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Congressional Government A Study in American Politics   By: (1856-1924)

Congressional Government A Study in American Politics by Woodrow Wilson

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Books by Woodrow Wilson

CONGRESSIONAL GOVERNMENT. A Study in American Politics. 16mo, $1.25.

MERE LITERATURE, and Other Essays, 12mo, $1.50.

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

CONGRESSIONAL GOVERNMENT

A STUDY IN AMERICAN POLITICS

BY

WOODROW WILSON

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY The Riverside Press Cambridge

COPYRIGHT, 1885, BY WOODROW WILSON

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To

His Father,

THE PATIENT GUIDE OF HIS YOUTH, THE GRACIOUS COMPANION OF HIS MANHOOD, HIS BEST INSTRUCTOR AND MOST LENIENT CRITIC,

This Book

IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE TO FIFTEENTH EDITION.

I have been led by the publication of a French translation of this little volume to read it through very carefully, for the first time since its first appearance. The re reading has convinced me that it ought not to go to another impression without a word or two by way of preface with regard to the changes which our singular system of Congressional government has undergone since these pages were written.

I must ask those who read them now to remember that they were written during the years 1883 and 1884, and that, inasmuch as they describe a living system, like all other living things subject to constant subtle modifications, alike of form and of function, their description of the government of the United States is not as accurate now as I believe it to have been at the time I wrote it.

This is, as might have been expected, more noticeable in matters of detail than in matters of substance. There are now, for example, not three hundred and twenty five, but three hundred and fifty seven members in the House of Representatives; and that number will, no doubt, be still further increased by the reapportionment which will follow the census of the present year. The number of committees in both Senate and House is constantly on the increase. It is now usually quite sixty in the House, and in the Senate more than forty. There has been a still further addition to the number of the "spending" committees in the House of Representatives, by the subdivision of the powerful Committee on Appropriations. Though the number of committees in nominal control of the finances of the country is still as large as ever, the tendency is now towards a concentration of all that is vital in the business into the hands of a few of the more prominent, which are most often mentioned in the text. The auditing committees on the several departments, for example, have now for some time exercised little more than a merely nominal oversight over executive expenditures.

Since the text was written, the Tenure of Office Act, which sought to restrict the President's removal from office, has been repealed; and even before its repeal it was, in fact, inoperative. After the time of President Johnson, against whom it was aimed, the party in power in Congress found little occasion to insist upon its enforcement; its constitutionality was doubtful, and it fell into the background. I did not make sufficient allowance for these facts in writing the one or two sentences of the book which refer to the Act.

Neither did I give sufficient weight, I now believe, to the powers of the Secretary of the Treasury. However minutely bound, guided, restricted by statute, his power has proved at many a critical juncture in our financial history notably in our recent financial history of the utmost consequence. Several times since this book was written, the country has been witness to his decisive influence upon the money markets, in the use of his authority with regard to the bond issues of the government and his right to control the disposition of the funds of the Treasury. In these matters, however, he has exercised, not political, but business power. He has helped the markets as a banker would help them. He has altered no policy. He has merely made arrangements which would release money for use and facilitate loan and investment... Continue reading book >>




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