Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/123

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



The people the source of all power here as elsewhere.—Manages its own affairs.—No corporation.—The greater part of the authority vested in the hands of the Selectmen.—How the Selectmen act.—Town-meeting.—Enumeration of the public officers of the township.—Obligatory and remunerated functions.

In the township, as well as everywhere else, the people is the only source of power; but in no stage of government does the body of citizens exercise a more immediate influence. In America, the people is a master whose exigencies demand obedience to the utmost limits of possibility.

In New England the majority acts by representatives in the conduct of the public business of the State; but if such an arrangement be necessary in general affairs, in the townships, where the legislative and administrative action of the government is in more immediate contact with the subject, the system of representation is not adopted. There is no corporation; but the body of electors, after having designated its magistrates, directs them in everything that exceeds the simple and ordinary executive business of the State[1].

  1. The same rules are not applicable to the great towns, which generally have a mayor, and a corporation divided into two bodies: this, however, is an exception which requires the sanction of a law.—See the Act of the 22nd February 1822, for appointing the authorities of the City of Boston. It frequently happens that small towns as well as cities are subject to a peculiar administration. In 1832, 104 townships in the State of New York were governed in this manner. Williams's Register.