Civil Government of Virginia by William F. Fox

Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. CIVIL GOVERNMENT OF VIRGINIA A TEXT-BOOK FOR SCHOOLS BASED UPON THE CONSTITUTION OF 1902 AND CONFORMING TO THE LAWS ENACTED IN ACCORDANCE THEREWITH BY WM. F. FOX SUPT. OF SCHOOLS, RICHMOND, VA. NOTE.-Important changes in every part of the fundamental law of the State were
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





NOTE.-Important changes in every part of the fundamental law of the State were made by the Constitutional Convention of 1901-2.

A great many of these changes did not go into full effect until as late as Feb. 1, 1904; and some are yet to be made effective by the operation of laws already passed or to be enacted hereafter. Under the circumstances the author trusts he may be pardoned if some errors or omissions are found in this work, but it is believed that in all essential points it is in harmony with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of the State as they stand at the present time.



I GENERAL PRINCIPLES Bill of Bights–Who May Vote and Hold Office –Elections

II LEGISLATIVE, DEPARTMENT The Senate–House of Delegates–General Assembly

III EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT Governor–Lieutenant Governor–Attorney General


Secretary of the Commonwealth-Treasurer-Auditor of Public Accounts–Second Auditor–Register of the Land Office–State Corporation Commission–Superintendent of the Penitentiary– Superintendent of Public Printing–Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration–Commissioners of the Sinking Fund–Board of State Canvassers


Supreme Court of Appeals–Circuit Courts–Circuit Court of the City of Richmond


Corporation or Hustings Courts–Justices Courts–Hustings Court of the City of Richmond–Chancery Court of the City of Richmond–Law and Equity Court of the City of Richmond

VII OFFICERS OF COURTS Clerks–The Tipstaff and Crier–Sheriff– Commonswealth’s Attorney Attorneys at-Law Who May Practice Law in –Virginia Juries–Grand Junes–Petit Jury



County Officers Sheriff–Commonwealth’s Attorney–County Clerk– Treasurer–Commissioner of the Revenue–Superintendent of the Poor–County Surveyor-Superintendent of Public Schools County Board of School Commissioners–Electoral Board–Board of Supervisors–Assessors–Coroner


Magisterial Districts.–Supervisors.–Justices of the Peace.– Constable.–Overseer of the Poor.–Conservators of the Peace.


Council.–Mayor.–City Sergeant.–Commissioner of the Revenue. –Commonwealth’s Attorney.–Treasurer.–Sheriff of Richmond City.


State: Board of Education.–Superintendent of Public Instruction.

County: County and City Superintendents.–School Trustee Electoral Board.–County School Board.

District: School Districts.–School Trustees.–District Board of School Trustees.

School Funds.


OUTLINES or COLONIAL AND STATE HISTORY Colonial Governors.–State Governors.




The word GOVERNMENT means guidance or direction or management. It means also the person or persons who rule or control any establishment or institution. Wherever any number of people live together in one house, or one town, or city, or country, there must be government of some kind.

In the family the parents are the government. They guide and manage the affairs of the house. They give orders to their children as to what they must do and what they must not do, and they see that their orders are obeyed. This is government, and it is for the benefit of the family. If the children were to do as they please, there would be no peace or happiness in the home.

And in their games and amusements out of doors children find that they must not do as they please. Every game has certain rules or laws which those who take part in it are required to obey. In the game of baseball, for example, the players are not allowed to act as they like. There are rules of the play, and there is an umpire to see that the rules are observed.

In the school, too, and in all business establishments there must be government. The teachers direct the work in their classes, giving orders to the pupils as to what lessons they must study and how they must study them. In the store and factory there is a manager or master who directs the business. If there were no managers or masters there would be nothing but disorder and confusion.

We can see therefore how necessary government is, and we can understand why it is that there must be government in the country or state in which we live. There must be laws to direct men how they must behave towards one another and to punish those who do wrong. And there must be people to make the laws and people to see that they are carried out.

This is CIVIL GOVERNMENT. The word CIVIL means pertaining to the state, or to the relations between citizens and the state, and the word STATE means the whole community or body of people living under one government.

There are different kinds of government in different countries. In some countries the government is monarchical–that is, under one person, a king or emperor–and in some countries it is republican.

A republican government, or a republic, is a government in which the chief power is exercised not by one person but by all the people. The government of the United States is a republican government. The government of Virginia is a republican government. The head of the state under a republican form of government is elected by the people.

The government in a republic is usually divided into three parts or DEPARTMENTS. One department makes the laws. This is called the LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT or the legislature. It is formed of a certain number of persons who are elected at certain times, by the people, and who meet to make laws that are necessary for the good of the state or country.

The second department of government is called the EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, and is also formed of persons who are elected by the people, and their business is to execute or carry out the laws. Their duty is to see that every one who violates any law of the country or state is brought to punishment, and that the laws made for promoting the well-being and happiness of the people are carried out.

The third department of the government is the JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT or the judiciary. Its members are, in Virginia, chosen by the legislature. Their duty is to administer the laws, that is to inquire into every case in which a person is accused of breaking the laws, and if a person is found to be guilty, to sentence him to the punishment which the law prescribes for the crime or offence he has committed.

In this book full particulars and explanations are given as to the formation of those three departments of government, the many duties assigned to each, and how those duties are performed.

In republics government is usually carried on according to the wishes of the majority of the people. This is what is called MAJORITY RULE. At elections to form the legislative or executive department, different persons or candidates are proposed for each office, and the candidate who gets a majority of the votes is elected. A candidate is a person who is proposed for election to some office.

Candidates for public offices are proposed or nominated at what are called CONVENTIONS. A convention is a meeting of electors, or voters, held for the purpose of agreeing upon or choosing persons to be candidates for office. Conventions are called together and conducted by organizations known as PARTIES or POLITICAL PARTIES. There are usually at least two political parties in every country in which there is constitutional government. Each of the parties nominates candidates at every election, and tries in every legitimate way to persuade the people to vote for its candidates.

The party whose candidates are elected is called THE PARTY IN POWER. This is what is known as PARTY GOVERNMENT.

It is good for the state that there should be political parties. Each party closely watches the conduct of the other, and if the party in power make bad laws or execute the laws unfairly or unjustly, the party out of power appeals to the people by public speeches and by writing in newspapers, and does what it can to get the voters to vote against the party in power at the next election and turn it out of office.

Every citizen may join either of the parties he pleases, and so exercise his influence through conventions and elections to secure good government. And it is the duty of every citizen to do this, for good government–honest law-makers and honest administrators of the laws–is one of the greatest blessings a state can have. It is also the duty of young people to learn about the government and politics of their state, so that when they come of age they may be able to perform their part as citizens intelligently and well.



2. Give some illustrations of the necessity of government.

3. What is the necessity for laws in a country?

4. Define CIVIL.

5. What is a republic?

6. What does the government in a republic consist of?

7. What is the duty of the legislative department?

8. What is the duty of the executive department?

9. What is the duty of the judicial department?

10. What do you understand by majority rule?

11. What is a convention?

12. What is a party government?

13. Why is it good for the state that there should be political parties?

14. Why is it the duty of every citizen to become a member of one of the political parties?

15. Why is it good for young people to learn about government and politics?




1. All power is vested in and hence derived from the people; magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them.

2. Government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people.

3. No free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

–Bill of Rights.

The BILL OF RIGHTS is the title of the first article, or chapter, of the Constitution of Virginia. It is so called because it is a declaration or statement of the RIGHTS of the people in regard to government. In English history the name BILL OF RIGHTS is given to a declaration of rights adopted by the two houses of Parliament in England in 1688, and soon afterwards passed into law.

