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THE QUIZ GOES ON
"THOMAS, how old must a Representative to Congress be, and what other qualifications must he have?" was the next question.
"Twenty-five years old," said Tom promptly. "He must have been seven years a citizen of the United States, and he must be a resident of the State which he represents."
"Master Pierson, does the word 'resident' mean that he must be a legal voter?" Addison asked.
Joel hesitated. "I suppose it does," he said. "I may be wrong."
"Catherine, if a Representative dies during his two years' term, or if he resigns, or is expelled from Congress, how is the vacancy to be filled?"
"The Governor and Council of the State from which he comes must issue a legal call for the election of a new Representative."
"Thomas, what important presiding officer does the House of Representatives have, and how is he chosen?"
"The Speaker of the House, and when he is a smart man he is the whole cheese. The Representatives elect him, themselves, by vote."
"What important powers are entrusted to the House of Representatives, Willis?"
Willis looked considerably puzzled. "The House of Representatives starts all the law-making, I believe," said he. "It proposes bills for all the new laws, but the Senate has to agree to them. They have to be sent to the President to be signed, too, before they can become laws."
"What other power, Alfred?"
"The sole power of impeachment," cried Thomas. "Whom? Whom may it impeach?"
"Any United States officer, including the President and Vice-President," said Catherine.
"Halstead, how old must a Senator be and what other qualifications must he have?"
"Thirty years old; and he must have been a citizen of the United States nine years."
"What else — any one."
"He must be an inhabitant of the State which appoints him," said Joel.
"Does the word 'inhabitant' mean a legal voter?" Addison asked.
"I suppose it does," replied Joel.
"If a Senator dies during his term of office, or resigns, or is expelled from Congress, what then, Theodora?"
"The Legislature of his State shall fill the vacancy by electing a new Senator."
"But suppose the Legislature is not in session at the time, Ellen?"
"I don't remember."
"The Governor of the State and his Council may appoint a successor, temporarily, till the Legislature is again in session," quoted Catherine with a sage gravity which made us all smile.
"In case the House of Representatives impeaches, that is, accuses, the President or the Vice-President of treason, or other crimes and misdemeanors, what is the duty of the Senate? You may answer that, sir," Addison continued, turning to the Old Squire.
"The Senate tries the case against him, acting as a court under oath. But a two-thirds vote of all the Senators is required to convict him," the old gentleman replied promptly.
"Thomas, in case the President of the United States is being tried for treason, or other crimes, who presides meantime in the Senate?"
"The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States — till they decide whether 'Old Andy' is guilty or not."
"If pronounced guilty, what then, Master Pierson?"
"The Vice-President becomes President, quite as if the President had died."
"But suppose the President and Vice-President were both to die, or to be assassinated, what then?"
"Never has been such a sad case, but it is held that the Chief Justice would be President for the rest of the four years."
"Edgar, how often must Congress meet?"
"Once a year, on the first Monday of December."
"Must it meet then, whether it wishes to do so or
"Yes," replied Ned.
"Doubted!" cried Ellen. "The Constitution says that Congress may, if it pleases, appoint a different date for assembling."
"Correct," said Addison. "Can there be more than one session of Congress in a year?"
"I believe not," Ellen replied rather doubtfully. But Catherine cried, "Wrong."
"Who, then, has power to call a second, or extra session, during the same year?"
"The President, if he deems it necessary."
"What is a quorum in Congress, Edgar?"
"A majority of members, either in the Senate or the House of Representatives."
"Catherine, what are both branches of Congress required to keep?"
"A Journal of their Proceedings, to be published from time to time."
"Must all proceedings of Congress be published?" Addison asked me, and I replied "Yes; "but the Old Squire said, "Wrong, my boy. Not if in the opinion of Congress certain proceedings ought to be kept secret."
"How are the proceedings of Congress generally published, Thomas?"
"In the Congressional Record."
"Can the Senate adjourn without the consent of the House of Representatives, or vice versa? Master Pierson may answer that."
"Yes, but not for more than three days, without the consent of the other Branch."
