The Government Class Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 386 pages of information about The Government Class Book.

Sec.10.  A republic is sometimes also called a commonwealth. Common signifies general, and is applied to what belongs to or is used by the people generally. Weal means welfare or happiness. Wealth also was formerly sometimes used for weal.  Hence commonwealth means strictly the common good, or the common happiness.  In a general sense it signifies a state; but it is properly applied to a free state, one in which the people enjoy common rights and privileges.  Hence every state in the union is a commonwealth or republic.

State Governments.

Chapter V.

The Nature and Objects of a Constitution, and the Manner in which it is made.

Sec.1.  Of all the different forms of government which have existed, a republican government, on the plan of that which has been established in this country, is believed to be best adapted to secure the liberties of a people, and to promote the general welfare.  Under the reign of a wise and virtuous ruler, the rights of person and property may be fully enjoyed, and the people may be in a good degree prosperous.  But the requisite virtue and wisdom have seldom been found in any one man or a few men.  And experience has proved that the objects of civil government may be best secured by a written constitution founded upon the will or consent of the people.

Sec.2.  The word constitute is from the Latin, and signifies to set, to fix, to establish. Constitution, when used in a political sense, means the established form of government of a state.  In a free government, like ours, it is properly called the political law, being established by the people as a body politic, or political body. (Chap.  III, Sec.5.) It is also called the fundamental law, because it is the foundation of all other laws of the state, which are enacted by the legislature for regulating intercourse between the citizens, and are called the municipal or civil law, and must conform to the fundamental, or political law.

Sec.3.  A constitution is in the nature of an agreement between a whole community or body politic and each of its members.  This agreement or contract implies, that each one binds himself to the whole, and the whole bind themselves to each one, that all shall be governed by certain laws and regulations for the common good.

Sec.4.  The nature of a constitution will further appear from the manner in which it is made.  It is evident that a people, in establishing a constitution, must have some right or authority to act in the business.  Whence this right is derived, we will not now stop to inquire.  There is, however, somewhere power to enact a law authorizing the people to make a constitution and prescribing the manner in which it is to be made.

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