Civil Government in the United States Considered with - Some Reference to Its Origins
by John Fiske
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[Sidenote: The President's message.] The president must from time to time make a report to Congress on the state of affairs in the country and suggest such a line of policy or such special measures as may seem good to him. This report has taken the form of an annual written message. Washington and Adams began their administrations by addressing Congress in a speech, to which Congress replied; but it suited the opposite party to discover in this an imitation of the British practice of opening Parliament with a speech from the sovereign. It was accordingly stigmatized as "monarchical," and Jefferson (though without formally alleging any such reason) set the example, which has been followed ever since, of addressing Congress in a written message.[19] Besides this annual message, the president may at any time send in a special message relating to matters which in his opinion require immediate attention.

[Footnote 19: Jefferson, moreover, was a powerful writer and a poor speaker.]

The effectiveness of a president's message depends of course on the character of the president and the general features of the political situation. That separation between the executive and legislative departments, which is one of the most distinctive features of civil government in the United States, tends to prevent the development of leadership. An English prime minister's policy, so long as he remains in office, must be that of the House of Commons; power and responsibility are concentrated. An able president may virtually direct the policy of his party in Congress, but he often has a majority against him in one house and sometimes in both at once. Thus in dividing power we divide and weaken responsibility. To this point I have already alluded as illustrated in our state governments.[20]

[Footnote 20: The English method, however, would probably not work well in this country, and might prove to be a source of great and complicated dangers. See above, p. 169.]

[Sidenote: Executive departments] [Sidenote: The cabinet] The Constitution made no specific provisions for the creation of executive departments, but left the matter to Congress. At the beginning of Washington's administration three secretaryships were created,—those of state, treasury, and war; and an attorney-general was appointed. Afterward the department of the navy was separated from that of war, the postmaster-general was made a member of the administration, and as lately as 1849 the department of the interior was organized. The heads of these departments are the president's advisers, but they have as a body no recognized legal existence or authority. They hold their meetings in a room at the president's executive mansion, the White House, but no record is kept of their proceedings and the president is not bound to heed their advice. This body has always been called the "Cabinet," after the English usage. It is like the English cabinet in being composed of heads of executive departments and in being, as a body, unknown to the law; in other respects the difference is very great. The English cabinet is the executive committee of the House of Commons, and exercises a guiding and directing influence upon legislation. The position of the president is not at all like that of the prime minister; it is more like that of the English sovereign, though the latter has not nearly so much power as the president; and the American cabinet in some respects resembles the English privy council, though it cannot make ordinances.

[Sidenote: The secretary of state.] The secretary of state ranks first among our cabinet officers. He is often called our prime minister or "premier," but there could not be a more absurd use of language. In order to make an American personage corresponding to the English prime minister we must first go to the House of Representatives, take its committee of ways and means and its committee on appropriations, and unite them into one committee of finance; then we must take the chairman of this committee, give him the power of dissolving the House and ordering a new election, and make him master of all the executive departments, while at the same time we strip from the president all real control over the administration. This exalted finance-chairman would be much like the First Lord of the Treasury, commonly called the prime minister. This illustration shows how wide the divergence has become between our system and that of Great Britain.

Our secretary of state is our minister of foreign affairs, and is the only officer who is authorized to communicate with other governments in the name of the president. He is at the head of the diplomatic and consular service, issuing the instructions to our ministers abroad, and he takes a leading part in the negotiation of treaties. To these ministerial duties he adds some that are more characteristic of his title of secretary. He keeps the national archives, and superintends the publication of laws, treaties, and proclamations; and he is the keeper of the great seal of the United States.

[Sidenote: Diplomatic and consular service.] Our foreign relations are cared for in foreign countries by two distinct classes of officials: ministers and consuls. The former represent the United States government in a diplomatic capacity; the latter have nothing to do with diplomacy or politics, but look after our commercial interests in foreign countries. Consuls exercise a protective care over seamen, and perform various duties for Americans abroad. They can take testimony and administer estates. In some non-Christian countries, such as China, Japan, and Turkey, they have jurisdiction over criminal cases in which Americans are concerned. Formerly our ministers abroad were of only three grades: (1) "envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary;" (2) "ministers resident;" (3) charges d'affaires. The first two are accredited by the president to the head of government of the countries to which they are sent; the third are accredited by the secretary of state to the minister of foreign affairs in the countries to which they are sent. We still retain these grades, which correspond to the lower grades of the diplomatic service in European countries. Until lately we had no highest grade answering to that of "ambassador," perhaps because when our diplomatic service was organized the United States did not yet rank among first-rate powers, and could not expect to receive ambassadors. Great powers, like France and Germany, send ambassadors to each other, and envoys to inferior powers, like Denmark or Greece or Guatemala. When we send envoys to the great powers, we rank ourselves along with inferior powers; and diplomatic etiquette as a rule obliges the great powers to send to us the same grade of minister that we send to them. There were found to be some practical inconveniences about this, so that in 1892 the highest grade was adopted and our ministers to Great Britain and France were made ambassadors.

[Sidenote: The secretary of the treasury.] The cabinet officer second in rank and in some respects first in importance is the secretary of the treasury. He conducts the financial business of the government, superintends the collection of revenue, and gives warrants for the payment of moneys from the treasury. He also superintends the coinage, the national banks, the custom-houses, the coast-survey and lighthouse system, the marine hospitals, and life-saving service.[21] He sends reports to Congress, and suggests such measures as seem good to him. Since the Civil War his most weighty business has been the management of the national debt. He is aided by two assistant secretaries, six auditors, a register, a comptroller, a solicitor, a director of the mint, commissioner of internal revenue, chiefs of the bureau of statistics and bureau of engraving and printing, etc. The business of the treasury department is enormous, and no part of our government has been more faithfully administered. Since 1789 the treasury has disbursed more than seven billions of dollars without one serious defalcation. No man directly interested in trade or commerce can be appointed secretary of the treasury, and the department has almost always been managed by "men of small incomes bred either to politics or the legal profession." [22]

[Footnote 21: Many of these details concerning the executive departments are admirably summarized, and with more fullness than comports with the design of the present work, in Thorpe's Government of the People of the United States, pp. 183-193.]

[Footnote 22: Schouler, Hist. of the U.S., vol. i. p. 95.]

[Sidenote: War and navy.] The war and navy departments need no special description here. The former is divided into ten and the latter into eight bureaus. The naval department, among many duties, has charge of the naval observatory at Washington and publishes the nautical almanac.

[Sidenote: Interior.] The department of the interior conducts a vast and various business, as is shown by the designations of its eight bureaus, which deal with public lands, Indian affairs, pensions, patents, education (chiefly in the way of gathering statistics and reporting upon school affairs), agriculture, public documents, and the census. In 1889 the bureau of agriculture was organized as a separate department. The weather bureau forms a branch of the department of agriculture.

[Sidenote: Postmaster-general and attorney-general.] The departments of the postmaster-general and attorney-general need no special description. The latter was organized in 1870 into the department of justice. The attorney-general is the president's legal adviser, and represents the United States in all law-suits to which the United States is a party. He is aided by a solicitor-general and other subordinate offices.


1. Speak (1) of the president's share in legislation; (2) of his relation to the executive department, and (3) of the origin of his title.

2. The electoral college:—

a. The method of electing the president a perplexing question. b. The constitution of the electoral college, with illustrations. c. Qualifications for serving as an elector. d. The method of choosing electors. e. The time of choosing electors. f. When and where the electors vote. g. The number and disposition of the certificates of their h. The declaration of the result.

3. What was the method of voting in the electoral college before 1804? Illustrate the working of this method in 1796 and 1800.

4. The amendment of 1804:—

a. The ballots of the electors. b. The duty of the House if no candidate for the presidency receives a majority of the electoral votes. c. The duty of the Senate if no candidate for the vice-presidency receives a majority of the electoral votes. d. Illustrations of the working of this amendment in 1825 and 1837.

5. The electoral commission of 1877:—

a. A difficulty not foreseen. b. Conflicting returns in 1877. c. The plan of arbitration adopted.

6. The presidential succession:—

a. The office of vice-president. b. The act of 1791. c. The possibility of a lapse of the presidency. d. The possibility of an unfair political overthrow. e. The act of 1886.

