Civil Government for Common Schools
Henry C. Northam
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CIVIL GOVERNMENT FOR COMMON SCHOOLS.
PREPARED AS A MANUAL FOR PUBLIC INSTRUCTION IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
To which are appended the Constitution of the State of New York as
amended at the election of 1880, the Constitution of the United
States, and the Declaration of Independence.
BY HENRY C. NORTHAM,
CONDUCTOR OF TEACHERS' INSTITUTES.
PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION.
Instruction in Civil Government should be both theoretical and
practical. Unfortunately the text-books in general use stop with
They deal with the science of government, but, being intended for
use throughout the United States, they give no information as to
the ART of government as practiced in this State.
Our students learn what is the guaranty of Republican government,
but not how that government is exercised in their own town.
They are drilled in Incorporeal Hereditaments, but do not learn
what kind of causes can be tried before a Justice of the Peace.
To supply this deficiency, is the aim of the present manual.
Beginning with the school district, the names, manner of election,
duties, and salaries are given of all important officers from the
school trustee to the President of the United States.
The rapid sale of the First and Second Editions of this book
encourages the hope that, with the additions now made, this manual
may be considered indispensable in every PROGRESSIVE school in the
State of New York.
HENRY C. NORTHAM. LOWVILLE, April 22, 1878.
Officers are elected to administer the government for
I. The United State
II. Each State
The following are names given to some of the different kinds of
districts in the State of N. York
I. Road, School and Election Districts.
II. School Commissioner Districts.
III. Assembly districts
IV. Senatorial districts
V. Congressional districts
VI. Judicial districts
QUESTION. Which are the smallest districts named?
A. Road, School and Election districts.
Q. What is a road district?
A. A portion of a town placed under the charge of an officer,
whose duty it is to see that the roads are kept in good condition.
Q. What is a school district?
A. A portion of a town or city, placed under the care of officers,
whose duties are to maintain a public school in and for the
Q. What is an Election district?
A. A whole or part of a town, in which all the voting is done at
Q. What is a School commissioner district?
A. A whole or a portion of a county, under the jurisdiction of a
Q. What is an Assembly district?
A. A whole or a portion of a county set off for the purpose of
electing a "Member of the Assembly," except Fulton and Hamilton,
which together form one district, and elect one member.
Q. What is a Senatorial district?
A. A portion of a county, a whole county, or several counties
combined for the purpose of electing a Senator; the amount of
territory depending upon population.
Q. What is a Congressional district?
A. A portion of a county, a whole county, or several counties
combined for the purpose of electing a "Representative in
Congress;" the amount of territory depending upon population.
Q. What is a Judicial district?
A. One county (as in the case of New York), or several counties
united for the purpose of electing Supreme Court Judges.
Q. Name the civil divisions in regular order and tell what a
combination of each forms?
A. Road and school districts form towns; towns when united form
counties; counties when united form a State; and also in many
instances, Senatorial, Congressional and Judicial districts.
States when united form a Union.
Q. How many States are there?
Q. How many counties in New York State?
Q. How many towns in New York State?
A. Nine hundred and forty; the number is changing from year to
year; the exact number can be found by consulting the almanacs
that give the election returns.
Q. How many cities in the State of New York?
Q. How many School Commissioner districts in New York State?
A One hundred and twelve.
Q. How many Assembly districts?
A. One hundred and twenty-eight.
Q. How many Senatorial districts?
A. Thirty two.
Q. How many Judicial districts?
Q. How many Congressional districts?
Q. How many School districts in New York State?
A. About twelve thousand.
Q. By what authority are counties organized?
A. By the State Legislature.
Q. How are Towns formed?
A. By an act of the board of supervisors.
Q. By whom are School districts formed?
A. Generally by the school commissioners, sometimes assisted by
the supervisor and town clerk of the town; sometimes by special
Q. What power defines the number of Assembly, Senatorial and
A. The State Constitution.
Q. What power decides upon the number of Congressional districts?
A. The Congress of the United States.
NOTE--The following table will be the guide for questioning
through all the succeeding pages:
I. Name of office
II. Number of Officials holding the same office at the same time.
III. Term of office.
IV. Eligibility. V. Duties.
VI. Salary or how paid.
II--THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.
Q. What is a school district?
Q. How many school districts in your town?
Q. How many school districts in your county?
Q. How many school districts in New York State?
Q. What are the names of the officers in a school district?
A. I. Trustee or trustees; or a board of education.
Q. What is the number of officials holding the same office at the
A. I. One or three trustees, as a district decides. If a board of
education, it may be not less than three nor more than nine.
II. One clerk
III. One collector.
IV. One librarian.
Q. What are the names of those districts in which there is a board
A. Union free school districts; and they are allowed to have an
additional officer, called a treasurer.
Q. What is the term of office of each?
A. I. If there be only one trustee, his term is one year.
II. If there be three trustees, the term is three years, one being
elected each year; if the board of education consists of six or
nine members, the term is three years; one third of the number
being elected each year.
III. Clerk, collector and librarian, each hold the office for one
Q. Who are eligible to school offices in this state?
A. None but males; they must be twenty-one years of age; and
trustees can hold no other school office.
Q. What are some of the duties of school district officers?
A. I. To hold and keep district property for the use of the
II. To hire and pay a qualified teacher or teachers, and maintain
a school for at least twenty-eight weeks during the school year.
III. To make to the school commissions an annual report between
the first and second Tuesdays of August in each year.
IV. To make out all district taxes and issue a warrant for their
collection, etc., etc.
I. To record the proceedings of the district.
II. To give notice according to law of annual and special
III. To notify each person elected or appointed to office, and
also to report their names and post-office address to the town
IV. To notify the trustees of every resignation accepted by the
V. To keep and preserve all books, records and papers belonging to
his office, and to deliver the same to his successor, etc, etc,
I. To collect all district taxes made out by trustees and placed
in his hands.
II To pay out the money as directed by their order.
To have charge and supervision of the school district library.
Q. What is the salary of these officers and how paid?
A. The collector only is entitled to pay; he receives one per
cent. on all moneys collected during the first fourteen days after
advertising; after that time five per cent.
Q. How shall we find hereafter that officers are paid?
A. Some are paid a salary; some by the day; some by a fee; some by
a per cent.
Q. What is meant by a salary? a fee? a per cent?
Q. How can a school district having three trustees change to one
Q. Can a district having a sole trustee change back and legally
[NOTE--All questions unanswered here, should be studied by
teachers very carefully, and the correct answers obtained. they
should also introduce many others that will be suggested by the
Q. What is a town?
Q. How many towns in your county?
Q. How many towns in New York State?
Q. What are the names of the officers in a town, the number of
officials in each, and their terms of office?
A. I. One supervisor, elected for one year.
II. One town clerk, elected for one year.
III. Four justices of the peace, elected for four years.
IV. Three assessors, elected for three years.
V. One or three highway commissioners, as the electors may
determine; if one be elected, the term is one year; if three, the
term is three years.
VI. One or two overseers of the poor, as the electors may
determine; term one year.
VII. One collector, elected for one year.
VIII. Constables, not to exceed five; term one year.
IX. One game constable; term one year.
X. Three town-auditors; term one year.
XI. Three excise commissioners; term three years.
XII. Three inspectors of election; term one year; and in some
villages and cities a sealer of weights and measures.
Q. What are some of their duties?
I. To receive the school money belonging to the town, and pay it
out by order of the trustees.
II. To receive other money belonging to the town, and disburse the
same according to law.
III. To meet with the other supervisors of the county as a "board
of county canvassers."
IV. To meet with the other supervisors of the county as a "board
of supervisors"; to audit all lawful accounts against the county,
make out the tax lists and cause them to be collected; and perform
such other acts of legislation as the constitution and statute
laws have conferred upon them.
II. TOWN CLERK.
I. To keep the records of the town.
II. To keep in his custody such books and papers as belong to the
III. To act as clerk of the town meetings,
IV. To file such papers as properly belong to his office; and to
perform the general clerical duties for the town.
III. JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.
I. To be the judicial officers for the town.
II. To issue warrants for the arrest of persons accused of
committing crimes, and also summonses for the purpose of bringing
before them persons for trial in civil actions.
III. To take acknowledgment of conveyances, administer oaths, act
as inspectors at the town meeting, etc.
I. To make an inventory of the real estate in the town, naming the
number of acres owned by each person, and fixing upon the same a
valuation in proportion to its worth.