VESTED IN means entrusted to or put in possession of. To vest is to invest or clothe with power or authority.

MAGISTRATES are public officers whose duty it is to administer the laws. The President is the chief magistrate of the nation. It is his duty to see that the laws of the United States are executed Or carried out. The governor is the chief magistrate of the State; the mayor is the chief magistrate of the city. Judges are magistrates who preside in the courts and administer the law as applying to the cases brought before them.

Trustees are persons who hold or have charge of the property of others in trust, and as guardians, for those to whom it belongs. Magistrates hold their offices as trustees for the people, and they are amenable, that is, answerable, to the people. If they do not perform the duties of their offices honestly, the people can call them to account and punish them.

A FREE GOVERNMENT is a government instituted, that is, established, by the consent of the people. The government of the United States is a free government, because it has been established by the people, and the people can change it when they please.

“Government ought to be established for the COMMON BENEFIT.” This means that government ought to be for the benefit of all the people, poor as well as rich, and under a free government all the people have equal protection from the law.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES are principles or truths according to which, or upon which, systems, or laws, or institutions, are FOUNDED. The fundamental principles of free government are that all men are born equal, and that all men have equal rights to life and liberty.

RECURRENCE means A GOING BACK TO. We must frequently recur, or go back to, fundamental principles in order to preserve free government. We must also firmly adhere to, or practice justice, moderation, temperance, and virtue.

JUSTICE is the doing of what is right. MODERATION means the avoiding of severity or harshness in our conduct towards others. TEMPERANCE is the moderate or reasonable use or enjoyment of the pleasures of life. FRUGALITY is the practice of thrift and economy as opposed to extravagance. VIRTUE is the practice of the moral good taught by religion.

The constitution guarantees to the people the right to make and to change their own laws; the right of speedy trial by jury; protection in the enjoyment of their inherent rights; freedom of elections; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; religious freedom; equal civil and political rights and public privileges.

It prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments, and the taking of private property for public uses except by law and with just compensation.

A CONSTITUTION is a system or plan of government, or a written or printed statement of the principles and rules according to which a government is to be conducted. The constitution tells how the government is to be formed, what it has power to do, and what it must not do. The Constitution of Virginia GUARANTEES, that is, secures or makes sure to the people, the right to make or change the laws. A government under a constitution is called a CONSTITUTIONAL government.

TRIAL BY JURY is trial by a judge and certain citizens who are called the jury. The duty of the judge is to see that the trial is conducted according to law, and to pass sentence on the accused person if found guilty. The duty of the jury is to decide, after hearing the evidence, whether the accused person is guilty or not. This declaration of the jury is called a VERDICT, a word which means a TRUE SAYING.

INHERENT means inseparable from, or not to be taken away. INHERENT RIGHTS are rights that cannot justly be taken away from the people. The right to life and liberty is an inherent right of man which cannot be taken away by any constitution or government.

FREEDOM OF ELECTIONS means freedom to hold elections to choose the officers of government, and freedom for every citizen to vote for the candidate of his choice. FREEDOM OF SPEECH and FREEDOM OF THE PRESS mean liberty for all to speak or publish what they desire to say on any subject, being liable to punishment by law if they speak or publish anything injurious to the reputation of others. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM means liberty to belong to any religion, or to worship God in any way that one thinks proper.

CIVIL RIGHTS are the rights a man is entitled to as a member of the community, such as the right to trial by jury, the right of freedom of speech.

POLITICAL RIGHTS are the rights that belong to men as citizens, Such, as the right to vote, the right to be candidates for public office.

PUBLIC PRIVILEGES are benefits or advantages possessed by some and not by others, such as charters to corporations or licenses to carry on certain kinds of business. For example, a license to sell liquors is a public privilege. It is not for the public good that it should be given to everybody, but the Constitution guarantees that under necessary restrictions as to the number of such licenses granted, all citizens shall have equal rights to such privileges.

PRIVATE PROPERTY is property that belongs to private individuals. It may be taken for public use when necessary. If a government building has to be erected or a railroad made, the land required for the purpose may be taken from the owner, but a just price must be paid for it.

Who May Vote and Hold Office. Every male citizen of the United States, who is 21 years old, who has been a resident of the State two years, of the county, city, or town one year, and of the precinct in which he offers to vote thirty days next preceding any election, has been registered and has paid his state poll taxes, shall be entitled to vote; except idiots and lunatics, persons convicted after the adoption of the constitution of bribery in any election, embezzlement of public funds, treason, felony, or petit larceny, obtaining money or other property under false pretences, or who have been in any way concerned in a duel.

All persons entitled to vote shall be eligible to any office within the gift of the people, except as restricted by the constitution.

Excepting the requirements of residence in the voting precinct, payment of poll tax and registration, the qualifications of jurors are practically the same as those of voters.

A CITIZEN is a native of the United States or a foreigner who has been made a citizen. To be made a citizen, a person must, at least two years before admission, make a declaration before a judge that it is his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce allegiance to all foreign powers or princes. Having so declared his intention, and after residing five years in the United States, he must declare on oath before a judge that he renounces allegiance to all foreign powers, and that he will support the Constitution of the United States. He then receives a paper or document certifying that he is a citizen. The paper is called a NATURALIZATION paper, and the person who receives it is said to be NATURALIZED, because it entitles him to all the rights and privileges of a NATIVE or NATURAL-BORN citizen of the United States.

CONVICTED means tried in a public court for a crime and found guilty. BRIBERY in elections is buying or selling votes, or giving money or payment in any form to a voter for voting for any candidate. EMBEZZLEMENT is the crime a person commits who takes for his own use the money or property of others that has been entrusted to his care. TREASON is to make war against or try to overthrow or destroy the government of one’s own country. FELONY is a crime that may be punished by death or imprisonment in state prison. PETIT LARCENY is the stealing of goods of small value.

Every voter is required to be registered. This is a most important proceeding, as it insures the purity of the ballot and the intelligent exercise of the right of franchise. Elections. Shall be by ballot; for State, county, corporation and district officers, shall be held the Tuesday after the first Monday in November; except for mayors and councils of cities and towns, which shall be the second Tuesday of June.

State executive officers elected at a general election shall enter upon the duties of their respective offices the first of February next thereafter; members of the House of Delegates and all county, corporation, and district officers on the first of January, and Senators on the second Wednesday in January next thereafter; and mayors and councils of cities and towns on the first of September next succeeding their election. State executive officers elected by the General Assembly enter upon their duties the first of March following their election.

They shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices until their successors shall have qualified.

The BALLOT is the printed list containing the names of all the candidates to be voted for at an election. The places where the people vote are called POLLS, and they are kept open for one day– from sunrise to sunset. At the polls there are officers called judges or clerks of election. When the voter goes to the poll on election day, one of the judges hands him a ballot. With the ballot he goes alone into a small compartment or BOOTH, where there is a desk with a pencil or pen and ink. There he draws a mark with the pen or pencil through the names of the candidates he does not wish to vote for, leaving the names of the candidates he votes for unmarked He then, folds up the ballot, with the names of the candidates on the inside, and hands it to one of the judges, who drops it into a box, where it remains until the votes are counted after the poll closes. The candidates who receive the highest number of votes are declared elected. This is done by the Board of State Canvassers (which see).

STATE OFFICERS are officers elected by the voters of the whole State. The governor, the lieutenant-governor, and attorney-general are State officers.

