Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/152

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


general view of the remainder of the Union. Townships and a local activity exist in every State; but in no part of the confederation is a township to be met with precisely similar to those of New England. The more we descend towards the South, the less active does the business of the township or parish become; the number of magistrates, of functions, and of rights decreases; the population exercises a less immediate influence on affairs; town-meetings are less frequent, and the subjects of debate less numerous. The power of the elected magistrate is augmented, and that of the elector diminished, whilst the public spirit of the local communities is less awakened and less influential[1]. These differences may be perceived to a certain extent in the State of

    500 dollars. It may readily be imagined that in such a case it might happen that no one cared to prosecute; hence the law adds that all the citizens may indict offences of this kind, and that half the fine shall belong to the plaintiff. See Act of 6th March 1810, vol. ii. p. 236. The same clause is frequently to be met with in the Laws of Massachusetts. Not only are private individuals thus incited to prosecute the public officers, but the public officers are encouraged in the same manner to bring the disobedience of private individuals to justice. If a citizen refuses to perform the work which has been assigned to him upon a road; the road-surveyor may prosecute him, and he receives half the penalty for himself. See the Laws above quoted, vol. i. p. 308.

  1. For details see the Revised Statutes of the State of New York, Part I. chap. xi. Vol. i. pp. 336-364., entitled, ‘Of the powers, duties, and privileges of towns.’

    See in the Digest of the Laws of Pennsylvania, the words Assessors, Collector, Constables, Overseer of the Poor, Supervisors of Highways; and in the Acts of a general nature