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The Government Class Book Designed for the Instruction of Youth   By:

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[Transcriber's Note: In the original book, questions appeared at the bottom of each page. These questions have been compiled at the end of the text.]

The Government Class Book;

Designed for the Instruction of Youth in the Principles of Constitutional Government and the Rights and Duties of Citizens.

By Andrew W. Young,

Author of "Science of Government," "First Lessons in Civil Government," "American Statesman," "Citizen's Manual of Government and Law."


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by Andrew W. Young, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York.


The utility of the diffusion of political knowledge among a people exercising the right of self government, is universally admitted. The form of government established by the people of the United States, though well adapted to promote the general welfare, is highly complicated; and the knowledge requisite to administer it successfully can not be acquired without much study. From the fact that a large portion of the American people are greatly deficient in this knowledge, we may justly conclude that it will never become general, until it shall have been made an object of school instruction.

The administration of the government of this great and rapidly increasing republic, will, in a few years, devolve upon those who are now receiving instruction in the public schools. Yet thousands annually complete their school education, who have never devoted any time to the study of the principles of the government in which they are soon to take a part who become invested with political power without the preparation necessary to exercise it with discretion. The schools are regarded as the nurseries of our future statesmen. They share largely in the bounty of the state; yet few of them render in return even the rudiments of political science to those who are to become her legislators, and governors, and judges. Not only in the common schools generally, but in a large portion of the high schools and seminaries, this science is not included in the course of instruction.

To many of the most enlightened friends of education and of our free institutions, it has long been a matter of surprise as well as regret, that those to whom the educational interests of the states are more immediately intrusted, should so long have treated the study in question as of minor importance, or have suffered it to be excluded by studies of far less practical utility. The Regents of the University of the State of New York have repeatedly noticed the neglect of this study in the academies and seminaries subject to their visitation; and they mention it as a remarkable fact, that in many of them preference is given to the study of the Grecian and Roman antiquities. They say: "The constitutions, laws, manners, and customs of ancient Greece and Rome are made subjects of regular study, quarter after quarter, while our own constitutional jurisprudence, and the every day occurring principles of our civil jurisprudence, are not admitted as a part of the academic course!"

To persons who are to engage in any of the industrial or professional pursuits, a preparatory course of training or discipline is deemed indispensable to success. Yet many assume the weighty responsibilities of freemen, and allow their sons to do the same, with scarcely any knowledge of a freeman's duties. On the intelligent exercise of political power, the public prosperity and the security of our liberties mainly depend. Every person, therefore, who is entitled to the rights of a citizen, is justly held responsible for the proper performance of his political duties. And any course of popular instruction which fails to impart a knowledge of our system of government, must be materially defective... Continue reading book >>

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