7. Compare the original purpose of the electoral college with the fulfillment of that purpose.

8. Explain the transition from a divided electoral vote in a state to a solid electoral vote.

9. Show how a minority of the people may elect a president. Who have been elected by minorities?

10. What is the advantage of the electoral system over a direct popular vote?

11. Methods of nominating candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency before 1832:—

a. The absence of constitutional and legislative requirements.

b. Presidents not nominated. c. Nominations by congressional caucuses. d. Nominations by state legislatures. e. Nominations by local conventions.

12. Nominations by national conventions in 1832 and since:—

a. The nature of a national convention. b. The platform. c. The number of delegates from a state, and their election. d. The relation of the "primaries" to district, state, and national conventions. e. The nature of the primary. f. Its two duties. g. The duty of the voter to attend the primaries.

13. The presidency:— a. Qualifications for the office. b. The term of office.

14. Powers and duties of the president:— a. As a commander-in-chief. b. In respect to reprieves and pardons. c. In respect to treaties with foreign powers. d. In respect to the appointment of federal officers. e. In respect to summoning and adjourning Congress. f. In respect to reporting the state of affairs in the country to Congress.

15. The president's message:— a. The course of Washington and Adams. b. The example of Jefferson. c. The effectiveness of the message. d. Power and responsibility in the English system.

e. Power and responsibility in the American system.

16. Executive departments:— a. The departments under Washington. b. Later additions to the departments. c. The "Cabinet." d. The resemblance between the English cabinet and our own. e. The difference between the English cabinet and our own.

17. The secretary of state:— a. Is he a prime minister? b. What would be necessary to make an American personage correspond to an English prime minister? c. What are the ministerial duties of the secretary of state? d. What other duties has he more characteristic of his title?

18. Our diplomatic and consular service:— a. The distinction between ministers and consuls. b. Three grades of ministers. c. The persons to whom the three grades are accredited. d. The grade of ambassador.

19. The secretary of the treasury:— a. His rank and importance. b. His various duties. c. His chief assistants. d. The administration of the treasury department since 1789.

20. The duties of the remaining cabinet officers:— a. Of the secretary of war. b. Of the secretary of the navy. c. Of the secretary of the interior. d. Of the postmaster-general. e. Of the attorney-general.

Section 4. The Nation and the States.

We have left our Federal Convention sitting a good while at Philadelphia, while we have thus undertaken to give a coherent account of our national executive organization, which has in great part grown up since 1789 with the growth of the nation. Observe how wisely the Constitution confines itself to a clear sketch of fundamentals, and leaves as much as possible to be developed by circumstances. In this feature lies partly the flexible strength, the adaptableness, of our Federal Constitution. That strength lies partly also in the excellent partition of powers between the federal government and the several states.

[Sidenote: Difference between confederation and federal union.] We have already remarked upon the vastness of the functions retained by the states. At the same time the powers granted to Congress have proved sufficient to bind the states together into a union that is more than a mere confederation. From 1776 to 1789 the United States were a confederation; after 1789 it was a federal nation. The passage from plural to singular was accomplished, although it took some people a good while to realize the fact. The German language has a neat way of distinguishing between a loose confederation and a federal union. It calls the former a Staatenbund and the latter a Bundesstaat. So in English, if we liked, we might call the confederation a Band-of-States and the federal union a Banded-State. There are two points especially in our Constitution which transformed our country from a Band-of-States into a Banded-State.

[Sidenote: Powers granted to Congress.] The first was the creation of a federal House of Representatives, thus securing for Congress the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common welfare of the United States. Other powers are naturally attached to this,—such as the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States; to regulate foreign and domestic commerce; to coin money and fix the standard of weights and measures; to provide for the punishment of counterfeiters; to establish post-offices and post-roads; to issue copyrights and patents; to define and punish felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations; to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; to raise and support an army and navy, and to make rules for the regulation of the land and naval forces; to provide for calling out the militia to suppress insurrections and repel invasions, and to command this militia while actually employed in the service of the United States. The several states, however, train their own militia and appoint the officers. Congress may also establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies. It also exercises exclusive control over the District of Columbia,[23] as the seat of the national government, and over forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings, which it erects within the several states upon land purchased for such purposes with the consent of the state legislature.

[Footnote 23: Ceded to the United States by Maryland and Virginia.]

[Sidenote: The "Elastic Clause."] Congress is also empowered "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 office thereof." This may be called the Elastic Clause of the Constitution; it has undergone a good deal of stretching for one purpose and another, and, as we shall presently see, it was a profound disagreement in the interpretation of this clause that after 1789 divided the American people into two great political parties.

[Sidenote: Powers denied to the states.] [Sidenote: Paper currency.] The national authority of Congress is further sharply defined by the express denial of sundry powers to the several states. These we have already enumerated.[24] There was an especial reason for prohibiting the states from issuing bills of credit, or making anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts. During the years 1785 and 1786 a paper money craze ran through the country; most of the states issued paper notes, and passed laws obliging their citizens to receive them in payment of debts. Now a paper dollar is not money, it is only the government's promise to pay a dollar. As long as you can send it to the treasury and get a gold dollar in exchange, it is worth a dollar. It is this exchangeableness that makes it worth a dollar. When government makes the paper dollar note a "legal tender." i.e., when it refuses to give you the gold dollar and makes you take its note instead, the note soon ceases to be worth a dollar. You would rather have the gold than the note, for the mere fact that government refuses to give the gold shows that it is in financial difficulties. So the note's value is sure to fall, and if the government is in serious difficulty, it falls very far, and as it falls it takes more of it to buy things. Prices go up. There was a time (1864) during our Civil War when a paper dollar was worth only forty cents and a barrel of flour cost $23. But that was nothing to the year 1780, when the paper dollar issued by the Continental Congress was worth only a mill, and flour was sold in Boston for $1,575 a barrel! When the different states tried to make paper money, it made confusion worse confounded, for the states refused to take each other's money, and this helped to lower its value. In some states the value of the paper dollar fell in less than a year to twelve or fifteen cents. At such times there is always great demoralization and suffering, especially among the poorer people; and with all the experience of the past to teach us, it may now be held to be little less than a criminal act for a government, under any circumstances, to make its paper notes a legal tender. The excuse for the Continental Congress was that it was not completely a government and seemed to have no alternative, but there is no doubt that the paper currency damaged the country much more than the arms of the enemy by land or sea. The feeling was so strong about it in the Federal Convention that the prohibition came near being extended to the national government, but the question was unfortunately left undecided.[25]

[Footnote 24: See above, p.175]

[Footnote 25: See my Critical Period of American History, pp. 168-186, 273-276.]

[Sidenote: Powers denied to Congress.] [Sidenote: Bills of attainder.] Some express prohibitions were laid upon the national government. Duties may be laid upon imports but not upon exports; this wise restriction was a special concession to South. Carolina, which feared the effect of an export duty upon rice and indigo. Duties and excises must be uniform throughout the country, and no commercial preference can be shown to one state over another; absolute free trade is the rule between the states. A census must be taken every ten years in order to adjust the representation, and no direct tax can be imposed except according to the census. No money can be drawn from the treasury except "in consequence of appropriations made by law," and accounts must be regularly kept and published. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus cannot be suspended except "when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it;" and "no bill of attainder, or ex post facto law," can be passed. A bill of attainder is a special legislative act by which a person may be condemned to death, or to outlawry and banishment, without the opportunity of defending himself which he would have in a court of law. "No evidence is necessarily adduced to support it," [26] and in former times, especially in the reign of Henry VIII., it was a formidable engine for perpetrating judicial murders. Bills of attainder long ago ceased to be employed in England, and the process was abolished by statute in 1870.

[Footnote 26: Taswell-Langmead, English Constitutional History, p. 385.]

[Sidenote: Intercitizenship.] No title of nobility can be granted by the United States, and no federal officer can accept a present, office, or title from a foreign state without the consent of Congress. "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Full faith and credit must be given in each state to the public acts and records, and to the judicial proceedings of every other state; and it is left for Congress to determine the manner in which such acts and proceedings shall be proved or certified. The citizens of each state are "entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." There is mutual extradition of criminals, and, as a concession to the southern states it was provided that fugitive slaves should be surrendered to their masters. The United States guarantees to every state a republican form of government, it protects each state against invasion; and on application from the legislature of a state, or from the executive when the legislature cannot be convened, it lends a hand in suppressing insurrection.

