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UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT;
ORIGIN, BRANCHES, DEPARTMENTS, INSTITUTIONS,
OFFICERS, AND MODES OF OPERATION.
SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND ENLARGED.
Entered, according to act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
ANSON WILLIS, in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the Southern District of
There is no sentiment that ever gained more universal acceptance among the people of this country, than that contained in the following words, “ If our form of government can be preserved, it must be done by the intelligence and virtue of the people.”
Few, if any, have ever gainsaid this proposition, or doubted its truth; yet many have doubted the permanence of our institutions; and these doubts arise from their lack of confidence in the intelligence and rectitude of a majority of the people.
These fears are not entirely groundless, in view of the common rule of judging the future by the past; for every observer of the political actions of our people, knows that many things have been done by parties and individuals, that demonstrate the lamentable destitution of one, if not
both these elements of safety. Some have intelligence but very little virtue, -others have virtue but very little intelligence, and some have neither. Now when cither of these classes, or all of them combined, bear rule, mischief must follow, and a complete overthrow may be the result.
A general knowledge of the principles and operations of our government, is a part-but by no means all-of that intelligence which is so universally admitted to be necessary to the preservation of it.
But it is no easy task for a young man to gain such an understanding of these things, as will qualify him to act his part well, when he arrives at the age which allows him to enter upon his duties as a citizen of the republic, to hold, it may be,-official positions in it, or at least to vote understandingly for those who shall administer its affairs.
And it is matter of some surprise that no one has taken it in hand long before this, to write something of the nature of a text book, in which these things may be found arranged and explained, in so simple and plain a form, as to give the reader a general and comprehensive idea of the structure, institutions, and plan of operating the government under which he lives. In no country is such knowledge of so great importance as in ours, where every citizen may make his influence felt in the administration of