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BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE AMERICAN FEDE
RATIVE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT.
We here present, for the benefit of the English reader, a brief exposition of that mixed political system, with the practical operation of which Mr. Lincoln was, during the latter part of his life, so intimately connected.
It must be remembered that the United States Government is not like the British Government, having one centre of political life; but that while there is a National Government for the administration of national and chiefly external affairs, there are also separate State Governments, whose powers are entirely confined to local and internal affairs. By Section 8th, Article 1st, of the Constitution, the States have delegated to Congress the power to declare war, to make peace, to enter into treaties, coin money, regulate commerce, and, in short, all acts characteristic of national sovereignty; and by Sec. 10th, the exercise of these national powers by the States is prohibited. Also, by Article 10th of the Amendments, the powers not delegated to Congress are “reserved to the States or to the people.” Therefore the powers to enact municipal laws-i.e. all laws which concern only the States directly and immediately, are among the reserved rights of the States and the people, and are vested, by the people, in the State Legislature.
Thus the separate States are sovereign in a municipal capacity, while the General Government is sovereign in a national capacity, and is represented and known officially as one nation throughout the world.
The leading provisions of the State Constitutions are analogous to those of the National Constitution. Indeed, the latter has in a great measure been the model of all the State Constitutions formed since its adoption, and that again was formed from the English
Constitution, amended and adapted to the Federative system.
The powers of the State Governments are divided into three departments — Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. The Legislative department is likewise divided into two branches—the Senate and House of Assembly, the former representing counties, the latter the people at large. They are governed by the same rules of precedence as the National Government. These, also, are derived from the rules of the British Parliament, except where the peculiar circumstances of Republican government render them inadmissible. They, like Congress, decide on the qualifications of their own members, and determine the rules of their own proceedings.
Every Bill requires the signature of the Governor to become a law, and if vetoed by him, it is rejected, unless subsequently passed by a majority of two-thirds of both Houses.
The following are some of the chief functions exercised by the separate State Governments :
First. The enactment of domestic and municipal laws, and the enforcement of them by a proper organization of judicial courts; such as those which relate to corporate and public bodies, incorporating, railway, and stock companies, chartering banks, and literary and public institutions, taxation, etc.—Police regulations, and the punishment of crimes, except crimes committed against the General Government—those which concern private property and rights—those which relate to the institution of slavery, the States having the powerexercised already by the Northern States—to abolish it entirely.
Second. The co-operation in the amendments of the Constitution, three-fourths of the States being required to assent to every amendment.
Third. The mode of choosing the President of the United States, appointing the “electors” in such manner as the State Legislatures shall direct.
The following is a synopsis of the “ Articles of Confederation" under which the United States terminated the war of the Revolution. They continued till the adoption of the present Constitution in 1787 :
1st. That the style of the Confederacy should be the “United States of America.”
2nd. That each State should retain its sovereignty, independence, and such rights as were not delegated to the general Congress.
3rd. That the object of the league was the general welfare, and the common defence against foreign aggression.
4th. That the citizens of one State shall have the privileges of citizens in another, and that full faith and credit shall be given to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings in another State.
5th. That for the management of the general interests, delegates shall be annually appointed to meet in Congress, each State not having less than two nor more than seven; and that in determining questions in Coń. gress, each State shall have one vote.
6th. That no State shall, without the consent of Congress, enter into any treaty or alliance with any foreign power or nation, or with any other State; nor lay any imposts or duties interfering with any stipulations contained in any treaty made by Congress ; nor keep any vessels of war or armed forces in time of peace, except such as Congress may deem necessary; nor engage in any war withont the consent of Congress, unless the State be actually invaded, or the danger imminent; nor grant letters of marque, unless such State be infested with pirates.
7th. All charges for the general welfare shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be levied in proportion to the value of land within each State.
Sth. The “United States in Congress assembled" shall have the exclusive right of making peace and
war; entering into treaties and alliances; granting letters of marque, and establishing courts and rules for the trial of piracies and felonies, and determining questions in relation to captures; and that the Congress have the power to determine all questions and differences between two or more States, concerning any canse whatever, which authority shall be exercised by instituting a court in manner and form as provided, where judgment shall be final and decisive ; and that they have power to fix the standard of weights, measures, and coin; establish post-offices and commissionofficers; that they shall have power to appoint a Committee of the States, and such other civil officers as may be necessary to manage the general affairs of the United States under their direction; to elect their President; to fix the sums of money to be raised; to borrow money and emit bills of credit; to agree on the number of forces to be raised, which are to be distributed among the States in proportion to their white inbabitants; that the “ United States” shall not exercise these powers unless pine States assent to the same, nor shall any question except that of adjournment be determined, unless by the votes of a majority of the States.
9th. It is further provided, that the Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States, or any nine of them, shall think proper to vest them with.
10th. All debts contracted under the authority of Congress shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the United States, for which the public faith is pledged.
ilth. That every State shall abide by the determinations of Congress upon the questions submitted to it, and the union shall be perpetual.
Constitution of the United States.
PREAMBLE. WE, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, 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.
The Constitution contains seven articles, to which have been added several miscellaneous amendments.
Article 1st. Relates to the Legislative Power.
Article 4th. To the validity of Public Acts and Records—the rights of Citizenship—the admission of new States—and the forms of State Governments.
Article 5th. Relates to the mode of amending the ('onstitution.
Article 6th. To the national faith and the binding force of the Constitution
Article 7th. To the mode of its ratification.
SECTION I. 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.