[Sidenote: Mode of making amendments.] Amendments to the Constitution may at any time be proposed in pursuance of a two thirds vote in both houses of Congress, or by a convention called at the request of the legislatures of two thirds of the states. The amendments are not in force until ratified by three-fourths of the states, either through their legislatures or through special conventions, according to the preference of Congress. This makes it difficult to change the Constitution, as it ought to be; but it leaves it possible to introduce changes that are very obviously desirable. The Articles of Confederation could not be amended except by a unanimous vote of the states; and this made their amendment almost impossible.

After assuming all debts contracted and engagements made by the United States before its adoption, the Constitution goes on to declare itself the supreme law of the land. By it, and by the laws and treaties made under it, the judges in every state are bound, in spite of anything contrary in the constitution or laws of any state.


1. In what two features of the Constitution does its strength largely lie?

2. Distinguish between the United States as a confederation and the United States as a federal union. How does the German language bring out the distinction?

3. What was the first important factor in transforming our country from a Band-of-States to a Banded-State?

4. The powers granted to Congress:— a. Over taxes, money, and commerce. b. Over postal affairs, and the rights of inventors and authors. c. Over certain crimes. d. Over war and military matters. e. Over naturalization and bankruptcy. f. Over the District of Columbia and other places. g. The "elastic clause" and its interpretation.

5. The powers denied to the states:— a. An enumeration of these powers. b. The prohibition of bills of credit, in particular. c. The paper money craze of 1785 and 1786. d. Paper money as a "legal tender." e. The depreciation of paper money during the Civil War. f. The depreciation of the Continental currency in 1780. g. The demoralization caused by the states making paper money. h. The lesson of experience.

6. Prohibitions upon the national government:— a. The imposition of duties and taxes. b. The payment of money. c. The writ of habeas corpus. d. Ex post facto laws. e. Bills of attainder. f. Titles and presents.

7. Duties of the states to one another:— a. In respect to public acts and records, and judicial proceedings. b. In respect to the privileges of citizens. c. In respect to fugitives from justice.

8. What is the duty of the United States to every state in respect (1) to form of government, (2) invasion, and (3) insurrection?

9. Amendments to the Constitution:— a. Two methods of proposing amendments. b. Two methods of ratifying amendments, c. The difficulty of making amendments. d. Amendment of the Articles of Confederation.

10. What is meant by the Constitution's declaring itself the supreme law of the land?

Section 5. The Federal Judiciary.

[Sidenote: Need for a federal judiciary.] The creation of a federal judiciary was the second principal feature in the Constitution, which transformed our country from a loose confederation into a federal nation, from a Band-of-States into a Banded-State. We have seen that the American people were already somewhat familiar with the method of testing the constitutionality of a law by getting the matter brought before the courts.[27] In the case of a conflict between state law and federal law, the only practicable peaceful solution is that which is reached through a judicial decision. The federal authority also needs the machinery of courts in order to enforce its own decrees.

[Footnote 27: See above p. 194.]

[Sidenote: Federal courts and judges.] [Sidenote: District attorneys and marshals.] The federal judiciary consists of a supreme court, circuit courts, and district courts.[28] At present the supreme court consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices. It holds annual sessions in the city of Washington, beginning on the second Monday of October. Each of these nine judges is also presiding judge of a circuit court. The area of the United States, not including the territories, is divided into nine circuits, and in each circuit the presiding judge is assisted by special circuit judges. The circuits are divided into districts, fifty-six in all, and in each of these there is a special district judge. The districts never cross state lines. Sometimes a state is one district, but populous states with much business are divided into two or even three districts. "The circuit courts sit in the several districts of each circuit successively, and the law requires that each justice of the supreme court shall sit in each district of his circuit at least once every two years." [29] District judges are not confined to their own districts; they may upon occasion exchange districts as ministers exchange pulpits. A district judge may, if need be, act as a circuit judge, as a major may command a regiment. All federal judges are appointed by the president, with the consent of the Senate, to serve during good behaviour. Each district has its district attorney, whose business is to prosecute offenders against the federal laws and to conduct civil cases in which the national government is either plaintiff or defendant. Each district has also its marshal, who has the same functions under the federal court as the sheriff under the state court. The procedure of the federal court usually follows that of the courts of the state in which it is sitting.

[Footnote 28: See the second note on p.278.]

[Footnote 29: See Wilson, The State, p. 554. I have closely followed, though, with much abridgment, the excellent description of our federal judiciary, pp. 555-561.]

[Sidenote: The federal jurisdiction.] The federal jurisdiction covers two classes of cases: (1) those which come before it "because of the nature of the questions involved: for instance, admiralty and maritime cases, navigable waters being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal authorities, and cases arising out of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States or out of conflicting grants made by different states"; (2) those which come before it "because of the nature of the parties to the suit," such as cases affecting the ministers of foreign powers or suits between citizens of different states.

The division of jurisdiction between the upper and lower federal courts is determined chiefly by the size and importance of the cases. In cases where a state or a foreign minister is a party the supreme court has original jurisdiction, in other cases it has appellate jurisdiction, and "any case which involves the interpretation of the Constitution can be taken to the supreme court, however small the sum in dispute." If a law of any state or of the United States is decided by the supreme court to be in violation of the Constitution, it instantly becomes void and of no effect. In this supreme exercise of jurisdiction, our highest federal tribunal is unlike any other tribunal known to history. The supreme court is the most original of all American institutions. It is peculiarly American, and for its exalted character and priceless services it is an institution of which Americans may well be proud.


1. What was the second important factor in transforming our country from a Band-of-States to a Banded-State?

2. Why was a federal judiciary deemed necessary?

3. The organization of the federal judiciary:— a. The supreme court and its sessions. b. The circuit courts. c. The district courts. d. Exchanges of service. e. Appointment of judges. f. The United States district attorney. g. The United States marshal.

4. The jurisdiction of the federal courts:— a. Cases because of the nature of the questions involved. b. Cases because of the nature of the parties to the suit. c. The division of jurisdiction between the upper and the lower courts. d. Wherein the supreme court is the most original of American institutions.

Section 6. Territorial Government.

[Sidenote: The Northwest Territory.] [Sidenote: The Ordinance of 1787.] The Constitution provided for the admission of new states to the Union, but it does not allow a state to be formed within another state. A state cannot "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." Shortly before the making of the Constitution, the United States had been endowed for the first time with a public domain. The territory northwest of the Ohio River had been claimed, on the strength of old grants and charters, by Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia. In 1777 Maryland refused to sign the Articles of Confederation until these states should agree to cede their claims to the United States, and thus in 1784 the federal government came into possession of a magnificent territory, out of which five great states—Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin—have since been made. While the Federal Convention was sitting at Philadelphia, the Continental Congress at New York was doing almost its last and one of its greatest pieces of work in framing the Ordinance of 1787 for the organization and government of this newly acquired territory. The ordinance created a territorial government with governor and two-chambered legislature, courts, magistrates, and militia. Complete civil and religious liberty was guaranteed, negro slavery was prohibited, and provision was made for free schools.[30]

[Footnote 30: The manner in which provision should be made for these schools had been pointed out two years before in the land-ordinance of 1785, as heretofore explained. See above, p. 86.]

[Sidenote: Other territories and their government.] In 1803 the enormous territory known as Louisiana, comprising everything (except Texas) between the Mississippi River and the crest of the Rocky Mountains, was purchased from France. A claim upon the Oregon territory was soon afterward made by discovery and exploration, and finally settled in 1846 by treaty with Great Britain. In 1848 by conquest and in 1853 by purchase the remaining Pacific lands were acquired from Mexico. All of this vast region has been at some time under territorial government. As for Texas, on the other hand, it has never been a territory. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1836 and remained an independent state until 1845, when it was admitted to the Union. Territorial government has generally passed through three stages: first, there are governors and judges appointed by the president; then as population increases, there is added a legislature chosen by the people and empowered to make laws subject to confirmation by Congress; finally, entire legislative independence is granted. The territory is then ripe for admission to the Union as a state.


