Slike strani
PDF
ePub

99. Federal Districts.-Congress is given power to exercise exclusive legislation over a district to be used as the seat of government of the United States. This district was to be obtained by cession from individual States, and was not to exceed ten miles square. The District of Columbia, ceded by Maryland and Virginia, was selected as the seat of government, and thus came under the control of Congress. In 1878 the government of the district was placed under a board of three commissioners, two to be appointed by the President and Senate for three years, and the third, an officer of the corps of engineers of the army, to be detailed by the President. These commissioners have the general management of the interests of the district, appointing police, firemen, school trustees, and other officers. Inhabitants of the district have no vote.

Congress has, likewise, exclusive control over places purchased by consent of the Legislatures of the States wherein they lie, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings.?

100. Impeachments.—The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeaching, and the Senate the sole power of trying the person impeached. The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States are liable to impeachment for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The method of trial and the penalties are similar to those in a State trial under articles of impeachment. (See Chap. VIII.)

101. Treason.-Congress is given "power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason

[ocr errors]

1 U. S. Const., Art. I., Sect. 8, Par, 17. 2 U. S. Const., Art. I., Sect. 8, Par. 17. 3 U. S. Const., Art. I., Sect. 2, Par, 5. 4 U. S. Const., Art. I., Sect. 3, Par. 6. 5 U. S. Const., Art. 11., Sect. 4.

shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.” The punishment for

1 treason, as declared by Congress, may be death by hanging, or may be imprisonment for not less than five years and a fine of not less than $10,000. The cruel feature of punishing a traitor's descendants by corruption of their blood, that is, making them incapable of inheriting property, and by confiscation of their property, is prohibited by the Constitution. Treason is defined in the Constitution to consist only in levying war against the United States, and in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.?

Questions on the Powers of Congress.

1. Whence does the United States obtain its legislative powers? 2. Where are the legislative powers of the United States vested? 3. Are the legislative powers of the United States granted in

general terms or specifically enumerated? 4. Turn to the Constitution of the United States and to the Con

stitution of California and notice the difference in wording

in which the legislative power in the two is described. 5. Write out the list of powers granted in the Constitution to

Congress. 6. Give a general description of the powers of Congress. 7. Collect and write down all the provisions in the Constitution

relating to taxes. 8. What do you mean by taxes? 9. Are taxes necessary ? 10. Mention some of the different kinds of taxes. 11. From whom does the government collect imposts, or customs

duties? Who finally pays this tax? Show how this is. Describe the difference between a direct and an indirect

tax. 12. What provisions in the Constitution regarding citizenship and 15. What are the provisions in the Constitution regarding money? 16. What powers has Congress with regard to the establishment

naturalization? 13. What do you mean by naturalization? 14. Do naturalized citizens have all the rights and privileges of

native born citizens?

10. S. Const., Art. III., Sect. 3, Par. 2. 2 U. S. Const., Art. III., Sect. 3, Par. 1.

of courts? 17. What powers has Congress with respect to declaring war?

With respect to letters of marque and reprisal? To armies?

To the militia? 18. In regard to what crimes may Congress legislate ? 19. Discuss the provisions in the Constitution concerning com

merce? 20. What powers has Congress with respect to the postal service? 21. What powers has Congress with respect to the Territories and

the admission of new States ? 22. Explain the powers which Congress may exercise with respect

to:
(a) Bankruptcy;
(6) Weights and measures; (explain the distinction between

“legalizing” and “adopting” the metric system);
(c) Copyrights and patents;
(d) Federal districts;
(e) Impeachments;
(f) Treason.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XII.

THE FEDERAL EXECUTIVE.

$1. The President. 102. The Executive Power.-According to the Constitution, “the executive power is vested in the President of the United States."1 This means that the President is the chief among the executive officers of the

government. In the enormous mass of business to be attended to, it is found necessary to have many other officers. A series of departments has been established, and heads placed over these departments. The President, together with these departments, constitutes the federal executive. The

IU. S. Const., Art. II., Sect. 1, Par. 1.

President, however, is the responsible head of the executive power; he is the only executive officer who is elected by the people; the heads of the departments are appointees of his, are his advisers, are responsible to him, and are not coördinate officers with him. He is by his office the most conspicuous person in the nation; he represents the national unity in our dealings with foreign countries.

103. Qualifications for President.-In order that a person may be eligible to the Presidency, he must be a native born citizen, at least thirty-five years of age, and a resident within the United States for fourteen years. The salary of the President is fixed by law, and may not be increased nor diminished during the period for which he has been elected.?

3

104. Election of President and Vice-President.The President and Vice-President are not elected directly by the people, but indirectly, through “electors” chosen by the people. The people in each State elect as many electors as the State has Senators and Representatives in Congress. These electors are chosen at an election held on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November in the year preceding the expiration of the presidential term. As it happens, the first election having taken place in 1788, this election for presidential electors occurs in November of every leap year. After their election, the electors meet in the capitals of their several States, on the first Wednesday in December, and cast their votes for President and Vice-President. These votes are then sent to Washington, and, on the second Wednesday in the following February, are opened and counted in ConIU. S. Const., Art. II., Sect. 1, Par. 5. 2U. S. Const., Art. II., Sect. 1, Par. 7. 3U. S. Const., Art. II., Sect. 1, Par. 2. 4U. S. Const., Art. II., Sect. 1, Par. 4.

gress, the Senate and House of Representatives meeting together for this purpose. The person then declared elected President is "inaugurated,” or sworn into office, with appropriate ceremonies, on the fourth day of the following March.

105. Working of the Electoral System. - The method prescribed for electing the President and VicePresident is one of the few features of the Constitution in which its framers departed from the practice of the Colonies or of England. And it is one of the few that have not worked in the way in which they were designed. The intention was that each elector should use his own judg-ment and vote for the person, any one he chose, whom he might think best qualified for the office. As a matter of fact, however, the elector is now practically pledged to vote for some particular persons, known as the party candidates, for President and Vice-President. During the summer before the election, national conventions of the leading political parties are held, attended by delegates from all the States in the Union, and persons are there nominated for President and Vice-President. Then later, conventions of these parties are held in the individual States and electors are nominated. These electors, when chosen by the people, vote, as a matter of course, for the nominees of the national convention of their party. Thus, when the election comes off in November, while the people are nominally voting for electors, they have in mind the persons nominated for President and Vice-President, and are really voting for these latter. As soon as it is known what sets of electors are elected, it is known what persons are elected President and VicePresident. The casting of the votes, then, by the electors, becomes merely a form.

10. S. Const., Amend. XII.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »