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INTERIOR DEPARTMENT. - The secretary of the interior is the chief
officer of the interior department. The former name, _home
department_, suggests the character of the subjects under its control.
Its duties relate to various public interests which have been
transferred to it from other departments. The department of the
interior has charge of pensions, public lands, Indian affairs, patents,
education, and the geological survey.

The _commissioner of pensions_ has charge of the examination of pension
claims and the granting of pensions and bounties for service in the
army and the navy. There are about a million names on the pension
rolls of the United States, and the annual payment of pensions amounts
to about one hundred and forty million dollars.

The _commissioner of the general land office_ superintends the surveys
and sales of the lands belonging to the national government. The
United States surveys divide the public lands into ranges, townships,
sections, and fractions of sections. Ranges are bounded by north and
south lines, six miles apart, and are numbered east and west. Ranges
are divided into townships, each six miles square, numbered north and
south. A township is divided into thirty-six sections, each one mile
square, and containing six hundred and forty acres of land; and
sections are divided into quarter sections.

The _commissioner of Indian affairs_ has charge of questions relating
to the government of the Indians. Its agents make treaties, manage
lands, issue rations and clothing, and conduct trade with the Indians.

The _commissioner of patents_ conducts all matters pertaining to the
granting of patents for useful inventions, discoveries, and

A _patent_ gives the inventor the exclusive right to manufacture, sell,
and use the patented article for a period of seventeen years.

A _copyright_, which is somewhat similar to a patent, gives the author
of a book the exclusive right to print, publish, and sell it for a
period of twenty-eight years, with the privilege at the expiration of
that time of renewing for twenty-eight years more.

An inventor or author may sell a patent or copyright, as well as other

The _commissioner of education_ investigates the condition and progress
of education in the several States and Territories, and collects
information relating to schools, school systems, and methods of
teaching. The facts collected are distributed among the people in
annual reports published by the office.

The _director of the geological survey_ sends out parties of scientific
men, who explore various parts of the Union, trace the sources of
rivers, measure the heights of lands, and gather other facts relating
to the natural resources of the country. He publishes excellent maps
of the regions that have been explored.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. - The attorney-general presides over the
department of justice. He is the chief law officer of the government,
and the legal adviser of all the departments. He is assisted by the
solicitor-general, who is the second officer in rank; by nine assistant
attorney-generals, and by several solicitors for particular
departments. The department of justice conducts before the supreme
court all suits to which the United States is a party; conducts suits
arising in any of the departments, when requested by the head thereof;
exercises supervision over the district attorneys and marshals of the
United States district courts; examines the titles of lands proposed to
be purchased by the United States, as sites for forts, arsenals,
barracks, dockyards, customhouses, post-offices, and other public
purposes; examines and reports upon applications for judicial offices
and other positions requiring legal ability.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. - The department of agriculture was
reorganized in 1889. Previous to that time it had been a bureau of the
interior department. The secretary of agriculture is the chief officer
of the department of agriculture.

This department collects and diffuses among the people useful knowledge
relating to agriculture and agricultural products. Experiments are
conducted upon farm and garden products, and the seeds of choice
varieties are distributed among the people. Similar attention is given
to stock-raising and the care of forests. The _bureau of chemistry_
assists in the enforcement of the pure food law.

The department also includes the _weather bureau_, which collects and
publishes telegraphic reports of storms and the condition of the
weather, in the interest of agriculture and commerce.

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE. - The department of commerce and labor was
created in 1903, and ten years later was divided into two departments.
The secretary of commerce presides over the department of commerce.
Its duty is to promote and develop commerce, mining, manufacturing, and
fisheries. It collects and publishes facts and figures on all these
subjects; supplies exactly true weights and measures for any one to
copy; controls stations for stocking waters with valuable fish;
inspects and licenses steamships, rejecting any that are unseaworthy;
surveys the seacoast of the United States, and maintains lighthouses at
dangerous points.

The work of the department is divided among a number of bureaus, many
of which were already in existence when the new department was formed.
Among these is the _census office_, which takes a census of the United
States every ten years, besides collecting other statistics at shorter

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. - The secretary of labor presides over the
department of labor. Its duty is to promote the welfare of wage
earners. It makes important investigations, and publishes statistics
concerning laborers. This department includes the _children's bureau_,
which studies problems, affecting children's welfare. It also includes
the _bureau of immigration_ and the _bureau of naturalisation_, which
supervise the enforcement of United States laws regarding immigration
and naturalization.