1. What is the constitutional provision for admitting new states?

2. What states claimed the territory northwest of the Ohio river? On what did they base their claims?

3. Why was this territory ceded to the general government?

4. What states have since been made out of this territory?

5. What was the Ordinance of 1787?

6. What were the principal provisions of this ordinance?

7. Give an account of the Louisiana purchase?

8. Give an account of the acquisition of the Oregon territory.

9. Give an account of the acquisition of the remaining Pacific lands.

10. How came Texas to belong to the United States?

11. How much of the public domain has been at some time under territorial government?

12. Through what three stages has territorial government usually passed?

Section 7. Ratification and Amendments.

[Sidenote: Concessions to the South.] Thus the work of the Ordinance of 1787 was in a certain sense supplementary to the work of framing the Constitution. When the latter instrument was completed, it was provided that "the ratifications of the conventions of nine states shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the states so ratifying the same." The Constitution was then laid before the Continental Congress, which submitted it to the states. In one state after another, conventions were held, and at length the Constitution was ratified. There was much opposition to it, because it seemed to create a strange and untried form of government which might develop into a tyranny. There was a fear that the federal power might crush out self-government in the states. This dread was felt in all parts of the country. Besides this, there was some sectional opposition between North and South, and in Virginia there was a party in favour of a separate southern confederacy. But South Carolina and Georgia were won over by the concessions in the Constitution to slavery, and especially a provision that the importation of slaves from Africa should not be prohibited until 1808. By winning South Carolina and Georgia the formation of a "solid South" was prevented.

[Sidenote: Bill of Rights proposed.] The first states to adopt the Constitution were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut, with slight opposition, except in Pennsylvania. Next came Massachusetts, where the convention was very large, the discussion very long, and the action in one sense critical. One chief source of dissatisfaction was the absence of a sufficiently explicit Bill of Rights, and to meet this difficulty, Massachusetts ratified the Constitution, but proposed amendments, and this course was followed by other states. Maryland and South Carolina came next, and New Hampshire made the ninth. Virginia and New York then ratified by very narrow majorities and after prolonged discussion. North Carolina did not come in until 1789, and Rhode Island not until 1790.

[Sidenote: The first ten amendments.]

In September, 1789, the first ten amendments were proposed by Congress, and in December, 1791, they were declared in force. Their provisions are similar to those of the English Bill of Rights, enacted in 1689,[31] but are much more full and explicit. They provide for freedom of speech and of the press, the free exercise of religion, the right of the people to assemble and petition Congress for a redress of grievances, their right to bear arms, and to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. The quartering of soldiers is guarded, general search-warrants are prohibited, jury trial is guaranteed, and the taking of private property for public use without due compensation, as well as excessive fines and bail and the infliction of "cruel and unusual punishment" are forbidden. Congress is prohibited from establishing any form of religion.

[Footnote 31: See above, p. 190. This is further elucidated in Appendixes B and D.]

Finally, it is declared that "the enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and that "the powers not granted to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."


1. What provision did the Constitution make for its own ratification?

2. What was the general method of ratification in the states?

3. On what general grounds did the opposition to the Constitution seem to be based?

4. By what feature in the Constitution was the support of South Carolina and Georgia assured? Why was this support deemed peculiarly desirable?

5. What five states ratified the Constitution with little or no opposition?

6. What was the objection of Massachusetts and some other states to the Constitution? What course, therefore, did they adopt?

7. What three states after Massachusetts by their ratification made the adoption of the Constitution secure?

8. What four states subsequently gave in their support?

9. Give an account of the adoption of the first ten amendments.

10. For what do these amendments provide?

11. What powers are reserved to the states?

Section 8. A Few Words about Politics.

[Sidenote: Federal taxation.] A chief source of the opposition to the new federal government was the dread of federal taxation. People who found it hard to pay their town, county, and state taxes felt that it would be ruinous to have to pay still another kind of tax. In the mere fact of federal taxation, therefore, they were inclined to see tyranny. With people in such a mood it was necessary to proceed cautiously in devising measures of federal taxation.

[Sidenote: Excise.] This was well understood by our first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and in the course of his administration of the treasury he was once roughly reminded of it. The two methods of federal taxation adopted at his suggestion were duties on imports and excise on a few domestic products, such as whiskey and tobacco. The excise, being a tax which people could see and feel, was very unpopular, and in 1794 the opposition to it in western Pennsylvania grew into the famous "Whiskey Insurrection," against which President Washington thought it prudent to send an army of 16,000 men. This formidable display of federal power suppressed the insurrection without bloodshed.

[Sidenote: Tariff.] Nowhere was there any such violent opposition to Hamilton's scheme of custom-house duties on imported goods. People had always been familiar with such duties. In the colonial times they had been levied by the British government without calling forth resistance until Charles Townshend made them the vehicle of a dangerous attack upon American self-government.[32] After the Declaration of Independence, custom-house duties were levied by the state governments and the proceeds were paid into the treasuries of the several states. Before 1789, much trouble had arisen from oppressive tariff-laws enacted by some of the states against others. By taking away from the states the power of taxing imports, the new Constitution removed this source of irritation. It became possible to lighten the burden of custom-house duties, while by turning the full stream of them into the federal treasury an abundant national revenue was secured at once. Thus this part of Hamilton's policy met with general approval. The tariff has always been our favourite device for obtaining a national revenue. During our Civil War, indeed, the national, government resorted extensively to direct taxation, chiefly in the form of revenue stamps, though it also put a tax upon billiard-tables, pianos, gold watches, and all sorts of things. But after the return of peace these unusual taxes were one after another discontinued, and since then our national revenue has been raised, as in Hamilton's time, from duties on imports and excise on a few domestic products, chiefly tobacco and distilled liquors.

[Footnote 32: See my War of Independence, pp. 58-83; and my History of the United States, for Schools, pp. 192-203.]

[Sidenote: Origin of American political parties.] Hamilton's measures as secretary of the treasury embodied an entire system of public policy, and the opposition to them resulted in the formation of the two political parties into which, under one name or another, the American people have at most times been divided. Hamilton's opponents, led by Jefferson, objected to his principal measures that they assumed powers in the national government which were not granted to it by the Constitution. Hamilton then fell back upon the Elastic Clause[33] of the Constitution, and maintained that such powers were implied in it. Jefferson held that this doctrine of "implied powers" stretched the Elastic Clause too far. He held that the Elastic Clause ought to be construed strictly and narrowly; Hamilton held that it ought to be construed loosely and liberally. Hence the names "strict-constructionist" and "loose-constructionist," which mark perhaps the most profound and abiding antagonism in the history of American politics.

[Footnote [33]: Article I, section viii, clause 18; see above, p. 245.]

Practically all will admit that the Elastic Clause, if construed strictly, ought not to be construed too narrowly; and, if construed liberally, ought not to be construed too loosely. Neither party has been consistent in applying its principles, but in the main we can call Hamilton the founder of the Federalist party, which has had for its successors the National Republicans of 1828, the Whigs of 1833 to 1852, and the Republicans of 1854 to the present time; while we can call Jefferson the founder of the party which called itself Republican from about 1792 to about 1828, and since then has been known as the Democratic party. This is rather a rough description in view of the real complication of the historical facts, but it is an approximation to the truth.

[Sidenote: Tariff, Internal Improvements, and National Bank.] It is not my purpose here to give a sketch of the history of American parties. Such a sketch, if given in due relative proportion, would double the size of this little book, of which the main purpose is to treat of civil government in the United States with reference to its origins. But it may here be said in general that the practical questions which have divided the two great parties have been concerned with the powers of the national government as to (1) the Tariff; (2) the making of roads, improving rivers and harbours, etc., under the general head of Internal Improvements; and (3) the establishment of a National Bank, with the national government as partner holding shares in it and taking a leading part in the direction of its affairs. On the question of such a national bank the Democratic party achieved a complete and decisive victory under President Tyler. On the question of internal improvements the opposite party still holds the ground, but most of its details have been settled by the great development of the powers of private enterprise during the past sixty years, and it is not at present a "burning question." The question of the tariff, however, remains to-day as a "burning question," but it is no longer argued on grounds of constitutional law, but on grounds of political economy. Hamilton's construction of the Elastic Clause has to this extent prevailed, and mainly for the reason that a liberal construction of that clause was needed in order to give the national government enough power to restrict the spread of slavery and suppress the great rebellion of which slavery was the exciting cause.

