(Reference: John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America and the Several States of the American Union, Childs & Peterson, c1856.)
FRANCHISE. This word has several significations: 1. It is a right reserved to the people by the constitution; hence we say, the elective franchise, to designate the right of the people to elect their officers. 2. It is a certain privilege, conferred by grant from the government, and Vested in individuals.
Corporations, or bodies politic, are the most usual franchises known to our law. They have been classed among incorporeal hereditaments, perhaps improperly, as they have no inheritable quality.
In England, franchises are very numerous; they, are said to be royal privileges in the hands of a subject. Vide 3 Kent, Com. 366; 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 1686; Cruise,' Dig. tit. 27; 2 Bl. Com. 37; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 130; Finch, 164.