II. To make an inventory of the personal property held by the
several persons in town, such as notes, mortgages, &c., which with
the real estate forms the basis for taxes.
V. HIGHWAY COMMISSIONERS.
I. To have the care and general supervision of the highways and
II. To lay out new roads, when directed by a jury legally called
for that purpose and discontinue others when directed by the same
III. To divide the town into districts, and appoint overseers for
VI. OVERSEERS OF THE POOR.
To look after and provide for, either at home or in the county
house, such as are in indigent circumstances.
I. To give a bond to the supervisor for double the amount to be
collected, with one or more sureties for the faithful performance
of his duties.
II. To receive the tax list and warrant, and collect the tax and
pay it over as directed.
I. To serve summonses issued by the justices.
II. To arrest and bring prisoners before a justice, and to have
the custody of them.
III. To collect moneys upon executions, and if necessary to sell
property to satisfy the same.
IV. To see that order is preserved in the community.
V. To attend the higher courts in their official capacity when
directed by the sheriff.
IX. GAME CONSTABLE.
To look after and prosecute for the violation of the game laws.
X. TOWN AUDITORS.
To examine the accounts of the town officers and pass upon the
XI. EXCISE COMMISSIONERS.
To meet and act upon petitions asking for the privilege of selling
XII. INSPECTORS OF ELECTION.
I. To preside at the annual election, receive the votes legally
presented, and deposit them in boxes prepared for that purpose.
II. To count the ballots at the close of the election, make a true
statement thereof and transmit it to the "board of canvassers."
Q. How are these officers paid?
A. I. Supervisors receive three dollars per day for county
services, and two dollars per day for town services, and are
entitled to extras for copying assessment roll and paying out
II. Town clerks are paid by the day for services; also a fee for
recording and filing papers.
III. Justices, mostly paid by fees; as officers of the town
meeting they are paid by the day.
IV. Collectors receive a percentage for collecting the money.
V. Constables receive a fee, a percentage, and for some services
are paid by the day.
VI. Game constables receive a portion of the fine money collected
by reason of their prosecutions.
VII. All the remaining officers are paid for their services by the
Q. What must all these officers do before entering upon their
A. They must qualify; that is, take the oath of office.
Q. What is the oath of office?
A. See state constitution, art. XII, sec. I.
Q. Who can administer the oath of office?
A. I. The county clerk administers the oath to the justices of the
II. A justice of the peace administers the oath to all other town
officers, except inspectors of election.
III. The chairman of the inspectors of election administers the
oath to the other inspectors, and one of the others in turn
administers it to the chairman.
Q. How many supervisors in the towns of the state?
Q. How many supervisors in the cities of the state?
Q. How many justices of the peace in the state?
Q. What is a county?
Q. By what authority organized?
Q. How many counties in the state?
Q. When was the colony of New York first divided into counties?
A. In 1683.
Q. How many counties were established in 1683 and their names?
A. Ten: viz, Kings, Queens, Suffolk, New York, Richmond,
Westchester, Dutchess, Albany, Ulster and Orange.
Q. What are these counties called?
A. Original counties.
Q. What are the names of the county offices, the number of
officials in the same office, and their term?
A. I. One sheriff, term is three years.
II. One county judge, term is six years: in a few counties there
are special judges; same length of term.
III. In counties containing more than forty thousand inhabitants a
surrogate may be elected; in counties containing less than forty
thousand inhabitants, the county judge performs the duties of
judge and surrogate; the term of surrogate is six years; in a few
counties there are special surrogates.
IV. One county clerk; term is three years.
V. One treasurer; term is three years.
VI. One district attorney; term is three years.
VII. Four coroners; term is three years.
VIII. One or three superintendents of the poor; term is three
IX. Two justices of sessions; term is one year.
X. One school commissioner for each commissioner district; term is
Q. What about the eligibility of these officers?
A. I. The sheriff is prohibited from holding the same office for a
succeeding term, neither can he hold any other office at the same
time. Const., Art. X, Sec. I.
II. No county judge can hold the office longer than the last day
of December succeeding his seventieth birthday. Art VI, Sec. 13.
III. No person, except a counselor at law in the supreme court,
can hold the office of district attorney, if there be such an one
in the county; if there be none, then an attorney may be elected.
IV. Supervisors and county treasurers cannot hold the office of
County superintendent of the poor.
V. No sheriff, under sheriff, deputy, sheriffs clerk or coroner
can practice as counselor at law during his term of office.
VI. Justices of the sessions must be acting justices of the peace
in their respective towns.
VII. There are no other prohibitions in regard to age or re-
election of county officers.
Q. What are some of their duties?
A. I. He is the executive officer of the county.
II. By himself or by his deputies, executes civil and criminal
processes throughout the county.
III. Has charge of the jail and prisoners.
IV. Attends courts, and keeps the peace.
V. Must be present by himself or under-sheriff, at the drawing of
jurors, and cause them to be legally summoned.
I. He is the presiding officer in the county court.
II. He may with two justices of sessions, hold Courts of Sessions,
with such criminal jurisdiction as the Legislature may prescribe,
III. The county judge of any county may preside at Courts of
Sessions, or hold County Courts, in any other county except New
York and Kings, when requested by the judge of such other county.
Art. VI, Sec. 15.
I. Takes proof of wills of real or personal property.
II. Grants letters testamentary of administrative.
III. Attends generally to the settlement of the estates of
IV. COUNTY CLERK
I. He is the clerk of the courts held in and for the county,
namely: Circuit, Oyer and Terminer, County Court and Court of
Sessions, and the Special Term.
II. Administers the oath to jurors and witnesses.
III. Records the judgments of the courts.
IV. Draws the grand and petit juries and makes a return of the
V. Records mortgages, deeds, satisfaction papers, &c.
I. Receives the moneys collected by the several town collectors
for county and state taxes.
II. Pays over to the comptroller the amount going to the state.
III. Pays out the amount due the county, as directed by law.
IV. Receives from the comptroller the school money due the county,
and pays the same over to the several supervisors, as directed by
the school commissioner's certificate.
V. Makes a general statement of the financial affairs of his
office to the board of supervisors, annually.
VI. DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
I. He is the attorney for the county.
II. Presents complaints made to him accusing parties of crime, to
the grand jury.
III. Draws "bills of indictment" when found by the grand jury.
IV. Tries indicted parties in the Oyer and Terminer, and Court of
I. Look after and inquire into all matters concerning persons
slain, or who have died mysteriously.
II. Summon a jury, subpoena witnesses, and ascertain as far as
possible all the facts in regard to the death.
III. In case of a vacancy in the office of sheriff, and there
being no under sheriff, one of the coroners designated by the
county judge, performs the duties of sheriff until said vacancy be
filled by election or appointment.
IV. Have power to arrest the sheriff upon criminal processes.
VIII. SUPERINTENDENTS OF THE POOR.
Have the general care of the county poor house; appoint persons to
take charge of the same; and render an account annually to the
"board of supervisors" of their doings.
IX. JUSTICES OF SESSIONS.
I. Sit upon the bench with the county judge in the Court of
Sessions and with the Supreme Court judge in the Oyer and
Terminer, for the trial of such criminals as have been indicted by
a grand jury.
II. The law gives them just as much power in the decision of
questions as the judge.
X. SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS.
I. Apportion the school moneys among the several districts in the
II. Make an annual report to the superintendent of public
instruction, containing all the statistics embraced in the several
reports from the trustees of his district.
III. Visit and examine all the schools and school districts within
their districts as often in each year as shall be practicable;
inquire into all matters relating to the management, the course of
study and mode of instruction, the text books used and the
discipline of such schools.
IV. Examine in regard to the "moral character," "learning" "and
ability to teach," persons proposing to teach public schools in
their districts; and if they find them, qualified, grant them
certificates in the form prescribed by the superintendent.
V. Form new districts, or change the boundary lines of old ones.
VI. Organize at least once each year, or in concert with one or
more commissioners in the same county, a "teachers' institute,"
and induce if possible all the teachers in their districts to be
present and take part in its exercises.
Q. What are the salaries of each of these officers, or how paid?
A. I. Receives a fee on all papers served
II. Receives a per cent on money collected on executions.
Receives a salary established by the legislature, varying in
different counties according to population and business.
I. Receives a salary, varying in different counties, according to
II. When the judge performs the duties of surrogate the one salary
suffices for all the duties performed.
III. The surrogate is entitled to a clerk.
IV. COUNTY CLERK.
I. Receives a fee for all papers recorded.
II. Receives a fee for administering oaths in court.
III. Is paid extra for copying or re-indexing old records.
I. The county treasurer shall receive an annual salary fixed by
the "board of supervisors."
