صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

in which it is wished to transmit a common property. Thus, all banks, turnpike 'companies, colleges, and chartered societies are examples of corporations.

20. CHARTER,-is the act creating the corporation, or separate government, or the privileges bestowed upon a community, or a society of individuals. It is derived from the Latin term charta, signifying a writing.2

21. A COURT,-is defined to be a place wherein justice is judicially administered.3 In our country, and in the New-England States especially, Court has sometimes had another signification, that of the legislative body; thus, the General Court of Massachusetts is the legislature. The former is, however, the correct meaning.

22. MUNICIPAL,-relating to a corporation. Municipal laws are civil or internal, in opposition to national or external laws.4 Thus, laws relative to the descent of property are municipal laws; but laws relative to war, the army, and navy are external, and national.

23. JURISDICTION,-is extent of legal power.5 Thus, a court has jurisdiction over certain things, as all sums over a certain amount, when its legal authority extends over them. A government has jurisdiction over a certain territory, when its power extends over it.

24. IMPEACHMENT,-is a public accusation, by a body authorized to make it.6 Such were the charges preferred by the British House of Commons against Warren Hastings, Governor-general of India; and in this country by the House of Representatives, against Samuel Chase, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court.

25. VERDICT,-is the true saying of a jury. It is the answer which a jury make to the court and parties,

1 Black. Comm. 1 vol. 109.

2 Sullivan Polit. Class-Book, 49. 3 Black. Comm. 3 vol. P. 23. 4 Story's Comm. 159. 5 Johnson. Johnson; Crabbe. 73 Black. Comm. 377.

when the plaintiff and defendant have left the cause to their decision.

26. DIPLOMACY,-signifies the intercourse which is carried on between different nations by means of their ministers, or agents.1

27. REVOLUTION,-is a radical change in the government of the country. It may be made in various ways-by force and blood, as in France, 1792; by the expulsion of one family and settlement of another, as in England, 1688, and, in France, 1830; or by a separation of one part of a country from another, as in the United States, in 1776. Thus, also, all acts in opposition to the laws, and which are not legitimate under the constitution, are revolutionary, because their tendency is the overthrow of the laws.

28. EX POST FACTO,-An ex post facto law is a retrospective criminal law. A retrospective law is one which acts upon things already done, and not merely upon those which are to be done. An ex post facto law makes something criminal which was not criminal when done. Thus, if the legislature should pass an act, declaring that all persons who had not attended church last year should be imprisoned, that law would be unconstitutional, because ex post facto. But if the legislature should pass an act that those who had attended militia duty last year should be excused from paying taxes, and those who had not should not be so excused, such a law would be retrospective, but not ex post facto, because not criminal. An ex post facto law makes past acts criminal, which were not so before.2

29. A BILL OF ATTAINDER,—is a special act of the legislature, inflicting capital punishments upon persons supposed to be guilty of high offences, such as treason and felony, without any conviction in the ordinary

1 Sullivan's Polit. Class-Book, 225. 212, 213.

23 Story's Comm.

1

course of judicial proceedings. If it inflict a milder punishment, it is called a bill of pains and penalties.

30. THE BALLOT,-signifies the ball,2 or ticket, by which persons vote at an election. To ballot signifies voting by ballot, i. e. by ball, or ticket. Formerly voting was altogether viva voce, that is, by the voice,— the elector designating by name the person voted for ; now, elections are generally made by ballot. The name of the person voted for is written on a ticket, and deposited in a box.

31. QUORUM,-is such a number of any body as is necessary to do business.3 Thus, when it is said there shall be eleven directors of any institution, and seven shall constitute a'quorum, seven is the number necessary to do business; and unless the contrary is expressed, a majority of a quorum only is necessary to a decision. Hence it often happens, that less than a majority of the whole decide important questions.

32. INDICTMENT.-An indictment is a written accusation of one or more persons, of a crime or misdemeanor, preferred to, and presented upon oath by, a grand jury.1

33. TAXES.-All contributions imposed by the government upon individuals, for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name known.5 Thus, the tithes imposed upon the people of England for the support of church government is a tax : so also imposts, duties, excises, &c. are taxes.

13 Story's Comm. p. 211.

44 Black. Comm. 302.

2 Johnson.

52 Story's Comm. 419.

s Idem.

(21)

CHAPTER I.

ORIGIN OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

§ 1. THE continent of North America was chiefly settled by emigrants from Great Britain. The jurisdiction over the new region, as well as the title to its lands, was claimed by the mother country, under the colour of discovery and conquest. Hence, to acquire the right of property, as well as to sustain themselves against opposition, the authority of Great Britain became necessary to the early colonists. This was given in the form of grants and charters, to companies and large proprietors. Such was the grant of the territory of Massachusetts to the Plymouth Company, and of Maryland to Lord Baltimore.1

§ 2. There were originally three different forms of government in the colonies, viz.-The Charter, the Proprietary, and Royal Governments. The Charter Governments were confined to New-England; the middle and southern colonies were divided between the Proprietary and Royal Governments.

3. The Charter Governments were composed of a Governor, Deputy-governor, and Assistants, elected by the people; these, with the freemen, i. e. citizens, of the colony, were to compose the "General Courts," which were authorized to appoint such officers, and make such laws and ordinances for the welfare of the colony as to them might seem meet. These first forms of government in New-England contained the same principles as, and were doubtless the origin of, our republican system.

11 Pitkin's Civil History, p. 31.

* Idem. p. 36.

§4. The Proprietary1 governments were those of Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and Jersey. Part of these soon became royal governments. In the proprietary governments, the power of appointing officers and making laws rested in the proprietors, by the advice and assent, generally, of the freemen. In some of them, as in the Carolinas, singular irregularities were found. In all, great confusion took place.

§ 5. In the Royal governments, which were NewYork, Virginia, Georgia, and Delaware, the governor and council were appointed by the crown; and the people elected representatives to the colonial legislature. The governor had a negative in both houses of the legislature; and most of the officers were appointed by the king.

§ 6. These different governments, operating also upon a people of different habits and manners, as the Puritans of New-England, the Cavaliers of Virginia, and the Quakers of Pennsylvania, produced many diversities of legislation and political character. Notwithstanding these, however, the necessities of a com mon danger from hostile tribes of Indians, and of a common interest from similarity of circumstances, soon induced a union, or confederacy of the colonies. Those of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and NewHaven, as early as 1643, formed a league, offensive and defensive, which they declared should be perpetual, and distinguished by the name of the United Colonies of New-England. This confederacy subsisted for forty years, under a regular form of government, in which the principle of a delegated congress was the prominent feature.

7. A Congress of Commissioners, representing New-Hampsire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Con2 Idem. p. 71.

1 Pitkin's Civil History, p. 55.

« السابقةمتابعة »