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Additional resources for American Institutions And Their Influence (1851)
80. ] In the townships of New England the law of representation was not adopted, but the affairs of the community were discussed, as at Athens, in the market-place, by a general assembly of the citizens. In studying the laws which were promulgated at this first era of the American republics, it is impossible not to CHAPTER II 33 be struck by the remarkable acquaintance with the science of government, and the advanced theory of legislation, which they display. The ideas there formed of the duties of society toward its members, are evidently much loftier and more comprehensive than those of the European legislators at that time: obligations were there imposed which were elsewhere slighted.
P. 539. ] The general laws of the state impose a certain number of obligations on the selectmen, which may they fulfil without the authorization of the body they govern, but which they can only neglect on their own responsibility. The law of the state obliges them, for instance, to draw up the list of electors in the townships; and if they omit this part of their functions, they are guilty of a misdemeanor. In all the affairs, however, which are determined by the town-meeting, the selectmen are the organs of the popular mandate, as in France the maire executes the decree of the municipal council.
CHAPTER V 47 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 township, where the legislative and administrative action of the government is in more immediate contact with the subject, the system of representation is not adopted. [Footnote: 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 a sanction of a law.