Pennsylvania(redirected from Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
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PENNSYLVANIA. The name of one of the original states of the United States of
America. Pennsylvania was occupied by planters of various nations, Dutch
Swedes, English, and others; but obtained no separate name until the year
1681, when Charles II. granted a charter to William Penn, by which he became
its proprietary, saving, however, allegiance to the crown, which retained
the sovereignty of the country. This charter authorized the proprietary, his
heirs and successors, by and with the assent of the freemen of the country,
or their deputies assembled for the purpose, to make laws. Their laws were
required to be consonant to reason, and not repugnant or contrary, but as
near as conveniently could be to the laws and statutes of England.
Pennsylvania was governed by this charter till the period of the Revolution.
2. The constitution of the state was adopted on the second day of September, 1790, and amended by a convention selected by the people, on the twenty-second day of February, 1838. The powers of the government are divided into three distinct branches: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.
3.-1st. The legislative power is vested in a general assembly, which consists of a senate and house of representatives.
4.-1. The senate will be considered with reference to the qualification of the electors; the qualification of the members; the length of time for which they are elected; and the time of their election. 1. In elections by the citizens, every white freeman of the age of twenty-one years having resided in this state one year, and in the election district where he offers to vote ten days immediately preceding such election, and within two years paid a state or county tax, which shall have been assessed at least ten days before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector. But a citizen of the United States who had previously been a qualified voter of this state and removed therefrom and returned, and who shall have resided in the election district and paid taxes as aforesaid, shall be entitled to vote after residing in the state six months: Provided, that white freemen, citizens of the United States, between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-two years, and having resided in the state one year, and in the election district ten days as aforesaid, shall be entitled to vote although they shall not have paid taxes. Art. 3, s. 1. 2. No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained the age of twenty-five years, and have been a citizen and inhabitant of the state four years next before his election, and the last year thereof an inhabitant of the district for which he shall be chosen, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this state; and no person elected as aforesaid, shall hold the said office after he shall have removed from such district. Art. 1, s. 8. 3. The number of senators shall never be less than one-fourth, nor greater than one-third of the number of representatives. Art. 1, s. 6. 4. The senators hold their office for three years.
5. Their election takes place on the second Tuesday of October, one- third of the senate each year.
6.-2. The house of representatives will be treated of in the same manner which has been observed in considering the senate. 1. The electors are qualified in the same manner as the electors of the senate. 2. No person shall be a representative who shall Dot have attained the age of twenty-one years, and have been a citizen and inhabitant of the state three years next preceding his election, and the last year thereof an inhabitant of the district in and for which he shall be chosen a representative, unless be shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this state. Art. 1, s. 3. 3. The number of representatives shall never be less than sixty, nor greater than one hundred. Art. 1, s. 4. 4. They are elected yearly. 5. Their election is on the second Tuesday of October, yearly.
6.-2d. The supreme executive power of this commonwealth is vested in a governor. 1. He is elected by the electors of the legislature. 2. He must be at least thirty years of age, and have been a citizen and an inhabitant of the state seven years next before his election, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this state. Art. 2, s. 4. 3. The governor shall hold his office during three years from the third Tuesday of January next ensuing his election, and shall not be capable of holding it longer than six in any term of nine years. Art. 2, s. 3. 4. His principal duties are enumerated in the second article of the constitution, as follows: The governor shall at stated times receive for his services a compensation which shall be neither increased or diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected. He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this commonwealth, and of the militia, except when they shall be called into the actual service of the United States. He shall appoint a secretary of the commonwealth during pleasure; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the senate appoint, all judicial officers of courts of record, unless otherwise provided for in this constitution. He shall have power to fill all vacancies that may happen in such judicial offices during the recess of the senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session: Provided, that in acting on executive nominations the senate shall sit with open doors, and in confirming or rejecting the nominations of the governor, the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays. He shall have power to remit fines and forfeitures, and grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment. He may require information in writing from the officers in the executive department, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices. He shall, from time to time, give to the general assembly information of the state of the commonwealth, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the general assembly; and, in case of disagreement between the two houses with respect to the time of adjournment, adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper, not exceeding four months. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. In case of the death or resignation of the governor, or of his removal from office, the speaker of the senate shall exercise the office of governor until another governor shall be duly qualified; but in such case another governor shall be chosen at the next annual election of representatives, unless such death, resignation or removal shall occur within three calendar months, immediately preceding such next annual election, in which case a governor shall be chosen at the second succeeding annual election of representatives. And if the trial of a contested election shall continue longer than until the third Monday of January next ensuing the election of governor, the governor of the last year, or the speaker of the senate who may be in the exercise of the executive authority, shall continue therein until the determination of such contested election, and until a governor shall be duly qualified as aforesaid.
