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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

The Unique Thing about the Junior Republic

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The Unique Thing about the Junior Republic

The two main reasons why the George Junior Republic has such an absorbing interest to most people are to be found in its form of government and the independent basis of self support which every boy and girl is obliged to maintain within its bounds. Almost the first question asked by a visitor is whether the boys and girls do really govern themselves or if Mr. George and the Superintendent do not in reality direct the affairs of the government. Neither Mr. George, the Superintendent nor any other adult attempts to direct or even to directly influence the affairs of the government. The adult helpers, while always willing to discuss matters with any Citizen, or to express opinions about affairs in or out of the government circle with official or plain Citizen, are not expected or permitted to try to directly influence legislation, nor are the Citizens under any obligation, expressed or implied, to heed the opinion of the helpers. The government of the internal affairs is in the hands of the Citizens. As to their foreign relations, that is, matters relating to affairs or persons without the hounds of the Republic proper, the Citizens have nothing whatever to say. All of those matters are in the hands of the Superintendent.

Following is a brief description of the government by the Citizens,

The government of the George Junior Republic consists of three departments: the legislative, the judicial and the executive.

The legislative department is vested in the citizenship and all the laws are passed by the Citizens in town-meeting assembled, a majority vote deciding the fate of bills proposed. A bill must be signed by the President before it can become a law. The bills are drawn up and pro-

Note: This part of the 1909 Annual Report is reproduced special request.

page break posed in town-meeting just the same as bills are prepared and presented in the United States Congress.

The Citizens in the Republic, who are over fifteen years of age, are voters, the girls enjoying equal suffrage with the boys.

The judicial part of the government consists of two departments, the criminal or police court and the civil court, The judge presiding over the former is appointed by the President and holds office for one year unless removed for conduct not becoming a judge.

Connected with this court are the Attorney General, appointed also by the President, and a bar of ten or fifteen lawyers. A bar association has been organized and no Citizen is allowed to practice law until he has successfully passed the bar association's examination and paid a fee for his license. This reform in the legal branch of the government has had a tendency to greatly increase its efficiency and most of the boys now practising before the court are competent.

In addition to the Citizens' court, there is supreme court made up of three members of the Board of Trustees of the G. J. R. Association. All matters which cannot be adjusted in the lower court may be appealed to the supreme court.

If a difficulty arises between a helper and a Citizen it may be settled in the lower court providing the action is against the Citizen, but if the Citizen brings the action, the supreme court has original jurisdiction. To many people not familiar with the Republic and its affairs, it seems incredible, if not impossible, that a complete government can be carried on in this commonwealth by a community of young men and women not one of whom is twenty-one years of age. It is a popular fallacy that much of the direction of the government is given by the Superintendent or other adults, This is entirely wrong. There is no place, no point, at which the Superintendent, Mr. George or any other person, save a Citizen, enters into, or interferes with, the government of the Citizens.

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It is true that the preamble of the Constitution gives the Superintendent the power of veto over any bill proposed and passed by the Citizen body, but it is also true that that power is almost never used. The Superintendent and other helpers do not enter into the discussions of bills about to become laws; they have nothing to do with the framing of such laws nor with the applying of the law.

The helpers have the power of the court of this government behind them to deal with Citizens the same as the Citizens deal among themselves. No arbitrary control is exercised, except such as comes under the head of parental control used exclusively along the lines of moral and ethical growth.

The executive department of the government is vested in a president, who has associated with him a vice-president and several other officers as police commissioners, board of health etc., elected by the citizens and a chief of police under appointment.

The president and vice-president are elected by popular vote for a term of one year.

The President, Vice-President, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury and the Chief of Police constitute a cabinet, and the President has power to convene this cabinet whenever he wishes to consult with them upon matters pertaining to the Government. The second question asked by the usual visitor to the Junior Republic is: "How do the Citizens support themselves and get an education at the same time?" The following brief description of the relation of our school and our industries will be sufficient to answer the question.

1st. In the Junior Republic everybody works. There are no idle classes simply because there is no money to be had except as a return for work performed and no credit is given for meals or beds except in cases of sickness.

2nd. The boys of the Republic are classified into four divisions.

Note: The Hoo. T. M. Oabome is president of the Board of Trustees of the Association. The president of the Republic is the boy elected by the Citizens to act as their Chiel Executive.