A CORPORATION is a body or number of persons formed and authorized by law to carry on business under one name as a single person. Banks and railroad and manufacturing companies are corporations. They are called private corporations because the business they do is for the benefit of private individuals. The people of cities and towns have power by law to carry on the government of their cities and towns as corporations. They are called public corporations because they are formed for the purpose of government, and act for the whole people (see under Government of Cities and Towns)

QUALIFIED, with regard to State officers, means having taken the oath of office. The Constitution requires that every person, before entering upon the discharge of any functions as an officer of the State, must solemnly swear or affirm that he will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the State of Virginia, and that he will faithfully perform the duty of the office to which he has been elected. To take this oath is to QUALIFY for the office.

The State is entitled to two U. S. Senators and ten Representatives in Congress, and to twelve votes for President and Vice-President in the Electoral College.

The ELECTORAL COLLEGE is the name given to the body of persons who elect the President and Vice-President of the United States. At a presidential election, which takes place every four years, the people do not vote directly for the candidates who have been nominated for President and Vice-President. They vote for persons nominated to be ELECTORS, and each State has the right to choose as many electors as it has senators and representatives in Congress. Virginia has two senators and ten representatives in Congress, therefore at the presidential election it chooses twelve electors. This is what is meant by saying that it has twelve votes in the Electoral College.

The members of the Electoral College do not meet all together to elect the President and Vice-President. The electors of each State meet in the capital of their own State in January after they are elected, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President. after which they send lists to the President of the United States Senate showing how they have voted. Those lists are examined in the Senate and the votes counted. Then the candidates who have received the votes of a majority of the Electoral College are declared elected.


1. From whom are the powers of government derived?

2. What are magistrates?

3. For what is government instituted?

4. What are fundamental principles?

5. What is the Bill of Rights?

6 What is a constitution?

7. What is trial by jury?

8 Tell what you understand by freedom of elections, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and religious freedom

9. Tell the difference between civil rights and political rights.

10. What are public privileges?

11. What is involuntary servitude?


13. Who is entitled to vote, and who is eligible to office?

14. What is a citizen?

15. How may one become a citizen?


17. What are jurors?

18. When are the elections for State officers held?

19. How are elections conducted?

20. Define BALLOT, POLLS, and BOOTH.

21. What are State officers?

22. What is a corporation?

23. What is the meaning of QUALIFIED?

24. How many senators and representatives in Congress is the State entitled to?

25. How many votes is the State entitled to in the Electoral College?

26. What is the Electoral College?

27. How do the electors choose the President and Vice-President of the United States?



The legislative power of the commonwealth is vested in a General Assembly consisting of a Senate and House of Delegates.

LEGISLATIVE POWER is the power to legislate or make LAWS, hence the General Assembly is the LEGISLATURE of Virginia. COMMONWEALTH, which means COMMON WELL-BEING, or common good, is a name sometimes given to a State or country which has a republican form of government–that is, a government in which the people are the supreme power, and in which all the people have common (that is, equal) interests and common rights. CONSISTING means formed or made up of.

A DELEGATE is a person appointed or elected by others to do business for them as their representative. The members of the House of Delegates are elected by the people of the State to represent and act for them in the business of making laws.

The Senate.

Number. There are forty Senators, from thirty-nine senatorial districts. The Lieutenant-Governor is the presiding officer.

Elected. By the people; one-half being chosen every two years until the general election in 1907. At that time, and every four years thereafter, the entire senate will be chosen at one time for a term of four years.

Qualifications. A Senator must be an actual resident of the district for which he is elected; must be legally qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly; must hold no salaried office under the State government.

Powers. Shall select its own officers; choose from its own body, in the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor, or when he exercises the office of Governor, a president PRO TEMPORE; confirms or rejects nominations; has sole power to try impeachment.

SENATORIAL DISTRICTS are the districts into which a State is divided for the election of senators. There are thirty-nine districts in Virginia, and each of them elects one senator, except the district formed of Richmond and the County of Henrico, which elects two. PRESIDING OFFICER is a person who PRESIDES or acts as president or chairman in any assembly or meeting.

A candidate for the Senate must be LEGALLY QUALIFIED TO VOTE for members of the General Assembly. This means that he must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of Virginia for two years, and have the other legal qualifications of voters as required by the Constitution.

PRO TEMPORE is a Latin phrase meaning FOR THE TIME–that is, for a short time or temporarily. The Senate elects one of its own members to preside PRO TEMPORE if the lieutenant-governor happen to be absent, or when he is called upon to act as governor. (See under Powers and Duties of governor, page 28.) The Senate has the power to CONFIRM OR REJECT NOMINATIONS. Many public officers of the State are appointed by the governor, but when he nominates or NAMES a person for a public office he sends the nomination to the Senate, and it may confirm–that is, approve of–the nomination, or it may reject it. If it should reject the nomination, the person nominated is not appointed.

IMPEACHMENT means a charge of dishonesty or serious neglect of duty made against a public official. In an impeachment it is the House of Delegates which must make the charge and act as prosecutor, but it is the Senate which must try the case and pass sentence on the accused, if proved guilty.

House of Delegates.

Number. Composed of one hundred members apportioned by statute among the counties and cities of the State.

Elected. By the people for two years.

Qualifications. Same as for Senators.

Powers. Elects its own Speaker and all other officers; impeaches State officers, and prosecutes them before the Senate. The Clerk of the House of Delegates is also Keeper of the Rolls.

Apportioned means divided or distributed or allotted. A statute is any law, but the word is most commonly understood to mean a law made by a legislature representing the people. The number of delegates appointed to the counties and cities–that is, the number which each is entitled to elect–is decided by statute in proportion to the number of inhabitants.

The chairman of the House of Delegates is called the speaker. The same title is given to the presiding officer of the lower house in nearly every legislature in English-speaking countries.

The rolls are the statutes in written form as passed by the Assembly. A law when proposed in the Assembly is called a bill. To become a statute a bill must be voted on and have a majority three times in the House of Delegates and three times in the Senate and be signed by the governor. Then it is an act, or a Statute, or a law. The copy signed by the governor is an engrossed or written copy, and the official copies of the laws so engrossed are the rolls, and are preserved by the keeper of the rolls, who is the clerk of the House of Delegates.

General Assembly. (Senate and House jointly.)

Sessions. Biennial. Beginning the second Wednesday in January of every even year, and continuing sixty days. The session may be extended not exceeding thirty days. It may be convened in special session by the Governor.

The Senate and House of Delegates jointly–that is, both together –are called the General Assembly. Sessions means sittings or meetings for business, and biennial means happening once every two years. The General Assembly meets once every two years, and it does business for sixty days. If the business necessary to be done require more time, the session may be extended–that is, lengthened–thirty days. A special session is a session convened– that is, called to meet–for some special or particular business. The governor may convene such a session whenever he thinks it necessary.

Powers. General powers of legislation under the constitution. Elects U. S. Senators, County and City Electoral Boards, Auditor of Public Accounts, Second Auditor, Register of the Land Office, Superintendent of Public Printing, the Judges of the Commonwealth; decides contests in the election of Governor and Lieutenant- Governor; confirms or rejects nominations of certain officers made by the Governor, the State Board of Education, etc.

Powers means what the General Assembly has power to do. Legislation is the making of laws. The Assembly has powers of general legislation under the constitution–that is, of making all such laws as the constitution directs or does not forbid. (Explanations are given later on as to the boards and officers mentioned here which the General Assembly has power to elect.)

Contests–that is, disputes or differences–may occur in the election of governor and lieutenant-governor. There may be contests as to counting of votes or as to the qualifications of candidates. Such contests are decided by the General Assembly.