7.-3d. The judicial power of the commonwealth is vested by the fifth article of the constitution as follows:
Sec. 1. The judicial power of this commonwealth shall be vested in a supreme Court, in courts of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery, in a court of common pleas, orphans' court, register's court, and a court of quarter sessions of the peace, for each county in justices of the peace, and in such other courts as the legislature may from time to time establish.
8.-Sec. 2. By an amendment to this constitution, the judges of the supreme court, of the several courts of common pleas, and of such other courts of record as are or shall be established by law, shall be elected by the qualified electors, as provided by act of April 15, 1851. Pam. Laws, 648. The judges of the supreme court shall hold their offices for the term of fifteen years if they shall so long behave themselves well. The president judges of the several courts of common pleas and of such other courts of record as are or shall be established by law, and all other judges required to be learned in the law, shall hold their offices for the term of ten years if they shall so long behave themselves well. The associate judges of the courts of common pleas shall hold their offices for the term of five years if they shall so long behave themselves well. But for any reasonable cause which shall not be sufficient ground of impeachment, the governor may remove any of them on the address of two-thirds of each branch of the legislature. The judges of the supreme court and the presidents of the several courts of common pleas, shall at stated times receive for their services an adequate compensation to be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office, but they shall receive no fees or prerequisites of office, nor hold any other office of profit under this commonwealth.
9.-Sec. 3. Until otherwise directed by law, the courts of common pleas shall continue as at present established. Not more than five counties shall at any time be included in one judicial district organized for said courts.
10.-Sec. 4. The jurisdiction of the supreme court shall extend over the state; and the judges thereof shall, by virtue of their offices be justices of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery, in the several counties.
11.-Sec. 5. The judges of the court of common pleas, in each county, shall, by virtue of their offices, be justices of oyer and terminer and general jail delivery, for the trial of capital and other offenders therein; any two of the said judges, the president being one, shall be a quorum; but they shall not hold a court of oyer and terminer, or jail delivery, in any county, when the judges, of the supreme court, or any of them, shall be sitting in the same county. The party accused, as well as the commonwealth, may, under such regulations as shall be prescribed by law, remove the indictment and proceedings, or a transcript thereof, into the supreme court,
12.-Sec. 6. The supreme court, and the several courts of common pleas, shall, besides the powers heretofore usually exercised by them, have the power of a court of chancery, so far as relates to the perpetuating If testimony, the obtaining of evidence from places not within the state, and the care of the persons and estates of those who are non compotes mentis. And the legislature shall vest in the said courts such other powers to grant relief in equity, as shall be found necessary; and may, from time to time, enlarge or diminish those powers, or vest them in such other courts as they shall judge proper for the due administration of justice.
13,-Sec. 7. The judges of the court of common pleas of each county, any two of whom shall be a quorum, shall compose the court of quarter sessions of the peace, and orphans' court thereof: and the register of wills, together with the said judges, or, any two of them, shall compose the register's court of each county.
14.-Sec. 8. The judges of the courts of common pleas shall, within their respective counties, have the like powers with the judges of the supreme court, to issue writs of certiorari to the justices of the peace, and to cause their proceedings to be brought before them, and the like right and justice to be done.
15.-Sec. 9. The president of the court in each circuit within such circuit, and the judges of the court of common pleas within their respective counties, shall be justices of the peace, so far as relates to criminal matters.
16.-Sec. 10. A register's office, for the probate of wills and granting letters of administration, and an office for the recording of deeds, shall be kept in each county.
17.-Sec. 11. The style of all process shall be "The commonwealth of Pennsylvania." All prosecutions shall be carried on in the name and by the authority of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and conclude, "against the peace and dignity of the same."