Elements of Civil Government eBook

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

6.  What are charitable institutions?

7.  How is justice administered?

8.  Wherein are the people of this country freer than other people?

9.  How long must a person live in this State to entitle him to vote?

10.  What is meant by being secure in person?

11.  Read the bill of rights in the constitution of your State.

12.  What is a body politic?

13.  Why can not the whole people assemble to form a State constitution?

14.  What is meant by taking private property for public use?

15.  How may the right to speak and print be abused?

16.  What is meant by the military being subordinate to the civil power?

17.  Are all cases tried by jury?


Resolved, That there should be an educational qualification for suffrage.


THE STATE—­(Continued).

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS.—­The State government is based upon the State constitution.  It has a legislative department charged with the making of the laws, an executive department to enforce the laws, and a judicial department to explain and apply the laws.  Each of the departments is independent of the others, being supreme within its own sphere.

The American people believe that the functions of making, of enforcing, and of explaining the laws, should forever be separate and distinct.  Experience has shown that it is dangerous to the liberties of the people to permit either of the three departments of government to trespass upon the functions of the others.  Therefore, the limits of each department are well defined, and its power closely guarded, by the constitution and laws of the State.


The legislative or law-making power of the State is vested in the legislature, sometimes called the general assembly, and in some States known as the general court, or legislative assembly.  The legislature is composed of two bodies, or houses, called respectively the Senate and the House of Representatives.  In New York the latter body is known as the Assembly, in New Jersey it is called the General Assembly and in some States the House of Delegates.  A bill must be passed by both branches of the legislature in order to become a law.  The proceedings of the legislature should be made public, and therefore the sessions are open, and the constitution requires each house to keep and publish a daily record, called the Journal.

QUALIFICATIONS.—­The State constitution prescribes the age, the length of residence, and other legal qualifications for membership in each branch of the legislature.  The constitutions of most States fix a longer term of office and require a more mature age for senators than for representatives.  In addition to these legal qualifications a legislator should be a man of unswerving honesty, of broad information, of close thought, well versed in the principles of government, acquainted with the needs of the country, and faithful to the interests of the whole people.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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