Membership. Each house settles its own rules of proceeding; is judge of the election, qualification, and returns of its members. Members are not subject to arrest under any civil process during the session of the General Assembly, nor for fifteen days next before the convening, and after the termination of each session; are privileged from arrest in all cases during the session, except for treason, felony, perjury, breach of the peace, or a contempt of court of a criminal nature.

What is meant by each house being judge of the election, qualification, and returns of its members is, that it can decide whether the members are legally elected and qualified. Returns are the particulars as to names of candidates and the number of votes cast for each, which the election judges are required to make up after the close of the poll on election day. The qualifications necessary for a member of either house are as follows: he must be twenty-one years of age or over, and a voter of the State of Virginia, and he must reside in the district for which he is elected.

Civil process is a law-proceeding in a case where no crime is charged, but such as for the recovering of a debt or for the settlement of a difference relating to business matters. Perjury is the crime of wilfully making a false oath. When a person appears as a witness in a court of law he has to take an oath that he will tell the truth. If after taking such oath he tells what he knows to be untrue, he is guilty of perjury.

A breach of the peace is any act of violence which causes public disturbance, such as one person assaulting another and thereby causing a quarrel or riot.

Contempt of court is disobedience to the orders or decrees or rules of a court of law. Insult or violence to a judge in court would he criminal contempt.

Salaries. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, each, $400; and the other members, each, $240 for attendance and service at each regular session; at all extra sessions, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates shall receive, each, $240, and the other members, each, $120. Members are entitled to mileage.

In addition to his salary each member of the Assembly receives ten cents per mile for expenses of traveling to and from the sessions of the Assembly. This allowance is called mileage.

Bills may originate in either of the two houses. No bill shall become a law until it has been read on three different days in each house except by a vote of four-fifths of the members voting in each house.

Every bill which shall have passed the Senate and House of Delegates shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the Governor; if he approve, he shall sign it and it is then a law, but if not, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated; who shall proceed to reconsider it. If after such consideration two-thirds of the members present shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent to the other house, by which it shall be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of all the members present, it shall become a law, notwithstanding the objections of the Governor.

He may also veto any particular item of an appropriation bill, but this item may also be passed over his veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within five days after it shall have been presented to him, it shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it.

A bill is a draft or statement of a proposed law. A bill may originate in either house–that is, it may be first proposed in either the Seriate or House of Delegates. Any senator or delegate who wishes to have a new law made must first put it in writing. Then he himself introduces or proposes it in the house of which he is a member, or it may be introduced by a committee.

A committee is a number of persons, usually not a large number, appointed by a legislature or other body to take charge of and attend to some particular business. The members of the House of Delegates and of the Senate are divided into committees, and some special subject or business is entrusted to each. For example, in the Senate there are committees on Privileges and Elections, Public Institutions and Education, and many other subjects; and in the House of Delegates there are committees on Courts of Justice, Schools and Colleges, and other subjects.

Usually proposals for new laws are referred for consideration to the committee having charge of the subject or business to which the proposed law relates. Committees in the Senate are elected by the senators themselves; committees in the House of Delegates are appointed by the speaker.

When a new law or bill is introduced it is either proposed by a committee, or by some member and given for consideration to a committee. In order to pass, it must be read three times on three different days (once each day) in the house in which it originates.

The first reading is the formal placing or presenting of the bill before the house. At the second reading the bill is discussed, and any member who wishes to say anything for or against it is at liberty to do so.

Amendments may also be proposed at the second reading. An amendment is an alteration or a change in the wording or matter of a bill. After an amendment is discussed the house votes upon it, and if a majority is for it, the change is made in the bill.

When all amendments are discussed and voted on, a vote is taken on the bill as a whole, and if a majority of the members vote for it, it is read a second time.

It is then engrossed, or written out, by the clerk of the house, and read a third time, after which a vote is again taken, and if there is a majority for it, it passes the house.

When the bill is passed in the house in which it originated, it is taken to the other house by the sergeant-at-arms. There it goes through the same forms of reading and discussion, and if it be read three times and have a majority in its favor it is passed. It is then enrolled, after which it is signed by the presiding officer in each house, and when this is done it is sent to the governor for his signature.

The sergeant-at-arms is an officer whose duty it is to preserve order in the chamber where the sessions of either house are held, to distribute among the members any papers or documents they may require, and in general to perform such services as are necessary for the proper transaction of business. Each house has its own sergeant-at-arms.

(For enrolling, see under House of Delegates, page 19.) The requirements with regard to a bill after it is sent to the governor are stated in the text above. (For the veto power of the governor, see page 28.)


1. In whom is the legislative power of the commonwealth vested?

2. What is the legislative power?

3. Define commonwealth.

4. What is a delegate?

5. How many members constitute the Senate?

6. What are senatorial districts, and how many are there in the State?

7. Who is the presiding officer of the Senate?

8. For how long are senators elected?

9. What are the qualifications of a senator?

10. What are the powers of the Senate?

11. What does impeachment mean?

12. Who tries a case of impeachment?

13. How many members of the House of Delegates?

14. Define statute.

15. For how long are members of the House of Delegates elected?

16. What are the qualifications of delegates?

17. What are the powers of delegates?

18. Define apportioned.

19. What is the chairman of the House of Delegates called?

20. What are the rolls, and by whom are they kept?

21. What does the General Assembly consist of?

22. How often are the sessions of the General Assembly held?

23. What is a special session?

24. What are the powers of the General Assembly?

25. What officers does it elect?

26. What is legislation?

27. What are contests in elections of governor and lieutenant- governor, and who decides them?

28. What is meant by each house being judge of the election, qualifications, and returns of its members?

29. What are election returns?

30. Define civil process.

31. What is perjury?

32. What is contempt of court?

33. What are the salaries of the officers and members of the Assembly?

34. What is mileage?

35. What is a bill?

36. Tell how a bill becomes a law.

37. What is a committee?

38. Define amendment.




Elected. By the people for four years. Must reside at the seat of government during his term of office; not eligible for the next succeeding term. Salary, $5,000 a year. He shall receive no other emolument from this or any other government.

The seat of government is the city or town in which the Legislature holds its sessions. Richmond is the seat of government of the State of Virginia. Term is the period of time for which a public officer is elected. The term of the governor is four years. He is not eligible–that is, he cannot be elected–for the next succeeding term–that is, he cannot be governor for two terms, one immediately following the other. Emolument is salary or compensation or pay.

Qualifications. Must be at least thirty years of age; must be a citizen of the United States; must have been for the five years next preceding his election a resident of the State. If of foreign birth, he must have been a citizen of the United States for the ten years next preceding his election.

Foreign birth means birth in any country outside the United States. But the children of American citizens are citizens of the United States, even though they have been born in another country.

Powers and Duties. The chief executive officer of the commonwealth; shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed; shall communicate to the General Assembly, at every session, the condition of the commonwealth, and recommend such measures as he may deem expedient; may call special sessions of the General Assembly; shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Forces of the State; may embody the militia to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and enforce, the execution of the laws; shall conduct all intercourse with other and foreign states; may fill temporarily, during the recess of the General Assembly, all vacancies in those offices for which the constitution and laws make no provision; may remit fines and penalties, grant reprieves and pardons, remove political disabilities, and commute capital punishment; shall attest all commissions and grants; signs or vetoes bills passed by the General Assembly.

The governor is the chief executive officer. He is called chief because he is the highest public officer of the State, and executive because it is his duty to execute or carry out the laws. It is also his duty to send what is called a message to each session of the General Assembly. The message is a letter or statement in which he communicates to the Assembly full information as to the condition of the State, and recommends such measures–that is, such new laws–as he thinks necessary.