SEPARATE COMMISSIONS. - In addition to the civil service commission,
Congress has created two other important commissions not connected with
any department. The _interstate commerce commission_, consisting of
seven members appointed by the President, supervises interstate
railroads, express companies, etc., and enforces the laws which control
them. The _federal trade commission_, consisting of five members
appointed by the President, supervises the business of persons and
companies engaged in interstate commerce, except those under the
control of the interstate commerce commission.


1. Why does the Constitution require that the President shall be a
native of the United States?

2. Who is now President, and of what State is he a citizen?

3. When was he elected?

4. Should the President be eligible for reelection?

5. Do you think he should have the veto power?

6. Of what use is a passport in traveling?

7. What is internal revenue?

8. What was the principal cause of the national debt?

9. How many soldiers, including officers, in the army of the United

10. Of what value are the weather reports?

11. Why is it right for the government to grant pensions?

12. Why should a census be taken?

13. What is the population of the United States, and what the
population of this State, by the last census?

14. What is meant by conducting a suit before the supreme court?


_Resolved_, That the President and the Vice President should be elected
by the popular vote.


THE UNITED STATES - (Continued).


The judicial department is one of the three great departments of the
government, being coordinate with Congress, the legislative power, and
with the President, the executive power. The principle of three
coordinate departments of government is new, the United States being
the first nation that ever embodied it in its constitution.

The judicial system of the United States includes the Supreme Court of
the United States, the circuit courts of appeals, district courts, the
courts of the District of Columbia, the court of claims, the court of
customs appeals, a territorial court for each of the Territories, and
several commissioners' courts in each of the States.

States courts extends to the following classes of suits at law:

1. To all cases arising under laws passed by Congress.

2. Those affecting ministers, consuls, and other agents of the United
States and foreign countries.

3. Suits arising on the high seas.

4. All suits to which the United States is a party.

5. Controversies between a State and the citizens of another State.

6. Cases between citizens of different States.

7. Suits between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants
by different States.

8. Cases between a State or its citizens and a foreign State or its

It will be seen that all cases at law to which a State is a party must
be tried in the courts of the United States. A direct suit can not be
brought against the United States except by authority of a special act
of Congress; nor can a suit be brought against a State by a citizen of
another State, or by one of its own citizens, except by the special
permission of its legislature.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. - The Supreme Court of the United
States is the highest judicial tribunal in the country. It consists of
the Chief Justice and eight associate justices, nominated by the
President and confirmed by the Senate. The country is divided into
nine circuits, each represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court. The
justices hold their offices during life, unless impeached; but they
have the privilege of retiring upon full pay, at seventy years of age,
provided they have served in the court for ten years. A quorum
consists of any six justices, and if a majority agree upon a decision
it becomes the decision of the court.

The court holds annual sessions in the Capitol building at Washington,
beginning upon the second Monday in October. The annual salary of the
Chief Justice is fifteen thousand dollars; that of the associate
justices is fourteen thousand five hundred dollars each.

The Constitution of the United States creates and names the Supreme
Court, and provides that the Judicial power shall be vested in it "and
in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain
and establish."

JURISDICTION. - The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in all cases
affecting ministers, consuls, and other agents of the United States and
foreign countries, and in cases to which a State is a party.

Most cases tried by it are brought before it upon appeals from the
inferior courts of the United States. They involve chiefly the
questions of jurisdiction of the inferior courts, the constitutionality
of laws, the validity of treaties, and the sentences in criminal and
prize causes. An appeal from a State court can be carried to the
Supreme Court only upon the ground that the decision of the State court
is in conflict with the Constitution or laws of the United States.

The peculiar province of the Supreme Court is to interpret the
Constitution, and in all conflicts between a State and the nation the
final decision rests with the Supreme Court of the United States. It
may, and does, modify its own judgments; but until it modifies or
reverses a decision, it is final, and from it there is no appeal.
Whether its decree be against a private citizen, a State, the Congress,
or the President, that decree is "the end of the whole matter," and
must be obeyed.

The Supreme Court is more admired and praised by foreign critics than
is any other of our institutions. It is conceded by all to be one of
the strongest and best features in our system of government. In a free
country like ours, such a tribunal is necessary to prevent the
legislative and executive departments from trespassing upon the
Constitution, and invading the rights of the people. Therefore the
Supreme Court of the United States has been appropriately called "the
balance-wheel in our system of government."

embraces several States, and has two or more circuit judges. One
justice of the Supreme Court is also assigned to each circuit. There
are nine circuit courts of appeals, one for each United States circuit.
All appeals from the district courts must be made to the circuit courts
of appeals, except in cases expressly provided by law to be taken
direct to the Supreme Court; but provision is also made for appeal from
the decision of the circuit courts of appeals to the Supreme Court in
certain classes of cases.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT. - Each State has one or more United States
district courts, each presided over by a district judge. The district
court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction in all cases under the
national law which are not required to be brought in other courts.
Before 1912 there were so-called "circuit courts" usually held by the
district judges, for the trial of certain important kinds of cases; but
these were abolished by an act of 1911.

