The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 3
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Texas v. White
complicated and important points of the case, and made it memor-
able in the history of American jurisprudence. One preliminary
source of difficulty and doubt which had been encountered in
the arguments of the case in connection with this point lay in
the absence from the Constitution and public law of the coun-
try of a clear and comprehensive definition of the word "state";
and it was necessary that such a definition should be formu-
lated before the court could decide the questions of legal status
and jurisdiction. This fault of omission the court, therefore,
proceeded to remedy. In previous cases, the description of the
essential elements of the concept "state" related either to the
purposes of its organization, the manner of its composition, and
the enumeration of its functions, or to the powers and privileges
of States. As tests to discover whether or not a particular politi-
cal body was a State under the Constitution, they were not indi-
vidually reliable or adequate. There must, consequently, be a
generalization from a synthetic consideration of the various uses
made of the word in the Constitution. The word had not been
assigned a specific meaning there or in the works of commentators
on the Constitution and government. The Chief Justice was,
therefore, correct when he remarked that "the poverty of language
often compels the employment of terms in quite different signifi-
cations; and there is hardly any example more signal to be found
than in the word we are now considering."'2 He then pointed out
that, in the Constitution, "state" most frequently expresses the
idea of territory, people, and government; but that, in some in-
stances, it denotes only one of these elements or features. It is
used in its territorial, geographic sense in the requirement that a
representative in Congress shall be an inhabitant of the State in
which he is elected. It is also used in that sense in the section
which provides that trials for crimes shall be held in the State in
which the crimes were committed. It is employed in the sense of
a community of people in the clause which enjoins upon the
United States the duty of protecting each State against invasion,
and, again, in that which guarantees to each State a republican
form of government. In the sense of government, as distinguished
from territory or people, there are numerous and recurring refer-
27 Wallace, 721.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/m1/11/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.