Militia is a body composed of citizens enrolled and trained as soldiers for the defence of the State. All able-bodied male persons between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years may be called to serve in the militia. Naval forces are military forces or militia that serve on sea.

Invasion is the entrance into a State of a military force from another country for the purpose of conquest. To repel invasion is to oppose it by force, to drive off the invaders. Insurrection is a rising or rebellion of people in a State against the government of their own State. It is the duty of the governor to suppress– that is, to put down–insurrection, and to ENFORCE the EXECUTION of the laws–that is, to carry out the laws by force if necessary. INTERCOURSE is correspondence with others by letter or message. When it is necessary to have intercourse with another State or a foreign country, the governor, as the chief executive and highest representative of the people, is the person who conducts such correspondence.

The recess of the General Assembly is the time when it is not in session. During recess of the Assembly, the governor may fill vacancies in public offices for which the Constitution and laws make no provision. For example, the Constitution and laws make no provision for the appointment of judges during the recess of Assembly; therefore, if a judge dies during the recess, the governor appoints a person to fill the vacancy until the Assembly meets and elects a new judge.

A FINE is a PENALTY or punishment in the form of payment of money. Sometimes a person convicted of an offence against the law is ordered by the judge to pay a sum of money instead of being sent to jail. This is called a FINE. But it may happen that the person is convicted by mistake or by false evidence, or that the fine is too heavy for the person to pay. In such cases the governor may REMIT the FINES–that is, release or free the persons from having to pay.

The governor may also GRANT REPRIEVES AND PARDONS if he sees good reason for doing so. A reprieve is a delay of punishment. When a person is convicted of murder, the judge sentences him to be put to death on a certain day. But there may be reason for further inquiry into the case, and to give time for such inquiry the governor may postpone the execution of the sentence–that is, put it off to another day. This is called a reprieve. If the further inquiry should prove that the person is innocent, a full pardon is granted and the person is set free.

POLITICAL DISABILITIES are punishments which deprive persons of certain rights of citizenship. A citizen convicted of bribery in an election, embezzlement of public funds, treason, felony, or petit larceny, is by the law of Virginia deprived of the right of voting. This is a POLITICAL DISABILITY. The person convicted is legally DISABLED to vote. The governor may remove the disability, and this restores to the person his right of voting. The governor may also COMMUTE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. To COMMUTE is to CHANGE, and CAPITAL PUNISHMENT is the punishment of DEATH–the punishment inflicted on persons convicted of murder. The governor may order that instead of being put to death the convict be imprisoned for life, or for a number of years. (A convict is a person CONVICTED or found guilty of crime.)

The governor shall ATTEST ALL COMMISSIONS AND GRANTS. To ATTEST is to certify, or bear witness to, and a COMMISSION is a written paper giving power or authority to some person or persons to perform a public duty. When a judge is elected he receives a commission authorizing him to act as such, and the governor attests the commission by signing his name to it. GRANTS or gifts, such as grants of public lands or money for educational or other public objects, are also made in writing, and must be attested by the governor. (Commissions and other important papers must have upon them an impression of the seal of the State. The seal is a circular piece of metal made like a medal or large coin and bearing on each side certain figures and mottoes. The impression of the seal shows that the paper has been officially attested or certified.)

The VETO power is one of the most important powers possessed by the governor. When a bill is passed by the General Assembly it is sent to the governor for his signature. If he SIGN it–that is, writes his name upon it–it is then a law. If he VETO the bill, or any item contained in it appropriating money, the bill, or such part of it as is vetoed, cannot become a law until it is again passed by a two-thirds vote of both houses. (VETO is a Latin word meaning I FORBID.)

In case the Governor dies, or is in any way incapacitated for performing the duties of his office, the Lieutenant-Governor shall act; and in case of the inability of both, the President PRO TEMPORE of the Senate shall act.

INCAPACITATED for office means legally disqualified. The governor would be incapacitated if he should refuse to qualify by taking the necessary oath, or if he should reside out of the State, or if he should be convicted on impeachment.


Elected. At the same time and for the same term as the Governor, and his qualifications and the manner of his election in all respects shall be the same.

He shall be the President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, except in case of an equal division.

For the same term means for the same length of time. The governor is elected for four years. That is his term of office. The term of the lieutenant-governor is the same.

An equal division is an equal number voting for and against the same proposal. If a bill is proposed in the Senate and twenty senators vote for and twenty against it, that is an equal division. In such case, and in no other case, the president votes. He may vote on either side he pleases, and his vote is called a casting vote.


Elected. By the people for four years. Salary, $2,500 and mileage.

Duties. Shall give his opinion and advice when required to do so by the Governor, or by any of the public boards and officers at the seat of government; shall appear as counsel for the State in all cases in which the commonwealth is interested, depending in the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of the United States, the District and Circuit Courts of the United States for the State of Virginia, and shall discharge such other duties as may be imposed by the General Assembly. Member of the State Board of Education.

An attorney is a person who acts for and in the place of another. The word is usually applied to a lawyer who is employed by another to act for him in any law business he wishes to have done. An attorney who appears in a court of law and acts or defends a person, or acts against a person accused of crime, is called a counsel.

The attorney-general is a lawyer who is elected to do law business for the State. He must appear in court as counsel for the State in every case in which the commonwealth (meaning the whole people) is interested. The commonwealth is interested in every case of crime, because it is for the interest or well-being of the people that those who commit crime should be punished. If this were not done– if criminals, persons who commit murder or burglary or theft–were not arrested and punished, no man’s life or property would be safe. The attorney-general must appear and act for the commonwealth in any of the courts above mentioned whenever there is a case in any of them in which the people of the State are interested.

Depending or pending with reference to a case means that the case is in court waiting to be tried or decided. (For information as to Supreme Court of Appeals and Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, mentioned above, see under Judiciary Department.)

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court of the United States. Its members or judges are appointed by the President and hold office for life, and it sits at Washington and tries cases in which any person or persons are accused of violating the Constitution of the United States. The members of the district and circuit courts of the United States are also appointed by the President. These courts sit in various districts of States, and try cases in which persons are accused of violating the laws of the United States–that is, the laws made by Congress.

The word circuit means a going round. A district in which the same judges go round at certain times and hold courts in several places is called a circuit, and the courts so held are called circuit courts.


1. For how many years and by whom is the governor elected?

2. Where must the governor reside?

3. Is the governor eligible for a second term?

4. What is the governor’s salary?

5. What is the seat of government?

6. What qualifications are necessary in a candidate for governor?

7. Mention some of the powers and duties of the governor.

8. Why is the governor called the chief executive officer?

9. What is the governor’s message?

10. What is the militia?

11. Define naval forces, invasion, insurrection.

12. What is a fine?

13. What is a reprieve?

14. What are political disabilities?

15. What is capital punishment?

16. Define commissions and grants.

17. What is the veto power?

18. When does the lieutenant-governor act as governor?

19. In case of the inability of both the governor and lieutenant- governor, who acts as governor?

20. How is the lieutenant-governor chosen?

21. What are the qualifications of the lieutenant-governor?

22. Does the lieutenant-governor ever vote in the Senate?

23. What is an equal division?

24. What is an attorney?

25. For how long is the attorney-general elected?

26. What is his salary?

27. What are his duties?

28. What are circuit courts?



Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Elected. By the people at the General Election for a term of four years. Salary, $2,500.

Duties. Shall keep a record of all executive acts; shall attest the signature of the Governor on all official documents; shall keep the seals of the commonwealth; shall arrange and preserve all records and papers belonging to the Executive Department; shall be charged with the clerical duties of that department, and render the Governor such services as he may require in the dispatch of executive business; shall be general librarian, and have charge of the library fund; shall receive and transmit election returns directed by law to be sent to him, and keep a record of the certified statements and determinations of the Board of State Canvassers; issue certificates of election; collect tax on State seal; keep on file the reports of other departments and make and record a summary of each; record all charters of incorporation; shall make quarterly reports to the Governor.

