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reported before the General Court adjourned on March 9 and its report was printed as a supplement by the Boston paper most given to upholding the rights of the states, but was ignored by the Federalist


Henry Jackson wrote Knox on March 7, 1790: "You will observe in the Thursday Paper some proposals as amendments to the Federal Constitution they originate with your friend Dane & B Austin of the Senate, & Mr. Bacon of the house, they are the heads of the Junto that are endeavoring to distress & weaken the General Government-the Court will not act on them this session." 127 The Senate ordered the report printed and voted to consider it, but the consideration did not come up. The proposals of the committee looked to the strengthening of the powers of the states rather than to the protection of the rights of the people. In its general statement the committee said: "The Committee by no means agree with those who contend, that the natural tendency of a system like ours, is towards an undue encrease of the powers of the State Governments, nor with those who contend that the democratic temper of the people, is a sufficient check upon the extensive powers of the general Government." One of the specific proposals of the committee was "That the general Government exercise no power but what is expressly delegated." 128

It has been contended that the General Court, having shown clearly its intention to ratify most of the amendments, "failed to act because it became involved in an attempt to propose even more exclusive definitions of the rights of the people." It is reasonable to suppose that the report of this committee may have been awaited, in order to act upon it before the General Court gave final consideration to the bill of ratification; but the report was known in the General Court by February 24, almost two weeks before adjournment, was printed by order of the Senate, and appeared also in a newspaper on March 4, which would seem to give time enough even in the rush of the end of a session for final consideration and passage of the bill to ratify. Whether or not the intentions of the General Court in appointing a committee for further consideration of the amendments was better to sustain the rights of the people, the report of that committee, as said above, had little of that character. It should be noticed that if the proposed amendment mentioned above on expressed powers was approved, there would be little need of the final article of the propositions from Congress, except the afterthought clause of "or of the people." It is possible to think that in rejecting this amendment the House may have anticipated the report of the joint committee, and there is no reason to suppose


327 that the House would have agreed with the Senate of Virginia in its objections. Nor does this, or anyting else that happened in this session, account for the entire disregard, so far as the records show, any consideration of the proposed amendments by later sessions of the General Court, although there were four of them before it was known that the Bill of Rights had become a part of the Constitution.


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Massachusetts was already on her way to become the stronghold of Federalism. On January 2, 1790, the Federalist organ, the Massachusetts Centinel, printed with evident approval from a New York paper the statement: "The amendments . . proposed .. it ought to be remembered that they are the result of a concession on the part of the majority, who were satisfied with the system in its original form-but from the best motives were induced to acquiesce in amendments to reconcile, if possible, opposition, and to conciliate the doubting." It is entirely consistent to believe that the lack of action on the amendments by the Bay State was due to the increasing satisfaction with the Constitution as it was, to the belief that even the conciliation of the doubting was no longer necessary. Her failure to act on Amendment XI supports this, even though she did not reject it, as did Connecticut and Delaware, two other strong Federalist states.

Connecticut even more than Massachusetts was disinclined to innovation, her conservatism was pronounced, and she also became and remained for many years a consistent supporter of the Federalist party. The General Assembly met in October 1789 and on the 23d the lower house ordered the consideration of the proposed amendments on October 27, on which latter date that body passed a bill to ratify all but the second article, and on the next day approved a committee of conference on the amendments. There are no further records for that session. In the upper house consideration was referred to the next General Assembly, which met in May 1790. On May 18, 1790, the lower house again ratified all but the first and second proposals; there is a confusion in the journal, however, for in one place the second article is called approved and in another rejected, but the balance of the evidence favors the rejection of the second one. The upper house dissented, and a committee of conference was appointed that did not promote an agreement, each house adhering to its original vote. In the session in October 1790 the lower house on the 16th rejected all the proposals, but on the 25th concurred with the Senate in referring the matter to the session of May 1791. There is no indication that the affair was ever resumed. The lack of action by the Connecticut legislature

was in harmony with that of her congressman, who, led by Sherman, were often in opposition even to Madison's mild proposals.