[Sidenote: Civil service reform.] Another political question, more important, if possible, than that of the Tariff, is to-day the question of the reform of the Civil Service; but it is not avowedly made a party question. Twenty years ago both parties laughed at it; now both try to treat it with a show of respect and to render unto it lip-homage; and the control of the immediate political future probably lies with the party which treats it most seriously. It is a question that was not distinctly foreseen in the days of Hamilton and Jefferson, when the Constitution was made and adopted; otherwise, one is inclined to believe, the framers of the Constitution would have had something to say about it. The question as to the Civil Service arises from the fact that the president has the power of appointing a vast number of petty officials, chiefly postmasters and officials concerned with the collection of the federal revenue. Such officials have properly nothing to do with politics; they are simply the agents or clerks or servants of the national government in conducting its business; and if the business of the national government is to be managed on such ordinary principles of prudence as prevail in the management of private business, such servants ought to be selected for personal merit and retained for life or during good behaviour. It did not occur to our earlier presidents to regard the management of the public business in any other light than this.

[Sidenote: Origin of the "spoils system."] But as early as the beginning of the present century a vicious system was growing up in New York and Pennsylvania. In those states the appointive offices came to be used as bribes or as rewards for partisan services. By securing votes for a successful candidate, a man with little in his pocket and nothing in particular to do could obtain some office with a comfortable salary. It would be given him as a reward, and some other man, perhaps more competent than himself, would have to be turned out in order to make room for him. A more effective method of driving good citizens "out of politics" could hardly be devised. It called to the front a large class of men of coarse moral fibre who greatly preferred the excitement of speculating in politics to earning an honest living by some ordinary humdrum business. The civil service of these states was seriously damaged in quality, politics degenerated into a wild scramble for offices, salaries were paid to men who did little or no public service in return, and thus the line which separates taxation from robbery was often crossed.

[Sidenote: "Rotation in Office."] [Sidenote: The "spoils system" made national] About the same time there grew up an idea that there is something especially democratic, and therefore meritorious, about "rotation in office." Government offices were regarded as plums at which every one ought to be allowed a chance to take a bite. The way was prepared in 1820 by W.H. Crawford, of Georgia, who succeeded in getting the law enacted that limits the tenure of office for postmasters, revenue collectors, and other servants of the federal government to four years. The importance of this measure was not understood, and it excited very little discussion at the time. The next presidential election which resulted in a change of party was that of Jackson in 1828, and then the methods of New York and Pennsylvania were applied on a national scale. Jackson cherished the absurd belief that the administration of his predecessor Adams had been corrupt, and he turned men out of office with a keen zest. During the forty years between Washington's first inauguration and Jackson's the total number of removals from office was 74, and out of this number 5 were defaulters. During the first year of Jackson's administration the number of changes made in the civil service was about 2,000. [34] Such was the abrupt inauguration upon a national scale of the so-called "spoils system." The phrase originated with W. L. Marcy, of New York, who in a speech in the senate in 1831 declared that "to the victors belong the spoils." The man who said this of course did not realize that he was making one of the most shameful remarks recorded in history. There was, however, much aptness in his phrase, inasmuch as it was a confession that the business of American politics was about to be conducted on principles fit only for the warfare of barbarians.

[Footnote 34: Sumner's Jackson, p. 147.]

In the canvass of 1840 the Whigs promised to reform the civil service, and the promise brought them many Democratic votes; but after they had won the election, they followed Jackson's example. The Democrats followed in the same way in 1845, and from that time down to 1885 it was customary at each change of party to make a "clean sweep" of the offices. Soon after the Civil War the evils of the system began to attract serious attention on the part of thoughtful people. The "spoils system" has helped to sustain all manner of abominations, from grasping monopolies and civic jobbery down to political rum-shops. The virus runs through everything, and the natural tendency of the evil is to grow with the growth of the country.

[Sidenote: The Civil Service Act of 1883.] In 1883 Congress passed the Civil Service Act, allowing the president to select a board of examiners on whose recommendation appointments are made. Candidates for office are subjected to an easy competitive examination. The system has worked well in other countries, and under Presidents Arthur and Cleveland it was applied to a considerable part of the civil service. It has also been adopted in some states and cities. The opponents of reform object to the examination that it is not always intimately connected with the work of the office,[35] but, even if this were so, the merit of the system lies in its removal of the offices from the category of things known as "patronage." It relieves the president of much needless work and wearisome importunity. The president and the heads of departments appoint (in many cases, through subordinates) about 115,000 officials. It is therefore impossible to know much about their character or competency. It becomes necessary to act by advice, and the advice of an examining board is sure to be much better than the advice of political schemers intent upon getting a salaried office for their needy friends. The examination system has made a fair beginning and will doubtless be gradually improved and made more stringent. Something too has been done toward stopping two old abuses attendant upon political canvasses,—(1) forcing government clerks, under penalty of losing their places, to contribute part of their salaries for election purposes; (2) allowing government clerks to neglect their work in order to take an active part in the canvass. Before the reform of the civil service can be completed, however, it will be necessary to repeal Crawford's act of 1820 and make the tenure of postmasters and revenue collectors as secure as that of the chief justice of the United States.

[Footnote 35: The objection that the examination questions are irrelevant to the work of the office is often made the occasion of gross exaggeration. I have given, in Appendix I, an average sample of the examination papers used in the customs service. It is taken from Comstock's Civil Service in the United States, New York, Holt & Co., 1885, an excellent manual with very full particulars.]

[Sidenote: The Australian ballot-system.] Another political reform which promises excellent results is the adoption by many states of some form of the Australian ballot-system, for the purpose of checking intimidation and bribery at elections. The ballots are printed by the state, and contain the names of all the candidates of all the parties. Against the name of each candidate the party to which he belongs is designated, and against each name there is a small vacant space to be filled with a cross. At the polling-place the ballots are kept in an inclosure behind a railing, and no ballot can be brought outside under penalty of fine or imprisonment[36]. One ballot is nailed against the wall outside the railing, so that it may be read at leisure. The space behind the railing is divided into separate booths quite screened from each other. Each booth is provided with a pencil and a convenient shelf on which to write. The voter goes behind the railing, takes the ballot which is handed him, carries it into one of the booths, and marks a cross against the names of the candidates for whom he votes. He then puts his ballot into the box, and his name is checked off on the register of voters of the precinct. This system is very simple, it enables a vote to be given in absolute secrecy, and it keeps "heelers" away from the polls. It is favourable to independence in voting,[37] and it is unfavourable to bribery, because unless the briber can follow his man to the polls and see how he votes, he cannot be sure that his bribe is effective. To make the precautions against bribery complete it will doubtless be necessary to add to the secret ballot the English system of accounting for election expenses. All the funds used in an election must pass through the hands of a small local committee, vouchers must be received for every penny that is expended, and after the election an itemized account must be made out and its accuracy attested under oath before a notary public. This system of accounting has put an end to bribery in England.[38]

[Footnote 36: This is a brief description of the system lately adopted in Massachusetts. The penalty here mentioned is a fine not exceeding a thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both such fine and such imprisonment.]

[Footnote 37: It is especially favourable to independence in voting, if the lists of the candidates are placed in a single column, without reference to party (each name of course, having the proper party designation, "Rep.," "Dem.," "Prohib.," etc., attached to it). In such case it must necessarily take the voter some little time to find and mark each name for which he wishes to vote. If, however, the names of the candidates are arranged according to their party, all the Republicans in one list, all the Democrats in another, etc., this arrangement is much less favourable to independence in voting and much less efficient as a check upon bribery; because the man who votes a straight party ticket will make all his marks in a very short time, while the "scratcher," or independent voter, will consume much more time in selecting his names. Thus people interested in seeing whether a man is voting the straight party ticket or not can form an opinion from the length of time he spends in the booth. It is, therefore, important that the names of all candidates should be printed in a single column.]

[Footnote 38: An important step in this direction has been taken in the New York Corrupt Practices Act of April, 1890. See Appendix J.]