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(1) Those who are first-class farmers, plumbers, car penters or bakers etc.

(2) Those who show a willingness to learn a trade or stick to one job, even though they do not possess so high a degree of skill,

(3) Those who will not follow any job definitely, and cannot be depended upon to carry out their contracts or to do their work no matter how skillful they may be,

(4) Those who are too lazy or incompetent or unskilled to be classed anywhere else. Boys may be promoted from class to class by helpers. The maximum wages are $700 a week and the minimum wages are $3.50 a week. The following scale of wages is observed:—
  • Wages 4th Class—not over $4.20 a week
  • Wages 3rd Class—not less than $4.20 or more than $4.80 a week.
  • Wages 2nd Class—not less than $4.80 or more than $5.10 a week.
  • Wages 1st Class—not less than $5.10 or more than $6.60 a week.

All overtime 10 cts. per hour. 3rd. The girls are likewise divided into four classes. The grading is based on a concensus of opinion of all the house mothers in the Republic.

Wages for the various classes of work are as follows:—
  • 1st class—$4.50 per week,
  • 2nd class—$4.00 per week.
  • 3rd class—$3.50 per week.
  • 4th class—$3.00 per week.

Progress from 4th to 1st class depends entirely upon the individual.

The school is in session nine hours a day the same as the shops; no teacher, however, is on duty over six hours, and those pupils who attend school in the morning are working on the farm or in some shop in the afternoon, and vice versa.

Now every Citizen must have regular and steady employment. Let us suppose that a boy is learning the page break plumbing trade but also desires to attend High School. He earns $5,00 a week. His employer may say to him that he may attend school in the afternoon and continue to draw the same pay, provided his school work is satisfactory to the faculty of the school. If the boy tries to do his best in school all is well, but if he neglects his studies or if he is tardy, absent or inattentive he is "docked" by the teachers, at the same rate per hour as he would be by the head plumber for the same neglect in the shop, and the amount is taken from his time card day by day. For habitually or willfully doing poor work he may be discharged from school the same as from the shop. But since progress in the learning of a trade and promotion along the lines of government honors go hand in hand with the school, such discharge means social disadvantage as well as the probability of not advancing as rapidly in wages as the faithful pupil.

All Citizens under 18 years of age and under high school grade, must attend school unless excused by the principal of the school. The New York State law governing this point places the age limit at 16 years but the Citizers themselves raised the age to 18 years.

A fuller description of the school will be found elsewhere in this report.

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Boy over 16 Girls Bovs over 16 14-16 Girls 14-16 Boys Under 14 Girls Under 14 Received for Destitution 3 13 2 1 Received for Delinquency 13 1 2 1 Received for Improper Guardianship 1 6 1 Received from Poor Officers 4 6 Received from Parents or Guardians 37 10 19 7 Received by own application 2 Received Otherwise 3 4 1 Total 63 40 24 10

Number of Citizens in Republic October Ist 1909.

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Boys over 16 Girls over 16 Boys 14-16 Girls 14-16 Boys Under 14 Received for Destitution Received for Delinquency 1 6 1 3 Received for Improper Guardianship 1 Received from Poor Officers 1 1 1 Received from Parents or Guardians 23 2 24 6 Received by own application 4 4 6 1 Received otherwise 1 2 1 Total 29 8 39 10 3

Received during the year ending September 30th 1910

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View Looking North

View Looking North

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General View

General View

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Boys Girls Boys over 16 14-16 Girls 14-16 Boys Under 14 Returned to Parents or Guardian 33 10 2 Placed out to Service 4 3 Placed in other Institutions 9 3 3 Left without permission 13 4 Otherwise discharged 4 2 Died Total 62 16 7 2

Discharged during the year ending September 30th 1910.

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Boys over 16 Girls over 16 Boys 14-16 Girls 14-16 Boys Under 14 Girls Under 14 Total Received for Destitution 2 4 6 Received for Delinquency 7 4 7 1 1 20 Received for Improper Guardianship 3 3 Received from Poor Officers 2 3 23 1 6 Received from Parents 37 14 6 60 Received upon their own application 6 5 3 1 15 Received Otherwise 6 1 i 7 Total 54 39 34 9 1 137

Number of Citizens remaining in the Republic October 1st 1910.