Of the attitude in Georgia we have but a single reference. On December 1, 1789, a joint committee of both houses reported that "the proposed amendments to the defective parts of the Constitution of the united States, and which are particularly the object of, and referred to in the said Communication cannot be effectually pointed out, but by experience, therefore Resolved, that the further consideration of the message be postponed." The Senate accepted this, and the House then laid it on the table.129

These three states, as part of their celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the Constitution and to register their approval of the principles upheld by it, formally ratified the national Bill of Rights in 1939.

The Executive Departments


ALL OF the executive departments authorized during the first session of the First Congress to assist the President in his administration were the successors of organizations under the Continental Congress and the Confederation. Scarcely had the Congress begun its meetings in 1775 before the need was felt of some body within it to handle foreign relations, and two committees were formed, that of the secret committee on supplies and on September 18, 1775, the committee of secret correspondence. The membership of these was usually partially identical, and since the supplies had also to come from abroad there was considerable common ground between them. The former became the commercial committee and the latter on April 17, 1777, the committee of foreign affairs, which after a very unsatisfactory career, chiefly in the hands of one man, James Lovell of Massachusetts, was superseded by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The movement for this department began in 1780; a committee reported it on June 12, but the report was not considered until January 1781. On the 10th of that month the department was authorized, with a paid secretary not a member of Congress, to be called the secretary for foreign affairs. His business was to correspond with the American ministers abroad and the ministers of foreign powers, with "liberty to attend Congress [which sat in secrecy], that he may be better informed of the affairs of the United States, and have an opportunity of explaining his reports respecting his department." 1 He should also keep the papers of his department, and might employ one or more clerks as needed. The salary was fixed, on January 17, 1781, at $4,000, exclusive of office expenses. No appointment was made until August 10, 1781, after the Congress had passed under the Articles of Confederation; and Robert R. Livingston, then chosen, did not take office until October 20. He resigned on June 4, 1783, and after a vacancy of a year and a half was suc

ceeded by John Jay on December 21, 1784. Jay continued in office not only during the rest of the Confederation, but at Washington's request as a hold-over under the Constitution until Jefferson was sworn in as first secretary of state on March 22, 1790, though meanwhile Jay had become chief justice of the United States. The Department of Foreign Affairs under the Confederation was not a satisfactory organization. Jay voiced many complaints on the limited scope of his authority. He was, of course, servant of, and responsible to, the Continental Congress, which remained the real executive.


FINANCES became an all-engrossing question as soon as the Continental Congress met in its second session in 1775, and continued to be a vexatious problem throughout the whole of the ante-Constitution period. With lightheartedness, Congress started its printing presses almost at once, and continued to issue bills of credit through 1779. These rapidly depreciated and from 1781 on had practically no value. This was due to the failure to supply funds to preserve the credit. Having no means to lay taxes itself, Congress made requisitions on the states and borrowed at home and abroad. The returns from these were inadequate. Under the Confederation more loans were secured from abroad and there was a dribble from the states in response to the requisitions which were, aside from loans and bills of credit, the only financial resources allowed by the Articles of Confederation to the national government. The attempts to get permission from the states to lay indirect taxes were never successful.

To administer this small and irregular revenue and to provide for the wartime and other expenditures, or to fail to provide for them, there was a succession of organizations. On July 29, 1775, two treasurers were appointed, one of them, Michael Hillegas, continuing his connection with the financial administration of the government until September 11, 1789. He should have been retained as treasurer under the new Department of the Treasury. Washington's failure to appoint him then was probably a matter of geographical distribution of the offices, and cannot otherwise be explained. It left Hillegas himself and many who knew his worth "extremely disappointed and troubled," as Wingate expressed it.2 Congress also authorized a committee of claims of its own members, and on February 17, 1776, a standing committee of five to superintend the officials and attend to the issuing of the paper money. This committee, or treasury board, was the germ of the later Treasury Department. In 1778 changes

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