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Some time since, the intention was announced of publishing an edition of the Federalist, which would “state all the evidence known to exist, to designate the respective contributions of its authors."'*
The great Rebellion which, while imperilling, has developed the power of our Government, and by its suppression will establish the Unity of the American Empire, has been a sufficient cause of delay; independent of those personal interests which bave irresistibly drawn the mind from the study to the camp and to the battle-fields. This task is now performed.
As Alexander Hamilton is known to have been chiefly instrumental in the series of measures which finally resulted in the establishment of the Constitution of the United States—was its principal expounder—and as he had a large share in the practical exposition of its powers, under the Presidency of Washington and of his successor, I have permitted myself to believe, that a preliminary exbibition of his progressive opinions and acts -onward toward the goal of his great desires and hopes—the organization of a firm National Government, resting directly on the shoulders of the American people; acting directly upon them as individuals; and pervading the entire limits of their country, might not be without interest or instruction. And, in no other mode could this be more effectually done than by including in this volume-precedent to the Federalist–certain papers from his pen, which have hitherto had a very limited publicity, together with some elucidatory observations.
In a retrospect of the riso of tho British Provinces in North America, from their Colonial condition to that of an Independent
* History of the Republic of the United States of America as traced in the writings of Alexander Hamilton and of his cotemporaries. iii. 371. 1859.
porver among the Nations of the World; what that condition was, bas at different periods been much discussed. At first, it was treated as a question of the rights and duties of these Colonies in reference to the parent Government; later, it has been more often investigated as a question, of the relation of tho Colonies to their Sovereigns, and to each other, in regard to the relations which have existed and now truly exist, between the particular States within the Union and the whole United States; or between the People of each of those States and the whole People of the United States, ordaining and establishing a Constitution for the United States of America. The De. claration of Independence disposed of the first of these questions, the latter bas a living interest. In the second of his early productions,* Hamilton touches this great question. Totally denying the claim of parliamentary supremacy over the British Colonies, except as conceded by them, he remarks, In order to form one State, that is, a number of individual societies, or bodies politic united under one common head, there must indeed be some connecting, pervading principle. This is found in the person and prerogative of the King. He it is that conjoins all these individual societies into one great body politic.” "He is King of America, by virtue of the compact between us and the Kings of Great Britain." Their claim to allegiance was founded
the title derived from the Crown to the lands in America, and on the King's being “the supreme protector of the Empire," and having bestowed that protection. As fellow subjects of one common Sovereign, the Colonists had the comnion rights of British subjects, those rights which are the natural rights of every human being, except as limited by statutes. These common rights extended over the whole territory of Great Britain in North America. The colonists of each Colony bad tha rights of traffic with, of migration to; of residence in, and of inheritance by descent of real estate situate in, overy othor Colony. To socure which common rights the local legislation of all the Colonies was required to be in accordance with the laws of England.
Thus, the British colonists of North America, were, in chief respects, "one people,”+ and as such, the delegates chosen to
* Hamilton's Works, ii. 55, February 6, 1775. “The Farmer Refuted" written in his eighteenth year.
† Story's Commentaries, i. & 163, 165. 2 Dallas Reports, 470. Opinion of Chief Justice Jay.
the first “ American Continental Congress," were chosen, and declare themselves chosen by “the good people of the several Colonies” there represented. The powers cxerted by it wero exerted for their common protection; and the Union of the Colonies was symbolized to the world by that of "The Great Union Flag,” in which they still recognized their common al. legiance to the crown.*
Notwithstanding this still recognized allegiance, Congress representing the power of the United people, became, in place of the King, their "supreme Protector;" and ere long, on this protection being withdrawn from its subjects by the Crown, that allegiance was likewise withdrawn, and was transferred to the whole people of the United Colonies represented in that Congress. Thus, the Declaration of Independence by the Conti. nental Congress, as the act of “one people," about “to assume among the powers of the earth," a "separate and equal station” -AS A NATION—and "in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies," declares, " that these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and independent States;" and, as such, “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."
This manifestly was the joint act of all the people of the United colonies of North America, not a single colony being named. It was a Declaration of the Independence of the United colonies—of Great Britain-not of an independence of each colony of the other colonies—it was a declaration of the sovereignty of the people of the United States conjointly, not of the sovereignty of any one colony, for the colonial condition then ceased; not of the sovereignty of any one State, for no State Government, with a view to permanence, had then boon formed. Hamilton accurately pronounced, before the present Constitu
* A flag combining the Crosses of St. George and St. Andrew united (the distinctive Emblem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain) with a Field composed of thirteen stripes alternate red nnd white, the combination of the Flags previously used in the camp, on the cruisers and the floating batteries of the Colonies, was adopted for this purpose, ("the declaration of their union under A common sovereign") and called the “Great Union Flag."-" The National Flag of the United States," p. 80–85, by Captain, since Major General Schuyler Hamilton. The change from this ing to that of the flag of the United States was ordered by a Resolution of Congress June 14, 1777, thus providing a substitute for the crosses of St. George and St. Andrews, that "the Union be thirteen stars, white in a Blue Field-representing a new constellation."
tion was established, such to be the true political condition: “The Union and INDEPENDENCE of these States are blended and incorporated in one and the same act”*—the Declaration of Independence. “ The sovereignty and independence of the people," he declared, “began by a federal act. The Declaration of Independence was the fundamental Constitution of every State.” “Congress had complete sovereignty." "Its constitutional powers are not controllable by any State." +
In prosecution of the great purpose of the Declaration of Independence—the establishment of a nation of free men-Congress proceoded in tho oxertion of many of the sovoreign powors necessary to that purpose-powers of action and of prohibition. They had exerted and continued to exert the powers of levying war on land and on sea, pledging the whole property of the inhabitants of the twelve Colonies for the redemption of their joint debt; and they had prohibited exportations to the British dominions, with certain exceptions; the receipt and negotiation of British government bills by, or supplies of money to, British officers; and of necessaries to the British army and navy in Massachusetts, or transports in their service, I acting directly upon the people of the United States for many purposes, and through the agency of the States when organized, for other purposes.
It is not to be supposed that a people keenly jealous of their liberties would long be content with the large discretionary powers Congress was exercising; and, in midsummer of seventeen hundred and seventy-five, Benjamin Franklin submitted to Congress a sketch of “ Articles of Confederation,” in the name of “The United Colonies of North America.” These articles declared their purpose to be “common defence—the securities of their liberties and properties—the safety of their persons and families—and their mutual and general welfare.” They were to "be proposed to the several provincial Conventions or Assemblics," for their approval and ratification; and “the Union thereby established,” was to continue firm until a reconciliation with Great Britain; but," on failure thereof,” the Confederation was “to be perpetual." Conferring upon Congress the power of making such General Ordinances as though necessary to the general welfare, particular assemblies cannot be competent ts" - they declared, "that each Colony shall enjoy and retain as # Hamilton's Works, ii. 358.
| Hist. Rep. iii. 16. | Journal of Congress, June 2, 1775.