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THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
Departments of Government.—The United States, like other countries, has a set of laws in accordance with which it is governed. Some of these laws forbid certain acts, some of them regulate business affairs, and some state what public officers shall be chosen and what their duties and powers shall be. Acts forbidden by law are called crimes; and the people who disobey the laws, criminals.
It is just as imperative that laws be obeyed as that they be made; and for this reason the people select officers whose duty it is to see that they are obeyed. The chief executive officer is the President..
Sometimes innocent people are accused of breaking the law; besides, it is not easy to tell just what the law means in every case : hence still another set of men must be chosen to decide whether or not the accused are guilty, and to interpret the laws. These men are called Justices or Judges.
We thus see that our Government has three distinct branches : the legislative, or lawmaking; the executive, or law-enforcing; and the judicial, or law-interpreting.
The Constitution.–Our country has a written code of laws, which is called the Constitution. The Constitution tells what each branch of the Government may do and what it may not do. It acts as a great check on bad legislation, for no laws can be made by Congress that are contrary to the rules stated in the Constitution.
Congress.— The National Government consists of two law making bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives; and these are together called Congress. Congress meets annually at Washington, D. C., and each of its lawmaking bodies has a large hall in the Capitol in which to hold its meetings. Each is presided over by a chairman. The chairman of the Senate is the Vice-President of the United States; the presiding officer of the House is chosen by that body from among its own members, and he is called the Speaker of the House. A member of the Senate is called a Senator; and a member of the House, a Representative, or Congressman.
How Laws are Made.-If a Senator or a Congressman thinks there ought to be a certain kind of law, he writes it out and then proposes it to the lawmaking body to which he belongs. This writing is called a bill; and it is usually referred to a committee, who consider it and then report their opinion of it to the House. Then it is debated, and, if a majority favor it, it is ordered a third reading at some specified time. Directly after the third reading a vote is taken on it; if there are more ayes than noes, the bill is said to have passed that House. It is then taken to the other law making body, where the same thing is repeated. Passing the second House it is taken to the President; and, on his signing it, it becomes a law. If the President thinks that the bill should not become a law, he vetoes it. Then the bill (with the President's objections to it) is sent back to the House in which it originated. If it now passes both Houses by a two-thirds vote, it becomes a law. This is called passing a bill over the President's veto.
THE STATE GOVERNMENT
Home Rule.—The laws of the United States are made by and for the whole nation, and it is the duty of every citizen to obey such laws implicitly and cheerfully. In ad
. dition to the National Government, each State in the Union has a government of its own, which we may call the “ Home
This is modeled after and is very similar to the United States Government. Like it, it has three distinct branches : the legislative, executive, and judicial. It has a supreme law called the constitution, and no State law can be made which shall in any way interfere with the provisions of this instrument. There are two lawmaking bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The chief executive officer is the Governor, and he signs or refuses to sign all bills and resolutions passed by the lawmaking bodies. No State has any right to make laws which do not accord with National laws. The United States make laws relating to those matters which affect the interests of the whole country; while the right is reserved to the State to enact and enforce laws relating to its own internal affairs. Thus, immigration, postal affairs, and the collection of duties on goods from other countries, for example, are under the control of the National Government, and offenses for a violation of any of these are triable in the United States courts; while laws relating to schools, highways, and the like, and the punishment of most crimes, are within State control.
The Legislature.—The Senate and the House of Representatives are together called the General Assembly, or more commonly, the Legislature. Both have halls in the
Capitol- at Montpelier, where they hold their meetings. The Legislature meets biennially, beginning on the first Wednesday in October, of the even years, and closing, asually, before the first of December. The process of lawmaking is much the same in the Legislature as in Congress.
The Senate; Senators. - The Senate is at present composed of thirty members. The Senators are apportioned to the counties according to their population ; some counties sending one, some two, and some three or more members to represent them in the Senate. Each county is, however, entitled to one Senator regardless of its population.
The term of office of a Senator is two years. To be eligible to this office a person must be at least thirty years of age. He is elected by the freemen of the county in which he resides. For election a plurality vote is necessary for a choice—that is, the person among the candidates named who receives the greatest number of votes is elected.
The Lieutenant-Governor presides not only over the Senate, but also over the Senate and House when they meet in joint assembly, as they do for some purposes.
Besides helping to make the laws, the Senate has sole power to try all cases of impeachment, propose amendments to the constitution, and confirm certain appointments made by the Governor.
The House of Representatives ; Representatives.-Each organized town and each city is entitled to one Representative in the General Assembly; and, as there are at present 240 organized towns and six cities in the State, the House consists of 246 members, if all towns and cities elect.
The term of office is, like that of a Senator, two years :