In each State a large majority of the civil and criminal cases must be
tried and finally decided in the State courts. However, among the
important cases tried in United States courts are those concerning
patents, copyrights, and bankruptcy, those involved in the regulation
of interstate and foreign commerce, and offenses committed against the
postal and revenue laws.

Interstate commerce cases are often in the form of appeals from the
orders issued by the interstate commerce commission, fixing the freight
and passenger rates of railroads, etc. Such a case is heard by three
judges sitting together, and an appeal from their decision can be taken
directly to the Supreme Court.

If the circuit and district judges desire, they may retire upon full
pay at the age of seventy, after ten years of consecutive service.

COURT OF CUSTOMS APPEALS. - The customs court consists of a chief judge
and four associate judges. It decides disputes over the rates of duty
payable on imported goods. It holds sessions both at Washington and in
other cities.

COURT OF CLAIMS. - The court of claims holds its sessions at Washington,
and consists of a chief justice and four associate justices. It hears
and determines claims against the United States. No one could bring
suit against the national government without permission from Congress;
but a person having a claim against it may submit the claim to the
court of claims for trial, and, if the claim is declared to be legal
and just, it is almost always paid by act of Congress.

OTHER COURTS. - The _District of Columbia_ has six supreme court
justices and three justices of a court of appeals. Their jurisdiction
is similar to that of the United States district courts and circuit
courts of appeals, but is confined to the District of Columbia.

_Territorial courts_ consist of a chief justice and two associate
justices, who hold their offices for a term of four years, unless
removed by the President. A territorial court holds its sessions in
the Territory for which it is constituted, and has jurisdiction of
cases arising under the laws of Congress and the laws passed by the
territorial legislature.

Appeals are taken from the courts of the District of Columbia and from
the territorial courts to the supreme court of the United States.

A United States commissioner's court consists of a commissioner
appointed by the judge of the district court. The chief duties of this
court are to arrest and hold for trial persons charged with offenses
against the United States, and to assist in taking testimony for the
trial of cases. A judge of a State court or a justice of the peace may
act as United States commissioner, but while engaged in such duties he
is an officer of the United States, and not of the State.

TERM OF SERVICE. - Justices of circuit courts, district courts, the
customs court, the court of claims, the courts of the District of
Columbia, and of the territorial courts, are appointed by the President
and confirmed by the Senate. The justices of these courts, except of
the territorial courts, hold their offices during life, unless
impeached. This life tenure of office, and the provision that a salary
of a justice shall not be reduced during his term, render the courts of
the United States independent of Congress and public opinion, and tend
to preserve the purity and dignity of their decisions.

The salary of a judge of the circuit court is seven thousand dollars;
that of a judge of a district court is six thousand dollars; that of a
judge of the customs court is seven thousand dollars; and that of a
justice of the court of claims is six thousand dollars, except the
chief justice, who receives six thousand five hundred dollars.

OFFICERS OF COURTS. - The United States district courts have grand
juries and trial juries, who perform duties similar to those of juries
in State courts. With the consent of the Senate, the President
appoints for each district a United States district attorney and a
United States marshal.

The _district attorney_ represents the United States in all civil cases
to which it is a party, and is the prosecuting officer in criminal

The _marshal_ is the executive and ministerial officer of the court,
with duties similar to those of a sheriff.

The Supreme Court of the United States appoints a _reporter_, who
reports - that is, edits and publishes - its decisions. This court also
appoints its own _marshal_. The decisions of the district court are
reported by the Judge, or by an attorney under the judge's sanction.
Each court appoints a clerk, who keeps a record of its proceedings;
gives a history of each case; notes all orders, decisions, and
judgments; has charge of all money paid; and keeps and fixes the seal
of the court.

The circuit courts of appeals appoint their own marshals and clerks.
The duties of these officers are similar to those performed by the
marshal and clerk of the Supreme Court. The circuit courts of appeals
have no reporters.


1. Who is chief justice of the United States, and of what State is he a

2. Why should a judge hold his position during a long term of years?

3. This State is a part of what United States circuit?

4. What justice represents this circuit in the supreme court?

5. Who is judge of the United States district court of this district?

6. Why can no person bring suit against the United States except by
special act of Congress?


_Resolved_, That the jury system should be abolished.




