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.  There are other officers employed by the state, among whom are the following:  a state librarian, who has charge of the state library, consisting of books containing matter of a public nature, such as the laws of all the states, and of the United States, with a large collection of miscellaneous books; persons having the care of the public buildings and other property of the state; superintendents of state prisons, lunatic asylums, and other state institutions, whose duties are indicated by their titles, and need no particular description.

Chapter XIV.

Counties ind County Officers.  Powers and Duties of County Officers.

Sec.1.  Some of the purposes for which a state is divided into small districts have been mentioned. (Chap.  VII, Sec.1.) There are other reasons, equally important, for these territorial divisions.  Laws for the whole state are made by the legislature; but certain regulations may be necessary for the people in some parts of the state which are not needed in others, and which the people of these places can better make for themselves.  It is the business of the governor and his assistant executive state officers to execute or carry into effect the laws of the state; but they could not see this done in every place, or in every minute portion of the state.  Again, for the convenience of those who may be obliged to go to law to obtain redress for injuries, courts of justice must be established near the residence of every citizen.

Sec.2.  But in order to carry out these objects, a state must be divided into small districts with fixed boundaries, that it may be known what persons come under certain regulations, and over whom these local officers are to exercise authority.  The smallest territorial divisions of a state are called townships, or towns, which contain generally from twenty-five to one hundred square miles, and which, if in a square form, would be from five to ten miles square.  But for certain purposes larger districts than townships have been found necessary.  These are formed by the union of several townships, and are called counties.  These divisions are the same as those of England, the country from which the colonies (now states) were chiefly settled.

Sec.3.  Counties in England were formerly districts governed by counts or earls; from which comes the name of county.  A county was also called shire; and an officer was appointed by the count or earl to perform certain acts in the principal town in the county, which was called shire town, and the officer was called shire-reeve, or sheriff, whose powers and duties were similar to those of the sheriff of a county in this country.  The shire town is that in which the court-house and other county buildings are situate, and where the principal officers of the county transact their business.  In a few counties there are two towns in which the courts are held alternately.  Hence each division is called a half-shire.

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