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Questions to answer in your study group:
1. Why did the Fathers, of the Constitution want to make the Union of the States stronger ?
2. Can your State make its own laws about things which concern it alone
3. Could a poor man be punished more severely for committing a crime than a rich man who committed the same crime
4. If there is an uprising within a State, may that State call on the Federal Government for help?
5. If a foreign country should try to invade one of the 48 States, would the Federal Government send help to the State? Why or why not?
6. How many things can you think of which our Government does to help our general welfare?
7. What did the Fathers of the Constitution mean by wanting to "secure the blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity”? Is that still a wish of our country today? Some more words which the student should understand:
Capitol—the building in which the United States Congress meets
in Washington, D. C.
How Our National (Federal) Government Is Organized
THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH (1)
“All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
-First Article of the Federal Constitution.
In the last chapter you learned about the objectives of the Federal Government. In this chapter and the next four we shall consider how the Government is organized and how it operates in serving the people. We shall see that the organization of the Federal Government is very much like that of the States.
In this chapter let us study the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government; in doing so we shall be much helped by what we have already learned about the legislatures of the States.
The first sentence of the First Article of the Federal Constitution is printed at the beginning of this chapter. In the Constitution itself it follows directly after the Preamble. So the first authority which “We the People” delegated to our representatives was the authority to make laws, and that authority was given not to one group but to two, known as the Senate and the House of Representatives, working together as the Congress of the United States.
How the Two Houses of the Congress Are Organized In chapter 7 you learned that in the Constitutional Convention the delegates from the smaller States asked to be given equal representation with the larger States in both houses of the Congress but finally compromised by agreeing that in the Senate each State should have two Senators while in the House of Representatives each State should be allotted Members on the basis of the number of its population. If you turn to Figure 45 you will find a list showing how many Representatives are at present allotted to each of our 48 States.
Since the Seventeenth Amendment was adopted in 1913, United States Senators are elected by the voters of the States at a regular election. Representatives have always been elected in that way. Before 1913 Senators were elected by State legislatures and the people had no direct part in their selection. This was because in the early days of the Constitution the Senators were supposed to represent the State governments in seeing that the small States got equal treatment with the large States.
The Reason for Having Two Houses of the Congress Most of the 13 Colonies had had governors' councils appointed by the King, and these councils had been given the royal authority to review the actions of the assemblies made up of representatives of the people. Usually the members of these councils were either rich and prominent men of the Colonies or relatives of the governors or members of old English families. They were the representatives of wealth and property and were supposed to be strong for law and order. When the Colonies became States, their taxpayers were afraid to give the whole lawmaking authority to assembly members who were elected for only a short term and did not have to be men of much property. So all the new State constitutions (except Pennsylvania and Georgia) set up Senates, whose members were elected for longer terms and had to be men of property.
When the Constitutional Convention made its plans for a lawmaking group, it found great usefulness in this State custom of having two houses of legislature. This made possible the Great Compromise of 1787, of which you
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF OUR NATIONAL
THE CONGRESS MAKES THE LAWS
THE HOUSE OF
(435 Representatives) Qualifications: Atleast 25 years old, 7 years a citizen of the United States, an inhabitant of the State where elected.
THE NUMBER OF REPRESENTA.
2 Oklahoma... 8 Illinois
26 Oregon.- 4 Indiana 11 Pennsylvanig. 33 lowa.
8 Rhode Island. 2 Kansas ..
South Carolina. 6 Kentucky - 9 South Dakota 2 Louisiana.. 8 Tennessee ---- 10 Maine
3 Texas... 21 Maryland 6 Utah.
2 Massachusetts. 14 Vermont-- 1 Michigan---- 18 Virginia -- 9 Minnesota --- 9 Washington..
6 Mississippi.-- 7 West Virginia. 6 Missouri... 13 Wisconsin..-- 10 Montana. 2 Wyoming--Nebraska. 4 (Based on Nevada... 1 1940 Census)
The Legislative Branch of Our National Government
read in chapter 7. The Fathers of the Constitution also reasoned that if two separate groups, one representing the State governments and one representing the people, must both approve of every proposed law before it became effective there would be little danger of passing laws hurriedly and carelessly. One house could always check (put the brakes on) the other. The interest of the small States, so well represented in the Senate, could balance the interest of the larger States which would have so many more Members in the House of Representatives. This was a part of the “system of checks and balances,” of which you will read more later on.
The Qualifications of Members of the Congress We have told you that when the new States adopted constitutions before 1787, most of them required at least their Senators to be property owners. The Federal Constitution left to the States the authority to send to the Congress such United States Senators as the State legislatures might select, provided they were 30 years old at the time of their election, had been citizens of the United States for at least 9 years, and actually lived in the State which they were chosen to represent. (In other words, , no newly naturalized immigrants could be chosen.) It authorized the voters of the States to elect as their Members in the House of Representatives only such of their inhabitants as were 25 years old when elected and had been citizens for 7 years. Other qualifications might be set by the States, but the Constitution makes each House of the Congress the judge of the qualifications of its own Members.
THE PRESENT NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS
You have learned that each State is represented in the upper House of the Congress by two Senators. The State of Rhode Island, with an area of only 1,248 square miles, has the same share in the Senate's lawmaking as the State of Texas, which covers 265,941 square miles; the State of