William Fayette Fox.

Civil Government of Virginia online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryWilliam Fayette FoxCivil Government of Virginia → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





NOTE.-Important changes in every part of the fundamental law of
the State were made by the Constitutional Convention of 1901-2.

A great many of these changes did not go into full effect until as
late as Feb. 1, 1904; and some are yet to be made effective by the
operation of laws already passed or to be enacted hereafter. Under
the circumstances the author trusts he may be pardoned if some
errors or omissions are found in this work, but it is believed
that in all essential points it is in harmony with the provisions
of the Constitution and the laws of the State as they stand at the
present time.



I GENERAL PRINCIPLES Bill of Bights - Who May Vote and Hold Office
- Elections

II LEGISLATIVE, DEPARTMENT The Senate - House of Delegates - General

III EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT Governor - Lieutenant Governor - Attorney


Secretary of the Commonwealth-Treasurer-Auditor of Public
Accounts - Second Auditor - Register of the Land Office - State
Corporation Commission - Superintendent of the Penitentiary -
Superintendent of Public Printing - Commissioner of Agriculture and
Immigration - Commissioners of the Sinking Fund - Board of State


Supreme Court of Appeals - Circuit Courts - Circuit Court of the
City of Richmond


Corporation or Hustings Courts - Justices Courts - Hustings Court of
the City of Richmond - Chancery Court of the City of Richmond - Law
and Equity Court of the City of Richmond

VII OFFICERS OF COURTS Clerks - The Tipstaff and Crier - Sheriff -
Commonswealth's Attorney Attorneys at-Law Who May Practice Law in
- Virginia Juries - Grand Junes - Petit Jury



County Officers Sheriff - Commonwealth's Attorney - County Clerk -
Treasurer - Commissioner of the Revenue - Superintendent of the
Poor - County Surveyor-Superintendent of Public Schools County
Board of School Commissioners - Electoral Board - Board of
Supervisors - Assessors - Coroner


Magisterial Districts. - Supervisors. - Justices of the Peace. -
Constable. - Overseer of the Poor. - Conservators of the Peace.


Council. - Mayor. - City Sergeant. - Commissioner of the Revenue.
- Commonwealth's Attorney. - Treasurer. - Sheriff of Richmond City.


State: Board of Education. - Superintendent of Public Instruction.

County: County and City Superintendents. - School Trustee Electoral
Board. - County School Board.

District: School Districts. - School Trustees. - District Board of
School Trustees.

School Funds.






The word GOVERNMENT means guidance or direction or management. It
means also the person or persons who rule or control any
establishment or institution. Wherever any number of people live
together in one house, or one town, or city, or country, there
must be government of some kind.

In the family the parents are the government. They guide and
manage the affairs of the house. They give orders to their
children as to what they must do and what they must not do, and
they see that their orders are obeyed. This is government, and it
is for the benefit of the family. If the children were to do as
they please, there would be no peace or happiness in the home.

And in their games and amusements out of doors children find that
they must not do as they please. Every game has certain rules or
laws which those who take part in it are required to obey. In the
game of baseball, for example, the players are not allowed to act
as they like. There are rules of the play, and there is an umpire
to see that the rules are observed.

In the school, too, and in all business establishments there must
be government. The teachers direct the work in their classes,
giving orders to the pupils as to what lessons they must study and
how they must study them. In the store and factory there is a
manager or master who directs the business. If there were no
managers or masters there would be nothing but disorder and

We can see therefore how necessary government is, and we can
understand why it is that there must be government in the country
or state in which we live. There must be laws to direct men how
they must behave towards one another and to punish those who do
wrong. And there must be people to make the laws and people to see
that they are carried out.

This is CIVIL GOVERNMENT. The word CIVIL means pertaining to the
state, or to the relations between citizens and the state, and the
word STATE means the whole community or body of people living
under one government.

There are different kinds of government in different countries. In
some countries the government is monarchical - that is, under one
person, a king or emperor - and in some countries it is republican.

A republican government, or a republic, is a government in which
the chief power is exercised not by one person but by all the
people. The government of the United States is a republican
government. The government of Virginia is a republican government.
The head of the state under a republican form of government is
elected by the people.

The government in a republic is usually divided into three parts
or DEPARTMENTS. One department makes the laws. This is called the
LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT or the legislature. It is formed of a
certain number of persons who are elected at certain times, by the
people, and who meet to make laws that are necessary for the good
of the state or country.

The second department of government is called the EXECUTIVE
DEPARTMENT, and is also formed of persons who are elected by the
people, and their business is to execute or carry out the laws.
Their duty is to see that every one who violates any law of the
country or state is brought to punishment, and that the laws made
for promoting the well-being and happiness of the people are
carried out.