Complaints of bribery and corruption have attracted especial attention in the United States during the past few years, and it is highly creditable to the good sense of the people that measures of prevention have been so promptly adopted by so many states. With an independent and uncorrupted ballot, and the civil service taken "out of politics," all other reforms will become far more easily accomplished. These ends will presently be attained. Popular government makes many mistakes, and sometimes it is slow in finding them out; but when once it has discovered them it has a way of correcting them. It is the best kind of government in the world, the most wisely conservative, the most steadily progressive, and the most likely to endure.


1. What was a chief source of opposition to the new federal government?

2. What necessity for caution existed in devising methods to raise money?

3. Hamilton's scheme of excise:— a. The things on which excise was laid. b. The unpopularity of the scheme. c. The "Whiskey Insurrection." d. Its suppression by Washington.

4. Hamilton's tariff scheme:— a. The class of things on which duties were placed. b. Popular acquiescence in the plan. c. Effect of diverting the stream of custom-house revenue from its old destination in the several state treasuries to its new destination in the federal treasury. d. Direct taxation during the Civil War. e. Methods pursued since the Civil War.

5. The origin of American political parties:— a. Jefferson's objection to Hamilton's policy. b. Hamilton's defence of his policy. c. Jefferson's view of the Elastic Clause. d. Hamilton's view of the Elastic Clause. e. Two names suggestive of an abiding antagonism in American politics. f. A view of the Elastic Clause that commends itself to all. g. The party of Hamilton and its successors. h. The party of Jefferson and its successor.

6. Great practical questions that have divided parties:— a. The Tariff. b. Internal Improvements. c. A National Bank. d. The present attitude towards these three questions. e. The shifting of ground in arguing the tariff question. f. The reason for this change of base.

7. Civil Service reform:—

a. The attitude of parties a few years ago. b. The present attitude of the same parties. c. A question not foreseen. d. The number of officers appointed. e. The non-political nature of their duties. f. The principles that should prevail in their selection and service.

8. The "spoils system":— a. Early appointive officers in New York and Pennsylvania, b. The driving of good citizens out of politics. c. The character of the men called to the front. d. The effect on civil service and on politics.

9. Rotation in office:— a. A new idea about government offices. b. Crawford's law of 1820. c. Failure to grasp its significance. d. Jackson's course in 1829. e. Removals from office down to Jackson's time. f. Removals during the first year of Jackson's administration. g. Origin of the phrase, "spoils system." h. Promises and practice down to 1885. i. The evils conspicuous since the Civil War.

10. The Civil Service Act of 1883. a. A board of examiners. b. Competitive examination of candidates. c. The spread of the principles of the reform. d. The merit of the system. e. Two old abuses stopped. f. Further measures needed.

11. The Australian ballot system:— a. The object of this system. b. The printing of the ballots. c. What a ballot contains. d. Ballots at the polling-places. e. The booths. f. The manner of voting. g. The advantages of the system. h. An additional precaution against bribery.

12. What is the attitude of the people towards bribery and corruption?

13. What reforms must be accomplished before others can make much headway?


1. How much money is needed by the United States government for the expenses of a year? How much is needed for the army, the navy, the interest on the public debt, pensions, rivers and harbours, ordinary civil expenses, etc.? (Answer for any recent year.)

2. From what sources does the revenue come? Tell how much revenue each of the several sources has yielded in any recent year.

3. What is the origin of the word tariff?

4. What is meant by protection? What is meant by free trade? What is meant by a tariff for revenue only? What is meant by reciprocity? Give illustrations.

5. What are some of the reasons assigned for protection?

6. What are some of the reasons assigned for free trade?

7. Which policy prevails among the states themselves?

8. Which policy prevails between the United States and other nations?

9. Mention all the kinds of United States money in circulation. Bring into the class a national bank bill, a gold certificate, a silver certificate, any piece that is used as money, and inquire wherein its value lies, what it can or cannot be used for, what the United States will or will not give in exchange for it, and whether it is worth its face in gold or not.

10. Is it right to buy silver at seventy-five cents and then put it into circulation stamped a dollar, the Government receiving the profit? Can you get a gold dollar for a silver one?

11. Is a promise to pay a dollar a real dollar? May it be as good as a dollar? If so, under what conditions?

12. If gold were as common as gravel, what characteristics of it universally recognized would remain unchanged? What would become of its purchasing power, if it cost little or no labour to obtain it? Why is it accepted as a standard of value?

13. During the Civil War gold was said to fluctuate in value, because it took two dollars of paper money, sometimes more, sometimes less, to buy one dollar in gold. Where was the real changing? What was the cause of it?

14. What men are at the head of the national government at the present time? (Think of the executive department and its primary divisions, the legislative department, and the judicial.)

15. What salaries are paid these officers? Compare American salaries with European salaries for corresponding high positions.

16. Should a president serve a second term? What is the advantage of such service? What is the objection to it? Is a single term of six years desirable?

17. Ought the president to be elected directly by the people?

18. Name in order the persons entitled to succeed to the presidency in case of vacancy.

19. Who is your representative in Congress?

20. Who are your senators in Congress?

21. What is the pay of members of Congress? Who determines the compensation? What is there to prevent lavish or improper pay?

22. There is said to be "log-rolling" in legislation at times. What is the nature of this practice? Is it right?

23. Is the senator or the representative of higher dignity? Why?

24. Why should members of Congress be exempted from arrest in certain cases?

25. Find authority in the Constitution for various things that Congress has done, such as the following:— a. It has established a military academy at West Point. b. It has given public lands to Pacific railroads. c. It has authorized uniforms for letter carriers. d. It has ordered surveys of the coast. e. It has established the Yellowstone National Park. f. It has voted millions of dollars for pensions. g. It refused during the Civil War to pay its promises with silver or gold. h. It bought Alaska of Russia. i. It has adopted exclusive measures towards the Chinese.

26. Reverse the preceding exercise. That is, cite clauses of the Constitution, and tell what particular things Congress has done because of such authority. For example, what specific things have been done under the following powers of Congress?— a. To collect taxes. b. To regulate commerce with foreign nations. c. To coin money. d. To establish post-roads. e. To provide for the common defence. f. To provide for the general welfare.

27. Compare the strength of the national government to-day with its strength in the past.

28. Who are citizens according to the Constitution? Is a woman a citizen? Is a child a citizen? Are Indians citizens? Are foreigners residing in this country citizens? Are children born abroad of American parents citizens? Can one person be a citizen of two nations at the same time, or of two states, or of two towns? Explain.

29. To what laws is an American vessel on the ocean subject?

30. Show how the interests and needs of the various sections of the country present wide differences. Compare mining sections with agricultural, and both with manufacturing; Pacific states with Atlantic; Northern states with Southern. What need of mutual consideration exists?

31. Name all the political divisions from the smallest to the greatest in which you live. A Cambridge (Mass.) boy might, for example, say, "I live in the third precinct of the first ward, in the first Middlesex representative district, the third Middlesex senatorial district, the third councillor district, and the fifth congressional district. My city is Cambridge; my county, Middlesex, etc." Name the various persons who represent you in these several districts.

32. May state and local officers exercise authority on United States government territory, as, for example, within the limits of an arsenal or a custom-house? May national government officers exercise authority in states and towns?

33. What is a sovereign state? Is New York a sovereign state? the United States? the Dominion of Canada? Great Britain? Explain.

34. When sovereign nations disagree, how can a settlement be effected? What is the best way to settle such a disagreement? Illustrate from history the methods of negotiation, of arbitration, and of war.

35. When two states of the Federal Union disagree, what solution of the difficulty is possible?

* * * * *


THE FEDERAL UNION.—For the origin of our federal constitution, see Bancroft's History of the United States, final edition, vol. vi., N.Y., 1886; Curtis's History of the Constitution, 2 vols., N.Y., 1861, new edition, vol. i., 1889; and my Critical Period of American History, Boston, 1888, with copious references in the bibliographical note at the end. Once more we may refer advantageously to J.H.U. Studies, II., v.-vi., H.C. Adams, Taxation in the United States, 1789-1816; VIII, i.-ii., A.W. Small, The Beginnings of American Nationality. See also Jameson's Essays in the Constitutional History of the United States in the Formative Period, 1775-1789, Boston, 1889, a very valuable book.

On the progress toward union during the colonial period, see especially Frothingham's Rise of the Republic of the United States, Boston, 1872; also Scott's Development of Constitutional Liberty in the English Colonies of America, N.Y., 1882.

