At the time when the Federal Constitution was adopted, municipal government in America was a very simple affair, and was managed with ease and economy through local officers, who provided for the making and repairing of roads, looked after disorderly characters, abated local nuisances, and levied rates for the few and simple public needs. When the growing population of a particular locality appeared to need larger powers of local government, the legislature granted them, but they often involved little more than the holding of fairs as a means of building up local trade, the institution of a local court for the trial of petty cases, a few simple precautions against fires, the employment of watchmen, provision for the streets, and authority to levy taxes under very narrow restrictions to meet the corporate expenses for these purposes. State government was more complicated, but it was vastly less so than it has since become.
Cooley, Thomas M. "State Regulation of Corporate Profits." N. Am. Rev. 137 (1883): 205-17.
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