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much as it may think fit of its own present laws, customs, rights, privileges, and peculiar jurisdictions within its own limits; ana may amend its own Constitution, as shall seem best to its own assembly or convention."* Viewed as a merely temporary project, this scheme was in accordance with the existing condition of affairs; but regarded in its future, as a plan "to be perpetual," it wanted the comprehensiveness and reach which that futuro must demand. It was not acted upon.

The next step in our political organization was, a recommendation to the Colonies to form themselves into Governmentsfirst temporarily, then permanently. The terms of this recommondation are vory significant-to "adopt such Govornment as shall best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents, in particular, and to America in general.

The People of the several Colonies, now emerged from their colonial condition, proceeded under this recommendation, though at long intervals, to the formation of State Constitutions. In, all these constitutions are seen a recognition of the then existing Congress by provisions for its continuance, and a reservation, as States, of the powers and rights incident and necessary to the guardianship of their particular interests.

A month later,f a Declaration of Independence having been ordered to be prepared, a draft of the form of a confederation between the Colonies was the next day directed to be made. Articles of confederation were soon after proposed, in the name of "The United States of America," the second of which declared, that the Colonies "unite themselves 80 as NEVER to be divided by any act whatever,” and enter into a firm league of friendship with each other for“ their common defence, the security of their liberties and their mutual and general welfare."I This draft having undergone frequent modifications-after discussions chiefly affecting the representative power of each State-the measure of its contributions, and their separate or joint interest in the public lands, the “Articles of Confederation” becamo operative, by the final ratification of them on the first of March, 1781, by the State of Maryland.

A comparison of the Articles ratified with those which preceded them, evince a growing jealousy as to the deposit, extent, and exercise of the general powers, necessary to “the mutual and general welfare.” While in the earlier draft the reserva

* Secret Journals of Congress, i. 283, July 21, 1775.
† June 10, 1776.

Secret Journal, July 12, 1776.

tion was simply " of the sole and exclusive regulation and guvernment of” the "internal police in all matters which shall not interfere with the Articles of the Confederation"-as a provision secondary to the general league-in the later and in the ratified Articles, the primary declaration is, that "each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled." Even, for a “Council of State" to be appointed by Congress, and to act during its sitting and in its recess—“with power to direct military operations by sea or land"-was substituted a “Committou of Congross" to sit only during its rocess; and it was provided, that no person bo allowod to serve in the office of President “of Congress more than one year in any term of three years."

Instead of a National Government of undefined powers, it bad dwindled down to a league of States with limitations inconsistent with the great purposes and ends of a general government; and more in the spirit of a penal statute. It had become a mere league of States, disproportionate in territorial dimensions, in wealth, in population-each having an equal vote in their general Council, and of these equal votes, nine requisite to the exercise of many of the most important powers conferredseveral of those powers of questionable authority because of the intercipient reservations of powers in the States, and without any common exponent; and it fixed a measure of contribution unequal, impracticable, and therefore never carried into effect—with a process of requisitions, not of impositionswithout legislative departments, without a Judiciary, without an Executive—without any direct relation to, or civil power over the People as individuals, whose general welfare was committed to it, and with a debated question as to whom allegiance was due. “The Union,” in the words of Hamilton, originally had " complete sovereignty.” “The Confederation was an abridgement of this original sovereignty."* Although not binding upon any of the States until its ratification by the whole, the influence on the public mind of this very imperfect contrivance was prominent in the proceedings of Congress and of the States -delaying, and imperilling, during several years of the revolutionary contest, the independence and sovereignty it professed to assure.

* Hamilton's Works, i. 358.

"The Congress issued pledges for money it had no means to pay, called for soldiers it had no means to support, entered into treaties it could not fulfil; while States endangered and did injustice to their associate States, by disproportionate, inadequate, contributions of men and money;* by the assumption of powers inconsistent with a community of rights; and by the refusal of powers essential to the presorvation of those rights.t

In Virginia it was proposed to abolish all private commerce and to establish commercial companies including a State, or parts of a State in districts. Their commercial operations were to be reprosented by stock; the price of overy article to be fixed by the companies; and the power to be conferred upon them " of taking private goods into their custody;"-called a plan “ for appreciating the currency and reducing the price of necessaries." An embargo of provisions followed. And the day after Jefferson's election as Governor—the second of June, 1779— fearful of the breaking up of the Confederacy, and to secure a strong foreign protector; a resolution unanimously passed her legislature, by which,“ the treaties of Alliance and Commerce between France and the Congress of the United States were ratified, confirmed, and declared binding; so far as in the power of tbis Commonwealth." A special favor from France was granted to her.

