Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/139

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


gulations; but more commonly the townships and town-officers, conjointly with the justices of the peace, regulate the minor details of social life, according to the necessities of the different localities, and promulgate such enactments as concern the health of the community, and the peace as well as morality of the citizens[1]. Lastly, these municipal magistrates provide, of their own accord and without any delegated powers, for those unforeseen emergencies which frequently occur in society[2].

It results from what we have said, that in the State of Massachusetts the administrative authority is almost entirely restricted to the township[3], but that it is distributed among a great number of individuals. In the French commune there is properly but one official functionary, namely, the Maire; and in New England we have seen that there are nineteen. These nineteen functionaries do not in general depend upon one another. The law carefully prescribes a circle of action to each of these magi-

  1. Thus, for instance, the selectmen authorize the construction of drains, point out the proper sites for slaughter-houses and other trades which are a nuisance to the neighbourhood. See the Act of the 7th June 1785: Id., vol. i. p. 193.
  2. The selectmen take measures for the security of the public in case of contagious diseases, conjointly with the justices of the peace. See Act of the 22nd June 1797: vol. i. p. 539.
  3. I say almost, for there are various circumstances in the annals of a township which are regulated by the justice of the peace in his individual capacity, or by the justices of the peace assembled in the chief town of the county; thus licenses are granted by the justices. See the Act of the 28th Feb. 1787: vol. i. p. 297.