By far the ablest and most thorough book on the government of the United States that has ever been published is Bryce's American Commonwealth, 2 vols., London and N.Y., 1888. No American citizen's education is properly completed until he has read the whole of it carefully. In connection therewith, the work of Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 2 vols., 6th ed., Boston, 1876, is interesting. The Scotchman describes and discusses the American commonwealth of to-day, the Frenchman that of sixty years ago. There is an instructive difference in the methods of the two writers, Tocqueville being inclined to draw deductions from ingenious generalizations and to explain as natural results of democracy sundry American characteristics that require a different explanation. His great work is admirably reviewed and criticised by Bryce, in the J.H.U. Studies, V., ix., The Predictions of Hamilton and De Tocqueville.

The following manuals may be recommended: Thorpe, The Government of the People of the United States, Phila., 1889; Martin's Text Book on Civil Government in the United States, N.Y. and Chicago, 1875 (written with special reference to Massachusetts); Northam's Manual of Civil Government, Syracuse, 1887 (written with special reference to New York); Ford's American Citizen's Manual, N.Y., 1887; Rupert's Guide to the Study of the History and the Constitution of the United States, Boston, 1888; Andrews's Manual of the Constitution of the United States, Cincinnati, 1874; Miss Dawes, How we are Governed, Boston, 1888; Macy, Our Government: How it Grew, What it Does, and How it Does it, Boston, 1887. The last is especially good, and mingles narrative with exposition in an unusually interesting way. Nordhoff's Politics for Young Americans, N.Y., 1887, is a book that ought to be read by all young Americans for its robust and sound political philosophy. It is suitable for boys and girls from twelve to fifteen years old. C.F. Dole's The Citizen and the Neighbour, Boston, 1887, is a suggestive and stimulating little book. For a comparative survey of governmental institutions, ancient and modern, see Woodrow Wilson's The State: Elements of Historical and Practical Politics, Boston, 1889. An enormous mass of matter is compressed into this volume, and, although it inevitably suffers somewhat from extreme condensation, it is so treated as to be both readable and instructive. The chapter on The State and Federal Governments of the United States has been published separately, and makes a convenient little volume of 131 pages. Teachers should find much help in MacAlister's Syllabus of a Course of Elementary Instruction in United States History and Civil Government, Phila., 1887.

The following books of the "English Citizen Series," published by Macmillan & Co., may often be profitably consulted: M.D. Chalmers, Local Government; H.D. Traill, Central Government; F.W. Maitland, Justice and Police; Spencer Walpole, The Electorate and the Legislature; A.J. Wilson, The National Budget; T.H. Farrer, The State in its Relations to Trade; W.S. Jevons, The State in its Relations to Labour. The works on the English Constitution by Stubbs, Gneist, Taswell-Langmead, Freeman, and Bagehot are indispensable to a thorough understanding of civil government in the United States: Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, 3 vols., London, 1875-78; Gneist, History of the English Constitution, 2d ed., 2 vols., London, 1889; Taswell-Langmead, English Constitutional History, 3d ed., Boston, 1886; Freeman, The Growth of the English Constitution, London, 1872; Bagehot, The English Constitution, revised ed., Boston, 1873. An admirable book in this connection is Hannis Taylor's (of Alabama) Origin and Growth of the English Constitution, Boston, 1889. In connection with Bagehot's English Constitution the student may profitably read Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government, Boston, 1885, and A.L. Lowell's Essays in Government, Boston, 1890. See also Sir H. Maine, Popular Government, London, 1886; Sir G.C. Lewis on The Use and Abuse of Certain Political Terms, London, 1832; Methods of Observation and Reasoning in Politics, 2 vols., London, 1852; and Dialogue on the Best Form of Government, London, 1863.

Among the most valuable books ever written on the proper sphere and duties of civil government are Herbert Spencer's Social Statics, London, 1851; The Study of Sociology, 9th ed., London, 1880; The Man versus The State, London, 1884; they are all reprinted by D. Appleton & Co., New York. The views expressed in Social Statics with regard to the tenure of land are regarded as unsound by many who are otherwise in entire sympathy with Mr. Spencer's views, and they are ably criticised in Bonham's Industrial Liberty, N.Y., 1888. A book of great merit, which ought to be reprinted as it is now not easy to obtain, is Toulmin Smith's Local Self-Government and Centralization, London, 1851. Its point of view is sufficiently indicated by the following admirable pair of maxims (p. 12):—

LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT is that system of Government under which the greatest number of minds, knowing the most, and having the fullest opportunities of knowing it, about the special matter in hand, and having the greatest interest in its well-working, have the management of it, or control over it.

CENTRALIZATION is that system of government under which the smallest number of minds, and those knowing the least, and having the fewest opportunities of knowing it, about the special matter in hand, and having the smallest interest in its well-working, have the management of it, or control over it.

An immense amount of wretched misgovernment would be avoided if all legislators and all voters would engrave these wholesome definitions upon their minds. In connection with the books just mentioned much detailed and valuable information may be found in the collections of essays edited by J.W. Probyn, Local Government and Taxation [in various countries], London, 1875; Local Government and Taxation in the United Kingdom, London, 1882. See also R.T. Ely's Taxation in American States and Cities, N.Y., 1889.

The most elaborate work on our political history is that of Hermann von Holst, Constitutional and Political History of the United States, translated from the German by J.J. Lalor, vols. i.-vi. (1787-1859), Chicago, 1877-89. In spite of a somewhat too pronounced partisan bias, its value is great. See also Schouler's History of the United States under the Constitution, vols. i.-iv. (1783-1847), new ed., N.Y., 1890. The most useful handbook, alike for teachers and for pupils, is Alexander Johnston's History of American Politics, 2d ed., N.Y., 1882. The United States, N.Y., 1889, by the same author, is also excellent. Every school should possess a copy of Lalor's Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States, 3 vols., Chicago, 1882-84. The numerous articles in it relating to American history are chiefly by Alexander Johnston, whose mastery of his subject was simply unrivalled. His death in 1889, at the early age of forty, must be regarded as a national calamity. For a manual of constitutional law, Cooley's General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States of America, Boston, 1880, is to be recommended. The reader may fitly supplement his general study of civil government by the little book of E.P. Dole, Talks about Law: a Popular Statement of What our Law is and How it is to be Administered, Boston, 1887.

In connection with the political history, Stanwood's History of Presidential Elections, 2d ed., Boston, 1888, will be found useful. See also Lawton's American Caucus System, N.Y., 1885. On the general subject of civil service reform, see Eaton's Civil Service in Great Britain: a History of Abuses and Reforms, and their Bearing upon American Politics, N.Y., 1880. Comstock's Civil Service in the United States, N.Y., 1885, is a catalogue of offices, with full account of civil service rules, examinations, specimens of examination papers, etc.; also some of the state rules, as in New York, Massachusetts, etc.

* * * * *

I would here call attention to some publications by the Directors of the Old South Studies in History and Politics,—first, The Constitution of the United States, with Historical and Bibliographical Notes and Outlines, for Study, prepared by E.D. Mead (sold by D.C. Heath and Co., Boston, for 25 cents); secondly, the Old South Leaflets, furnished to schools and the trade by the same publishers, at 5 cents a copy or $3.00 a hundred. These leaflets are for the most part reprints of important original papers, furnished with valuable historical and bibliographical notes. The eighteen issued up to this time (July, 1890) are as follows: 1. The Constitution of the United States; 2. The Articles of Confederation; 3. The Declaration of Independence; 4. Washington's Farewell Address; 5. Magna Charta; 6. Vane's "Healing Question;" 7. Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1629; 8. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639; 9. Franklin's Plan of Union, 1754; 10. Washington's Inaugurals; 11. Lincoln's Inaugurals and Emancipation Proclamation; 12. The Federalist, Nos. 1 and 2; 13. The Ordinance of 1787; 14. The Constitution of Ohio; 15. Washington's "Legacy"; 16. Washington's Letter to Benjamin Harrison, Governor of Virginia, on the Opening of Communication with the West; 17. Verrazano's Voyage, 1524; 18. Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation.

