention, or _caucus_, of the representatives who are of his
political party. In rank he is the third officer of the government.
He presides over the House, preserves decorum, decides points of order,
and directs the business of legislation. He is the organ of the House,
and because he speaks and declares its will is called the _Speaker_.
He formerly appointed the standing committees of the House, and thus
largely shaped legislation; but this power was taken from him in 1911.
As almost all laws are matured by the committees, and are passed as the
result of their work, the power to appoint the committees was
considered too important to leave in the hands of one man. The
speaker's salary is $12,000 annually.
The clerk of the preceding House presides during the election of the
speaker. Immediately after his election, the speaker is sworn into
office by the representative of the longest service in the House. He
then assumes the direction of business, and administers the oath to the
members as they present themselves by States. The House of
Representatives is reorganized every two years at the opening of the
first session of each Congress.
OTHER OFFICERS. - The other officers of the House are the clerk, the
sergeant-at-arms, the doorkeeper, the postmaster, and the chaplain.
They are not members of the House. The sergeant-at-arms and the
doorkeeper appoint numerous subordinates.
The sergeant-at-arms is the ministerial and police officer of the
House. He preserves order, under the direction of the speaker, and
executes all processes issued by the House or its committees. The
symbol of authority of the House is the mace, consisting of a bundle of
ebony rods surmounted by a globe, upon which is a silver eagle with
outstretched wings. In scenes of disturbance, when the
sergeant-at-arms bears the mace through the hall of the House at the
speaker's command, the members immediately become quiet and order is
The doorkeeper has charge of the hall of the House and its entrances.
The postmaster receives and distributes the mail matter of the members.
The chaplain opens the daily sessions of the House with prayer.
After 1913. Before 1913 the senators of each State were elected by
1. Why do not the people of the United States make their laws in
person, instead of delegating this power to Congress?
2. Is it right that the President should hold the veto power?
3. Why is each House "judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of its own members"?
4. Why are the yeas and nays entered on the Journal?
5. Why are senators and representatives privileged from arrest during
the session, except for certain specified offenses?
6. Is it right to grant copyrights and patents?
7. What is counterfeiting?
8. Should United States senators be elected by the legislature or by
9. How many senators in Congress now?
10. Who are the two United States senators from this State?
11. What is an impeachment?
12. How many representatives in Congress from this State?
13. Give the name of the representative from this district.
14. Who at present is speaker of the national House of Representatives?
15. Of what State is he a representative?
16. Name six of the most important committees of the House of
QUESTION FOR DEBATE.
_Resolved_, That the members of the President's cabinet should be
members of the House of Representatives.
THE UNITED STATES - (Continued).
PRESIDENT: QUALIFICATIONS. - The executive power of the national
government is vested in the President of the United States.
The President and the Vice President must be natural born citizens of
this country, must have attained the age of thirty-five years, and must
have resided fourteen years in the United States.
In case of the President's death, resignation, or removal from office,
his duties devolve upon the Vice President; and if a vacancy occurs in
the office, the Vice President becomes President of the United States.
At other times the only duty of the Vice President is to preside over
The President receives a salary of seventy-five thousand dollars per
year; the annual salary of the Vice President is twelve thousand
ELECTION. - The President holds his office for a term of four years,
and, together with the Vice President chosen for the same term, is
elected in the following manner: During the earlier part of the regular
year for the election of a President, each of the political parties in
each state appoints delegates to the national convention of the party,
either by means of conventions, or by vote at primary elections. Each
party meets in national convention later on in the year, and nominates
the candidates whom it will support for President and Vice President,
and puts forth a declaration of principles called a "platform."
On Tuesday after the first Monday in November the people of the several
States meet at their usual polling-places, and elect as many electors
of President and Vice President as the State has senators and
representatives in Congress. For this purpose candidates for electors
have previously been nominated by the several parties naming candidates
for President and Vice President.
The election returns are forwarded to the State capital, where they are
compared, and the result declared by the election board of the State.
The governor and secretary Of State issue certificates to the persons
chosen as electors of President and Vice President.
On the second Monday in January the electors of each State meet at the
State capital and cast their votes for the candidates of their party
for President and Vice President. They make, sign, certify, and seal
three separate lists of their votes for President and Vice President;
transmit two lists to the president of the United States Senate - one by
mail and the other by special messenger - and file the remaining list
with the judge of the United States district court of the district in
which the electors meet.
On the second Wednesday in February the United States Senate and House
of Representatives meet in joint session. The president of the Senate
opens the certificates of votes from all the States, and the votes are
then counted. The person having the highest number of votes for
President is declared elected President, if his votes are a majority of
all the electors elected in the whole Union.
If no person receives a majority of all the electoral votes, then the
House of Representatives elects the President from the three candidates
receiving the highest numbers of votes. A quorum for the purpose is a
representative or representatives from two thirds of the States. Each
State has one vote, cast as a majority of its representatives present
directs; and a majority of ail the States is necessary to elect.
The person receiving the highest number of votes for Vice President is
elected Vice President, if his votes are a majority of the whole number
of electors chosen.
If his votes are not a majority of all the electors, then the Senate
proceeds to elect the Vice President from the two candidates receiving
the highest number of votes for Vice President. A quorum for the
purpose consists of two thirds of the senators from all the States.
Each senator has one vote, and a majority of the whole number is
necessary to elect.
The people do not vote directly for President and Vice President, but
for electors by whom the President and the Vice President are chosen.
The electors of all the States are called collectively the _electoral
The electors _may_ vote for some other person than the candidate
nominated by their respective parties; but no elector has ever chosen
to exercise this privilege. They consider themselves in honor pledged
and instructed to cast their votes for the candidate of their own
The vote of the people for electors is called the _popular vote_, and
the vote of the electors for President is called the _electoral vote_.