Elements of Civil Government eBook

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

PASSAGE.—­When a bill passes the house in which it originated, the clerk transmits and reports it to the other house for action.  The house to which it is transmitted may pass it without commitment, but usually refers it to a committee, and, when reported, may pass it or reject it, or amend it and return it with the amendment to the house in which it originated.

When passed by both houses, the bill is engrossed—­that is, rewritten without blots or erasures—­and transmitted to the President or governor, as the case may be, for his approval.  If approved and signed, or if not returned within a fixed time, the bill becomes a law.  If vetoed, it must be again considered by both bodies, and is lost unless again passed by each, and in Congress and in many States by a two thirds vote.


1.  Obtain from any convenient source and present in the recitation a sample of a bill, and also of a resolution.

2.  Why should a bill have three separate readings on three different days?

3.  Why is the report of a committee generally adopted by the body?

4.  Why are chairmanships of committees usually much sought after in legislative bodies?

5.  Present in the recitation a copy of the report of a legislative committee upon some subject.



Revenue.—­The regulation of revenue and taxation is one of the most important and difficult questions of government.  One of the wisest of modern statesmen has said that the management of finance is government.

Government, whatever its form, is an intricate and expensive machine, and therefore sure and ample sources of revenue are as necessary to it as blood is to the human body.  The necessary expenses of a local community, such as a village, a city, or a county, are heavy; while those of a State are immense, and those of a nation almost beyond conception.  These expenses must be promptly met, or the government becomes bankrupt, lacking in respect, without power to enforce its rights even among its own people, and finally ceases to exist.

TAXATION.—­The chief source of revenue in all governments is taxation.  A tax is a portion of private property taken by the government for public purposes. Taxation, the act of laying taxes, is regarded as the highest function of government.  It is also one of the most delicate, because it touches the people directly, and is therefore frequently the cause of discontent among the masses.

The government makes no direct return to the citizen for the taxes it exacts, and in this respect only does taxation differ from the exercise of the right of eminent domain.  How much revenue must be raised? what articles should be taxed? what should be the rate of taxation? are questions that concern every government.

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Elements of Civil Government from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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