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Government of Wisconsin

The government of Wisconsin does not differ essentially from that of the other States of the Union; in many respects it is more liberal. The qualification for electors is, one year's residence in the State; and this applies as well to persons of foreign as native birth, subject only to the limitation that they shall have declared their intentions to become citizens, conformably to the laws of the United States, on the subject of naturalization. No distinction can be made, under the organic law, between aliens and citizens in reference to the possession, enjoyment, or descent of property. Imprisonment for debt is prohibited by the Constitution.

The legislative power is vested in the Senate and Assembly. The Senate consists of twenty-five members, who hold their offices for two years, and are chosen from single districts. Those from the odd numbered districts being chosen one year and those from the even numbered the next.

The Assembly consists of eighty-two members, who are chosen annually, and hold their office for one year.

The executive power is vested in a Governor, who is elected by a plurality of votes, and holds his office for the term of two years. A Lieutenant Governor is chosen at the same time, and in the same manner. The usual executive powers are conferred upon the Governor; whose salary is $1,250. The Lieutenant Governor is President of the Senate, and receives five dollars a day, while in attendance, and the same mileage as members. In certain contingences he succeeds to the duties of the office of Governor.

The administrative powers are conferred upon the Secretary of State, salary $1,200; State Treasurer, salary $800; Attorney General, salary $800; and State Superintendent, salary $1,000. They severally hold their offices for two years, and are elected at the same time as the Governor.

Several offices for the performance of special duties have been established by law since the adoption of the Constitution.

The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, County Courts, and Justices of the Peace.

The Supreme Court, with few exceptions, has appellate jurisdiction. It consists of one Chief Justice, and two Associates, who are elected by the people, and will hereafter be chosen for six years. [The Judges of the several Circuit Courts have here-to-for comprised the Supreme Court.] A majority of the Judges appoint a Clerk, who continues during their pleasure. This Court has two terms a year at the Capitol, in Madison. The salary of each of the Judges is $2,000.

Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal, except such as is otherwise provided, and an appellate jurisdiction from all inferior Courts and tribunals. The Judges are elected by districts, holding their office for six years, and having a salary of $1,500. Two terms of this Court are holden annually in each county organized for judicial purposes in the State. The voters of any county so organized, elect a County Judge, who holds his office for four years, and has certain civil, original and appellate jurisdiction. He is also Judge of the Probate Court of the county.

Four Justices of the Peace are elected in each town, two annually, and hold their offices for the term of two years; they possess the powers usually conferred upon such officers.

Source: Wisconsin Gazetteer,  By John Warren Hunt. Madison: Beriah Brown, Printer, 1853

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