"Theodora, suppose a Bill, designed to become a law, passes both Houses of Congress, what is the next step to be taken?"
"It must be sent to the President for his approval and signature."
"Alfred, suppose the President does not approve it?"
"He can veto it. That stops it."
"What does 'veto' mean, Master Pierson?"
"Means I forbid."
"But, Catherine, suppose Congress still believes the bill ought to become a law?"
"Congress, after getting the vetoed bill back from the President, with his objections to it, can by a two-thirds vote of both Branches, pass it again over the President's veto, and it will then become a law, despite the President's opposition."
"Correct, good girl. Theodora, name some of the duties and powers of Congress."
"To lay taxes and tariffs, and collect them. To pay government expenses and debts. To provide for the common defense and welfare of the country."
"Yes; what other powers, Willis?"
"Borrow money, if needed."
"What else, Edgar?"
"Regulate trade with foreign countries, and with the Indian tribes."
"Yes; what else?"
"To make laws for the naturalization of immigrants, and make regulations for bankruptcy cases." "What else, Master Pierson?"
"To coin money and fix its value, also fix the values of foreign money; to set up standards of weights and measures. To capture and punish counterfeiters. To establish post offices and post roads."
"Who can name other powers of Congress?"
"To promote the progress of science and useful arts," said Catherine. "To grant patents to inventors and copyrights to authors."
"To establish United States Courts in the different States," cried the Old Squire, who was warming up in the Quiz. "To punish piracy and felony on the high seas; to capture pirates; to declare war against other nations; to raise armies and vote money for their support; to build and equip a navy."
Joel now declared that it was time for a recess.
"Oh, I like to be Quizzer," Addison exclaimed, after we were back in our places. "It saves me from exposing how little I know."
"Go on, then," said Joel, "you are doing well."
"Well, then, good Master Pierson, tell us all about the Writ of Habeas Corpus. What is it? To whom does it apply, and when may it be suspended?" cried Addison, grinning hugeously.
"My soul!" exclaimed Joel. "I'm sorry now I got you appointed Quiz-master. I would much rather ask that question, myself, than answer it."
"Do you give it up?" cried Addison, relentlessly.
"No, replied Joel. "But I've a good mind to. I will try to answer, but I want you to help me out, sir," he added, turning to the Old Squire.
"Oh, you are a Latin scholar and teacher," cried the latter, smiling broadly. "Every man to his trade."
"Well then, habeas corpus means if you may have the body, and refers to the body of a prisoner. But it is a law phrase and came from an enactment of English law, designed to protect the rights of a person under arrest, charged with crime, ensure him a fair trial and get him out of prison. Is that anywhere near right, sir?" Joel added, looking at the Old Squire.
"Well, yes," replied the latter, a little doubtfully. "A writ of habeas corpus, under our laws, may be issued by a court judge, compelling the authorities who have imprisoned a person on any charge, usually political, to produce his body for trial by his peers and state what his offenses are. It is designed to prevent a citizen from being unjustly imprisoned for a long time."
"What does the Constitution say about it?" Addison asked.
"It says that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion, or invasion, the public safety may require it," Joel replied.
"Glad that old sticker of a question didn't come to me," Thomas whispered; and so was I.
"Haven't we got about to Article II?" Willis asked.
"A hundred more questions might be asked on Article I," said Addison, "but we will go on to Article II. Willis, in whom is the executive power of the United States vested?"
"In the President, and the Vice-President, if the President dies or is removed from office."
"What are the duties of the Vice-President, Halstead?"
"Nothing but look on, as long as the President lives and is not impeached."
"Wrong," said Catherine. "He is president of the Senate when Congress is in session."
"What office does this correspond to in the House of Representatives?"
"Listen to the little pullet crow!" cried Halse, derisively.
"Be quiet, sir," said Master Pierson. "No back talk in Quiz."
"Master Pierson, can the President of the United States resign, after taking the oath of office?"
Joel looked nonplussed. "I give that up," said he. "No President ever has."
