페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER VI.

UNITY OF THE COLONIES.

§ 1. Although the Colonies were not at any time united in any sense as a nation, they sometimes found it of advantage to unite temporarily for the common defense against the Indian tribes, as well as the Dutch; and also in 1754, for the purpose of defending themselves in case of war with France, which at that time seemed imminent.

$ 2. These experiences had taught them that there was safety as well as strength in union. Therefore, when England gave evidence of a determination to oppress the Colonies, they did not hesitate to unite in vindication of their common interests.

§ 3. A Congress, at the call of Massachusetts, assembled in Philadelphia Sept. 5, 1774, consisting of delegates from all the Colonies. This is known in bistory as the First Continental Congress.” It was the first in which all the Colonies were represented.

§ 4. This Congress published to the world a long and emphatic bill of rights, which may be regarded as the first decided step towards independence. It was clear to every reflecting mind, that, if that declaration of rights were accepted by the people, either England must take a speedy backward step, or the declaration of separation and independence was just at hand.

$ 5. The Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia May 10, 1775. This Congress continued in session until the close of the Revolutionary War, and until a definite form of government was adopted. It passed the Declaration of Independence, in which, for the first time, the Colonies received the name of United States of America, a title which has been continued ever since.

CHAPTER VII.

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION.

§ 1. On the eleventh day of June, 1776, it became evident that the Declaration of Independence was only a question of a few days'

time, as a committee was appointed on that day to draft such a document to be reported to Congress. This step rendered it more than ever necessary that some plan of union between the Colonies should be adopted. Another committee was therefore appointed to prepare Articles of Confederation, which should bring the Colonies into a closer and more definite union.

§ 2. This committee reported a plan of confederation July 11 following, just eight days after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was debated at several times, until Aug. 20 of the same year; when Congress, in committee of the whole, reported a new draft, which was ordered to be printed. This last plan was elaborately discussed, and finally, with sundry amendments, adopted by Congress Nov. 15, 1777.

§ 3. The Articles of Confederation were immediately sent to all the States, with the Congressional recommendation for their approval and adoption. The new government constituted by these Articles was not to go into operation until the consent of all the States should be obtained.

§ 4. In July, 1778, the ratification of all the States was obtained, except Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. The assent of New Jersey was given Nov. 25 of the same year ; of Delaware, Feb. 22,. 1779; and of Maryland, March 1, 1781. On the second day of March, 1781, Congress assembled under the Confederation.

§ 5. But the Revolutionary War, which began in 1775, had continued all this time; during which the States had been united by the ties of a common interest, by the sense of a common danger, and by the necessities of a common cause, having no written bond of union. In short, they were held together by their fears.

CHAPTER VIII.

PECULIARITIES UNDER THE CONFEDERATION.

ALTHOUGH the Articles of Confederation are given in full in another place, it is deemed proper to give here some of the

4

peculiarities of that document which distinguish it from the present Constitution of the United States.

§ 1. The Confederation was declared to be a firm league of friendship between the several States.

§ 2. Delegates to Congress were to be appointed annually, in such manner as the Legislature of each State might direct.

§ 3. The power was reserved to the States to recall their delegates, or any of them, within the year, and to send others in their places for the remainder of the year.

$ 4. No State was allowed representation in Congress by less than two, nor more than seven, members.

§ 5. No person was eligible to a seat in Congress for more than three in any term of six years.

$ 6. Each State had to maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and while acting as members of the Committee of the States.

$ 7. In determining questions in the Congress, each State had but one vote.

§ 8. All charges of war and other expenses, incurred for the common defense and general welfare, were to be defrayed out of a common treasury.

$ 9. The treasury was to be supplied by the several States, in proportion to the value of all lands, and the improvements and buildings thereon, within each State, granted to or surveyed for any person, to be estimated according to the direction of Congress.

§ 10. Congress was to send and receive ambassadors.

$ 11. Congress was the tribunal of last resort, on appeal, in all disputes and differences, between two or more States, concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever.

§ 12. Congress was the tribunal to decide all controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, under certain limitations.

§ 13. Congress was to commission all the officers of the United States.

$ 14. Congress had authority to appoint a committee, to sit

during the recess of that body, to be denominated “ a Committee of the States," and to consist of one delegate from each State.

$ 15. Canada, acceding to the Confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, was to be admitted into the Union.

$ 16. The Union was to be perpetual. § 17. No provision was made for any

such officer as President. $ 18. There was no national judiciary. § 19. Congress consisted of but one house.

CHAPTER IX.

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE CONFEDERATION.

six

§ 1. The Nationai Government, under the form and Articles of Confederation, soon demonstrated its own weakness, and, in a few years, resulted in a total failure. Six years of war experience without this bond of union, two years of like experience with it, and years

of peace experience under it, convinced the statesmen of that day, and indeed the people generally, that the Confederacy was merely the “ shadow of a government, without the substance.”

§ 2. The education of the leading minds and statesmen of that day was but a revolutionary education ; and their efforts at the frainework of a new government were mainly directed to such a system as might have answered the purpose under the revolutionary condition of things through which they were passing. § 3. But a few years

of
peace

showed that the States, when po longer influenced by a fear inspired by a sense of weakness, would be slow to render obedience to a power of which they were jealous from the beginning, and which, paradoxical as it may seem, was contemptible for its very want of strength.

$ 4. In the language of a leading mind of that day, “ By this political compact, the United States in Congress have exclusive power for the following purposes, without being able to execute one of them :

"1st. They may make and conclude treaties, but can only recoma mend the observance of them.

“2d. They may appoint ambassadors, but can not defray even the expenses of their tables.

“ 3d. They may borrow money in their own name on the faith of the Union, but can not pay a dollar.

" 4th. They may coin money, but they can not purchase an ounce of bullion.

5th. They may make war, and determine what number of troops re necessary, but can not raise a single soldier.

" 6th. In short, they may declare every thing, but do nothing.

CHAPTER X.

LEADING DEFECTS OF THE CONFEDERATION.

The following is a summary of the leading defects of the Articles of Confederation, as a Constitution for a nation made up of a large number of States, as given by an eminent jurist of a later day :

§ 1. There was an utter want of all coercive authority in the Continental Congress to carry into effect any of their constitutional measures.

$ 2. There was no power in the Continental Congress to punish individuals for any breach of their enactments.

Their laws must be wholly without penal sanction.

§ 3. They bad no power to lay taxes, or to collect revenue for the public service. The power over taxes was expressly and exclusively reserved to the States.

$ 4. They had no power to regulate commerce, either with foreign nations, or among the several States. It was left, with respect to both, exclusively to the management of each particular State, thus being at the mercy of private interests or local prejudices.

$ 5. As might be expected, “ the most opposite regulations existed in different States; and there was a constant resort to retaliatory legislation from their jealousies and rivalries in commerce, in agriculture, or in manufactures. Foreign nations did not fail to

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »