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of judicial decisions, or of standard legal treatises, without formal references thereto.
There has been obtained from the Department of State, for use in the present work, as the basis of the commentary, a copy of the Constitution and amendments, which, after comparison with the original, has been officially certified to be correct in text, orthography, and punctuation. Its accuracy may therefore be relied upon
with entire confidence. The
purpose of the Comparative Chart of the State Constitutions, will be evident upon inspection. Although much care has been taken in its construction, and the best attainable sources of information have been consulted, it is possible, nevertheless, that some inaccuracies
have occurred, either by reason of the multiplicity and minuteness of the details, or because of recent legislative enactments in some of the States, which have not been brought to the notice of the author. The publishers will be pleased to have their attention directed to such corrections, if any, as may be necessary.
For the accommodation of teachers who may prefer that mode of reciting the lessons, questions for examination are appended ; but they are not intended to exhaust the matter contained in the body of the work. It is recommended that, in the case of younger pupils, at least, those questions be answered, and the text of the Constitution be committed to memory, in going through the book for the first time; and that, on a review of the book, the teacher himself put such additional questions as occur to him. Where tables are introduced, relative to the respective States, questions may readily be adapted to any particular State; for instance, in using the Comparative Chart, the teacher may ask,—What is the salary of Governor in this State ? When does the Legislature meet in this State ? What are the qualifications of voters in this State ? and in like manner with the other elements of the chart.
The diagram on page 64, may also be studied practically by means of proper questions, such as the following What was the representative rank of this State at the first census ? at the second ? at the third ? &c. The index has been made full and complete for the purpose
of facilitating reference to any particular subject.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
$1. In March, 1496, Henry the Seventh, King of England, commissioned John Cabot and his three sons, Sebastian, Lewis, and Sanctius, to set forth on a voyage of discovery, and to conquer and occupy any lands not already in the possession of a Christian nation. Under this commission, Cabot and his son Sebastian departed in May, 1497; and, after discovering the islands of Newfoundland and St. Johns, sailed along the coast of the mainland north and south, and claimed for the English king the territory from the Gulf of Mexico to an indefinite extent on the north, without, however, attempting either settlement or conquest.
§ 2. From this discovery by Cabot, originated the title by which England claimed North America. That title depended upon the first discovery of the continent, and was called the Right of Discovery. It was a principle adopted in the practice of the nations of Europe, that the first discovery of unknown countries gave to the government, whose subjects had made the discovery, a title to the possession of such newly-found lands.
§ 3. Under this title the original inhabitants were permitted to remain in the territory; but they were restrained from selling or granting its soil, except to the sovereign by whose subjects it had been discovered, who claimed for himself the sole right to dispose of it; consequently, no other persons could acquire a title from the natives, either by purchase or by conquest.
§ 4. There does not seem to be any just reason why the first discovery of a country should give a right to the possession of it, especially where it is inhabited, as North America was. The rule was probably adopted in order to prevent conflicting claims by different governments to the same territory.
$ 5. Uninhabited countries cannot be said to belong to any particular nation, for no nation has taken possession of them. Whenever, therefore, a nation first discovers uninhabited lands, it has a right to take possession of them, and its title will be regarded by other nations as good, provided the discovery is followed up by an actual settlement, or by colonizing it within a reasonable time, or by making other use of it; but, if some one of these things is not done, the title is considered to be incomplete and abandoned, and the land will be open to fresh occupants.
$ 6. Although the titles derived from discovery may not originally have been very just, their validity, after a lapse of several centuries, cannot now be overthrown. By successive transfers they have become vested in the several States and in the United States, and they have been recognised and acceded to by the Supreme Court of the United States. We still hold this country under the title by which it was originally acquired, and we claim