II. The salary shall be established by the "board," at least six
months before his election.
III. The salary shall not be increased nor diminished during his
term of office.
VI. DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
I. A salary fixed by the board of supervisors, when they resolve
so to do.
II. Can try civil causes, when not engaged officially, receiving
as his own the fees for the same.
I. For holding inquests they are entitled to a reasonable
compensation to be audited and allowed by the board of
II. For performing sheriff's duties, they are entitled to same
fees as sheriff.
VIII. SUPERINTENDENT OF THE POOR.
Paid by the day.
IX. JUSTICES OF SESSIONS.
Three dollars a day.
X. SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS.
I. A salary of eight hundred dollars a year, established by law.
II. Supervisors are required to audit and allow two hundred
dollars extra for expenses.
III. A majority of the supervisors of any school commissioner
district may increase the salary of said school commissioner; the
increased salary must be levied upon the towns composing such
Q What must county officers do, before entering upon the duties of
A. Take the oath prescribed by State Constitution in Art. XII,
Q. What county officers are required in addition to the oath
prescribed to execute a bond for the faithful performance of their
A. Sheriff, county treasurer, surrogate and county superintendents
of the poor.
Q. Who administers the "oath of office" to the county officers?
A. The county clerk.
Q. In case of the re-election of the county clerk, before whom can
A. The county judge.
Q. Where are these oaths of office and bonds recorded?
A. In the county clerk's office.
Q. Who is the sheriff of this county?
Q. Who is the present judge and what is his salary?
Q. Is there a separate officer as surrogate, and why?
Q. Who is the county clerk?
Q. Who is the county treasurer?
Q. Who is the district attorney?
Q. Who are the coroners?
Q. Who are the superintendents of the poor?
Q: Who are the justices of sessions?
Q. Who are the school commissioners?
By laws of 1878, 1879 and 1880, the following-named counties are
exempt from electing "town auditors," as prescribed on page 13:
Wayne, Delaware, Allegany, Oneida, Cayuga, Erie, St. Lawrence,
Schuyler, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Columbia, Broome, Lewis,
Madison, Wyoming, Queens, Jefferson, Fulton, Oswego, Suffolk,
Onondaga, Saratoga, Ontario, Yates, Rensselaer, Genesee,
Schenectady, Monroe, Livingston, Otsego, Schoharie, Niagara and
Showing the salaries of the several county judges and surrogates
of the State of New York at the present time, as established by
the statutes of 1877 and 1880:
COUNTIES. JUDGE. SURROGATE.
New York, ------- $12,000
Kings, $10,000 10,000
Erie, 5,000 4,000
Albany, 4,500 4,000
Westchester, 4,500 4,000
Onondaga, 4,000 4,000
Oneida, 4,000 4,000
Monroe, 4,000 4,000
Rensselaer, 3,500 3,500
Saratoga, 3,000 2,500
Ulster, 3,000 3,000
Dutchess, 3,000 3,000
Queens, 2,500 3,000
Chautauqua, 2,000 1,600
Cayuga, 2,000 2,000
Columbia, 2,000 2,500
Ontario, 2,000 1,500
Cattaraugus, 1,500 1,500
Oswego, 1,500 1,500
Jefferson, 1,500 1,500
Niagara, 1,500 1,500
Orange, 1,500 2,500
Otsego, 1,800 1,500
St. Lawrence, 1,750 1,750
Washington, 1,200 1,500
Suffolk, 1,000 1,500
The following are counties in which county judges act as
surrogates, receiving the one salary for both offices;
Q. What is a city?
Q. By what authority organized?
A. By an act of the legislative.
Q. What instrument defines its powers?
A. A charter.
Q. What are the divisions of a city called?
Q. Name the cities in New York State, when incorporated, and the
number of wards in each?
Pop. in 1800
New York, 1680, has 24 wards, 1,206,590
Brooklyn, 1834, has 25 wards, 566,689
Buffalo, 1832, has 13 wards, 155,137
Albany, 1832, has 16 wards, 90,903
Rochester, 1686, has 16 wards, 89,363
Troy, 1816, has 13 wards, 56,747
Syracuse, 1847, has 8 wards, 51,791
Utica, 1832, has 12 wards, 33,913
Auburn, 1848, has 7 wards, 21,924
Oswego, 1848, has 8 wards, 21,117
Elmira, 1864, has 7 wards, 20,541
Poughkeepsie 1854, has 6 wards, 20,207
Cohoes, 1869, has 4 wards, 19,417
Yonkers, 1872, has 4 wards, 18,892
Kingston, 1872, has 9 wards, 18,342
Newburg, 1865, has 4 wards, 18,050
Binghamton, 1867, has 5 wards, 17,315
L. I. City, 1870, has 5 wards, 17,117
Schenectady, 1798, has 5 wards, 13,675
Lockport, 1865, has 4 wards, 13,522
Rome, 1870, has 5 wards, 12,045
Watertown, 1869, has 4 wards, 10,697
Ogdensburg, 1868, has 4 wards, 10,340
Hudson, 1785, has 4 wards, 8,828
The census for 1880 is not fully completed, but gives
substantially the above figures.
Q. How populous must a village be, before it can be incorporated
as a city?
A. No definite number is required; whenever a large proportion of
the inhabitant desire it, the legislature will grant a city
Q. What is the executive officer of a city called?
A. The Mayor. His term of office is one year, unless otherwise
ordered by the, charter, as in New York and Albany where it is two
Q. What other important officers are elected?
A. Aldermen and Supervisors; one each in every ward unless
otherwise ordered by their charter.
Q. What officers form the common council?
A. Mayor and aldermen; and they are the legislative body of the
city; they have authority to appoint police officers.
Q. What courts exist in cities in addition to those established
for the State at large?
A I. The Superior Court of the city of New York.
II. The Court of Common Pleas for the city and county of New York.
III. The Superior Court of Buffalo.
IV. The City Court of Brooklyn. Const, Art. VI., Sec. 12.
Q. What is a jury?
A. A body of men elected according to law, and sworn to inquire
into and try any matter of fact, and declare the truth of it on
the evidence given in the case.
Q. Name some juries?
A. I. One of six persons for the trial of causes in a Justice
II. One of twelve persons, summoned for the purpose of laying out
new roads or discontinuing old ones.
III. One of not less than six nor more than fifteen persons,
summoned by the coroner, to inquire into the cause of any violent
IV. One of twelve men, called a petit jury, whose duty it is to
try causes, civil or criminal, in the county court and sessions,
or circuit and oyer and terminer.
V. One called a grand jury of not less than sixteen nor more than
twenty-three, whose duty it is to examine into accusations
against persons charged with crime, and if they find sufficient
testimony to warrant it, to find a bill of indictment against them
to be presented to the court.
Q. Name some qualifications requisite for jurors?
A. They must be freeholders, twenty-one years old.
Q. Who are exempt from sitting on a jury?
A. Persons over sixty years of age, postmasters and many others.
Q. How many are summoned for a justice court and by whom?
A. Twelve, and by a constable; and from these twelve six are
Q. Who selects and notifies the jury for laying out roads,
A. By the coroner.
Q. How is the petit jury list obtained?
A. The supervisors, town clerk, and assessors of the several towns
of the county make out a list of the names of those persons
qualified, and the names in the several lists are written upon
slips of paper of the same size and deposited in a box in the
county clerk's office.
Q. How is the grand jury list obtained?
A. The supervisors apportion the number (three hundred,) among the
several towns in the county in proportion to population. Each
supervisor selects from his town the number to which it is
entitled; and these several lists are written upon slips of paper
as before and deposited in a box in the county clerk's office.
Q. How frequently are the lists changed?
A. The petit jury list is changed once in three years; the grand
jury list every year.
Q. When are these juries drawn?
A. Not more than twenty, nor less than fourteen days before the
sitting of the court for which they are drawn.
Q. How many are drawn?
A. Thirty-six petit and twenty-four grand jurors.
Q. How is the jury for each individual case obtained?
A. The thirty-six petit jurors' names are put into a box and the
names are drawn out until twelve satisfactory persons are
Q How many of this jury must agree in a verdict?
A. The twelve must agree.
Q. Who is the officer authorized to report the verdict?
A The person they have elected foreman.
Q. In case the twelve jurymen do not agree, what will be done?
A. When the judge is satisfied that the jury will not agree he
will discharge them.
