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*45 ,1 /'/Y411:44,471, 1, , 1,44, 14, ji 1 f+ies of 040 Avrt by 146786, om wwwry winn Seiywun ked 2100), 1*A***, take on w Kraum, in genera, and law, W*,*;** *444, fasual, Wan Isrítary, ail being subject to Home WAVE1 Osa te veniam, of the warritu%. The French setlate anjumand much jurnal license, but had no conop of municipal foodson or wilf-government. ** 'I lay sexwivel, questioning, thrir law from the King and their religion from the priests.” 2 The picturesque French era having prassed, the British querors transferred Michigan, after a brief
posWon, into the hands of the United States in 1796, when an intlux began from Western and Central New York and the Staten farther east, - in great part, directly or indirectly, a New England stream. At one pon occupying the soil, the settlers showed that tennaious clinging to the town of which Grayson wrote to Madison. A statesman, perhaps too soon forgotten, of Now Longland birth, influenced powerfully the development of Michigan, - Lewis Cass. An torritorial governor, from 1813 to 1831, he used his largo powors, in the important forming years, to make vigorous everywhere local self-government. " In proportion," said ho, “as government recedes from the peoplo, it becomes liable to abuse. Whatever authority can be conveniently exercised in primary assemblies can be deposited there with safety. They furnishe practical schools for the consideration od political subjects, and no one can revert to the history of our Revolutionary struggles without being
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sensible that to their operation we are indebted for much of the energy, unanimity, and intelligence which were displayed by our people at that important crisis. These institutions have elsewhere produced the most beneficial effects upon the character of communities and upon the general course of public measures.” 1
Michigan was the first State of the West to adopt the town-meeting, but certain noteworthy changes mark the transferrence. In New England of the seventeenth century scarcely any two towns were exactly alike, though the general type was the same. The new towns of the West, however, are duplicates of one another. The Western town-meeting has lost some of the attributes of the primitive moot. Popular enthusiasm is less pronounced in it: it has become a commonplace business-meeting, the ancient democratic elements having yielded in part to a representative plan. Of the officials whom it elects, the highest is the supervisor; and in every county the township supervisors uniting, form the County Board, which possesses large administrative functions. In this form of procedure, the precedent of New York in 1705 is followed; and in this we find in its best estate the Township-County or Compromise system. We need not be sorry, thinks Professor Howard, that the more democratic way has thus yielded in part to “the more efficient and less demonstrative methods of representative government. Its powers are commensurate with the needs of a more fully developed society, and there is no reason to regret that the excessive publicity and obtrusive functionalism of primitive New England have not been perpetuated.”1 By 1827, before its admission to the Union, Michigan had definitely fixed its Township-County organization in which she has been followed since by Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. “In the States of this group,” says Howard, “ localism finds its freest expression : the town-meeting possesses powers commensurate with the requirements of modern life ;2 the primitive and proper nexus between scir and tunscipe is restored; the township is under the county, but represented there. The County Board of Supervisors is the old scir-moot over again. The Township-County system of the Northwest is one of the most perfect products of the English mind, worthy to become, as it may not improbably become, the prevailing type in the United States." 3
1 Quoted by E. W. Bemis: Johns Hopkins University Studies, 1st Series, V, p. 12.
Let us glance for a moment at the career of still another great commonwealth which has come into
being, like Michigan, in that vast North
west Territory of a century ago, — Illinois. Like Michigan, its first white population was French, whose characteristics at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Fort Chartres were no doubt the same as at Detroit. In 1778, the Northwest Territory was conquered by Virginia, in a military enterprise quite independent of the Continental Congress, from the Eng
1 Local Self-Government in the United States, I, p. 162.
2 A New Englander cannot help feeling that the Western town-meeting has lost far too much of the character of its prototype of the Eastern States, whatever its gains may have been.
8 Local Self-Government in the United States, I, p. 158.
4 Albert Shaw: Local Government in Illinois, Johns Hopkins Univer. sity Studies, 1st Series, III.
lish, who had enjoyed a brief period of possession. The enterprise and courage shown in the conquest by Major George Rogers Clarke, the commander of the force, were paralleled by the magnanimity with which, for the sake of the public peace and welfare, Virginia again resigned her acquisition, that it might become the possession of the United States. Illinois, however, had received a distinct Virginia impress, which became more marked as time went on, the population which flowed in being almost exclusively from Virginia and her child, Kentucky, with some infusion from North Carolina. In 1809, Illinois became a Territory, its present limits being defined ; in 1818, a State, the settlements thus far being almost entirely in the southern part, and the organization after the southern or County system. The entire administration in each one of the fifteen counties into which the State had been divided was given to three commissioners, elected by the people, to whom the people surrendered all public management, with little or no oversight of their own.
But Congress had taken a step which led to important results. In surveying the public domain, Congress had caused the lands to be divided into sections six miles square, to which were given the name of townships. In each township a square mile of land was set off for a school fund, the township becoming a body corporate and politic for school purposes, authorized to maintain schools, and officers necessary for their administration. The Illinois township was at first far enough from the New England township, being in many cases quite uninhabited; but there is much in a name. As population came in, the school served the same purpose which had been served in the earlier day by the meeting-house. The religious faiths of the immigrants were various, not all of one stripe, as in the New England beginning. Nor was there any compulsory law as to church attendance. Each family, however, settled within convenient reach of the school-house, for which in each township such liberal public provision had been made. Gradually the election districts in which the county officers were chosen came to coincide with the congressional townships, the school-house becoming a convenient voting-place.
In 1820, an important crisis occurred. Missouri having been admitted to the Union as a slave state, Southern immigration was largely diverted thither ; while at the same time New Yorkers and New Englanders flowed into Northern Illinois. A fierce struggle set in between North and South over a new constitution, -- a struggle which did not culminate until 1847, when it was established that the legislature should make a general law for the organization of townships, the township and not the county to be the political unit, — under which law any county might act when a majority of its voters saw fit to do
As time has passed, the old animosity has declined, and the State, north and south, has come in general to feel the advantages of the township. Of the one hundred and two counties which Illinois to-day contains, only twenty-three have refused the Township organization, preferring instead the County system with its very imperfect local self-government. The Illinois system, like that of Michigan, is not
? p. 116,