COMMISSIONS are fees or payments for certain work done. The secretary of the commonwealth may charge fees for making out copies of any public papers or documents kept hi his office, or for issuing commissions (letters of appointment) to certain public officers. The person who receives the copy or commission must pay the fee.

A RECORD is a written account or description of any business or work done. EXECUTIVE ACTS are official acts of the governor. The secretary of the commonwealth must make records of such acts and preserve them in his office. He must sign his own name after the signature of the governor on all official documents. This is called ATTESTING the signature.

There are two SEALS OF THE COMMONWEALTH. One is called the GREAT SEAL, and the other the LESSER SEAL. (For form and description of seal, see under POWERS AND DUTIES of governor, page 28.) The great seal is much larger in size than the lesser. It is affixed to documents signed by the governor which are to be used for purposes outside the jurisdiction of the State, or, for example, in a United States court, or in another State or foreign country. The lesser seal is affixed to public documents signed by the governor which are issued for use within the State.

CLERICAL DUTIES are the duties of writing letters, records, and other papers or documents. A GENERAL LIBRARIAN is one who has general charge or control of a library. The LIBRARY FUND is the books and maps belonging to the State. These are kept in the State library at the capital, and the secretary of the commonwealth is the librarian.

ELECTION RETURNS when made up by the judges of election are sent to the commissioners of elections and afterwards to the Board of State Canvassers. The board determines and decides who have been elected, and the secretary must KEEP A RECORD of the Board’s DETERMINATIONS.

After the election returns are examined by the State board, the secretary makes out CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION for certain State officers elected at the polls. The certificate is a paper certifying or stating that the person has been elected. There is a TAX or charge on the use of the State seals on certain documents, and this tax is collected by the secretary of the commonwealth. The secretary must KEEP ON FILE–that is, preserve–in his office the reports of other public departments of the State, and make a summary, or sketch, of the contents of each.

A CHARTER OF INCORPORATION is a paper or document granted by the General Assembly, and giving power to a number of persons to carry on business as a corporation, or to the people of a town or city to carry on the business of government within their own districts.


Elected. At the General Election for term of four years. Salary, $2,000 and commissions allowed by law.

Duties. Shall receive and disburse, only upon a warrant from the proper Auditor, all moneys paid into the Treasury of the State; shall pay interest on certain bonds as they become due and payable; shall be the custodian of bonds held by the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, and of bonds deposited by foreign express and insurance companies doing business in the State; shall make quarterly and annual reports to the Governor.

The treasurer is the person who receives and takes charge of money belonging to the State. The building in which the money is kept and in which the treasurer has his office is called the treasury. The treasurer also disburses money. To disburse is to pay out, and the treasurer cannot disburse without a warrant from the auditor (see next section).

The warrant is a writing giving the treasurer power to pay money. The treasurer pays the interest on State bonds. A bond is a written paper by which a person binds or pledges himself to pay a certain sum of money before a certain day. Sometimes the government has to borrow money, and when it does so it issues bonds to the persons who loan the money. In these bonds the government binds itself to pay the money by a certain time, and to pay a certain amount every year as interest until the principal (the full amount borrowed) is paid back.

The sinking fund is money set apart at certain times to pay the debts due by the government. It is in charge of officers called commissioners. These commissioners hold bonds for debts due to the government on account of the sale of public lands, and the interest of the State in railroads and other corporations. Express companies and insurance companies whose head-quarters are in foreign countries, and who do business in Virginia, are required to give bonds to the State as security that their obligations to citizens of the State shall be honestly carried out.


Elected. By the General Assembly for term of four years beginning on first day of March succeeding election. Salary, $4,000.

Duties. Shall audit all pecuniary claims against the commonwealth, except those chargeable to the Board of Education, Corporation Commission, or any corporation composed of officers of government, of the funds and property of which the State is sole owner; shall settle with officers charged with collecting the revenues of the State; shall issue warrants directing the Treasurer to receive money into the Treasury, and warrants upon the Treasurer in payment of all claims except those mentioned above; shall report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction by September 15th, in each year, ninety per cent, of the gross amount of funds applicable to public school purposes for the current year; shall make quarterly and annual reports to the Governor.

An auditor is a person who audits or examines accounts or statements of the receipt and expenditure of money, to see that they are correct.

Pecuniary claims are claims for the payment of money. Such claims made against the commonwealth are not paid until they are examined by the auditor of the public accounts. Claims that are chargeable –that is, to be charged–against the Board of Education, the Corporation Commission, or corporations of government officers, are not audited by the auditor of public accounts, but by the second auditor (see next section). To report ninety per cent, of the school funds is to state the amount to that extent that is ready to be apportioned or divided among the cities and counties for school use (see under sections Superintendent of Public Instruction and School Funds).


Elected. By the General Assembly for four years from the first of March next succeeding election. Salary, $1,700 and commissions allowed by law.

Duties. Shall register all coupon and registered bonds and fractional certificates issued on account of the public debt, and all bonds redeemed and cancelled by the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund; shall be the custodian of the books of the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, and securities for money belonging thereto; shall audit all claims on account of the Board of Education, Corporation Commission, and any corporation composed of officers of government, of the funds and property of which the State is sole owner; shall issue his warrant for all moneys received into the Treasury, or drawn out of it on account of these boards and corporations, the Sinking Fund and the Literary Fund; shall make quarterly and annual reports to the Governor.

To register bonds is to enter particulars of them in books kept for the purpose. Coupon bonds are bonds with interest coupons or certificates attached to them, and bearing no name, but payable to any person who presents the coupons at the treasury at certain times. Registered bonds are bonds bearing the name of the person who receives them, and payable to that person or any person to whom he may sell or transfer them.

Fractional certificates are certificates or bonds issued for any fractional part of one hundred dollars of the public debt. All other bonds are issued for amounts of one hundred dollars or some multiple of a hundred.

A bond is redeemed–that is, bought back–when it is received at the treasury or office of the sinking fund and the amount of it is paid to the holder. The bond is then cancelled. To cancel is to deface or destroy so that the paper or bond cannot be used again.

A security is something given or deposited as a pledge that money loaned shall be repaid. Debts may be due to the sinking fund by railroad or other companies in which the State has an interest, and securities have to be given that such debts shall be paid.

The literary fund was formed in 1810 from the sale of public lands, some of which had been possessed by the Church in colonial times. The fund has since been increased by the sale of lands given to the State by Congress for public school purposes. and by fines collected for offences committed against the State, and by donations made by private individuals. It is called the literary fund because it is used for purposes of education.

Register of the Land Office.

Elected. By the General Assembly for a term of four years from the first of March next succeeding election. Salary, $1,800. He is also Superintendent of Public Buildings.

Duties. Shall issue grants to all purchasers of waste lands; record all grants and patents, and furnish lists to the clerks of the county and corporation courts; shall keep the records, documents, and entries of Northern Neck Lands, and of lands granted, or to be granted, by the Commonwealth; shall have care of the public buildings and all other public property at the seat of government not placed in charge of others; shall have control of Capitol Square; shall try, prove, and seal weights and measures; shall report semi-annually to the Auditor of Public Accounts.