Q. What will be done with the case then?
A. Another trial will take place with a different jury, unless the
suit be discontinued.
Q. Who is the presiding officer of the grand jury?
A. The foreman, and he is appointed by the judge who presides at
Q. What other officer does this jury have?
A. A clerk, one of their number, who writes out the testimony as
it is given.
Q. Who can be present with this jury? A. Only the witness who is
being examined, and the district attorney, if desired by the jury;
but none except jurors can be present when they ballot in regard
to a bill.
Q. What is done with a bill of indictment when found?
A. It is handed over to the court, and the sheriff will cause the
arrest of the person unless he be already in custody.
Q. What courts may order a struck jury?
A. The Supreme Court and superior city courts.
Q. When may the above-named courts order a struck jury?
A. When it shall appear that an impartial trial cannot be had, or
that the intricacy of the case requires such a jury.
Q. What time is required in the notice for striking a jury?
A. The party obtaining the order shall give notice eight days
before the time for striking, that he will attend before the clerk
of the county in which the venue is laid, for the purpose of
having such jury struck.
I. The clerk shall select from the jury lists of the several towns
the names of forty-eight persons, whom he shall deem most
indifferent between the parties, and best qualified to try the
II. The party or his attorney, on whose application the order was
granted, shall first strike one from the list, and then the
opposing party or agent, alternating until twelve shall have been
stricken from the list by each party.
III. The clerk shall certify the names of the twenty-four persons
whose names have not been stricken off, who shall be summoned, and
from which number a jury shall be impaneled as in other juries.
Q. Upon what is the state government based?
A. Upon a constitution adopted by the people.
Q. How many departments are provided for by the constitution?
A, Three; the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.
Q. What are the divisions of the Legislative department?
A. The Assembly and the Senate.
Q. What is the number of members in each body, and their term of
A. One hundred and twenty-eight members of the Assembly, elected
for one year. Thirty-two senators elected for two years. Art.
Q When, and how is the number of members of the Assembly
apportioned among the several counties?
A. Once in ten years by the Legislature immediately after taking
the state census, and as nearly as can be, according to
population, excluding aliens, but giving to every county except
Hamilton at least one member.
Q. When and how is the number of members of the Senate apportioned
in the State?
A. At the same time, by the Legislature; and as nearly as possible
according to population. A Senatorial district sometimes embraces
a portion of a county, sometimes a whole county; at other times
two or more counties; but no county can be divided, unless it can
be equitably entitled to two or more members.
The following apportionment was made in 1879:
I. Queens and Suffolk.
II. The First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth,
Twelfth, and Twenty-second wards of Brooklyn, and the towns of
Flatbush, Gravesend, and New Utrecht.
III. The Third, Fourth, Seventh, Eleventh, Thirteenth, Nineteenth,
Twentieth, Twenty-first, and Twenty-third wards of Brooklyn.
IV. The Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-
fourth, and Twenty-fifth wards of Brooklyn, and New Lots and
V. Richmond, First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth,
Fourteenth, and parts of the Fourth and Ninth wards of New York,
and Governor's, Bedloes, and Ellis Islands.
VI. The Seventh, Eleventh, Thirteenth, and a part of the Fourth
wards of New York.
VII. The Tenth, Seventeenth, and portions of the Fifteenth,
Eighteenth, and Twenty-first wards of New York.
VIII. The Sixteenth, and parts of the Ninth, Fifteenth,
Eighteenth, and Twentieth wards of New York.
IX. The Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-first wards, lying east
of Third Avenue, New York, and Blackwell's Island.
X. Portions of Twentieth, Twenty-first, Nineteenth, Twelfth, and
Twenty-second wards, New York, and Ward's and Randall's Islands.
XI. The Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth, and portions of the Twelfth,
Twentieth, and Twenty-second wards of New York.
XII. Westchester and Rockland.
XIII. Orange and Sullivan.
XIV. Ulster, Schoharie, and Greene.
XV. Dutchess, Columbia, and Putnam.
XVI. Rensselaer and Washington.
XVIII. Saratoga, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Schenectady.
XIX. Clinton, Essex, and Warren.
XX. St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Lewis.
XXI. Oswego and Jefferson.
XXIII. Madison, Otsego, and Herkimer.
XXIV. Delaware, Chenango, and Broome.
XXV. Onondaga and Cortland.
XXVI. Cayuga, Tompkins, Seneca, and Tioga.
XXVII. Chemung, Steuben, Allegany.
XXVIII. Wayne, Ontario, Schuyler, and Yates.
XXIX. Monroe and Orleans.
XXX. Wyoming, Genesee, Livingston, and Niagara.
XXXII. Cattaraugus and Chautauqua.
Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland,
Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton and Hamilton, Genesee, Greene,
Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Ontario,
Orleans, Putnam, Richmond, Rockland, Schenectady, Schoharie,
Schuyler, Seneca, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren,
Wyoming, Yates, have each one district, except Fulton and Hamilton
which are united in one district.
Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Jefferson, Niagara,
Orange, Oswego, Otsego, Queens, Saratoga, Steuben, Wayne,
Washington have each two districts.
Monroe, Oneida, Onondaga, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Ulster, and
Westchester have each three districts.
Albany has four districts.
Erie has five districts.
Kings has twelve districts.
New York has twenty-four districts, or nearly one-fifth of the
In all, there are one hundred and twenty-eight assembly
districts, each electing one member of the assembly.
Q. What must be done in those counties that are entitled to two or
A. The "boards of supervisors" of such counties, except the city
and county of New York, must divide their respective counties into
Assembly districts; the number of districts being equal to the
number of members heretofore apportioned by the Legislature to
these several counties; the territory must be contiguous, and no
town can be divided in the formation of districts.
Q. By whom is the city and county of New York divided into
A. By the "board of aldermen"; they meet for that purpose at such
time as the Legislature shall designate.
Q. Who are eligible to the Legislature?
A. The requirements are these.
I. The candidate must be twenty-one years of age.
II. He must not at the time of election, nor within one-hundred
days previous thereto, have been a member of congress, a civil or
military officer under the United States, or any officer under any
III. Should any person after his election to the Legislature be
elected or appointed to any of the offices just named, his
acceptance thereof will vacate his seat in the Legislature.
Q. What are some of the duties of the members of the assembly?
I. To take the oath of office. Art. XII., Sec. I Const.
II. To organize by electing their presiding officer, who is called
the speaker; and who must be one of their number.
III. To elect also the other officers, viz: a Clerk, Sergeant-at-
Arms, Door-Keeper, and two assistant Door-Keepers; persons not
members of their body.
IV. To have co-ordinate jurisdiction with the Senate in the
enactment of laws.
V. To prefer charges against officers for misconduct in office;
which is called impeachment.
Q. Who calls the Assembly to order for the purpose of
A. The Clerk of the last Assembly.
Q. Who furnishes the Clerk with an official list of the members
A. The Secretary of State
Q. By whom is the oath of office administered?
A Usually by the Secretary of State. The oath may, however, be
taken previously, before any Justice of the Supreme Court,
Attorney-General, the Lieutenant Governor, any Judge of a County
Court, the Mayor or Recorder of any city, or the Clerk of any
county or Court of Record. The oath whenever taken must be duly
subscribed, certified, and filed in the office of the Secretary of
State. Members who are absent at the organization, may be sworn by
the Speaker, if they have not previously taken the oath.
Q. By whom are the other officers appointed?
A. By the Speaker, except those in the department of the Clerk; he
having power to appoint his own deputies.
Q. Who is the presiding officer in the Senate?
A. The Lieutenant-Governor, and he is called the President of the
Q. What are some of the duties of the State Senate?
I. To elect the remaining officers, whose names and duties are
about the same as in the Assembly.
II. To have co-ordinate jurisdiction with the Assembly in enacting
III. To act as a court for the trial of impeachments, associated
with the judges of the Court of Appeals, and the President of the
IV. To confirm or reject appointments made by the Governor.
V. To elect a temporary president when the Lieutenant-Governor
shall not attend as president, or shall be called to act as
Q. How many members must be present in each house to do business?
A. A majority, which is called a quorum.
Q. Where may bills originate?
A. Any bill may originate in either house of the Legislature.
Q. What is the difference between the Legislature of this state
and Congress in this respect?
A. In Congress all bills for raising revenues MUST originate in
the House of Representatives.
Q. What may either house do with bills originating in the other
A. Amend them; but both houses must agree to the amendment or
amendments, before they can become a law.
