American Institutions And Their Influence (1851) by Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer

By Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer

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The chief care of the legislators, in this body of penal laws, was the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community: they constantly invaded the domain of conscience, and there was scarcely a sin which they did not subject to magisterial censure. The reader is aware of the rigor with which these laws punished rape and adultery; intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise severely repressed. The judge was empowered to inflict a pecuniary penalty, a whipping, or marriage,[Footnote: Code of 1650, p.

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. 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.

In the states of New England, from the first, the condition of the poor was provided for;[Footnote: Code of 1650, p. 78. ] strict measures were taken for the maintenance of roads, and surveyors were appointed to attend to them;[Footnote: Code of 1750, p. 94. ] registers were established in every parish, in which the results of public deliberations, and the births, deaths, and marriages of the citizens were entered;[Footnote: Ibid, p. 86. ] clerks were directed to keep these registers;[Footnote: See Hutchinson's History, vol.

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