The land office is the office in which business connected with the sale or granting of public lands is conducted. This business is under the control of an officer called the register of the land office, and public buildings in the State are under his care. He is also superintendent of weights and measures. At his office are kept weights and measures, provided by the State, to be furnished to counties and corporations as standards by which the weights and measures in business use throughout the State are tested. The State weights and measures are tried by the register once every ten years, and when proved to be correct are marked with a seal. In every county there is a sealer of weights and measures, who must examine, once every three years, the weights and measures in use throughout the county, to see that they are up to the standard.

A patent is a government paper granting to some person or persons the sole right to any lands, privileges, or inventions.

The Northern Neck was the name given in colonial times to the peninsula lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers.

State Corporation Commission.

Composed of three members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, for a term of six years each. Salary, $4,000 each.

At least one of the Commissioners must have the qualifications prescribed for judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Duties. Shall issue all charters or amendments thereof for domestic corporations and licenses to do business in the State to foreign corporations; arrange for visitation, regulation and control of all corporations doing business in the State; prescribe the forms of all reports and collect and preserve such reports. Shall control all transportation companies; fix the amount of their taxes; prescribe rates, charges and classifications of traffic and enforce the same.

Has the powers and authority of a court of record to administer oaths and compel attendance of witnesses, and all appeals from the Commission shall be to the Supreme Court of Appeals only. Shall make annual reports to the governor.

The term corporation or company includes all trusts, associations and joint stock companies having any powers or privileges not possessed by individuals or unlimited partnerships. Charter means the charter of incorporation under which any such corporation is formed.

A transportation company is any company or person engaged in the business of a common carrier. A transmission company includes any company or person owning and operating a telephone or telegraph line for hire. Public service corporations include transportation and transmission companies, gas, electric light, heat and power companies and all persons authorized to use or occupy any street or public place in a manner not permitted to the general public.

Bonds are certificates of indebtedness issued by any corporation and secured by a mortgage or trust deed.

Domestic corporations are such as are chartered under the laws of Virginia. Foreign corporations are such as are incorporated under the laws of some other state or country.

The General Assembly may place under the control of the Corporation Commission divisions or bureaus of insurance, banking, etc.

Every domestic and foreign corporation doing business in the state shall file in the office of the Corporation Commission an annual report as prescribed by law setting forth various facts regarding its business, and organization, the names of its officers, its place of business and such other information as may be required by law.

A corporation may be established for the transaction of any lawful business or to promote or conduct any legitimate object or purpose.

Any number of persons not less than three may associate to incorporate a college, an alumni association, a literary society, a cemetery company or association, a fraternal benefit association, a fraternal association, society, order or lodge, a society for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, a charitable or benevolent association, or social, hunting, fishing club, or any society, organization or association of a similar nature.

A corporation may be limited as to duration to the time stated in its charter. But when no time is so limited it shall be perpetual, subject to the power of repeal reserved to the General Assembly.

A corporation may sue and be sued in any court of law and equity.

With regard to railroads, canals, and all transportation and transmission companies, the State Corporation Commission has all the power and authority formerly belonging to the office of railroad commissioner; examines them as to their condition, the causes of accidents, etc.; requires changes and improvements; contracts with them for the conveyance of convicts, lunatics, etc.

Every railroad company in Virginia has a charter from the State, in which are stated certain conditions on which, in the interests of the people, they must carry on their business. It is the duty of the Commission to examine the railroads from time to time to see that they are operated in such a way that there shall be no danger to the people who travel upon them.

To contract is to make an arrangement or a bargain for some work to be done. The Commission makes contracts with the railway companies for carrying convicts to prison from the place in which they are tried and convicted, and for carrying lunatics to the asylum or hospital in which they are to be confined.

With regard to internal improvements in which the State is interested, the Commission has all the authority formerly exercised by the Board of Public Works; appoints State directors and State proxies for works in which the State is interested; keeps a register of all property belonging to the State; represents the State in relation to all corporations whether as a stockholder, creditor, mortgagor, or otherwise.

Internal improvements are public works of various kinds for the improvement of the State, such as railroads, canals, highways. Money of the State may be invested in the capital of corporations carrying on internal improvements, and it is the duty of the Corporation Commission to watch and protect the interests of the State in such undertakings.

For this purpose the Commission appoints directors and proxies to act in such companies. A proxy is a person appointed as a substitute for another. Proxies are appointed to represent and vote for the State at meetings of corporations for internal improvements, in which the State holds stock.

A TOLL is a charge made for passing certain canals, bridges, etc. The Commission has the power to fix the amount of toll when it is not specified in the charter of the canal or bridge company.

Superintendent of the Penitentiary.

Appointed. By the Board of Penitentiary Directors for term of four years. Salary, $1,600.

Duties. Shall reside at the Penitentiary and be its chief executive officer; shall have control and custody of the property of the Penitentiary; shall employ a guard; shall report quarterly to the Governor, and monthly and annually to the Board of Directors.

The PENITENTIARY is the State prison at Richmond in which persons convicted in the State courts are imprisoned.

The GUARD is a body of men employed at the prison by the superintendent to prevent prisoners from escaping and to suppress rebellion by the prisoners if attempted. The Board of Directors is the board or body of men who have the management of the penitentiary. They are also appointed by the governor.

Superintendent of Public Printing.

Elected. By the General Assembly for term of four years. Salary, $1,500.

Duties. Must be a practical printer; shall have the supervision and management of the public printing and binding of the Commonwealth; shall report annually to the Governor, and biennially to the General Assembly.

The numerous public departments and offices of the State require to have a great deal of printing done. The acts passed by the General Assembly, the reports of public boards and of public officers, and the proceedings and decisions of some of the courts have to be printed and bound into books. It is the duty of the superintendent of public printing to make contracts for such work and all other printing and binding required for State purposes, and to see that it is properly done.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration.

Elected. By the people at the General Election for term of four years. Salary, $2,000.

Duties. Subject to the Board of Agriculture and Immigration, he shall be the executive officer of the Department; shall examine and test fertilizers, collect mining and manufacturing statistics, establish a museum of agricultural and horticultural products, woods and minerals of the State; shall investigate matters pertaining to agriculture, the cultivation of crops, and the prevention of injury to them; shall distribute seeds; shall disseminate such information relating to the soil, climate, natural resources, markets, and industries of the State as may attract capital and induce immigration.

It is the business of the Board of Agriculture and Immigration to promote the interests of farming throughout the State and to encourage the introduction of capital and immigrants into the State. The COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE is its executive officer. STATISTICS are statements of facts, usually accompanied by figures, showing the condition or progress of countries or peoples or industries.

The MINING AND MANUFACTURING STATISTICS of the State tell how many mines and manufacturing establishments are open in the State, how much work they do, how many people they employ, and give other important information regarding them.

A CABINET OF MINERALS is a collection of specimens of minerals, such as coal, ores, and metals. The commissioner of agriculture must keep in his office a collection or cabinet of samples or specimens of the minerals of Virginia, and the place where they are kept must be open to the public.

He must also make arrangements for providing from foreign countries such farm seeds as he may think of value to the people of the State, and he must DISTRIBUTE them in a careful and judicious manner among the people.

Commissioners of the Sinking Fund.

Composed of the Treasurer, Auditor of Public Accounts, and the Second Auditor.

For explanation of the SINKING FUND, etc., see under Treasurer and Second Auditor, pages 34-36.

Board of State Canvassers.

Composed of the Governor, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Auditor of Public Accounts, Treasurer, and Attorney-General.

Duties. Shall examine the certified abstracts of votes on file in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and make statement of the whole number of votes given at any General State election for certain State executive officers and for members of the Senate and House of Delegates, Representatives in Congress, and electors of President and Vice-President of the United States, and determine what persons have been duly elected.

