American City Government

American City Government

American City Government

American City Government

Excerpt

When a writer produces something that is to be classed as a textbook, and especially a college textbook, he and his publisher take risks against which even Lloyds might hesitate to insure them. The eyes which are likely to read his production may be kind but they are exceedingly critical. On the one side stand his professional colleagues who know more about special phases of his subject than he does. They wish to know whether he has covered all the subjects which they deal with in their own courses, whether he has stated the facts correctly, clearly, and with all due qualifications, in a word, whether he has crossed all his Ts. On the other side stand the hundreds and perhaps thousands of young men and women who may in time peruse his chapters. The text writer has fully as much cause to fear them as to fear their instructors, for they are not bound by any considerations of professional courtesy to "be nice" to the author and his work. If they dislike the book they are likely to say so; if they find nothing worth while in it, or are unable to dig out whatever ore it may contain, the instructor is almost certain to find out the facts at an early date. In either case the book is likely to be discarded, to be replaced by another which presumably is better.

The author in the present case can think of no better use for a preface than to state briefly what he has attempted to do. It has been his aim, in the first place, to stress principles rather than details of fact. An encyclopedia of municipal government has its place, but it is not the first need of the student. In presenting the principles, furthermore, the endeavor has been made to relate them to the several important steps in the normal process of popular government, beginning with public opinion and proceeding through elections and legislation to administration and adjudication. While the structure of government has not been ignored, it has been treated as less important than the working processes of government. Had structure been put first, we should have been practically compelled to give a separate chapter to the office of mayor, since nearly every city has an office under that title as a part of its governmental organization. However, not only does the mayor in one city have powers wholly unlike those of a mayor in some other place, but these powers generally fall under at least two heads, legislation and administration, which constitute distinct steps in the process of government. The author has, therefore, dealt with . . .

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