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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
FURMAN SHEPPARD, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.
Astor, Lenox and in
It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of a thorough study of the Constitution of the United States by the pupils in our schools. It is, nevertheless, a study which has hitherto been sadly neglected, chiefly, as teachers are aware, for want of a plain, practical, and thorough work upon the subject. It is true there are several text-books which have been used to a greater or less extent; but however meritorious they are in many respects, in others they seem objectionable. Some of them, in aiming at simplicity and brevity, have become trivial and meagre; others are composed chiefly of disquisitions and generalities, which cannot be made the proper subject-matter of recitation in the school-room; there are still others containing partisan or sectional views, or assuming a controversial air ir the discussion of unsettled constitutional questions. It will be for the public to say whether the attempt to divest the present undertaking of these features has been successful.
The author has aimed solely to adapt the book, both in matter and style, to the purposes of elementary instruction, so that it may be easily used by the teacher, and systematically studied by the pupil. Long trains of reasoning have been avoided, and the results have been stated at once, even at the risk of appearing dogmatic. The Federal Government is now an historical fact, and it was not considered necessary for our purpose to elaborate the arguments formerly employed to prove its antecedent fitness. We attempt only an exposition of it as it is, or as it has been decided to be by judicial tribunals. An endeavour has been made to pass beyond a comment on the mere text of the Constitution, and enter into the practical administrative details, and the public law, of the Government, so as to exhibit to some extent its actual workings.
It is scarcely necessary to observe that originality of matter cannot be properly claimed for a book such as the present. Hence, in many places, there has been no hesitation in freely stating doctrines or facts, in the language of public documents, of judicial decisions, or of standard legal treatises, without formal references thereto.
There has been obtained from the Department of State, for use in the present work, as the basis of the commentary, a copy of the Constitution and amendments, which, after comparison with the original, has been officially certified to be correct in text, orthography, and punctuation. Its accuracy may therefore be relied upon with entire confidence.
For the accommodation of teachers who may prefer that mode of reciting the lessons, questions for examination are appended; but they are not intended to exhaust the matter contained in the body of the work. It is recommended that, in the case of younger pupils, at least, those questions be answered, and the text of the Constitution be committed to memory, in going through the book for the first time; and that, on a review of the book, the teacher himself put such additional questions as occur to him.. Where tables are introduced, relative to the respective States, questions may readily be adapted to any particular State;
The diagram on page 64, may also be studied practically by means of proper questions, such as the following :What was the representative rank of this State at the first census? at the second ? at the third ? &c. The index has been made full and complete for the purpose
of facilitating reference to any particular subject.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.