The manner of voting at elections is explained on page 14, and the duty of the secretary of the commonwealth with regard to election returns is explained on page 33. The election returns, made up after the close of the polls on election day, are sent to the office of the clerk of the county or corporation in which the election is held.

Election returns are the books containing the names of the candidates and the number of votes given for each. On the second day after the election the COMMISSIONERS OF ELECTION meet at the clerk’s office and make out ABSTRACTS of the result of the voting and send them to the secretary of the commonwealth.

An abstract is a paper containing the name of the person or candidate who has received the highest number of votes, and the number of votes received. Abstracts are made out for governor and lieutenant-governor, for attorney-general, for secretary, for treasurer, for superintendent of public instruction, for commissioner of agriculture and immigration, for senators and delegates, for electors for President and Vice-President, for congressmen, and for county, district, and corporation officers voted for at the election. When the abstracts are made out they are certified and signed by the commissioners and attested by the clerk, who acts as clerk for the commissioners.

To CERTIFY is to state or declare that anything is true or correct. The commissioners certify the abstracts that they are correct, and they sign their names upon them. They are then CERTIFIED ABSTRACTS, and certified copies of the abstracts for State officers are sent to the secretary of the commonwealth. These abstracts are examined in the office of the secretary of the commonwealth, by the Board of State Canvassers, who determine who are elected.

The secretary of the commonwealth after recording the determinations of the commissioners makes out certificates of election for senators, delegates, congressmen, and State officers elected, except for the governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary, treasurer, and attorney-general. The certified abstracts of votes for these officers are transmitted to the speaker of the house of delegates by the secretary of the commonwealth, and the returns are opened and the votes counted and declared in the presence of the two houses of the general assembly within one week after the beginning of the session.

State Board of Education.

Superintendent of Public Instruction.

For the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, see under Education, Chapter XI.


1. What is the term of office of the secretary of the commonwealth?

2. What is his salary?

3. Name some of his duties.



6. What are the seals of the commonwealth?

7. What is a certificate of election?

8. What is the term of office of the treasurer?

9. What is his salary?

10. What are his duties?

11. Define WARRANT; BOND.

12. What is the sinking fund?

13. What is the term of office of the auditor of public accounts?

14. What salary does he receive?

15. What are his duties?

16. What is the term of office of the second auditor?

17. What does REGISTERING BONDS mean?

18. What are coupon bonds? Registered bonds?

19. What are fractional certificates?

20. What does REDEEMING a bond mean?

21. What is the literary fund?

22. What is the term of office of the register of the land office?

23. What other offices does the register of the land office hold?

24. Mention some of the duties of the register of the land office.

25. What is the business of the land office?

26. What are the duties of the superintendent of weights and measures?

27. What is a patent?

28. What are the duties of the superintendent of the penitentiary?

29. What is the penitentiary?

30. What are the duties of the superintendent of public printing?

31. How is the commissioner of agriculture and immigration chosen and for how long?

32. What salary does he receive?

33. What is the business of the department of agriculture and immigration?

34. Define STATISTICS.

35. What do the mining and manufacturing statistics tell?

36. How many members constitute the State Corporation Commission?

37. How are they chosen?

88. What are their qualifications?

39. What are their duties?

40. What are internal improvements?

41. What are State depositaries?

42. What are the duties of State directors and proxies?

43. What are domestic corporations? 44. Define foreign corporations.

45. Who are the commissioners of the sinking fund?

46. What are the duties of the commissioners of the sinking fund.

47. What officers compose the Board of State Canvassers?

48. What are the duties of the Board of State Canvassers?



Supreme Court of Appeals.

Composed of five judges chosen by joint vote of the two houses of the General Assembly. Term, twelve years. Salary: President, $4,200; other judges, each $4,000. The judges shall not hold any other office or public trust; shall not practice law.

Qualifications of Judges. Must have held a judicial station in the United States, or have practiced law for five years.

Sessions. Shall hold a session annually at Richmond. Wytheville, and Staunton.

The Judiciary Department is that part of government which is administered by JUDGES. All the courts of law in the State in which judges sit and hear and decide cases, or all the judges of the State regarded as one body, may be called the JUDICIARY.

The highest court in the State is the Supreme Court of Appeals. It has five judges, who are elected by the General Assembly and hold office for twelve years. The five judges appoint one of their number to be PRESIDENT of the court, and they appoint or select another who must reside at the seat of government. While they hold office as judges of the Court of Appeals they are not allowed to PRACTICE LAW–that is, to act as attorney or counsel (see under Attorney-General, page 29).

JUDICIAL STATION is the station or rank or office of a judge. A person cannot be elected judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals unless he has previously been a judge in the United States, or has practiced law for five years.

The SESSION of the court is the number of days it sits for business at any one place and time.

Jurisdiction. Shall have original jurisdiction in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus, and prohibition; shall have appellate jurisdiction in all cases involving the constitutionality of a law with reference to the Constitution of the State or the United States, or involving the life or liberty of a person, and in other cases prescribed by law. Shall not have jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy, exclusive of costs, is less than $300, unless such controversy relates to the title or boundary of land; or the probate of a will; or the appointment or qualification of a personal representative, guardian, committee, or curator; or a mill, roadway, ferry, or landing; or the right of the state, county or municipal corporation to levy tolls or taxes; or involves the construction of a law, ordinance, or proceeding imposing taxes; and, except in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus, or prohibition, the constitutionality of a law, or some other matter not merely pecuniary.

JURISDICTION means the power of a judge or of a court of law. APPELLATE jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear and decide cases of APPEAL against the decisions of lower courts.

This is the principal business of the Supreme Court of Appeals. In trials in the lower courts it frequently happens that the judge gives a decision which some lawyer acting in the case may think is not in accordance with law, or is not fair to his client. Whenever this happens, the lawyer may take the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals and ask the judges there to set aside the decision of the judge in the lower court. In cases of appeal, the court in which the decision appealed against has been given is called the LOWER COURT, A person who employs a lawyer to act for him in any law business is called a CLIENT.

The Supreme Court, after hearing the complaint or appeal against the decision of the lower court, considers the case and gives judgment on the question. This judgment is final–that is, it ends the case–unless there is some point in the question which has to do with the Constitution of the United States.

A writ is a paper issued by a judge, or court, commanding some person or persons to do something, or to abstain from doing something. Habeas corpus is a Latin phrase meaning you may have the body. A writ of habeas corpus is an order from a court directed usually to a warden or keeper of a prison, and commanding him to bring some particular prisoner before the court so that it may be decided whether there is just cause for his detention.

A mandamus is an order from a superior court to any person, corporation, or inferior–that is, lower–court requiring them to do something which it is part of their duty to do. A writ of prohibition is an order from a superior court prohibiting an inferior court from hearing or deciding a case, on the ground that it (the inferior court) has no jurisdiction in such case.

When the amount in controversy between two parties is less than $300, exclusive of costs–that is, excluding or not counting costs–the case cannot be appealed to the Supreme Court. In such cases that court has no jurisdiction. The idea of this law is that for sums less than $300 it would be absurd to go to the Supreme Court, as the costs might be greater than the sum in dispute. But if the dispute be about the title or boundary of land, or any of the other matters mentioned in the remainder of the sentence, the case may go before the Supreme Court of Appeals, even though the sum mentioned in the case be less than $300.

The title of land is the right of ownership, and a paper certifying that a person is the owner of certain land is a title deed. The probate of a will is the proof or proving of a will. A will is a statement, generally in writing, in which a persons declares his will, or wish, as to how he desires his property to be disposed of after his death. Wills must be probated–that is, proved in the proper court–before they can be legally executed.