"I suppose he might have the right to do so," the Old Squire said. Under certain circumstances, he would have the right, if, for example, he became hopelessly ill, or felt that his mental powers were leaving him."
"Catherine, what does executive mean, or rather, why is the President, or the Governor of a State, called the Executive?"
"Because he executes, or puts in force, the laws which Congress, or the State Legislature, enacts. Congress passes the laws, and the President sees that they are put in force."
"Halstead, how long does the President hold office?"
"Four years, or eight, if re-elected."
"Thomas, may a President be re-elected more than once, and serve twelve years instead of eight?"
"No case of it yet. Americans do not believe in that. Too much like a king, or a dictator."
"Edgar, how long does the Vice-President hold office?
"Four years, same as the President."
"Ellen, how old must the President be when elected, and what other qualifications must he have?"
"Thirty-five years old. He must be a natural-born citizen of the United States and a resident for fourteen years in this country."
"Theodora, must the Vice-President have the same qualifications?"
"I think so," she replied.
"Master Pierson, how are the President and Vice-President elected?"
"By the people, that is, by popular vote of the legal voters of all the different States at the polls, every four years. That is the way the election begins, but after election is over, there comes a kind of after-clap in the shape of Electors who journey to Washington to form an Electoral college; as many Electors for each State as there are Senators and Representatives. Altogether it is the most clumsy method of election ever devised. It affords a fine field for politicians to pull wires, and has already made more trouble than any other part of the Constitution. I think it was a mistake on the part of the framers of the Constitution. It was amended by Congress in 1804 — the Twelfth Amendment — but the Amendment only complicated it worse."
"Pierson, you are rather severe," the Old Squire remarked. "The framers of the Constitution saw the necessity of having the President elected by vote of the States, rather than by an aggregate popular vote. They saw that it would not be fair to have one large populous section of the country, which chanced to favor some particular candidate, carry the election without proper regard for the wishes of other sections of the country, not as densely populated. I think they were right in that; but I grant that the method of choosing a President by means of Electors is not wholly simple, or free from faults. I suppose it was the best the framers of the Constitution could do, at that time."
"Alfred, do the President, Vice-President and Members of Congress receive pay for their services?" "They all draw pay."
"Anything else? — Any one answer."
"Mileage, on the road to Washington," said Willis.
"In case of war with other nations, or rebellion, what military command does the President hold, Thomas?"
"He is commander-in-chief of the army and navy and can go on the battle-field, or on the flag-ship of the fleet, if he sees fit."
"Is it customary for him to do so?"
"No; he generally remains at Washington and leaves the fighting to his generals, admirals and captains."
"Master Pierson, can the President go off on the flag-ship of the navy, to fight the navy of another nation, in foreign waters?"
"I don't know as to his power to do that," said Joel. "He is not supposed to leave the country. It is not thought safe for him to do so."
"No; he ought not to do that!" exclaimed Thomas. "We want the 'Old Man' to stay at home and hold the reins."
"What oath of office does the President take, at the time he is inaugurated and takes his seat, on March 4th, after his election the previous November? Repeat it, Catherine."
"I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.' "
"Right. What important duty falls to the President from time to time? Theodora may answer."
"To issue a message to Congress and the country. It is a kind of report as to the state of the nation, telling what has happened, what has been done, and recommending such measures to Congress as the President deems necessary for the common good."
"Can you think of other Presidential duties?"
"He may have to make treaties with other nations, but the Senate must ratify them."
"He has to receive, officially, all foreign ministers and ambassadors," said Ellen.
"Yes; and he has to appoint ministers, ambassadors and consuls to foreign countries, but always with the advice and consent of the Senate," the Old Squire threw in.
"And he has to sign the commissions of all United States officers," Joel said.
"And choose his Cabinet of Secretaries and advisers," said Willis.
"He has plenty more duties, but they are involved with the proceedings of Congress," Addison remarked. "We will go on now to Article III. We have had the law-making powers of Congress and the executive powers of the President. What other branch is there of the United States government, Catherine?"
"The Supreme Court and State Supreme Courts."