Q. What is required in order that a bill may become a law?
I. The assent of a majority of all the members elected to each
branch of the Legislature, together with the approval of the
II. Or if he disapproves of it, that it be returned to the house
in which it originated, with his objections; and, after
reconsideration, if two-thirds of all the members elected to that
house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent to the other
house by which it shall likewise be re-considered, and if two-
thirds of all its members approve of it, it shall become a law
notwithstanding the objections of the Governor.
III. If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within ten
days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him,
it shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed it,
unless the Legislature, by adjourning, shall prevent its
returning; in which case it shall not become a law without the
signature of the Governor.
IV. No bill shall become a law after the final adjournment of the
Legislature, unless approved by the Governor within thirty days
after such adjournment.
Q. What class of persons can be tried in the court of impeachment?
A. Public officers that have had charges preferred against them by
Q. Of whom is the court of impeachment composed?
A. Of the Senators, or a majority of them, the Judges of the Court
of Appeals, or a majority of them, and the Lieutenant-Governor;
and two-thirds of all present must concur in order to convict.
Q. When shall the Lieutenant-Governor not act as a member of this
A. When the Governor is being tried. He may be presumed to be an
interested party, for if the Governor should be found guilty and
be removed, the Lieutenant-Governor becomes Governor.
Q. What penalty can be inflicted by this court?
A. Removal from office, or removal from office and
disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or
profit, under this state.
Q. Can such parties be further punished?
A. Yes; they may be indicted, tried and punished according to law,
by fine or imprisonment, or both, according to the nature of the
Q Who are entitled to vote upon all questions in the Legislature?
A. All the members in the Assembly and Senate; and this includes
the Speaker of the Assembly.
Q, When is the President of the Senate entitled to vote?
A. Upon questions on which the Senate is equally divided or tied.
Q. Why should not the President of the Senate have a vote upon all
A. Because he has not been elected a member of that body; but
becomes its presiding officer by virtue of the constitutional
provision which makes the Lieutenant-Governor its president.
KINDS OF VOTING.
Q. Name some of the kinds of voting practiced. I. By showing
II. By Acclamation.
III. By dividing or separating the persons voting into two bodies.
IV. By Ballot.
V. By Ayes and Noes.
VI. By Viva Voce.
Q. Where are the first three kinds of voting usually practiced?
A. In conventions of different kinds, primary meetings,
Q. When and how is the sixth kind of voting used?
A. In the election of United States Senators, usually the Speaker
of the Assembly and a few other officers, and in this way: as the
names of those entitled to vote are called, they respond by naming
Q. How are Assemblymen and Senators paid?
I. By a salary fixed by the constitution, of one thousand five
II. And one dollar for every ten miles travelled in going to and
returning from the place of meeting, once in each session on the
most usual route.
III. Senators when convened in extraordinary session, or when
serving as members of the Court of Impeachment, and such members
of the Assembly, not exceeding nine in number, as shall be
appointed managers of an impeachment, shall receive ten dollars a
day additional allowance.
A tabular view of officers, showing the source from whence they
derive their authority:
Elected by the People of the State
Secretary of State.
State Engineer and Surveyor.
Judges of the Court of Appeals.
Appointed by Governor and Senate.
Superintendent of Banking.
Superintendent of Insurance.
Superintendent of Prisons.
Superintendent of Public Works.
Trustees of State Institutions, and some others.
Elected by joint bal.
Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Regents of the University.
United States Senators.
Q. What are the first seven offices called?
A. They are called elective offices.
Q. Why elective?
A. Because the officers are voted for directly by the people.
Q. Why are the Sec of State, Comp., Treasurer,
Supt. of Prisons and Public Works. A large number of Notaries, two
Loan Commissioners for each County, three Canal Appraisers, one
Superintendent of Public Instruction, nineteen Regents, and two
United States Senators.
TERM OF OFFICE.
Q For how long a term are the Governor and Lieutenant Governor
A. For three years each.
Q For how long a term are the Sec of State, Comp, Treas, Atty.
Gen. and State Eng. and Surveyor elected?
A. For two years each.
Q For how long a term are the Superintendents of Banking,
Insurance and Canal Auditor appointed?
A. For three years.
Q. For how long a term is the Supt. of Prisons appointed?
A. For five years.
Q. For how long a term is the Superintendent of Public Works
A. As long as the term of the Governor appointing him lasts.
Q. For how long a term is the Superintendent of Public Instruction
A. For three years.
Q. For how long a term the Regents of the University?
A. For life.
Q. What about the eligibility of these officers?
A. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor must be thirty years of
age, and shall have been for the five years next preceding their
election residents of the State.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Governor?
A. He is commander-in-chief of all the military and naval forces
of the State, has power to convene the Legislature (or Senate
only) on extraordinary occasions, communicates by message to the
Legislature at every session the condition of the State, and
recommends such measures as he deems expedient, transacts all
necessary business with the officers of the government, civil and
military, expedites all measures resolved upon by the Legislature,
takes care that the laws are faithfully executed, and has the
power of granting reprieves, commutations and pardons for crimes.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Lieutenant Governor?
A. He is President of the Senate and has the casting vote therein,
is a member of the canal board, is one of the commissioners of the
Land Office, is one of the commissioners of the Canal Fund, is one
of the trustees of the Capitol, is one of the trustees of the
Idiot Asylum, and, ex-officio, one of the Regents of the
University and member of the State Board of Charities. If the
Governor dies, resigns, is impeached, or otherwise becomes unable
to discharge the powers and duties of his office, they devolve
upon the Lieutenant Governor for the residue of the term.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Secretary of State?
A. He is the keeper of the record books and papers belonging to
the State, receives and records all pardons, and other executive
and legislative acts, election returns, etc., furnishes certified
and printed copies to the United States, State and County
officers, and other persons authorized to receive the same,
supervises the printing of the laws passed each year, reports
annually to the Legislature statistics of pauperism and crime, and
other information which it may call for. He is a member of the
Canal Board, a commissioner of the Land Office, a member of the
Board of State Canvassers, a Regent of the University, a trustee
of the Capitol, of the State Hall, of the Idiot Asylum, and of the
Board of State Charities.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Comptroller?
A. Superintends and manages the fiscal concerns of the State,
reports to the Legislature its annual revenues, expenditures and
estimates, audits, examines and settles accounts due to or from
the State, directs and superintends the collection of taxes and
other moneys, draws warrants on the Treasurer for the payments of
debts due by the State, negotiates temporary loans, if necessary
to meet demands against the State, countersigns and registers all
Treasurer's checks and receipts. He is a member of the Canal
Board, a commissioner of the Land Office and of the Canal Fund, a
member of the Board of State Canvassers, a trustee of the Capitol,
the State Hall and the Idiot Asylum, and a member of the State
Board of Charities.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Treasurer?
A. He has charge of all the moneys paid into the State Treasury,
pays drafts upon the warrants of the Comptroller, the Auditor of
the Canal Department and Superintendent of the Bank Department,
and keeps the State's Bank account. He is commissioner of the Land
Office, and of the Canal Fund, a member of the Canal Board, and
Board of State Canvassers.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Attorney General?
A. He defends and prosecutes all suits in which the State is
interested, receives costs adjudged to the State, prepares drafts
of contracts, etc, for State officers, and prosecutes in their
behalf persons violating the laws in regard to their departments,
prosecutes criminals in the Oyer and Terminer when required by the
Governor or Justices of the Supreme Court. He is commissioner of
the Land Office and of the Canal Fund, a member of the Canal
Board, the Board of State Canvassers, the Board of State Charities
and a trustee of the Capitol and State Hall.
Q. What are some of the duties of the State Engineer and Surveyor?
A. He prescribes the duties of, and assigns divisions of canals to
engineers, visits and inspects canals, prescribes surveys, maps,
plans, estimates, etc., in the construction and improvement of a
canal, is a member of the Canal Board, of State Canvassers, a
commissioner of the Land Office and a trustee of the State Hall.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Superintendent of Banking?
A. He has the general supervision of the banks of the State, and
reports their condition annually to the Legislature, issues
circulating notes to banks on their depositing securities, holding
their stocks and mortgage securities, and when a bank proves
insolvent sells them and redeems its circulation.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Superintendent of Insurance?
A. He has the general supervision of all insurance companies
transacting business in the State, and, reports their condition
annually to the Legislature.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Canal Auditor?
A. He draws warrants on the Treasurer for all canal payments,
audits all canal accounts, instructs canal collectors and
disbursing officers, keeps account of canal receipts and
expenditures, etc, is ex-officio secretary of the Canal Board and
of the Commissioners of the Canal Fund.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Superintendent of Prisons?
