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ITS ORIGIN, GROWTH, AND FORM
IN THE UNITED STATES
WITH SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THE
ROBERT LANSING, B.A.
ATTORNEY AT LAW
GARY M. JONES, M.A.
PRINCIPAL OF THE WATERTOWN, NEW YORK, HIGH SCHOOL
SILVER, BURDETT AND COMPANY
The majority of text-books on civil government in the United States have followed one of two methods in their treatment of the subject. One introduces the student directly to existing institutions and explains their functions, with little or no attempt to show their origin. The other begins with the more imperfect forms of local government and builds up from these to the federal system. However logical either of these methods may appear, experience has shown that the average student, conversant with American history and not that of his State, is much more familiar with the form and powers of the general government than he is with those of local governments. It was this fact that induced the authors to prepare this work on the Federal Government, in the hope that the student having thus gained an acquaintance with this, the more perfect system, would be better equipped to take up the study of his more complex State and local governments.
Furthermore, it was considered of the utmost importance, before discussing the present federal system, to familiarize the student with those general principles upon which all governments rest, and with the source and growth of free institutions in England and her colonial possessions in America. This is done in Parts First and Second. The abstract principles are defined and
explained by appropriate illustrations, and the growth of civil liberty is traced historically from its Anglo-Saxon origin to its final development in the Constitution of the United States. By these means the student has had an opportunity to apply his knowledge of American history, to understand the causes which led to the Revolutionary War and their logical result, to appreciate the force of the Declaration of Independence and the reasons for the failure of the Confederacy. He should understand why a new constitution was necessary, upon what principles it should rest, and what should be the general form and powers of the government to be established. But, if the time devoted to civics is too brief to warrant this histori cal examination, Part Second may be passed over without affecting the treatment of the national government.
Part Third contains a critical and analytical study of the Federal Constitution, with such historical references as are necessary to explain its provisions. The sections and clauses are inserted in the text for the convenience of the student and to insure careful study of the lan guage of the Constitution. Unless these are so clear and simple as to demand no explanation, they are analyzed and commented on in the light of the most recent judicial decisions, official interpretations and opinions of prominent jurists; and when of peculiar interest, the language of these authorities is quoted. Besides this critical examination of the Constitution, the practical workings of the different branches of the Federal Government are explained, with especial reference to the extension or modification of their functions by statute, custom and practice.
Part Fourth contains a concise review of the principles of international and municipal law. Jurisprudence is not properly a branch of civics, but the conduct of the foreign and domestic affairs of the nation is so interwoven with questions of law that a general knowledge of this subject is essential to a right understanding of government in the United States.
The purpose of the whole work is to furnish the student with principles and facts which will be of practical value to him in the exercise of the rights of citizenship, and to present them in such a way as to impress upon him the responsibilities which rest upon every citizen of the Republic in the performance of his public duties.
The authors desire to express their thanks for the assistance and kindly criticism which they have received during the preparation of this work from Mr. Justice Harlan, Honorable John T. Morgan, Honorable John W. Foster, Andrew H. Allen, Esq., James M. Milne, Esq., and Principal William K. Wickes.
WATERTOWN, N. Y.