Elements of Civil Government eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 218 pages of information about Elements of Civil Government.

The mayor is the chief executive of the city.  It is his duty to see that the laws are enforced.  He appoints a number of subordinate officers, and in most cities may veto the acts of the city council.  The duties of the city attorney, the city clerk, the assessor, the collector, the treasurer, the school board, and the superintendent of schools are similar to those of township and county officers of the same name.  The city engineer has charge of the construction of sewers and the improvement of parks.  The street commissioner attends to the construction and repair of the streets, crossings, and sidewalks.  There are a number of officers appointed by the mayor or the council, such as chief of police, chief of the fire department, and the city physician, who have duties connected with their special departments.

The city judge, police judge, or recorder, has duties similar to those of the same officer in an incorporated village.  Cities also have higher courts, variously named, whose judges have duties and jurisdiction equivalent to those of county officers of the same grade.  Because offenses against the law are more frequent, officers are more numerous in cities than in the rural districts.

COMMISSION PLAN OF CITY GOVERNMENT.—­In recent times the “commission plan” of government has been adopted for many cities, in a number of different States.  This plan gives full control of the city government and its minor officials to a commission or council composed of a few men (usually five) elected by the voters of the whole city.  This commission exercises both legislative and executive functions.  It is composed of a mayor, and councilmen or commissioners who act also as heads of administrative departments.

RECALL.—­In a few States a mayor or councilman (or other local or State officer elected by the people) may be displaced before the expiration of his term of office.  If a sufficient number of voters petition to have this done, a new election is held to decide whether he or some one else shall have the office for the rest of the term.


1.  What is meant by incorporating a village?

2.  What is a breach of the peace?

3.  What are polling-places?

4.  To what State officer does the mayor of a city or town correspond?

5.  Why are offenses against the laws more frequent in the cities than in the rural districts?

6.  What is the largest city of this State?  Is its council composed of one body or of two?


Resolved, That the legislative department of a city government should consist of only one deliberative body.



INTRODUCTORY.—­After the county, the government nearest us is that of the State.  The political divisions which we have considered are subject to the State, holding their powers as grants from its government.  The State can make and unmake them, and we owe them obedience because the State has commanded it.  As we sometimes express it, the sovereignty or supreme sway of these local divisions resides in the State.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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