Elements of Civil Government eBook

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

1.  Who is chief justice of the United States, and of what State is he a citizen?

2.  Why should a judge hold his position during a long term of years?

3.  This State is a part of what United States circuit?

4.  What justice represents this circuit in the supreme court?

5.  Who is judge of the United States district court of this district?

6.  Why can no person bring suit against the United States except by special act of Congress?


Resolved, That the jury system should be abolished.




Government is defined as rule or control.  It is that which governs, and also the act of governing.  In its political sense, it means the supreme authority of a State or other political community, or the act by which this authority is applied.  It is sometimes said to be a system of institutions for the restraint of people living in the social state or social condition.

The word govern is derived from a Latin word which first meant to steer the ship, and then very naturally came to mean to guide, to direct, to command.

“The comparison of governing with steering is a very happy one,” for the interest of him who steers is the same as that of the people in the ship:  “all must float or sink together.”  So the interest of those that govern, of those that guide “the ship of state,” as we often express it, is the same as that of the people.[1]

ORIGIN AND NECESSITY.—­The origin of government is unknown; its beginning can not be traced.  People everywhere, in all the varying degrees of civilization, recognize the necessity of a supreme authority, to whom all owe and render obedience.

Men can not long live in the same vicinity without some kind of political organization.  Without some sort of government—­that is, some supreme power to settle disputes—­the people would be in continual warfare; there could be no security to person or property; each individual could look to himself alone for safety; “his hand would be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.”

Wherever men are found they live under some form of government, however rude and imperfect.  In all parts and in all ages of the world they have seen the necessity of some power to protect the weak and restrain the strong, and have therefore set up a supreme authority for the common welfare.

A body of people living under government is called society, and the agreement existing between them, for their common welfare, is called the social compact.

Men are so constituted that society is necessary to their happiness.  Therefore they seek the social state and join the social compact, thus agreeing to be governed by law and order.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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