« PředchozíPokračovat »
by the Constitution, or are prohibited by the Constitution to the States. The powers of the States are far more numerous than the powers of the United States.
The people and their property are subject to a double government—that of the State and that of the United States. The two governments operate together with perfect harmony, whether their jurisdictions cross or are parallel. Of course we come into contact with the State government vastly more than with the Federal Government; for the powers of the former are far more numerous than those of the latter. The daily affairs of most of us, except our business with the post office, are subject to State laws. But in case we come under the operation of a United States law we are likewise bound to comply with its demands. Both governments have the power to tax us for their support and to call on us for their defense. Under the Articles of Confederation the States alone had such power over the individual and his property.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
TO THE TEACHER
In leading a class through the following chapter, please observe that the “Questions on the Sections” call for a close and analytic reading and study of the text of the Constitution. The author, instead of incorporating in his discussions of things needing explanation, the plain and simple statements of the Constitution, intends that such parts should be learned by the pupils from the Constitution itself. He believes it is better for the pupils to learn, for instance, so simple a matter as the qualifications of a Senator, directly in the Constitution, than in paragraphs written by himself. It is of little use to have the clauses of the Constitution before the eyes of the pupils, in the body of the author's text, if they are not read and studied.
The teacher should therefore insist on a thorough study of each set of “Questions on the Sections.” The pupils will thereby acquire a much-needed intimate knowledge of the Constitution itself and form a habit of thoughtful, analytic reading that will be of value to them in other fields of study.
“We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
1. What it Shows.—The Preamble shows that the government under the Constitution, unlike that under the Articles of Confederation, was to be a union of the
people, not a league of the States. The Constitution clothes the United States Government with power to act directly upon the people without regard to State lines and without acting on the States.
2. An Enumeration of General Purposes.—The Preamble enumerates the general purposes of the Constitution. After the close of the Revolution the Articles of Confederation had failed to accomplish these purposes (see p. 31); and it was therefore natural that they should be enumerated in the Preamble, as a reason for the establishment of the Constitution. These general purposes have been of great importance to the courts in interpreting the Constitution, and the whole Preamble has been a great battle-ground for political parties in the United States.
3. The Term“ Constitution.”—As used in America the term “Constitution” implies a written instrument of government. That of the United States consists of seven articles and fifteen amendments, divided into sections and clauses. England has an unwritten Constitution. It does not consist of a single document drawn up at one time; it is the growth of centuries, and consists of charters, bills of rights, acts of Parliament, and legal usages and customs. The United States had to have a written Constitution, because the old-world forms and principles of government had been abandoned by our fathers and the new nation was too large and complex to wait for time to develop an unwritten Constitution. The United States continued without a written Constitution until the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781.
A constitution deals with what is general and perma
nent, and leaves details and transitory matters to the legislative department. The subject-matter of the Constitution of the United States may be divided into:
(a) Forms—e.g., the two houses of Congress (Art. 1, Sect. 1).
(6) Powers-e. g., to lay and collect taxes (Art. 1, Sect. 8, Cl. 1).
(c) Principles-e.g., freedom of speech (Amendment 1). (d) Definitions-e.g., treason (Art. 1, Sect. 3, Cl. 1).
Questions on the Preamble.—Who ordained and established the Constitution ? Its purposes ? Define ordain. What is domestic tranquillity?
THE DISTRIBUTION OF POWERS
4. The Three Powers of Government.—We cannot conceive of government-civil or any other—without these three powers: to make laws, to carry them out, and to explain and apply them. In the school all three are generally vested in the teacher; in the family, in the parents; in an absolute monarchy (see p. 12), in the monarch.
5. The Three Departments of Government.-In a government where the three powers are not vested in one or the same persons, departments are created for the separate exercise of these powers by different persons. The Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress, the executive power in the President; and the judicial power in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as Congress may establish. Under the Articles of Confederation there was no such division of power. The Congress, besides being legislative, also exercised what little executive and judicial power the United States Government had.
ARTICLE I.-THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT
SECTION 1.—THE CONGRESS
All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
6. The Two Houses.
The Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, was not divided into two houses; nor were the Legislatures of Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Georgia under their first State constitutions. Now the bicameral plan is universal. The object of the two houses is to prevent haste and lack of consideration. In making the Constitution much thought was given to checks and balances among the various factors of the government. Here we have the House of Representatives balanced against the Senate, and vice versa. At another place we find the President balanced, in some degree, against Congress. In all there are about eight such inventions in the Constitution.
Questions on the Section.—What is the name of the legislative department ? What are its divisions called ? What legislative powers are vested in Congress ?
SECTION 2.—THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
CLAUSE 1. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.
Cl. 2. No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.