This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol8 Partnership, Private Corporations, Public Corporations", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
Section 39. Defined. Municipal corporations proper, which we are now concerned with, have heretofore in this treatise, been briefly alluded to in connection with their distinguishment in the main from public quasi-corporations, such as counties, towns or townships, school districts and the like, which, although the latter possess some corporate functions and attributes, are primarily political subdivisions - agencies in the administration of civil government - and their corporate functions are granted to enable them more readily to perform their public duties. Another marked and characteristic distinction between municipal corporations proper and quasi-municipal corporations lies in the dual nature of the former, possessing both public and private functions, which will be more fully shown hereinafter. Municipal corporations are created mainly to administer local government, subordinate to the general sovereignty of the State.
A municipal corporation is a public corporation created by the government for political purposes, and having subordinate and local powers of legislation; an incorporation of persons inhabitants of a particular place, or connected with a particular district, enabling them to conduct its local civil government. It is merely an agency instituted by the sovereign for the purpose of carrying out in detail the objects of the government.1
1 Philadelphia vs. Fox, 64 Pa. St., 180; the following distinction between municipal corporations and quasi corporations is exceedingly clear and concise:-"Municipal corporations are called into existence at the direct solicitation or by the free consent of the persons composing them, for the promotion of their own local and private advantage and convenience. On the other hand, counties are at most but local organizations, which, for the purposes of civil administration, are invested with a few functions chacteristic of corporate existence; they are local subdivisions of a state, created by the sovereign power of the state, of its own sovereign will, without the particular solicitation, consent or concurrent action of the people who inhabit them. The former (municipal) organization is asked for, or at least assented to, by the public it embraces; the latter organization (counties) is superimposed by a soverign and paramount authority." Williamsport vs. Com., 84 Pa. St., 487.