A. He has general supervision of the prisons, appoints the keepers
and other officers therein.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Superintendent of Public
A. He has charge of the Public Works, of the construction of new
canals, the certificate of the proper local authorities, and he
visits and inquires into the condition and management of these
institutions; is chairman of the committee of the State Normal
Schools, and apportions among the counties the number of pupils
which each is entitled; has charge of the Indian, schools; he is,
ex-officio, a Regent of the University; compiles the
commissioners' abstracts of school districts in the State setting
forth their condition and the account of receipts and expenses for
each year, and makes an annual report to the Legislature. Q. Of
what officers is the Canal Board composed?
A. The Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Comptroller,
Treasurer, Attorney General, State Engineer and Surveyor, and
Lieutenant Governor 5,000
Secretary of State 5,000
State Engineer and Surveyor 5,000
Superintendent of Banking 5,000
Superintendent of Insurance 7,000
Canal Auditor 5,000
Superintendent of Prisons 6,000
Superintendent of Public Works 6,000
Canal Appraisers 5,000
Superintendent of Public Instruc'n, 5,000
Q. Who are the State Canvassers?
A. Secretary of State, Comptroller, Treasurer, Attorney General
and State Engineer and Surveyor.
Q. Who are the Regents at the present time, January 1, 1881, and
The Governor, ex-officio.
The Lieutenant-Governor, ex-offixo.
The Secretary of State, ex-officio.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction, ex officio.
1856. George W. Clinton ....... Buffalo.
1858. Lorenzo Burrows ......... Albion.
1859. Robert S. Hale ..... Elizabethtown.
1861. Elias W. Leavenworth .... Syracuse.
1861. J. Carson Brevoort ...... Brooklyn.
1864. Geo. Wm. Curtis, W. New Brighton.
1870. Francis Kernan .......... Utica.
1871. John L. Lewis ........... Penn Yan.
1872. Henry R. Pierson ........ Albany.
1873. Martin I. Townsend .......... Troy.
1874. Anson J. Upson ........... Auburn.
1876. Wm. L. Bostwick ......... Ithaca.
1877. Orris H. Warren ....... Syracuse.
1877. Chauncey M. Depew ...... New York.
1877. Charles E. Fitch ....... Rochester.
1878. Whitelaw Reid ........ New York.
1878. Leslie W. Russell ....... Canton.
1881. Wm. H. Watson ............. Utica.
1881. Henry E. Turner ......... Lowville.
OFFICERS OF THE BOARD.
Henry R. Pierson, Chancellor. George W. Clinton, Vice-Chancellor.
David Murray, Secretary. Daniel J. Pratt, Assistant Secretary.
A tabular view of the judiciary of the State, commencing with the
lowest courts and showing them in their regular order, leaving out
such as are established for particular localities.
I. Justice Court
II. County Court.
1. County Court
2. Oyer and Terminer.
3. Special Term.
4. General Term.
IV. Court of Appeals.
Q. What is the lowest court in the State?
A. A Justice's Court, held in each town by one of the justices of
Q. What jurisdiction has this court?
A. Original; that is, suits can be commenced in it, and tried in
Q. In a civil action how large a judgment can be obtained?
A. Not to exceed two hundred dollars.
Q. Can criminal suits be tried in a Justice Court?
A. Some can be tried in it; but usually the parties give bail for
their appearance at a higher court to await the action of the
Q. What is the next higher court?
A. The County Court.
Q. What are the divisions of the County Court?
A. County Court and Court of Sessions.
Q. For what causes are each designed?
A. The County Court is for the trial of civil causes, the Sessions
for the trial of criminal causes, but not of the higher crimes.
Q. What jurisdiction has the County Court?
A. Original and Appellate, that is a suit may be commenced in it,
or it may be appealed from a lower court.
Q. What jurisdiction has the Court of Sessions?
A. Original; no person can be tried in it, who is charged with a
crime until he is indicted by a Grand Jury.
Q. Who presides in the County Court?
A. The County Judge.
Q. Who presides in the Court of Sessions?
A. The County Judge and the two Justices of Sessions.
Q. Can both of the Courts be held during the same term?
A. They can; as soon as a cause has been tried in one court the
Judge may change to the other, and should it be the Sessions, the
Justices of Sessions must be on the bench with the Judge; should
it be the County Court, he alone is the court.
Q. What jury decides causes tried either in the Sessions or County
A. The Petit Jury, consisting of twelve men.
Q. What is the next higher court?
A. The Supreme Court.
Q. What are its divisions?
A. The Circuit, Oyer and Terminer, Special Term and General Term.
Q. For judicial convenience, the State has been divided into
districts, and how many?
A. Into eight judicial districts, numbered from one to eight,
Q. What are the officers called in this court?
A. Justices of the Supreme Court.
Q. How many are elected in each district?
A. Five each in the first and second districts, and four each in
the other six.
Q. How many Supreme Court Justices in the State?
Q. For how long a term are these Justices elected?
A. For fourteen years. Salary, $6,000, and an annual allowance for
Q. What constitutional provision in regard to eligibility?
A. They cannot hold the office longer than the last day of
December next after they shall be seventy years of age.
Q. What are some of their duties?
A. To preside and try causes in the Circuit, Oyer and Terminer,
and also hear appeals in the Special Term, and when appointed
Judges of the General Term to hear and decide appeals there.
Q. What is a Special Term?
A. A court held by one of the Supreme Court Judges in the district
simply for hearing and deciding motions and appeals.
Q. What is a General Term Court; and how many are there in the
A. It is a court for hearing appeals, and consists of a single
district, or a union of several districts; and there are four in
the State, organized by an act of the Legislature.
Q. What is the territory embraced in the jurisdiction of a General
A. It is usually called a Department, and numbered First, Second,
Third and Fourth.
The following table will give a view of Departments, Districts and
Counties in the State:
I. Dep. consists of
City and Co. of N. York.
II. Dep. consists of
Orange and Rockland Counties.
III. Dep. consists of
Greene and Schoharie Counties.
Fulton and Schenectady Counties.
Tioga and Cortland Counties.
IV. Dep. consists of
Herkimer and Lewis Counties.
Cayuga and Monroe Counties.
Allegany and Wyoming Counties.
Q. How many counties in each of the districts?
A. One county in the First, nine in the Second, seven in the
Third, eleven in the Fourth, six in the Fifth, ten in the Sixth,
eight in the Seventh, eight in the Eighth district.
Q. How many counties in each of the departments?
A. One in the First, nine in the Second, twenty-eight in the
Third, and twenty-two in the Fourth.
Q. How many Justices constitute the General Term Court, or the
court held in and for the department?
A. Three in each Department.
Q. Where do these Justices come from?
A. They are appointed by the Governor from the Supreme Court
Justices that have been previously elected by the people.
Q. Must these Justices be taken from their respective departments?
A. Not necessarily; they may be transferred from another
department; as for instance, a Justice from Buffalo in the Fourth
Department has been transferred to the First Department.
Q. How many Supreme Court Justices are elected in the territory
known as the First Department?
Q. How many Supreme Court Justices are elected in the district
known as the Second Department?
Q. How many Supreme Court Justices are elected in the districts
known as the Third Department?
Q. How many Supreme Court Justices are elected in the districts
known as the Fourth Department?
COURT OF APPEALS.
Q. Of what does the Court of Appeals Consist?
A. Of seven Judges, elected by the electors of the whole State for
a term of fourteen years; one of their number is called a Chief
Judge, the others are called Associate Judges; they cannot hold
the office after they are seventy years old.
Q. What jurisdiction has this court?
Q. State how appeals may be taken from one court to another?
A. The party aggrieved may appeal from a Justice Court to a County
Court; from County or Supreme Courts to Special Term; from Special
Term to General Term; from General Term to Court Of Appeals.
Q. What may these Courts do?
A. They may affirm decisions made by lower courts, or reverse
decisions, or grant new trials. The salary of the Chief Judge of
the Court of Appeals is $7,500; of his Associates, $7,000.
Q. In what court must a person charged with the crime of murder be
A. In the Oyer and Terminer, or in some court having the same
Q. What privilege has the prisoner if convicted?
A. He has the right to appeal to the Justice holding a special
term, asking for a new trial.
