Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Local Government

Circa Fall 2005

The Court of “Common Pleas” was used from the colonial period, as time progressed. Under our state’s first Constitution, the number of judges, and “assistant” judges, was allowed to greatly vary from county to county. Also, assistant judges were appointed. In 1818, an act was passed which abolished assistant judges and limited the number of judges per county to five.

The New York Constitution of 1846 made it so that nearly all offices were elected by the people. In place of assistant judges, two justices of the peace were associated with the county’s judges. Among other offices elected by the public are: county clerks, county treasurers, sheriff, in their second term and on, attorneys, and most public service positions. The book gives a list of those who occupied different offices.

And amazingly, people from our county have held high and prestigious positions. Among this exclusive club is William C. Bouck, the only person from our county to become Governor, Abraham Keyser, who became the state’s treasurer, and fourteen senators. Peter S. Danforth was a Supreme Court Justice, and John F. Hazleton was consular to Italy.

The book also tells of people who practiced law in Schoharie County, some of which were alive when the text was written, but are presumably dead now. The book lists 39 people. Amazingly, one of those who practiced law professionally was Ralph Brewster, whose descendants landed at Plymouth from the Mayflower. Also, Peter Danforth is named. Right after that, his son, George, was also named. Apparently the elder Danforth had much influence on George.

It’s amazing that our county, our little county, has had a Governor, a Supreme Court Judge, and a consular to Italy. Our county has had immense political power, but hopefully it will soon be over-shadowed when someone from our county becomes President.

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