The sufferings in Virginia were a type of the general condition of this country. “The enemy," Washington wrote in November seventy-nine, "are in great hopes of terminating the warin their favor in another campaign, as they expect confidently the entire ruin of our money and a failure of provisions for the supply of our army." In the following month, he again wrote,

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* The inefficiency of Virginia, the then most populous State of the Confederacy, is thus exposed by its Governor Patrick Henry :-“Publio spirit seems to have taken its fight from Virginia. It is too much the case; for the quota of our troops is not half made up, and no chance seems to remain for completing it. Great bounties are offered. But I fear the only effect will be to expose our State to contempt, for, I believe no soldiers will onlist, especially in the Infantry. Can you credit it? No effort was made for supporting or restoring public credit. I pressed it warmly on some, but in vain. This is the reason you get no soldiers. Let not Congress rely on Virginia for soldiers, I tell you my opinion-thoy will not be got here, until a different spirit prevails."- Memoir of R. H. Lee, i. 196. 1778.

Washington soon after wrote, “At present they are but a handful, compared to the quota they should furnish, and unlegg something is done, this handful will dwindle to nothing."Hist. Repub. i. 559.

"I find our prospects are infinitely worse than they have been at any period of the war, and unless some expedient can be instantly adopted, a dissolution of the army for the want of subsistence is unavoidable. * * * We have never experienced a like extremity at any period of the war.” Well might be feared “the entire ruin of the money.” The bills in circulation amounted to the enormous sum of one hundred and sixty millions of dollars--and the total product of the taxes since the begin. ning of the war was only three millions.

It was in the midst of this chaotic confusion, this vast distress, so discouraging to the people, and so encouraging to the enemy-fivo years of indecisivo war having nearly elapsed that Hamilton (Washington's "principal and most confidontial aid,") familiar with all his embarrassments and intimate with all the wants of the army and of the country, at the age of twentytwo, soon after the army entered winter quarters at Morristown, is seen to have projected an enlarged plan for the restoration of the public credit, proposing an indispensable change in the whole administration of the public affairs. After an argued exposition of this plan, ho wrote, “Congress have too long neglected to organize a good scheme of administration and to throw public business into proper EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS. For commerce, I prefer a Board, but for most other things single men. We want a Minister of War, a Minister of Foreign Affairs, a Minister of Finance, and a Minister of Marine. There is always more decision, more dispatch, more secrecy, more responsibility, where single men, than where bodies are concerned. By a plan of this kind we should blend the advantages of a Monarchy and a Republic in a happy and beneficial Union.'

The adoption of this plan was not immediate, but the almost desperate situation of affairst promptod and induced Congress, though reluctantly, to vest certain executive powers in a committee of its own body. The immediate motive to this measure was an occurrence which was of great immediate benefit, but was afterwards productive of most deleterious consequences.

* History of Republio, i. 577. 1779.

† Ibid. ii. 11, February 25, 1780. “Re-inforcements are expected-General nagan is within a few miles. The Virginia troops are somewhere! Assistance from that sister State has been expected these eighteen months.Colonel Laurens to General Lincoln-who, for want of this aid, was compelled to surrender Charleston.

All our

The American people, instead of the glory of achieving their final victory by their own unassisted valor, were obliged to ask foreign aid. Foreign arms now came; and subsequently abusing its gratitude, foreign influence, for a time, poisoned the councils of this yet infant nation. “It appears to me," Hamilton wrote by the order and in the name of Washington, “of the greatest importance, and even of absolute necessity that a small committee should be immediately appointed to reside near Head Quarters, vested with all the powers Congress have, so far as respects the purpose of a full co-operation with the French fleet and army on the continent. Their authority should be plenipotentiary; to draw out men and supplies of every kind and to give their sanction to any operations which the commander in chief may not think himself at liberty to undertake without it, as well beyond as within the limits of these States. This committee can act with dispatch and energy. The conjuncture is ono of the most critical and important we have seen. prudence and exertions are required to give it a favorable issue. Hesitancy and delay would, in all probability, ruin our affairs."*

A committee was appointed, but its powers were far short of those suggested in this letter. Critical as was the state of the public affairs, no adequate remedy had been provided. The Emissions of credit bills were almost valueless. This accumulation of promisest fell to the ground; and Congress at last adopted the measures proposed by Hamilton the preceding year, --by a pledge to reimburse the subscribers to a Bank, and by the sending a commissioner to Europe to negotiate a Loan. The continental paper money had been a substitute for Revenue. This failing, the fato of the Revolution was cast on the voluntary action of twelvo States ungoverned by a common government, untiod by any other tio than their common necessities. This was the natural and necessary consequence of the impotence which had prevailed. The repeated recommendations of Congross without power to enforce them, were as repeated proclamations of weakness. The influence of a lavish treasury, ceasing with the cessation of the emissions of bills of credit, Congress was almost without weight; and the patriotism of many was seen to sink in an equal ratio with the scale of the paper deprociation. The actual power being in the States, this portion of society turned towards them, and gave to their real an artificial,

* History of Republic, ii. 17, April 28, 1780.

† Ibid. 77.

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