Q. Should this Justice refuse to grant it, what further can he do?
A. Appeal to the General Term.
Q. It the General Term refuse, what then?
A. It can be taken to the Court of Appeals.
Q. If the Court of Appeals refuse to grant a new trial, what then?
A. The decision of the Oyer and Terminer must be carried out
unless the Governor interferes.
Q. In case the penalty is death and the day for execution has
passed, what then?
A. The prisoner must be re-sentenced by the judge that presided at
Q. In case either of the Appellate Courts grants a new trial, what
is to be done?
A. The cause will be tried in the same court, or, in one having
the same jurisdiction, but before a different jury.
Q. How are civil causes managed on appeal?
A. In the same way, only that the court may affirm or reverse
decisions as well as grant new trials.
A FEW COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE STATE AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS.
Q. Name one similarity between the State and National governments?
A. Each has three divisions, the Legislative, Executive and
Q. Name a similarity in the Legislative department?
A. Each has two branches. In the State they are called Assembly
and Senate; in the National government they are called House of
Representatives and Senate. The Assembly and House of
Representatives each elect their own speaker; the State Senate is
presided over by the Lieutenant Governor. The National Senate is
presided over by the Vice-President.
Q. What is the number of members in each at the present time?
A. In the Assembly there are one hundred and twenty-eight, in the
House of Representatives two hundred and ninety-three, in the
State Senate thirty-two, in the National Senate seventy-six.
Q. How do their terms of office compare?
A. The members of the Assembly are elected for one year, of the
House of Representatives for two years, of the State Senate for
two years, of the National Senate for six years.
Q. In what respect are the State Courts and National Courts
A. Each has a Supreme and Circuit court.
Q. What are the names applied to United States Courts?
A. The Constitution of the United States calls them Inferior
Courts, and one Supreme Court.
A TABULAR VIEW OF UNITED STATES COURTS.
1. District Courts.
2. Circuit Courts.
Q. How many District Courts are there at present?
A. Sixty-five; fifty-six of them being in the States, and nine of
them in the Territories.
Q. What is the largest number of districts into which any State is
A. Three; Alabama, New York and Tennessee have three districts
each; Ark., Fla., Ill., Mich., Miss., Mo., N. C., Ohio, Penn,
Texas, Va. and Wis. have two districts each, and the remaining
States and Territories one each.
Q. What officers in the District Court?
A. One District Judge, a District Attorney, Assistant District
Attorneys, a Marshal, a Clerk, and a large number of Deputy
Marshals; and also Registers in Bankruptcy.
Q. What jurisdiction has a District Court?
A. Original jurisdiction.
Q What are the salaries of the District Judges?
A. Four thousand dollars each.
Q. What does the territory of several districts constitute?
A. A Circuit.
Q. How many Circuits are there?
A. Nine, each presided over by a Circuit Judge; and their names
are as follows:
1. Circuit consisting of Maine, N. H, Mass., R. I. John Sowell,
2. Circuit consisting of Conn., Vt. and N. Y. Samuel J.
3. Circuit consisting of Penn., N. J. and Del. Wm. McKennan,
4. Circuit consisting of N. C., S. C., Md. and Va. Hugh L. Bond,
5. Circuit consisting of Miss., La., Ala., Fla., Ga. and Texas.
William B. Woods, Judge.
6. Circuit consisting of Ohio, Mich., Ky., Tenn. and W. Va. John
7. Circuit consisting of Ind., Ill. and Wis. Thomas Drummond,
8. Circuit consisting of Minn, Iowa, Mo., Ark., Kan. and Nebraska.
George W. McCrary, Judge.
9. Circuit consisting of Cal., Oregon, Nevada and Colorado.
Lorenzo Sawyer, Judge.
Q. What jurisdiction has the Circuit Court?
A. Original. Salary of the Judges, $6,000.
Q. What territory is embraced in the jurisdiction of the Supreme
A. The whole of the United States.
Q. How many judges constitute the Supreme Court?
A. Nine; corresponding with the number of the Circuits.
Q. What are the names of the Supreme Judges.
Morrison R. Waite ... appointed 1874
Nathan Clifford ... appointed 1858
Noah H. Swayne ... appointed 1862
John M. Harlan ... appointed 1877
Samuel F. Miller ... appointed 1862
Stephen J. Field ... appointed 1863
Wiliam Strong ... appointed 1870
Joseph P. Bradley ... appointed 1870
Ward Hunt ... appointed 1872
Q. When does the Supreme Court meet?
A. The first Monday in December, at Washington.
Q. What is its jurisdiction?
A. Principally Appellate; it has Original jurisdiction in a few
cases, as mentioned in Constitution.
Q. By whom are all these judges appointed?
A. By the President and Senate.
Q. What is the salary of the Supreme Court Judges?
A. The Chief Justice receives ten thousand five hundred dollars.
Associates receive ten thousand dollars.
Q. For how long a term are all these judges appointed?
A. They hold the office for life, or during good behavior, or
until they resign. Election of a President and Vice-President of
the United States.
ELECTION OF A PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Q. Under how many heads may this topic be treated?
A. Two: the first being the manner pursued by the political
parties for nominating candidates; the second, the constitutional
provisions for electing them.
Preliminary action of political parties.
I. Calling of a National Convention.
II. Calling of State Conventions.
III. Calling of County or Assembly District Conventions.
IV. Calling of Town Caucuses.
Q. By whom is the National Convention called?
A. By a National Committee appointed at the last National
Convention, or the one held four years before.
Q. By whom is the State Convention called?
A. By a State Committee, appointed at the State Convention held
the year before.
Q. By whom is the County or Assembly District Convention called?
A. By a County or District Committee, appointed at a previous
Q. By whom is a Town Caucus called?
A. By a Town Committee, appointed at a previous meeting. Q. Which
meeting is held first?
A. The Town Caucus, and delegates are elected at this meeting to
attend a County or Assembly District Convention,
Q. Which Convention is held next?
A. The County or Assembly District Convention, which elects
delegates to attend the State Convention.
Q. Which Convention is held next?
A. The State Convention, which elects delegates to attend the
Q. What Convention is held next?
A. The National Convention. The delegates then and there assembled
nominate candidates for the offices of President and Vice-
President; and adopt their political platform.
Q. When do these conventions just named take place?
A. Once in four years, in the months of April, May and June,
preceding the presidential election.
Further actions by political parties.
I. State Convention for nominating
the Electors for President and Vice-President.
II. Voting for these Electors at
the annual election.
Q. When does the State Convention for nominating the Electors
A. At a time when it is convenient to nominate State officers: for
instance, August or September.
Q. To how many Electors is each State entitled?
A. As many as it has Representatives and Senators. For instance,
New York has thirty-three Representatives in the House, and two
Senators; therefore New York is entitled to thirty-five electoral
votes. Colorado has one Representative, and two Senators, and is
entitled to three electoral votes.
Q. How are these Electors distributed about the State?
A. One Elector is elected for each Congressional District; the two
others are called Electors at Large, and are selected from any
part of the State.
Q. What must each political party do that it may get its
candidates before the people?
A. It must have its conventions and nominate the required number
Q. What are these Electors intended to represent?
A. The views of the party nominating them.
O. How frequently, and when is a Presidential election held?
A. Once in four years, on the Tuesday following the first Monday
in November, throughout all the States.
Q. What must each voter do, in the State of New York, that he may
cast a ballot for President and Vice-President?
A. He must hand to the inspectors of election a ballot upon, which
is printed the names of the thirty-five Electors.
Q. By whom are these votes to be canvassed (or counted)?
A. By the same officers that canvass other votes. In New York
State the inspectors of election canvass for their respective
election districts, and certify the same to the Board of County
Canvassers; the County Canvassers canvass for counties, and
certify to the State Canvassers; the State Canvassers canvass for
the State; and the Executive authority of each State causes three
lists of the Electors of such State to be made and certified and
delivered to the said Electors, on or before the first Wednesday
MEETING OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS.
Q. What must the Electors that have been declared elected then do?
A. I. They must meet on the first Wednesday in December succeeding
their election, at such place in each State as the Legislature
thereof shall designate (usually the capital), and vote for
President and Vice-President, one of whom shall not be an
inhabitant of the same State with themselves.
II. The Electors must make and sign three certificates of all the
votes by them given for President and Vice-President, annexing to
each a certificate of the Electors furnished by the authority of
III. These certificates must be sealed, certifying, on the outside
of each, that there is contained therein a list of the votes of
such State for President and Vice-President.
IV. A person duly appointed by the Electors, or a majority of
them, must take charge of and deliver one of these certificates to
the President of the Senate, at the seat of government
V. The second certificate must be forwarded through the mails to
the President of the Senate, at the seat of government.