The third department of the government is the JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
or the judiciary. Its members are, in Virginia, chosen by the
legislature. Their duty is to administer the laws, that is to
inquire into every case in which a person is accused of breaking
the laws, and if a person is found to be guilty, to sentence him
to the punishment which the law prescribes for the crime or
offence he has committed.

In this book full particulars and explanations are given as to the
formation of those three departments of government, the many
duties assigned to each, and how those duties are performed.

In republics government is usually carried on according to the
wishes of the majority of the people. This is what is called
MAJORITY RULE. At elections to form the legislative or executive
department, different persons or candidates are proposed for each
office, and the candidate who gets a majority of the votes is
elected. A candidate is a person who is proposed for election to
some office.

Candidates for public offices are proposed or nominated at what
are called CONVENTIONS. A convention is a meeting of electors, or
voters, held for the purpose of agreeing upon or choosing persons
to be candidates for office. Conventions are called together and
conducted by organizations known as PARTIES or POLITICAL PARTIES.
There are usually at least two political parties in every country
in which there is constitutional government. Each of the parties
nominates candidates at every election, and tries in every
legitimate way to persuade the people to vote for its candidates.

The party whose candidates are elected is called THE PARTY IN
POWER. This is what is known as PARTY GOVERNMENT.

It is good for the state that there should be political parties.
Each party closely watches the conduct of the other, and if the
party in power make bad laws or execute the laws unfairly or
unjustly, the party out of power appeals to the people by public
speeches and by writing in newspapers, and does what it can to get
the voters to vote against the party in power at the next election
and turn it out of office.

Every citizen may join either of the parties he pleases, and so
exercise his influence through conventions and elections to secure
good government. And it is the duty of every citizen to do this,
for good government - honest law-makers and honest administrators
of the laws - is one of the greatest blessings a state can have. It
is also the duty of young people to learn about the government and
politics of their state, so that when they come of age they may be
able to perform their part as citizens intelligently and well.



2. Give some illustrations of the necessity of government.

3. What is the necessity for laws in a country?

4. Define CIVIL.

5. What is a republic?

6. What does the government in a republic consist of?

7. What is the duty of the legislative department?

8. What is the duty of the executive department?

9. What is the duty of the judicial department?

10. What do you understand by majority rule?

11. What is a convention?

12. What is a party government?

13. Why is it good for the state that there should be political

14. Why is it the duty of every citizen to become a member of one
of the political parties?

15. Why is it good for young people to learn about government and




1. All power is vested in and hence derived from the people;
magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times
amenable to them.

2. Government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common
benefit, protection, and security of the people.

3. No free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be
preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice,
moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent
recurrence to fundamental principles.

- Bill of Rights.

The BILL OF RIGHTS is the title of the first article, or chapter,
of the Constitution of Virginia. It is so called because it is a
declaration or statement of the RIGHTS of the people in regard to
government. In English history the name BILL OF RIGHTS is given to
a declaration of rights adopted by the two houses of Parliament in
England in 1688, and soon afterwards passed into law.

VESTED IN means entrusted to or put in possession of. To vest is
to invest or clothe with power or authority.

MAGISTRATES are public officers whose duty it is to administer the
laws. The President is the chief magistrate of the nation. It is
his duty to see that the laws of the United States are executed Or
carried out. The governor is the chief magistrate of the State;
the mayor is the chief magistrate of the city. Judges are
magistrates who preside in the courts and administer the law as
applying to the cases brought before them.

Trustees are persons who hold or have charge of the property of
others in trust, and as guardians, for those to whom it belongs.
Magistrates hold their offices as trustees for the people, and
they are amenable, that is, answerable, to the people. If they do
not perform the duties of their offices honestly, the people can
call them to account and punish them.

A FREE GOVERNMENT is a government instituted, that is,
established, by the consent of the people. The government of the
United States is a free government, because it has been
established by the people, and the people can change it when they

"Government ought to be established for the COMMON BENEFIT." This
means that government ought to be for the benefit of all the
people, poor as well as rich, and under a free government all the
people have equal protection from the law.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES are principles or truths according to
which, or upon which, systems, or laws, or institutions, are
FOUNDED. The fundamental principles of free government are that
all men are born equal, and that all men have equal rights to life
and liberty.

RECURRENCE means A GOING BACK TO. We must frequently recur, or go
back to, fundamental principles in order to preserve free
government. We must also firmly adhere to, or practice justice,
moderation, temperance, and virtue.

