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al account. In respect to foreign governments, we were politically known as the United States only; and it was in our national capacity, as such, that we sent and received ambassadors, entered into treaties and alliances, and were admitted into the general community of nations, who might exercise the right of belligerents, and claim an equality of sovereign powers and prerogatives.

§ 111. In respect to the powers of the continental congress exercised before the adoption of the articles of confederation, few questions were judicially discussed during the revolutionary contest; for men had not leisure in the heat of war nicely to scrutinize or weigh such subjects; inter arma silent leges. The people, relying on the wisdom and patriotism of congress, silently acquiesced in whatever authority they assumed. But soon after the organization of the present government, the question was most elaborately discussed before the Supreme Court of the United States, in a case calling for an exposition of the appellate jurisdiction of congress in prize causes before the ratification of the confederation. The result of that examination was, that congress, before the confederation, possessed, by the consent of the people of the United States, sovereign and supreme powers for national purposes; and among others, the supreme powers of peace and war, and, as an incident, the right of entertaining appeals in the last resort in prize causes, even in opposition to state legislation. And that the actual powers exercised by congress, in respect to national objects, furnished the best exposition of its constitutional authority, since they emanated from the representatives of the people, and were acquiesced in by the people.

CHAPTER II.

ORIGIN OF THE CONFEDERATION.

§ 112. THE union, thus formed, grew out of the exigences of the times; and from its nature and objects might be deemed temporary, extending only to the maintenance of the common liberties and independence of the states, and to terminate with the return of peace with Great Britain, and the accomplishment of the ends of the revolutionary contest. It was obvious to reflecting minds, that such a future separation of the states into absolute, independent communities with no mutual ties, or controlling national government, would be fraught with the most imminent dangers to their common safety and peace, and expose them not only to the chance of re-conquest by Great Britain, after such separation in detached contests, but also to all the hazards of internal warfare and civil dissensions. So, that those, who had stood side by side in the common cause against Great Britain, might then, by the intrigues of their enemies, and the jealousies always incident to neighbouring nations, become instruments, in the hands of the ambitious abroad, or the corrupt at home, to aid in the mutual destruction of each other; and thus all sucessively fall, the victims of a domestic or foreign tyranny. Such considerations could not but have great weight with all honest and patriotic citizens, independent of the real blessings, which a permanent union could not fail to secure throughout all the states.

§ 113. It will be an instructive and useful lesson to us to trace historically the steps, which led to the formation and final adoption of the articles of confederation

and perpetual union between the United States. It will be instructive by disclosing the real difficulties attendant upon such a plan, even in times, when the necessity of it was forced upon the minds of men not only by common dangers, but by common protection, by common feelings of affection, and by common efforts of defence. It will be useful, by moderating the ardour of inexperienced minds, which are apt to imagine, that the theory of government is too plain, and the principles, on which it should be formed, too obvious, to leave much doubt for the exercise of the wisdom of statesmen, or the ingenuity of speculatists. Nothing is indeed more difficult to foresee, than the practical operation of given powers, unless it be the practical operation of restrictions, intended to control those powers.

114. On the 11th of June, 1776, the same day, on which the committee for preparing the declaration of independence was appointed, congress resolved, that "a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies;" and on the next day a committee was accordingly appointed, consisting of a member from each colony. Nearly a year before this period, (viz. on the 21st of July, 1775,) Dr. Franklin had submitted to congress a sketch of articles of confederation, which does not, however, appear to have been acted on. These articles contemplated a union, until a reconciliation with Great Britain, and on failure thereof, the confederation to be perpetual.

115. On the 12th of July, 1776, the committee, appointed to prepare articles of confederation, presented a draft, which was in the hand-writing of Mr. Dickinson, one of the committee, and a delegate from

Pennsylvania. The draft, so reported, was debated from the 22d to the 31st of July, and on several days between the 5th and 20th of August, 1776. On this last day, congress, in committee of the whole, reported a new draft, which was ordered to be printed for the use of the members.

§ 116. The subject seems not again to have been touched until the 8th of April, 1777, and the articles were debated at several times between that time and the 15th of November of the same year. On this last day the articles were reported with sundry amendments, and finally adopted by congress. A committee was then appointed to draft, and they accordingly drafted, a circular letter, requesting the states respectively to authorize their delegates in congress to subscribe the same in behalf of the state.

§ 117. Notwithstanding the strong and eloquent appeal made to the states in this letter it carried conviction very slowly to the minds of the local legislatures. Many objections were stated; and many amendments were proposed. All of them, however, were rejected by congress, not probably because they were all deemed inexpedient or improper in themselves; but from the danger of sending the instrument back again to all the states, for reconsideration. Accordingly on the 26th of June, 1778, a copy, engrossed for ratification, was prepared, and the ratification begun on the 9th day of July following. It was ratified by all the states, except Delaware and Maryland, in 1778; by Delaware in 1779, and by Maryland on the first of March, 1781, from which last date its final ratification took effect, and was joyfully announced by congress.

CHAPTER III.

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE CONFEDERATION.

§ 118. ANY survey, however slight, of the confederation will impress the mind with the intrinsic difficulties which attended the formation of its principal features. It is well known, that upon three important points, touching the common rights and interests of the several states, much diversity of opinion prevailed, and many animated discussions took place. The first was, as to the mode of voting in congress, whether it should be by states, or according to wealth, or population. The second, as to the rule, by which the expenses of the Union should be apportioned among the states. And the third, relative to the disposal of the vacant and unappropriated lands in the western territory.

§ 119. The leading defects of the confederation may be enumerated under the following heads:

In the first place, there was an utter want of all coercive authority to carry into effect its own constitutional measures. This, of itself, was sufficient to destroy its whole efficiency, as a superintending government, if that may be called a government, which possessed no one solid attribute of power. It has been justly observed, that "a government authorized to declare war, but relying on independent states for the means of prosecuting it; capable of contracting debts, and of pledging the public faith for their payment; but depending on thirteen distinct sovereignties for the preservation of that faith; could only be rescued from ignominy and contempt by finding those sovereignties administered by men exempt from the passions incident

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