Obrázky stránek

The House of Representatives.—This body is composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the States, and each is required to be twenty-five years of age, seven years a citizen of the United States, and an inhabitant of the State in which he is chosen. The apportionment of Representatives to population is made every ten years, after taking the census, the whole number being divided by 233, the number to which the House is limited by law, gives the rate of representation to population. There may be a greater number of Representatives when new States are admitted between the periods of the census. Delegates from Territories have a seat upon the floor, and a voice in debate, but no vote. The Speaker and officers of the House are chosen by the House for the Congress. The privileges of the Speaker are the same as those of any other Representative. The House meets at twelve o'clock at noon, unless otherwise specially ordered.

Committees.-The appointment of committees of the two Houses is by the Vice-President and Speaker, respectively. To these committees is confided the initiation of business. The chairman of each committee reports, by bill or otherwise, and upon such report the Senate or House goes into Committee of the Whole House, when all the members are regarded as forming one committee. The Speaker calls a member to take the chair. The Speaker is then allowed to participate in debate. The Vice-President does not leave the chair. After consideration of the subject before the committee, it rises, and the chairman reports the action of the committee to the House or Senate.



THE judicial powers of the government are vested in a Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time establish. The present establishment consists of a Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, District Courts, and Court of Claims.



This court consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associates, appointed by the President, to hold their offices during good behavior, any five of whom shall be a quorum, and hold annually one session, commencing on the first Monday in December. The court has exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature, where a State is a party, except between a State and its citizens, and except also between a State and citizens of other States, or aliens,—in which latter case it has original, but not exclusive jurisdiction. It has, exclusively, all such jurisdiction of suits or proceedings against ambassadors as a court can have, by the law of nations. The trial of issues in fact, are by jury. This court has appellate jurisdiction from the Circuit and State courts, in certain cases provided for by law. Each justice is also


judge of one of the circuit courts. The officers of the court are, the Attorney-General, a clerk, deputy-clerk, reporter, marshal, and crier. Attorneys and counselors admitted to the bar of the court, must have practiced three years in the supreme court of the State in which they reside, and must have a fair private and professional character. They must take the oath to support the law and the Constitution. The court, in term-time, sits daily from 11 A. M. to 3 P. M.


By act of Congress, September 24th, 1789, a person learned in the law is appointed to act as Attorney-General of the United States, sworn to a faithful execution of his office. It is his duty to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States are concerned, and give his advice upon questions of law, when required by the President, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments, touching any matters that may concern their departments. He is a Cabinet officer, and meets the President and Secretaries in council. He is allowed an assistant, three clerks, and a messenger.



This court was established February 24th, 1855, and consists of three judges, appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate. Any two of the judges constitute a quorum. They hold their offices during good behavior, and hear and determine all claims founded upon any law of Congress, or upon any regulation of an executive department, or upon any contract,


express or implied, with the government, which may be referred to the court by either house of Congress. A solicitor, and two assistant-solicitors, to represent the government before the court, are appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate. The court keeps a record of its proceedings, and reports to Congress at the commencement of each session, and monthly during the session. There is a clerk, an assistant-clerk, and messenger attached to and appointed by the court. Sessions are held during the time of session of Congress, and during the remainder of the year, when there is any business on the docket. Court days are from Monday until Thursday, and Friday, on pressing occasions. Saturday is occupied by the judges as a day of conference.



THERE are certain important establishments and institutions at the seat of government, which, for the sake of preserving a reasonable unity of our theme, we have preferred to classify under the designation given to this chapter. Some of them, indeed, are nominally branches of the executive departments, while others are either related to the government by their subjection to its oversight, or by their identity with national interests.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


During the administration of President Jefferson, the Navy Yard situated in the District of Columbia was established by an act of Congress, approved March 27th,

« PředchozíPokračovat »