Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
RESIGNATION. Applied to an office in the American system of government, the proper meaning to be attached to this term is, the relinquishment—and the return by a formal act—of all claim to the position of honor or trust which had been conferred upon the individual to the power which originally bestowed it, or to its agent accredited by law to receive such formal surrender. The highest office known to the American system is that of president. The selection of president is by the ballots of electors (electoral college), who are themselves chosen by ballot by the people of the various states of the Union. The next highest office is that of vice-president, chosen in the same manner and at the same time as the president, and who, in case of the removal, death, resignation or inability of the president to perform the duties of the office, becomes president.
—Now, with respect to the resignation of these two important offices, the laws of the United States provide (Rev. Stat., sec. 151) that the only evidence of a refusal to accept or of a resignation of the office of president or vice-president shall be an instrument in writing declaring the same, and subscribed by the person refusing to accept or resigning, as the case may be, and delivered into the office of the secretary of state. In case of the removal, death, resignation or inability of both the president and vice-president, the president of the senate, or, if there be none, then the speaker of the house of representatives for the time being, shall act as president until the disability is removed or a president is elected in accordance with the forms of law.
—Each state is entitled to a representation of two senators in the senate of the United States, who are chosen by the legislature of the state in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, the laws of congress, and those of the state enacted for that purpose. In case of the resignation of a United States senator during the recess of the legislature of a state, the executive of such state is empowered by the constitution to fill the vacancy thus occurring, by making a temporary appointment until the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancy by the election of a successor.
—As it is the duty of the executive of a state from which a senator has been chosen, to certify his election, under the seal of the state, to the president of the senate of the United States; and as it is likewise the duty of the executive when vacancies happen in the representation of his state in the senate of the United States, that he shall notify the legislature that such vacancy exists, it is therefore incumbent that the resignation of a senator should be transmitted to the executive of such state as he has represented in the United States senate.
—The constitution also provides that when vacancies occur in the representation of any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies; therefore when a representative in congress from any state resigns his seat in that body, his resignation must be forwarded to the governor of his state, who will thereupon issue his writ ordering an election in such district to fill the vacancy created by the resignation. But the governor of a state has no authority to appoint a member temporarily to fill the vacancy in the state's representation in the house of representatives, as he is empowered by the constitution to do when, under certain circumstances, a vacancy exists in the senate.
—Should a member of the cabinet resign his position as head of the department to which he was called by the president, the resignation of such officer must be addressed to the president of the United States from whom he received the appointment, and who at his early convenience, will appoint his successor by and with the advice and consent of the senate. Until his successor is appointed, the duties of the office are performed by the assistant secretary or assistant head of the department.
—Sometimes a president calls for the resignation of a single member of his cabinet when displeased with his course, or, upon a change of policy or for other cause, he may require the resignation of all the members of his cabinet; and it is usual for each member of the cabinet to tender his resignation to the president, to take effect at the expiration of his term of office; and likewise all members of the cabinet of a deceased president tender their resignations as such to the vice-president on his assuming the duties of president.
—Whenever the heads of bureaus or the subordinates of any of the heads of the departments resign their offices, if they have been appointed by the heads of such departments, their letters of resignation will be addressed to such heads of departments; but if their appointment proceeds from the president of the United States, the letter of resignation must be addressed to the president of the United States. The resignation of persons in the various branches of the diplomatic service come under this rule.
—Whenever the governor of a state resigns his position as such, the powers, duties and emoluments of the office for the residue of the term devolve upon the lieutenant governor. In case the lieutenant governor should resign also, or become incapable, from any other cause, of performing the duties of the office, the president of the state senate will act as governor until the vacancy is filled or the disability removed. And if the president of the senate, from any of the above-named causes, becomes incapable of performing the duties of governor, the same will then devolve upon the speaker of the house of representatives.
—If the office of auditor, treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, or other state officer, becomes vacant by reason of resignation or otherwise, the laws of the states generally authorize the governor to fill the same temporarily until successors are elected in such manner as may be provided by law.
