Elements of Civil Government eBook

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


People have many rights, and they have as many duties.  Each right given to a person is a trust placed in his hands for him to discharge.  A right implies a duty, and a duty implies a right.  Rights and duties go hand in hand.  For example, children have a right to the protection of their parents, and this implies that it is the duty of children to obey their parents.

CIVIL RIGHTS AND DUTIES.—­Rights and duties are civil and political. Civil rights are sometimes called inalienable rights, because they can not be justly taken away except as a punishment for crime.  They are chiefly those rights with which we are endowed by nature.  They are not conferred by any earthly power, but are given to every human being at his birth.  They are called civil rights, because they belong to the citizen in his ordinary daily life.  Among civil rights are: 

1. The right to personal security; that is, the right to be free from attack and annoyance;

2. The right of personal liberty; that is, to go when and where he pleases, provided he does not trespass upon the rights of others; and

3. The right of private property; that is, the right to use, enjoy, and dispose of what he has acquired by labor, purchase, gift, or inheritance.

The greater part of these rights belong to men whether living in society, that is, under government, or living without government.  Their natural rights are more extensive without society than with it, but are far less secure.  Without government natural rights are unlimited; each person may lay claim to all land and to all it produces, provided he is strong enough to maintain his claim by force.

When men join the social compact, they agree to abandon some of their natural rights, in order to be protected by the government in those which they retain; that is, each person agrees that in making his own claims he will have due regard for the similar claims of others.

In entering the social compact, men also agree to submit their personal claims to settlement by the law, instead of going to war to maintain them.  They agree to refer their disputes to courts established for that purpose.  As a rule, under government, right prevails; without government, might prevails.

Civil rights are divided into industrial rights, social rights, and moral or religious rights.

INDUSTRIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES.—­It is the right and duty of each person to provide in his own way, providing it is legal and honest, for himself and those dependent upon him.  All business transactions; the search for homes, comforts, and wealth; agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and commerce; the conduct of all professions, occupations, and industries; the interests of farm laborers, operatives in factories, miners, clerks, and all persons engaged in mental or physical labor, are based upon industrial rights and duties.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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