"But what other name do we give that power?"
"The Judicial Power, or Judiciary."
"What are the duties of the Supreme Court of the United States, Theodora?"
"I am not certain about that," Theodora said. "But I think it is to try legal points under the Constitution, and decide what is Constitutional and what is not."
"Yes; anything else? Any one answer."
"This is our highest court and has jurisdiction over all United States laws," Joel said.
"And over questions involving our ambassadors, ministers and consuls abroad," the Old Squire remarked. "Also over maritime affairs, on the seas, and disputed law points between the different States, and over controversies between citizens of this country and foreign powers."
How many Judges are there of the Supreme Court, Willis?"
"Three, or more."
"What is the title of the highest Judge?"
"The Chief Justice of the United States."
"By whom are the Judges of the Supreme Court appointed, Alfred?"
"Wrong,' cried Thomas. "By the President. But Congress, or the Senate, confirms them."
Alfred began talking back; but Master Pierson bade him keep still in Quiz, or go out.
"What is treason on the part' of a citizen of the United States? Alfred, repeat what the Constitution says of it."
Alfred could not.
"Catherine, can you?"
"Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.' "
"Good," cried Addison; but Halse undertook to crow like a hen. Thereupon the Old Squire sent him out of the room, to the wood-shed, to saw wood, and bade him be quiet out there, too.
"What is the punishment of treason, Willis?" "Death."
"Doubted," said Thomas. "The Constitution doesn't say that. It says that Congress shall have the power to declare the punishment of treason."
"Article IV," Addison continued. "If a resident in any State commits a crime and escapes over the border into another State, can he thus go free of proper punishment, Edgar?"
"What may be done, Willis?"
"The Governor of the State he escapes to, must be asked to give him up, to be taken back and tried in the State where he committed the crime."
"What is this process called?"
"How are new States admitted to the Union of the United States, Ellen?"
"By act of Congress."
"Can one of the States, as they now stand, be divided to make two States, or can two States be joined together to make one new one, Theodora?"
"Not without the consent of Congress."
"How is each State of the Union protected from foreign enemies, or from its own rebellious citizens, Master Pierson?"
"By the whole power of the United States, if necessary."
"Article V. Can the Constitution be changed, or amended, Alfred?"
"Wrong," exclaimed Thomas again. "The Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds vote of both Branches of Congress. The Legislatures of two-thirds of the States may also apply for amendments and get them enacted, if three-fourths of the States approve of them. But there are some restrictions about this which I have forgotten," Thomas added.
"They are not of much consequence, except as law points," the Old Squire remarked. "The main fact to keep in mind is, that the Constitution may be amended when real need arises for it."
"How many Articles of Amendment are there?" Addison asked me, and I was able to answer thirteen, the 14th and 15th having not yet been made.
"Catherine, what is the First Amendment?"
"It reads that 'Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for the redress of grievances.' "
"Correct!" cried Addison. "I couldn't have repeated all that. What is the purport of the Second Amendment, Willis?"
"It gives to each State the right to maintain a militia."
"What is the purport of the Fourth Amendment, Ellen?"
"I am not sure."
"It protects all citizens against unreasonable searches of their houses, and from seizures of their property," said the Old Squire.
"The other Amendments, up to the Thirteenth, are of interest to lawyers rather than to us, I think," Addison remarked. "But the Thirteenth is important. Theodora, what about it?"
"It abolishes slavery in the United States."
"Right. And that's all for the present from 'yours truly,' said Addison, rising with a grand bow.
"Of course, I have not asked all the questions that might be put," Addison continued. "I haven't gone into it very deep. I have skimmed it over. Somebody else can quiz now."
It was Saturday, however, and getting late. The week was up, — the week for the Constitution, which the Old Squire had insisted on. He appeared satisfied. "You have done well," said he. "Remarkably well. I feel sure that this week's study will do you good all through life."
And looking back to that time, I can now say in good truth, that no week of study, on any branch, before or since, has been as useful to me in after life as those six days, spent on Magna Charta and the Constitution.