Howard Preston's Documents Illustrative of American History, N.Y., 1886, contains the following: First Virginia Charter, 1606; Second Virginia Charter, 1609; Third Virginia Charter, 1612; Mayflower Compact, 1620; Massachusetts Charter, 1629; Maryland Charter, 1632; Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639; New England Confederation, 1643; Connecticut Charter, 1662; Rhode Island Charter, 1663; Pennsylvania Charter, 1681; Perm's Plan of Union, 1697; Georgia Charter, 1732; Franklin's Plan of Union, 1754; Declaration of Rights, 1765; Declaration of Rights, 1774; Non-Importation Agreement, 1774; Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776; Declaration of Independence, 1776; Articles of Confederation, 1777; Treaty of Peace, 1783; Northwest Ordinance, 1787; Constitution of the United States, 1787; Alien and Sedition Laws, 1798; Virginia Resolutions, 1798; Kentucky Resolutions, 1798; Kentucky Resolutions, 1799; Nullification Ordinance, 1832; Ordinance of Secession, 1860; South Carolina Declaration of Independence, 1860; Emancipation Proclamation, 1863.

See also Poore's Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and other Organic Laws of the United States, 2 vols., Washington, 1877.

The series of essays entitled The Federalist, written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, in 1787-88, while the ratification of the Constitution was in question, will always remain indispensable as an introduction to the thorough study of the principles upon which our federal government is based. The most recent edition is by H.C. Lodge, N.Y., 1888. For the systematic and elaborate study of the Constitution, see Foster's References to the Constitution of the United States, a little pamphlet of 50 pages published by the "Society for Political Education," 330 Pearl St., New York, 1890, price 25 cents. The student who should pursue to the end the line of research marked out in this pamphlet ought thereby to become quite an authority on the subject.

For very pleasant and profitable reading, in connection with the formation and interpretation of the Constitution, and the political history of our country from 1763 to 1850, we have the "American Statesmen Series," edited by J.T. Morse, and published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1882-90: Benjamin Franklin, by J.T. Morse; Patrick Henry, by M.C. Tyler; Samuel Adams, by J.K. Hosmer; George Washington, by H.C. Lodge, 2 vols.; John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, by J.T. Morse; Alexander Hamilton, by H.C. Lodge; Gouverneur Morris, by T. Roosevelt; James Madison, by S.H. Gay; James Monroe by D.C. Gilman; Albert Gallatin, by J.A. Stevens; John Randolph, by H. Adams; John Jay, by G. Pellew; John Marshall, by A.B. Magruder; John Quincy Adams, by J.T. Morse; John C. Calhoun, by H. von Holst; Andrew Jackson, by W.G. Sumner; Martin Van Buren, by E.M. Shepard; Henry Clay, by C. Schurz, 2 vols.; Daniel Webster, by H.C. Lodge; Thomas H, Benton, by T. Roosevelt.

In connection with the questions on page 269 relating to tariff, currency, etc., references to some works on political economy are needed. The arguments in favour of protectionism are set forth in Bowen's American Political Economy, last ed., N.Y., 1870; the arguments in favour of free trade are set forth in Perry's Political Economy, 19th ed., N.Y., 1887; and for an able and impartial historical survey, Taussig's Tariff History of the United States, N.Y., 1888, may be recommended. For a lucid view of currency, see Jevons's Money and the Mechanism of Exchange, N.Y., 1875.

A useful work on the Australian method of voting is Wigmore's The Australian Ballot System, 2d ed., Boston, 1890.

In connection with some of the questions on page 271, the student may profitably consult Woolsey's International Law, 5th ed., N.Y., 1879. NOTE TO PAGE 226.

By the act of February 3, 1887, the second Monday in January is fixed for the meeting of the electoral colleges in all the states. The provisions relating to the first Wednesday in January are repealed. The interval between the second Monday in January and the second Wednesday in February remains available for the settlement of disputed questions.


In order to relieve the supreme court of the United States, which had come to be overburdened with business, a new court, with limited appellate jurisdiction, called the circuit court of appeals, was organized in 1892. It consists primarily of nine appeal judges, one for each of the nine circuits. For any given circuit the supreme court justice of the circuit, the appeal judge of the circuit, and the circuit judge constitute the court of appeal.



Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

ARTICLE I.—The style of this Confederacy shall be, "The United States of America."

ART. II.—Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

ART. III.—The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

ART. IV.—The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall have free ingress and egress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively; provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any State to any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also, that no imposition, duties, or restriction shall be laid by any State on the property of the United States or either of them. If any person guilty of, or charged with, treason, felony, or other high misdemeanour in any State shall flee from justice and be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon demand of the governor or executive power of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of his offense. Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.

ART. V.—For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the Legislature of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power reserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year. No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor by more than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United States for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind. Each State shall maintain its own delegates in any meeting of the States and while they act as members of the Committee of the States. In determining questions in the United States, in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote. Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Congress; and the members of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and imprisonment during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on, Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.

ART. VI.—No State, without the consent of the United States, in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance, or treaty with any king, prince, or state; nor shall any person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state; nor shall the United States, in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility.

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation, or alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States, in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.

No State shall lay any imposts or duties which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties entered into by the United States, in Congress assembled, with any king, prince, or state, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by Congress to the courts of France and Spain.

No vessel of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except such number only as shall be deemed necessary by the United States, in Congress assembled, for the defence of such State or its trade, nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time of peace, except such number only as, in the judgment of the United States, in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use in public stores a due number of field-pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage.

No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States, in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay till the United States, in Congress assembled, can be consulted; nor shall any State grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States, in Congress assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state, and the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and under such regulations as shall be established by the United States, in Congress assembled, unless such State be infested by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States, in Congress assembled, shall determine otherwise.

ART. VII.—When land forces are raised by any State for the common defence, all officers of or under the rank of Colonel shall be appointed by the Legislature of each State respectively by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.

ART. VIII.—All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence, or general welfare, and allowed by the United States, in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted to, or surveyed for, any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated, according to such mode as the United States, in Congress assembled, shall, from time to time, direct and appoint. The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the Legislatures of the several States, within the time agreed upon by the United States, in Congress assembled.

ART. IX.—The United States, in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth Article; of sending and receiving ambassadors; entering into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made, whereby the legislative power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatever; of establishing rules for deciding, in all cases, what captures on land and water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated; of granting letters of marque and reprisal in times of peace; appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas; and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures; provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any of the said courts.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting, or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following: Whenever the legislative or executive authority, or lawful agent of any State in controversy with another, shall present a petition to Congress, stating the matter in question, and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint, by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question; but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine names, as Congress shall direct, shall, in the presence of Congress, be drawn out by lot; and the persons whose names shall be so drawn, or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination; and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present, shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgment and sentence of the court, to be appointed in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence or judgment, which shall in like manner be final and decisive; the judgment or sentence and other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned; provided, that every commissioner, before he sits in judgment, shall take an oath, to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the State where the cause shall be tried, "well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgment, without favour, affection, or hope of reward." Provided, also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.

All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions, as they may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall, on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States, be finally determined, as near as may be, in the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different States.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States; fixing the standard of weights and measures throughout the United States; regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the States; provided that the legislative right of any State, within its own limits, be not infringed or violated; establishing and regulating post-offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office; appointing all officers of the land forces in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers; appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United States; making rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.

The United States, in Congress assembled, shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated "A Committee of the States," and to consist of one delegate from each State, and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction; to appoint one of their number to preside; provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years; to ascertain the necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of the United States, and to appropriate and apply the same for defraying the public expenses; to borrow money or emit bills on the credit of the United States, transmitting every half year to the respective States an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted; to build and equip a navy; to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such State, which requisition shall be binding; and thereupon the Legislature of each State shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the men, and clothe, arm, and equip them in a soldier-like manner, at the expense of the United States; and the officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States, in Congress assembled; but if the United States, in Congress assembled, shall, on consideration of circumstances, judge proper that any State should not raise men, or should raise a smaller number than its quota, and that any other State should raise a greater number of men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, officered, clothed, armed, and equipped in the same manner as the quota of such State, unless the Legislature of such State shall judge that such extra number cannot be safely spared out of the same, in which case they shall raise, officer, clothe, arm, and equip as many of such extra number as they judge can be safely spared, and the officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall march to the place appointed, and within the time agreed on by the United States, in Congress assembled.

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