Territorial Government.

The Executive power of a Territory is vested in a Governor; the Legislative, in the Governor and a Legislative Assembly; and the Judicial, in a Supreme Court, District Courts, Probate Courts, and Justices of the Peace. The Governor, Secretary, Chief Judge and two Associate Judges, Attorney, and Marshal, are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for four years. The Legislative Assembly consists of a Council and House of Representatives. These are elected by the people-the former for two years, the latter for one year. By act of 1880 the sessions of the Territorial legislatures are limited to sixty days. The Governor has the power to veto bills, modified as in the case of the President.

The officers of the Territories are paid from the treasury of the United States. The Governor receives $2,600 a year; the Secretary, $1,800; the Judges of the Supreme Court, who also hold the District Courts, $2,600 each; the Attorney and Marshal are paid by fees; the members of the Assembly, $6.00 a day for forty days, and $3.00 for each twenty miles of travel; the President of the Council and the Speaker of the House, $10.00 a day.

In addition to the States and Territories mentioned above, the United States includes the District of Alaska purchased from Russia in 1867, containing 531,409 square miles;1 and the Indian country lying west of Arkansas, which, with some ten thousand square miles of unorganized territory adjoining it on the west, contains 69,830 square miles.

According to the Tenth Census Report, 2 the number of square miles in the whole area of the United States is 3,501,409.

1 Alaska was made a customs collection district in 1868 under the name of the District of Alaska. In 1881 a Governor and Judge were provided for. In 1887 an effort was made to organize it as a Territory, and the House Committee on Territories reported in favor of it, but the measure was not adopted.

2 Compendium of the Tenth Census, pages 1413, 1421.




N this chapter will be given some account of the workings of the government under the Constitution. The more important offices in the different departments will be mentioned, with the duties, etc., of the various officers.


The Constitution provides, as has been seen, for a Congress, composed of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Senators are elected by the State legislatures, and hold their office for six years; the Representatives are elected by the people of their several districts for the term of two years. The members of the two Houses receive the same compensation, $5,000 a year, with mileage at the rate of "twenty cents a mile, to be estimated by the nearest route usually traveled in going to and returning from each regular session."


The Vice-president of the United States is the President of the Senate. He gives the casting vote when the Senate is equally divided, and signs all bills and resolutions that are passed by the Senate. His salary was originally $5,000. In 1853 it was raised to $8,000, in 1873 to $10,000, and in 1874 reduced to $8,000.

The list of Vice-presidents will be found in the Appendix.

There is no provision in the Constitution or by statute for filling a vacancy in the office of Vice-president. When the Vice-president becomes President, the Senate choose a President pro tempore, but this does not constitute him Vice-president.


The presiding officer, called the Speaker, is chosen by the House. The term had its origin when legislative bodies were addressed by the chief executive, and their presiding officer was expected to respond. As he spoke for the body he was called the Speaker. He signs all bills and joint resolutions passed by the House, and, under the rules of the House appoints its committees. He is required to vote in case of ballot, and he may vote on other occasions. His salary is $8,000. For list

of Speakers see Appendix.


In each House there are Standing Committees, to whom are referred the various matters of business for examination and report. It has been usual for the Speaker to appoint the House Committees, while in the Senate they are chosen by ballot.

In the Forty-ninth Congress the Senate had thirty-four Standing Committees, besides a number of Select Committees and Joint Committees. The House had forty-four Standing Committees. The principal Committees are those on Ways and Means, Appropriations, Judiciary, Foreign Relations, Elections, Banking and Currency, Commerce, Post-office, Claims, Pacific Railroad, Indian Affairs, Public Lands, District of Columbia, Public Expenditures, Naval Affairs, Territories, Military Affairs, Mines and Mining, Freedmen's Affairs, Education and Labor, Revision of the Laws, Patents, Coinage, Manufactures, Agriculture, Pensions, Public Buildings.

In the Senate, a Standing Committee usually consists of nine members, and in the House, of thirteen; ranging from seven to


As "all bills for raising Revenue must originate in the House, the Senate has no Committee of Ways and Means. This Committee is regarded as the most important in the House, and the place of Chairman is held to be next to that of Speaker in honor.1

The House often resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole, when the Speaker leaves the chair and a chairman is appointed. This gives opportunity for free discussion without the restraint of the strict rules of the House. When this committee closes its session, in technical terms rises, the Speaker resumes the chair, and the chairman of the committee reports its proceedings.

A bill introduced into either House is supposed to be read three times, and at each reading to be formally acted upon by the House. But usually, if no objection is made, the bill is read twice by its title, referred to the appropriate committee, and ordered to be printed. When a bill has been reported from the committee, it is ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, when the vote is taken upon its passage. Having passed both Houses it is enrolled on parchment, and carefully examined by the Committee on Enrolled Bills. After a bill has been reported by this committee it is signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and sent to the President of the United States for his signature.

When a bill has been passed over the veto of the President by the requisite majority in each House, the published statutes give certificates to that effect, signed by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate, in addition to the official signatures of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

If a bill has been presented to the President for his approval and not returned by him within the time prescribed by the Con

1 There are three Joint Committees: on Public Printing, on Enrolled Bills, and on the Library. These consist of three or more members from each House.

stitution, a note to that effect is appended by the Department of State. A bill passed in the usual way and approved by the President, has the word "Approved" and the date appended.


The executive power is vested in a single officer, styled the President of the United States. We have seen that he must be thirty-five years of age, a native-born citizen, and a resident for fourteen years in the United States. He is elected for a period of four years by electors chosen by the people in the several States. His term commences on the 4th of March. The salary, which can not be increased or diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, was $25,000 a year till the 4th of March, 1873, when Congress raised it to $50,000.

The President may be re-elected, and seven have been elected for a second term.

The following is a list of the Presidents:

George Washington, of Virginia, was unanimously elected the first President. Though the term properly began on the 4th of March, he was not sworn into office until the 30th of April. He was re-elected unanimously, and thus held the office eight years, till March 4th, 1797.

John Adams, of Massachusetts, was elected in the fall of 1796 over Thomas Jefferson; his term expired March 4th, 1801.

Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was elected by the House of Representatives. John Adams was the opposing candidate before the people, but in the House the friends of Mr. Adams voted for Aaron Burr. Mr. Jefferson was elected on the thirtysixth ballot, and Mr. Burr became Vice-president. Mr. Jefferson was elected for a second term, his competitor being Charles C. Pinckney, of South Carolina. Mr. Jefferson was President from 1801-1809. (See page 157.)

James Madison, of Virginia, was elected over Mr. C. C.

« ForrigeFortsett »