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sprang up in the United States. We must now return to the subject, for the purpose of describing these types as they exist at the present time.
I. THE TOWN SYSTEM,
716. Continuity of New England Life. The political institutions that first rooted in New England, local as well as central, proved to be permanent. The Town system of government has, with time, undergone minor modifications, but it still exists in its principal original features. It is not possible, or even necessary, to follow its history, or fully to describe it, as found in any one State, and much less in all the States; but it is important to state its characteristic features.
717. The New England Town.-The town receives a charter from the State Legislature, and is a body politic and corporate. It elects its own officers, and manages its local concerns in its own way. It imposes and collects its own taxes, expends its own money, and lends to the county and State the use of its local machinery for levying and collecting county and State taxes. Every town was once represented in the Legislature, but town representation is found now only in New Hampshire and Vermont.
718. Town-Meeting.- Once a year, or oftener, the electors of the town meet in town-meeting, as their Saxon ancestors met in town-moot. The assembly chooses its own moderator, and any member can make and discuss motions as well as vote. The business transacted may be thus grouped :
The affairs of the town are canvassed; reports are made and accounts presented and discussed.
The town taxes are voted, care being taken to designate the objects for which money shall be expended.
3. Town officers are chosen. The annual meeting at which this is done is held in February, March, or April.
Town-meetings, or elections, for selecting county, State, or
719. Town Officers.— The selectmen, three, five, seven, or nine in number, are the general managers of the town business. They issue warrants calling the townmeetings; preside at those held for county, State, or National purposes, canvassing the votes and declaring the result; grant licenses, impanel jurors, listen to complaints about public matters, lay out town roads,"speak for the town” in county or State matters, register the voters, and attend to many other things besides. The school committee has general oversight of the town schools. The duties of the other officers are sufficiently indicated by their titles ; the clerk, treasurer, assessor of taxes, overseers of the poor, surveyors of highways, fence-viewers, etc.
720. The County.-The New England county is also a corporation. It is mainly a judicial, and not a political, division of the State; in Rhode Island there are no county officers but the judicial officers. The three county commissioners, elected by the people, build and manage the county buildings, lay out new highways leading from one town to another, estimate the annual county taxes, and apportion them among the several towns and cities, audit the accounts of the treasurer, and perform a variety of other business. Other officers are the clerk of the court, the treasurer, the register of deeds, and the register of probate, who is the clerk of the Probate Court.
II. THE COUNTY SYSTEM.
721. Its Extent. The example of Virginia, in which it first grew up, and the influence of similar material and social conditions, firmly fixed the County system in all the old South Atlantic States. Moreover, it was an overflow of the population of these States that created the new ones west of the Alleghany Mountains and south of the Ohio River. As these people carried their old ideas and in
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stitutions with them, and as they found in the West physical conditions similar to those that they had left behind, it would be strange indeed if the County system had not taken firm root in the old South Central States. More than this, Southern men from both of the old sections pushed into the Northwest and the farther West, and planted the same system wherever their influence was predominant. Accordingly, it is found to-day, not only in the Southern States west of the Mississippi, but also in California and in Oregon as well.
722. The County.-- Where the County system prevails the conditions of the Town system are wholly reversed. The County is the political unit, and is clothed with all local political powers. It receives its charter from the Legislature, and, as in olden times, is responsible to the State for its quota of the State taxation. of the County," says Professor Galpin, "forbids any general gathering of its inhabitants vested with the legislative and executive functions of the town-meeting, as well as any intimate mutual acquaintance between the inhabitants of its different sections. Of necessity, therefore, the administration of all local affairs is intrusted wholly to the county officers, and the political duty and privilege of the citizen begins and ends on election day. The duly authorized officers of the county are thus charged with the care and control of the county property, the levy and collection of State and county taxes, the division of the county into election districts, the laying out and repairing of roads and bridges, the care of the poor, the police of the county, and in general, all county and local affairs." The officers charged with these duties are elected or appointed in different ways and for different times, and are not uniform in number. The common name of the body is County Board or County Court. Other officers are the collector, assessor,
, superintendent of schools, apportioners of roads, sheriff, etc. There is also a Probate Court as well as the State courts.
723. The Township.-The subdivisions of the county are known in different States by different names, viz.: Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, and Texas, as precincts; Arkansas, California, Missouri, and Nevada, as townships; Delaware, as hundreds; Georgia, as militia districts; Louisiana, where also the counties are called parishes, as wards; Maryland, as election districts; Mississippi, as supervisors districts ; Tennessee, as civil districts. most of the County-system States the local subdivisions, by whatever name known, are created by the county authorities. They are but skeletons, and exist only for convenience as districts for holding elections, for fixing the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace, or for determining the militia-company organization. Justices of the peace and constables are found in these districts, but the districts are in no sense political organs.
It is difficult to conceive of modes of local government existing in democratic states more unlike than the Town and County systems. Iu New England the town has a distinct name, of which the citizens are generally proud, and historical association of which they are still prouder ; in the South these feelings and associations all cluster about the county. In Massachusetts we read of the town of Danvers, Quincy, or Dedham ; in Virginia of Westmoreland or Rockingham county. In Mississippi whole counties have no other names for subdivisions than those furnished by the surveyors, as Township 3, Range 7, while in North Carolina the county seems to be divided numerically. Mr. Jefferson's admiration of the Town system, and his futile attempts to introduce it into Virginia, are well known. 1
III. THE MIXED SYSTEM. 724. Two Types.-As we saw in Chapter II., two types of this system, which is also called the Compromise system, appeared in Colonial times, the one in New York and the other in Pennsylvania. In both States town or township and county elements are found, but they are combined in different ratios. The New York type, possibly owing to New England influence, is the more democratic,
1 See his works, Vol. V., p. 525; Vol. VI., p. 13, Vol. VII., P. 357.
placing greater stress on the township; the Pennsylvania type, possibly owing to Southern influence, is the more centralized, placing greater stress on the county. Their common features, as well as the leading points of difference, will be more carefully stated.
725. The County.-In both New York and Pennsylvania, the county is a body politic and corporate. In New York, the county administration is in the hands of a board of supervisors, in which the townships are equally represented ; in Pennsylvania, it is in the hands of a board of three commissioners, elected by the county at large. The New York supervisor is also a township officer in his township; but the Pennsylvania commissioner has no township powers or duties whatever. The county board in both States lays out county roads and builds county bridges; erects and cares for the county buildings; levies taxes and borrows money for county purposes, subject to law; audits the accounts of county and township officers ; passes upon claims against the townships, directing the raising of funds for their payment, as well as township propositions to borrow money, and discharges all duties properly connected with the county administration. All taxes, except such as may be laid by school districts for school purposes and by municipalities, are levied by the county board; State taxes on the warrant of the State authority, county taxes, not exceeding a certain limit, at its own discretion, and township taxes on the certificate of the township authority. The New York board examines and allows claims against the county, and levies taxes for their payment; in Pennsylvania both duties are performed by a board of three special auditors. Other county officers are the clerk, the treasurer, the recorder or register of deeds, and the commissioner or superintendent of schools.
726. The Township.-Under the dual system, the township is also a body corporate and politic. In New York it is created by the county board ; in Pennsylvania,