Government is defined as _rule_ or _control_. It is that which
governs, and also the act of governing. In its political sense, it
means the supreme authority of a State or other political community, or
the act by which this authority is applied. It is sometimes said to be
a system of institutions for the restraint of people living in the
social state or social condition.

The word _govern_ is derived from a Latin word which first meant _to
steer the ship_, and then very naturally came to mean _to guide, to
direct, to command_.

"The comparison of governing with steering is a very happy one," for
the interest of him who steers is the same as that of the people in the
ship: "all must float or sink together." So the interest of those that
govern, of those that guide "the ship of state," as we often express
it, is the same as that of the people.[1]

ORIGIN AND NECESSITY. - The origin of government is unknown; its
beginning can not be traced. People everywhere, in all the varying
degrees of civilization, recognize the necessity of a supreme
authority, to whom all owe and render obedience.

Men can not long live in the same vicinity without some kind of
political organization. Without some sort of government - that is, some
supreme power to settle disputes - the people would be in continual
warfare; there could be no security to person or property; each
individual could look to himself alone for safety; "his hand would be
against every man, and every man's hand against him."

Wherever men are found they live under some form of government, however
rude and imperfect. In all parts and in all ages of the world they
have seen the necessity of some power to protect the weak and restrain
the strong, and have therefore set up a supreme authority for the
common welfare.

A body of people living under government is called _society_, and the
agreement existing between them, for their common welfare, is called
the _social compact_.

Men are so constituted that society is necessary to their happiness.
Therefore they seek the social state and join the social compact, thus
agreeing to be governed by law and order.

FOR THE PEOPLE. - Government is for the people, and not for the rulers.
Officers, the highest and the lowest, are merely the servants of the

All governments derive their just powers from the consent of the
people, and are established and maintained for their good. All powers
which are exercised without the consent of the people are unjust and

KINDS. - Government is of two kinds, civil and military.

_Civil government_ is the government of civil society, or the
government of the people in a peaceful state.

_Military government_ is the government of men in a state of war. It
prevails in the army and the navy, and sometimes in districts which are
the scenes of military operations.

Military government is conducted by the rules of martial law, and in
its penalties and exactions is much more severe than civil government.


There are many forms of civil government, but they may be reduced to
three principal systems:

1. _Monarchy_: government by one person.

2. _Aristocracy_: government by a few persons.

3. _Democracy_: government by the people.

Every government is either one of these forms or is composed of two or
more of them.

MONARCHY. - A _monarchy_ is a government whose chief authority is vested
in one person, usually called king, queen, emperor, empress, or prince.
Monarchies are absolute or limited.

In an _absolute monarchy_ there is no limit to the power of the
monarch; his wishes are the laws of the people. The people are his
property, and in his person are combined all the powers of government,
legislative, executive, and judicial. Russia is the only civilized
nation whose government is still an absolute monarchy.

In a _constitutional monarchy_ the sovereign, or chief ruler, must
govern by laws made by a representative body elected by the people.
England and Germany are constitutional monarchies.

In an _hereditary monarchy_ the sovereign inherits the ruling power,
usually from his father.

In an _elective monarchy_ the sovereign is elected for life, usually by
the dignitaries of other nations.

A _patriarchy_ is a monarchy in which the chief power is exercised by a
patriarch, or father. The authority of the patriarch is confined to
his tribe. This form of government was common in ancient times, before
tribes were combined into nations.

A _theocracy_ is a monarchy whose rulers claim to be under the direct
guidance of God. The government of the ancient Hebrews was a theocracy.

ARISTOCRACY. - An _aristocracy_, sometimes called _oligarchy_, is a
government in which the supreme authority is vested in a privileged
few, distinguished by their wealth and social position.

The privileged class are usually called nobles. They are above the
common people in rank and bear titles of honor. These titles are
mostly inherited, but are sometimes conferred upon persons by the

An aristocracy never exists by itself; it is always combined with some
other form of government, usually with a constitutional monarchy. The
government of England is partly aristocratic; the House of Lords, one
of the bodies of Parliament, being composed of nobles.

DEMOCRACY. - A _democracy_ is a "government of the people, by the
people, for the people." It is a government by many, instead of by one
or by a few. Hereditary titles are inconsistent with democratic
government, and therefore never exist in a democracy.

A _pure democracy_ is a government conducted by the people in person.
It is practicable only in a political community so small that all the

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Online LibraryAlexander L. PetermanElements of Civil Government → online text (page 9 of 16)