Elements of Civil Government eBook

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

FOR THE PEOPLE.—­Government is for the people, and not for the rulers.  Officers, the highest and the lowest, are merely the servants of the people.

All governments derive their just powers from the consent of the people, and are established and maintained for their good.  All powers which are exercised without the consent of the people are unjust and tyrannical.

KINDS.—­Government is of two kinds, civil and military.

Civil government is the government of civil society, or the government of the people in a peaceful state.

Military government is the government of men in a state of war.  It prevails in the army and the navy, and sometimes in districts which are the scenes of military operations.

Military government is conducted by the rules of martial law, and in its penalties and exactions is much more severe than civil government.


There are many forms of civil government, but they may be reduced to three principal systems: 

1. Monarchy:  government by one person.

2. Aristocracy:  government by a few persons.

3. Democracy:  government by the people.

Every government is either one of these forms or is composed of two or more of them.

MONARCHY.—­A monarchy is a government whose chief authority is vested in one person, usually called king, queen, emperor, empress, or prince.  Monarchies are absolute or limited.

In an absolute monarchy there is no limit to the power of the monarch; his wishes are the laws of the people.  The people are his property, and in his person are combined all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial.  Russia is the only civilized nation whose government is still an absolute monarchy.

In a constitutional monarchy the sovereign, or chief ruler, must govern by laws made by a representative body elected by the people.  England and Germany are constitutional monarchies.

In an hereditary monarchy the sovereign inherits the ruling power, usually from his father.

In an elective monarchy the sovereign is elected for life, usually by the dignitaries of other nations.

A patriarchy is a monarchy in which the chief power is exercised by a patriarch, or father.  The authority of the patriarch is confined to his tribe.  This form of government was common in ancient times, before tribes were combined into nations.

A theocracy is a monarchy whose rulers claim to be under the direct guidance of God.  The government of the ancient Hebrews was a theocracy.

ARISTOCRACY.—­An aristocracy, sometimes called oligarchy, is a government in which the supreme authority is vested in a privileged few, distinguished by their wealth and social position.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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