—Whenever members of either branch of the state legislature resign their positions as such, the executive of the state will immediately issue writs of election to fill the vacancies thus created, and the person thus resigning must direct his letter of resignation to the governor of the state, who will, upon this notification, proceed as directed by law.
—Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of chief justice of the supreme court of the United States by reason of resignation or otherwise, the duties and powers of his office will devolve upon the associate justice who is first in precedence, until another chief justice is appointed and duly qualified. This provision applies to every associate justice who succeeds to the office of chief justice.
—Should a judge of a United States circuit court resign his position as such, the court for that circuit may be held by the circuit justice or by the district judge of that district, sitting alone, or by the two sitting together; but a district judge thus sitting can not give a vote in any case of appeal or error from his own decision: Provided, That such a cause may, by the consent of parties, be heard and disposed of by him when holding a circuit court, sitting alone. When sitting with the justice of the circuit, the judgment or decree in such cases must be rendered in conformity with the opinion of the presiding justice.
—If, by reason of resignation or otherwise, no justice is allotted to a circuit, the chief justice of the supreme court may request the justice of another circuit to preside at the court to be held therein, and exercise all the powers connected therewith, until a justice is allotted to such circuit.
—When the office of judge of any district court becomes vacant, by reason of resignation or otherwise, all process, pleadings and proceedings pending before such court must be continued until the next stated term after the appointment and qualification of his successor. But when the office is vacant in any district of a state containing two or more districts, the judge of the other or of either of the other districts may hold the said district court, and all proceedings before him will have the same effect and validity as if done by or before a judge appointed by such district.
—Section 714 of the Revised Statutes provides that, whenever any judge of any court of the United States resigns his office, after having held his commission as such at least ten years, and having attained the age of seventy years, he shall, during the residue of his natural life, receive the same salary which was by law payable to him at the time of his resignation.
—Whenever vacancies occur in the office of judges of state courts by resignation or otherwise, and such offices are elective, such vacancies must be filled by an election; but generally, when the unexpired term does not exceed one year, the vacancy is filled by an appointment by the governor of the state, to whom the letter of resignation is addressed, and by whom all judicial officers are commissioned.
—With respect to the resignation of officers of the army, the law provides that whenever a vacancy occurs, by resignation or otherwise, in the office of general or lieutenant general, such office shall cease, and all enactments creating or regulating such offices shall, respectively, be held to be repealed.
—The laws further provide that no officer of the army shall hold any civil office, whether by election or appointment, and every such officer who accepts or exercises the functions of a civil office, shall thereby cease to be an officer of the army, and his commission shall be vacated, the same as if he had resigned from the service. Also, that any officer of the army who accepts or holds any appointment in the diplomatic or consular service of the government, shall be considered as having resigned his place in the army, and it shall be filled as a vacancy.
—Article 49, of the Articles of War, provides that any officer who, having tendered his resignation, quits his post or proper duties without leave, and with intent to remain permanently absent therefrom, prior to due notice of the acceptance of the same, shall be deemed and punished as a deserter.
—With respect to the resignation of officers in the naval service of the United States, the law provides that vacancies occurring in the grades of admiral and vice-admiral shall not be filled by promotion or in any other manner; and that when the offices of said grade shall become vacant, either by resignation or otherwise, the grade itself shall cease to exist.
—The laws further provide, that if any officer of the navy accepts or holds an appointment in the diplomatic or consular service of the United States, he shall be considered as having resigned his place in the navy, and it shall be filled as a vacancy. Also, that no officer of the navy who has been dismissed by the sentence of a court martial, or suffered to resign in order to escape such dismissal, shall ever again become an officer of the navy.
—Article 10, of section 1624, Rev. Stat., relating to the government of the navy, provides that any commissioned officer of the navy or marine corps, who, having tendered his resignation, quits his post or proper duties without leave, and with intent to remain permanently absent therefrom, prior to due notice of the acceptance of such resignation, shall be deemed and punished as a deserter.
JNO. W. CLAMPITT.
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