VI. The third certificate must be delivered to the Judge of the
District Court in which the electors assemble.
OPENING AND COUNTING THE ELECTORAL VOTES.
Q. When and by whom must these certificates be opened?
A. On the second Wednesday in February the President of the
Senate, in the presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, must open these certificates, and the votes must
then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes,
if that number be a majority, shall be the President; and the
person having the greatest number of votes for Vice-President, if
that number be a majority, shall be the Vice-President
Q. Who must count the votes?
A. Tellers appointed for that purpose by the House and Senate.
Q. In case neither candidate for the presidency has a majority of
all the electoral votes cast, what must be done?
A. The election goes to the House of Representatives.
ELECTION BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Q. How does this election take place?
A. I. Two-thirds of the States must be represented to constitute a
II. The candidates must be those already voted for, and must be
confined to those receiving the highest number, not exceeding
III. Each State is entitled to only one vote: and it will be cast
according to the wishes of a majority of the members in the House
from that State. If, for instance, a State has fifteen members,
eight belonging to one party and seven to another; the eight,
being a majority, will, if agreed, cast the one vote, the minority
having no voice in the election. Should there be an even number of
members from any State, and should they be equally divided between
two candidates, there might be one-half of a vote for each
Q, In case of a failure on the part of the House of
Representatives to elect a President before the fourth of March,
A. The Vice-President must act as President.
ELECTION OF VICE-PRESIDENT BY THE SENATE.
Q. Can the Senate ever elect a Vice-President?
A. Yes, when the people have failed to elect a Vice-President,
then the Senate must elect.
Q. How is this done?
A. I. Two-thirds of all the Senators constitute a quorum.
II. The Senate must vote for the two persons who received the
highest number of votes for Vice-President.
III. A majority of all the members elected to the Senate is
necessary to a choice.
IV. Should there be a tie in the Senate, the Vice-President may
give the casting vote.
V. Should the Vice-President have succeeded to the presidency, or
have vacated his office, and the President pro tem, (a Senator),
preside, in that case there might be a tie, and no election
THE PRESIDENT PRO TEM.
Q. What are the provisions for filling temporarily the office of
President, when vacant?
A. I. In case of the removal, death, resignation, or inability, of
both the President and Vice-President of the United States, the
President of the Senate pro tem., and in case there be no
President of the Senate, then the Speaker of the House of
Representatives shall act as President of the United States for
the time, until the disability be removed, or a President be
II. In case of a vacancy in both the offices for President and
Vice-President, the Secretary of State of the United States, shall
notify the Governors of all the States, and cause the same to be
printed in at least one newspaper in each State, ordering an
election for electors of President and Vice-President: PROVIDED
there shall be a space of two months between the ordering of the
same and the first Wednesday in December following.
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE.
I. The term "Electoral College" means the presidential Electors
when assembled as a body to cast the vote for President and Vice-
II. Each State may provide by law for the filling of any vacancy
which may exist in its college of electors, when such college
meets to cast its electoral vote.
I. No person shall hold the office, either of President or Vice-
President, except native born citizens, or those who were in this
country at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.
II. The candidate must have been a resident of the United States
for fourteen years.
III. He must be at the time of his election thirty-five years of
Q. What are some of the duties of the President?
A. I. He is Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United
II. And of the Militia of the several States when called into the
actual service of the United States.
III. He has power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences
against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.
IV. He has power to make treaties when two-thirds of the Senate
V. He nominates, and, by and with the consent of the Senate of the
United States, appoints Ambassadors, Public Ministers, Consuls,
Judges of the United States Courts, and all other United States
officers not otherwise provided for.
VI. He may fill all vacancies that happen during recess of the
Senate, by granting commissions that expire at the close of the
VII. He must from time to time give to Congress information in
regard to the condition of affairs in the United States, and
recommend such measures as he deems expedient. For further duties,
see Constitution of the United States, Art. II.
I. The Vice-President is President of the United States Senate,
and has a vote only in case of a tie.
II. In case he succeeds to the presidency, then he performs the
duties of the President, and the President pro tem. (a Senator)
performs the duties of Vice-President and Senator.
SALARIES. [Footnote: The President's salary cannot be increased or
diminished during his term of office.]
The President receives $50,000. The Vice-President receives
A tabular view showing how some United States officers get their
authority, and from whom.
From the people.
Members of the House of Rep's.
President sometimes. [Footnote: In 1801, and 1825. Who?]
From the State Legislatures
U. S. Senators
V. President sometimes.
[Footnote: Richard M. Johnson was elected Vice-President by the
Senate in 1837. This is, thus far, the only instance.] Appointed
by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
President's Cabinet consisting of:
1. Sec. of State.
2. Sec. of Treasury.
3. Sec. of War.
4. Sec. of Navy.
5. Sec. of Interior.
6. Postmaster Gen.
7. Attorney Gen.
Governors of territories.
Ministers to foreign countries.
Judges of the U. S. Supreme Court.
Judges of the U. S. Circuit Courts.
Judges of the District Courts.
And many other officers.
Q. What class of officers in the State performs nearly the same
duties as the Cabinet officers in the Nation?
A. Those classed as "Administrative," on page 55; in the State
they are elected by the people; in the Nation they are appointed
by the President.
Q. What are some of the duties of the Cabinet officers?
A. I. THE SECRETARY OF STATE, at the head, of the State
Department, preserves the public archives, records, laws,
arguments and treaties, and supervises their publication; conducts
all business and correspondence arising out of foreign relations,
makes out and records passports, commissions, etc.
II. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, at the head of the Treasury
Department, receives and has charge of all moneys paid into the
United States Treasury, has general supervision of the fiscal
transactions of the Government, the collection of revenue, the
auditing and payment of accounts and other disbursements;
supervises the execution of the laws relating to Commerce and
Navigation, the Revenues and Currency, the Coast Survey, the Mint
and Coinage, the Lighthouse Establishments, Custom Houses, etc.
III. THE SECRETARY OF WAR, at the War Department, has charge of
business growing out of military affairs, keeps the records of the
army, issues commissions, directs the government of troops,
superintends their payment, stores, clothing, arms, equipments and
ordnance, constructs fortifications and conducts works of military
engineering, river and harbor improvements.
IV. THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, at the head of the Navy Department,
has charge of the Naval establishments and all business connected
therewith, issues Naval commissions, instructions and orders,
supervises the enlistment and discharge of seamen, the
construction of Navy Yards and Docks, the construction and
equipment of vessels, Coast Surveys, etc.
V. THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, at the head of the Department of
the Interior, has charge of the survey, management, sales and
grants of Public Lands, the examination of Pension and Bounty Land
claims, the management of Indian affairs, the award of Patents,
the distribution of Seeds and Plants, the taking of Censuses, the
management of Government mines, etc. The Bureau of Education is a
branch of this department.
VI. THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, at the head of the Post-office
Department, has charge of the Postal System, the establishment and
discontinuance of Post-offices, the appointment of Agents, the
contracts for carrying the mails, etc.
VII. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, at the head of the Department of
Justice, is the legal adviser of the President and members of the
Cabinet, examines titles, applications for pardons and judicial
and legal appointments, conducts and argues suits in which the
Government is concerned, etc.
Q. Name the present Cabinet officers.
AMBASSADORS, MINISTERS AND CONSULS.
Q. What is an Ambassador?
A. An Ambassador is a minister of the highest rank, appointed to
represent the interests of a country at the court, or seat of
government of some other country.
Q. What is a Minister Plenipotentiary?
A. A Minister Plenipotentiary is an Ambassador or Envoy, invested
with full powers to negotiate a treaty, or do some other special
business, without being a permanent resident of such country.
Under such circumstances, he is called Ambassador extraordinary.
Q. What is a Consul?
A. A person commissioned to reside in a foreign country as an
agent or representative of a government, to protect the rights,
commerce, merchants and seamen of the country, and to aid in
commercial, and sometimes in diplomatic transactions, with such
foreign country; he is sometimes called Ambassador or Minister
Q. What are the salaries of the Cabinet officers?
A. Each member receives eight thousand dollars a year.
Q. What are the salaries of Senators, and Representatives in
A. Each receives an annual salary of five thousand dollars a year,
and an allowance of twenty cents per mile for travel in going to
and returning from Washington.
Q. Name a few of the highest salaries paid Ambassadors, Ministers
To St. Petersburgh,
To Rio Janerio,
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