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Distinguish between the Council and the General Assembly. Who composed the first Council?
Outline the powers of the Council. What three great departments of government were largely centered in the Provincial Council ?
Give some of the principal features of the “Great Law.”
What were the results of the new form of government established by Penn?
What was the “Charter of Privileges”?
What attempts were made to change the province to a royal colony?
What were the provisions of the Frame of 1701?
To what extent was religious freedom granted, and how was it made inviolate?
Did Penn make his province a free commonwealth in 1682 or in 1701?
How many legislative houses were there in the General Assembly of 1701?
When did Penn return to England? What controversies arose ? When did Penn die?
Who succeeded to his interests? When did the proprietorship cease? What was done in 1779? In 1790? In 1884?
Local Units.—The State of Pennsylvania is divided into sixty-seven counties which elect officers to attend to the administration of the business of the county and of its courts. These counties are divided into townships, each of which elects officers to levy and collect taxes, to maintain the public schools and roads, and to prevent disorder and crime. The general term of the officers elected is four years. Communities may be separated from the township to form boroughs, and large boroughs may form cities. Counties and townships have no power to make laws for their own government, but are under the action of uniform State laws. Cities and boroughs are also subject to the general State laws, but through their councils and mayors or chief burgesses, may make minor laws for their own government and welfare. Such, in brief, is the State system of local government; but, in order to understand it thoroughly, attention should be paid to some of the points which characterize the system as administered in our own and in other States.
General Characteristics.—The types of local government differ widely in the several States of the Union, yet possess some general characteristics.
Great freedom of action, and broad scope of function are given to local authority. The law is uniform, and derived by legislative enactment; but the power to execute is local. Each locality must see to it
that the State laws are carried out. Local officers look to State laws for authority, and State officers serve to unify the local governments. Thus local administration is practically the administration of the State. Each State has its own system of local divisions and authorities, created and controlled under its own laws. Three leading types of local government are at present to be found in the United States.
The Township Type.—The first type is characterized by its unit the town or township, and is found in the New England States. The settlers of that part of the country came from towns, and the character of the soil and the conditions of the new country and of life made it necessary that the people should dwell in towns. Along the seashore and on the banks of rivers they planted their little communities, each inclosed by a stockade for protection against the Indians. Each was surrounded by its common pastures and farming lands, managed by officers chosen for that purpose. Each settlement was obliged to be self-reliant and self-governing, and was, in fact, a miniature commonwealth controlling the property and persons of its members. Every year the inhabitants of such township came together in mass meeting to make laws for its government. As yet the county had no corporate existence. Afterwards these townships became united into counties; and the colony, and, afterwards the State, assumed superior authority through its Governor and Legislature. Yet the townships have held their position to this day as the true political units of New England, and the solid foundation of the structure of self-government.
The County Type.---The second type of local government is characterized by the larger unit, the county, and prevails in the Southern States. The men who settled in Virginia and the Carolinas were not accustomed to the local
self-government characteristic of the colonies planted in the colder climate of the north. They were often men from the upper classes of society, country gentlemen, accustomed to the government of the county or shire. They settled in a land where the Indians were comparatively peaceable, and there was therefore little need of union for protective purposes. The estates were large, the soil was fertile, and the climate too hot for white labor. Slaves were soon imported to cultivate the land. The landowners were enriched, and each became the center of a group of free dependents, as well as master of large numbers of slaves. When local divisions had to be created, large areas were necessarily embraced, and counties modeled upon the English shires were the result. The Southern county became a modified English shire with the towns left out; while local government in New England was made up of English towns with the shires left out. Afterwards, for judicial purposes, counties were formed in New England; but the towns kept most of their important functions. In the Southern States the counties were afterwards divided into police districts and election districts, but the county retained the full administrative power. The county form of government is less democratic and less stimulating and educative than that which prevails in the New England States.
The Mixed or Compromise System.—The third type of local government combines some of the features of the township system with some of the characteristics of the county system. It may be called the compromise or mixed system, and is found under a variety of forms in the Middle and Northwestern States. In the mixed system, the county is relatively more important than in the New England States; while the township is much more important than in the
Southern States. Two features, therefore, mark the system: one is the importance and power of the county; the other is the activity and political life of the township.
Our State Has a County-Township System.-Among the States possessing this mixed system we find our own Commonwealth. Pennsylvania has a composite county-township system in which the county has great importance and power, although the township must undoubtedly be regarded as the political unit of government. The counties are compact and comprehensive larger units in the formation of the State. The townships are, however, vigorous organisms, holding in check the county authority, of which they are very jealous, and giving to government that robust local energy and color which characterize the representative system in our country. This power lies in the traditions of government which the English and Germans alike brought with them from the banks of the Elbe and the Weser.
The laws of the Duke of York made the township the unit of division after the manner prevailing in the New England colonies, from which system they were copied. Penn made the county the unit of division and added the township, borough, and city afterward. Thus the Pennsylvania system became a combination of township and county government unknown elsewhere, or at least possessing many unique features. It sets forth in its various phases the theory of American government in the decentralization of power.
If the work of government can be done by the town as well as by the county, it is undertaken by the town. If individual enterprise will fairly perform a certain work, then we prefer no governmental agency. If the duty to be performed lie between the State and the general government, then we intrust it to the State.