Elements of Civil Government eBook

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

JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT.—­The judiciary consists of a supreme court and inferior courts.  The chief justice and two or more associate justices of the supreme court are appointed for four years by the President, with the consent of the Senate.  The inferior courts are established by the territorial legislature.

REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS.—­Each Territory elects a delegate to the Congress of the United States.  Territorial delegates serve upon committees, and have the right to debate, but not to vote.  Their real duties are as agents of their respective Territories.

LAWS.—­Territories are governed by the laws of Congress, by the common law, and by the laws passed by the territorial legislatures.  The governor may pardon offenses against territorial laws, and may grant reprieves for offenses against the laws of Congress, until the cases can be acted upon by the President.

LOCAL AFFAIRS.—­The local interests of a Territory are similar to those of a State.  Taxation, schools, public works, and the administration of justice are supported by the people.  The people of the Territories have no voice in the election of President, and none in the government of the United States except through their delegates in Congress.

PURPOSES.—­The chief purposes of the territorial government are to give the people the protection of the law, and to prepare the Territory for admission into the Union as a State.  A State is a member of the Union, with all the rights and privileges of self-government; a Territory is under the Union, subject at all times, and in all things, to regulation by the government of the United States.

All the States, except the original thirteen (including Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, and West Virginia) and California and Texas, have had territorial governments.  A Territory is not entirely self-governing; it may be called a State in infancy, requiring the special care of the United States to prepare it for statehood and for admission into the Union “upon an equal footing with the original States in all respects.”

Hawaii and Alaska illustrate the territorial form of government described above.  The following are exceptions to the rule: 

The District of Columbia is neither a State nor a Territory.  It resembles a Territory in being directly governed by Congress in such manner as that body may choose, but it differs from a Territory since it can never become a State.

It is not represented in the government of the United States, and its inhabitants have no voice in local matters.  Its affairs are administered by three commissioners, appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate, and they are subject to the laws of Congress.

Porto Rico and Philippines have each a legislature and are governed much like a Territory; but their people are not citizens of the United States.  They are practically colonies.


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