85 Educ dept.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.




PROFESSIONAL treatises and judicial decisions must doubt less continue to be our chief original sources of constitutional exposition; yet, after all, it is from that humbler class of books in which the results of the learned investigations of jurists and statesmen are embodied in a cheap, plain, and popular form, that the great mass of the community derive their information concerning our political institutions. Judge Story was himself sensible of this, when he condensed the substance of his extensive commentaries into a small volume "designed for the use of school libraries and general readers." It is an important addition, however, to the usefulness of such a manual, that it should pass beyond a formal disquisition upon 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. An acquaintance with the machinery by which the Constitution is applied and enforced, is no less important than an understanding of the written instrument.

Our object has accordingly been, not only to present in familiar language a brief outline of the generally-received interpretation of each clause, but to illustrate it by a reference to such facts and to such legislation by Congress as


seemed necessary to its proper elucidation. Long trains of reasoning and abstract discourses upon political topics have been studiously avoided, as interfering with our plan. Principles have been stated briefly, and sometimes in the very language of judicial decisions, legal treatises, or public documents. There is no attempt to decide unsettled questions, or to deal with disputed points in the manner of a controversialist or a partisan.

The sole aim of the author has been to furnish an elementary manual of the Constitution, which might possibly be instrumental in extending a knowledge of its meaning, and consequently of increasing our attachment to it as the great charter of our national renown.

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