JUSTICE is the doing of what is right. MODERATION means the
avoiding of severity or harshness in our conduct towards others.
TEMPERANCE is the moderate or reasonable use or enjoyment of the
pleasures of life. FRUGALITY is the practice of thrift and economy
as opposed to extravagance. VIRTUE is the practice of the moral
good taught by religion.

The constitution guarantees to the people the right to make and to
change their own laws; the right of speedy trial by jury;
protection in the enjoyment of their inherent rights; freedom of
elections; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; religious
freedom; equal civil and political rights and public privileges.

It prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, the infliction of
cruel and unusual punishments, and the taking of private property
for public uses except by law and with just compensation.

A CONSTITUTION is a system or plan of government, or a written or
printed statement of the principles and rules according to which a
government is to be conducted. The constitution tells how the
government is to be formed, what it has power to do, and what it
must not do. The Constitution of Virginia GUARANTEES, that is,
secures or makes sure to the people, the right to make or change
the laws. A government under a constitution is called a

TRIAL BY JURY is trial by a judge and certain citizens who are
called the jury. The duty of the judge is to see that the trial is
conducted according to law, and to pass sentence on the accused
person if found guilty. The duty of the jury is to decide, after
hearing the evidence, whether the accused person is guilty or not.
This declaration of the jury is called a VERDICT, a word which
means a TRUE SAYING.

INHERENT means inseparable from, or not to be taken away. INHERENT
RIGHTS are rights that cannot justly be taken away from the
people. The right to life and liberty is an inherent right of man
which cannot be taken away by any constitution or government.

FREEDOM OF ELECTIONS means freedom to hold elections to choose the
officers of government, and freedom for every citizen to vote for
the candidate of his choice. FREEDOM OF SPEECH and FREEDOM OF THE
PRESS mean liberty for all to speak or publish what they desire to
say on any subject, being liable to punishment by law if they
speak or publish anything injurious to the reputation of others.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM means liberty to belong to any religion, or to
worship God in any way that one thinks proper.

CIVIL RIGHTS are the rights a man is entitled to as a member of
the community, such as the right to trial by jury, the right of
freedom of speech.

POLITICAL RIGHTS are the rights that belong to men as citizens,
Such, as the right to vote, the right to be candidates for public

PUBLIC PRIVILEGES are benefits or advantages possessed by some and
not by others, such as charters to corporations or licenses to
carry on certain kinds of business. For example, a license to sell
liquors is a public privilege. It is not for the public good that
it should be given to everybody, but the Constitution guarantees
that under necessary restrictions as to the number of such
licenses granted, all citizens shall have equal rights to such

PRIVATE PROPERTY is property that belongs to private individuals.
It may be taken for public use when necessary. If a government
building has to be erected or a railroad made, the land required
for the purpose may be taken from the owner, but a just price must
be paid for it.

Who May Vote and Hold Office. Every male citizen of the United
States, who is 21 years old, who has been a resident of the State
two years, of the county, city, or town one year, and of the
precinct in which he offers to vote thirty days next preceding any
election, has been registered and has paid his state poll taxes,
shall be entitled to vote; except idiots and lunatics, persons
convicted after the adoption of the constitution of bribery in any
election, embezzlement of public funds, treason, felony, or petit
larceny, obtaining money or other property under false pretences,
or who have been in any way concerned in a duel.

All persons entitled to vote shall be eligible to any office
within the gift of the people, except as restricted by the

Excepting the requirements of residence in the voting precinct,
payment of poll tax and registration, the qualifications of jurors
are practically the same as those of voters.

A CITIZEN is a native of the United States or a foreigner who has
been made a citizen. To be made a citizen, a person must, at least
two years before admission, make a declaration before a judge that
it is his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and
to renounce allegiance to all foreign powers or princes. Having so
declared his intention, and after residing five years in the
United States, he must declare on oath before a judge that he
renounces allegiance to all foreign powers, and that he will
support the Constitution of the United States. He then receives a
paper or document certifying that he is a citizen. The paper is
called a NATURALIZATION paper, and the person who receives it is
said to be NATURALIZED, because it entitles him to all the rights
and privileges of a NATIVE or NATURAL-BORN citizen of the United

CONVICTED means tried in a public court for a crime and found
guilty. BRIBERY in elections is buying or selling votes, or giving
money or payment in any form to a voter for voting for any
candidate. EMBEZZLEMENT is the crime a person commits who takes
for his own use the money or property of others that has been
entrusted to his care. TREASON is to make war against or try to
overthrow or destroy the government of one's own country. FELONY
is a crime that may be punished by death or imprisonment in state
prison. PETIT LARCENY is the stealing of goods of small value.

Every voter is required to be registered. This is a most important
proceeding, as it insures the purity of the ballot and the
intelligent exercise of the right of franchise. Elections. Shall
be by ballot; for State, county, corporation and district
officers, shall be held the Tuesday after the first Monday in
November; except for mayors and councils of cities and towns,
which shall be the second Tuesday of June.

State executive officers elected at a general election shall enter
upon the duties of their respective offices the first of February
next thereafter; members of the House of Delegates and all county,
corporation, and district officers on the first of January, and
Senators on the second Wednesday in January next thereafter; and
mayors and councils of cities and towns on the first of September
next succeeding their election. State executive officers elected
by the General Assembly enter upon their duties the first of March
following their election.

They shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective
offices until their successors shall have qualified.

The BALLOT is the printed list containing the names of all the
candidates to be voted for at an election. The places where the
people vote are called POLLS, and they are kept open for one day -
from sunrise to sunset. At the polls there are officers called
judges or clerks of election. When the voter goes to the poll on
election day, one of the judges hands him a ballot. With the
ballot he goes alone into a small compartment or BOOTH, where
there is a desk with a pencil or pen and ink. There he draws a
mark with the pen or pencil through the names of the candidates he
does not wish to vote for, leaving the names of the candidates he
votes for unmarked He then, folds up the ballot, with the names of
the candidates on the inside, and hands it to one of the judges,
who drops it into a box, where it remains until the votes are
counted after the poll closes. The candidates who receive the
highest number of votes are declared elected. This is done by the
Board of State Canvassers (which see).

STATE OFFICERS are officers elected by the voters of the whole
State. The governor, the lieutenant-governor, and attorney-general
are State officers.

A CORPORATION is a body or number of persons formed and authorized
by law to carry on business under one name as a single person.
Banks and railroad and manufacturing companies are corporations.
They are called private corporations because the business they do
is for the benefit of private individuals. The people of cities
and towns have power by law to carry on the government of their
cities and towns as corporations. They are called public
corporations because they are formed for the purpose of
government, and act for the whole people (see under Government of
Cities and Towns)

QUALIFIED, with regard to State officers, means having taken the
oath of office. The Constitution requires that every person,
before entering upon the discharge of any functions as an officer
of the State, must solemnly swear or affirm that he will support
and maintain the Constitution and laws of the State of Virginia,
and that he will faithfully perform the duty of the office to
which he has been elected. To take this oath is to QUALIFY for the

The State is entitled to two U. S. Senators and ten
Representatives in Congress, and to twelve votes for President and
Vice-President in the Electoral College.

The ELECTORAL COLLEGE is the name given to the body of persons who
elect the President and Vice-President of the United States. At a
presidential election, which takes place every four years, the
people do not vote directly for the candidates who have been
nominated for President and Vice-President. They vote for persons
nominated to be ELECTORS, and each State has the right to choose
as many electors as it has senators and representatives in
Congress. Virginia has two senators and ten representatives in
Congress, therefore at the presidential election it chooses twelve
electors. This is what is meant by saying that it has twelve votes
in the Electoral College.

The members of the Electoral College do not meet all together to
elect the President and Vice-President. The electors of each State
meet in the capital of their own State in January after they are
elected, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President.
after which they send lists to the President of the United States
Senate showing how they have voted. Those lists are examined in
the Senate and the votes counted. Then the candidates who have
received the votes of a majority of the Electoral College are
declared elected.


1. From whom are the powers of government derived?

2. What are magistrates?

3. For what is government instituted?

4. What are fundamental principles?

5. What is the Bill of Rights?

6 What is a constitution?

7. What is trial by jury?

8 Tell what you understand by freedom of elections, freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, and religious freedom

9. Tell the difference between civil rights and political rights.

10. What are public privileges?

11. What is involuntary servitude?


13. Who is entitled to vote, and who is eligible to office?

14. What is a citizen?

15. How may one become a citizen?


17. What are jurors?

18. When are the elections for State officers held?

19. How are elections conducted?

20. Define BALLOT, POLLS, and BOOTH.

21. What are State officers?

22. What is a corporation?

23. What is the meaning of QUALIFIED?

24. How many senators and representatives in Congress is the State
entitled to?

25. How many votes is the State entitled to in the Electoral

26. What is the Electoral College?

27. How do the electors choose the President and Vice-President of
the United States?



1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryWilliam Fayette FoxCivil Government of Virginia → online text (page 1 of 16)