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This work has grown out of the necessities and experience of the class-room. For the proper instruction of the student in the important subject of civil government, a clear exposition of the great principles of the Constitution is needed, with a summary of the legislative provisions in which they have been embodied. When the author took charge of this department of study, he found himself embarrassed in both these respects, and especially the latter. Questions were continually suggesting themselves, to which answers could be obtained only after laborious research.
Urged on by a deep interest in the subject, and availing himself of the unusual facilities for the prosecution of studies of this character furnished by the library of the College, the author entered upon a somewhat extended investigation of our governmental history. The materials thus accumulated, and accumulating, having for some years furnished the basis for instruction by lectures, have now been condensed into this form, and are given to the public in the hope that other instructors may be in some measure relieved
from the excessive labor which similar personal examination would involve.
While the primary object was to provide a suitable text-book, a conviction that a knowledge of our government can not be too widely diffused, and that large numbers would welcome a good work on this subject, has led to the attempt to make the volume a manual adapted for consultation and reference by the citizens at large. With this end in view, the author has sought to embody in the work that kind - and so far as space would allow, that amount of information on the various topics which an intelligent citizen would desire to possess.
As the value of a work of this kind depends in large measure upon its accuracy, it is proper to say that in nearly every instance the statements touching the legislation or other action of the government have been taken from official publications.
A careful revision of the work has been made, incorporating in it all important changes in the legislation of the country, and giving the practical workings of the Constitution to the present time.