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by the states who held them, to the common benefit of the Union.

23. The Articles of Confederation provided,

1st. That the style of the Confederacy should be the "United States of America."

2d. That each state should retain its sovereignty, independence, and such rights as were not delegated to the general Congress.

3d. That the object of the league was the general welfare, and the common defence against foreign aggression.

4th. That the citizens of one state shall have the privileges of citizens in another, and that full faith and credit shall be given to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings in another state.

5th. That for the management of the general interests, delegates shall be annually appointed to meet in Congress, each state having not less than two nor more than seven; and that in determining questions in Congress, each state shall have one vote.

6th. That no state shall, without the consent of Congress, enter into any treaty or alliance with any foreign power or nation, or with any other state; nor lay any imposts or duties interfering with any stipulations contained in any treaty made by Congress; nor keep any vessels of war or armed forces in time of peace, except such as Congress may deem necessary; nor engage in any war without the consent of Congress, unless the state be actually invaded, or the danger imminent; nor grant letters of marque, unless such state be infested with pirates.

7th. All charges for the general welfare shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be levied in proportion to the value of land within each


8th. The "United States in Congress assembled" shall have the exclusive right of making peace and war;

entering into treaties and alliances; granting letters of marque, and establishing courts and rules for the trial of piracies and felonies, and determining questions in relation to captures; and that the Congress have the power to determine all questions and differences between two or more states, concerning any cause whatever, which authority shall be exercised by instituting a court in manner and form as provided, where judgment shall be final and decisive and that they have power to fix the standard of weights, measures, and coin; establish Post-offices and commission Officers; that they shall have power to appoint a committee of the states, and such other civil officers as may be necessary to manage the general affairs of the United States under their direction; to elect their President; to fix the sums of money to be raised; to borrow money and emit bills of credit; to agree on the number of forces to be raised, which are to be distributed among the states in proportion to their white inhabitants; that "the United States" shall not exercise these powers, unless nine states assent to the same, nor shall any question except that of adjournment be determined unless by the votes of a majority of the states.

9th. It is further provided, that the committee of the states, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States, or any nine of them, shall think proper to vest them with.

10th. All debts contracted under the authority of Congress shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the United States, for which the public faith is pledged.

11th. That every state shall abide by the determinations of Congress upon the questions submitted to it, and the union shall be perpetual.

§ 24. Such is a synopsis of the articles of confederation, under which the United States terminated the war

of the Revolution, and continued till the adoption of the Constitution. It will be remarked,

1. That the states still assumed the style of a league or confederacy, and that, 2dly, they had notwithstanding granted away many attributes of sovereignty, even greater than those proposed to be vested in the President and Council by the plan of 1754.

§ 25. This Confederacy had many obvious and palpable deficiencies, as a government, principally, however, in the mode and process of its administration.

1. There was still wanting an Executive in form, though nearly all its powers were granted to Congress and the "committee of the states."

2. No general Judiciary was provided; yet they had gone so far as to provide a Marine or Admiralty Court, and a general tribunal to settle conflicts and disputes between the several states.

3. The great deficiency was, that the articles of confederation did not act upon individuals, but upon the states; and that to raise men and money, it was necessary to act through the medium of many distinct govern


§ 26. By a comparison of the original association of 1643, the plan of 1754, and the articles of confederation, we find that the minds of the colonists had gradually tended from the notion of separate sovereignties to that of a general and united government. Each change, founded on experience, had given additional strength to the confederacy. Thus the association of 1643 was a simple league, existing by means of treaties, and exercised through commissioners; and though possessing many of the attributes of sovereignty, holding them only through an alliance. The plan of 1754, though not adopted, was that of a general government, and had a strong executive. The articles of confederation, though reverting back to the form of a confederacy, greatly increased, in theory, the powers of government:

For, example, it superadded to the powers of former Congresses those of emitting bills of credit, establishing Marine Courts, and judging between the states. Under this confederation, the United States, by the peace of 1783, achieved their separate and independent existence as a nation. Yet, we have already seen, it was found insufficient for the purposes of a stable government, and how, in 1787, the present Constitution was formed and adopted.

27. In this chapter we have established these propositions :

1st. That the idea of a union of the colonies originated in the very earliest stage of their existence.

2d. That their idea was that of a government exercised for the general welfare, and founded upon a representation of the people.

3d. That for this purpose they from time to time formed leagues and confederacies.

4th. That these associations were made closer and stronger, as time and experience progressed.

5th. Lastly, that they were all merged in the "more perfect union" and general government established by the Convention of 1787.




28. WE, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

$29. In this preamble are asserted,-1st, the power making the Constitution, "We the People," &c.; 2dly, the object for which it was formed, the more perfect union, general welfare, &c.; 3dly, the subject of it, the United States.

§ 30. The first position, that "We the People do ordain," &c., is the foundation of the most solemn inquiry which ever agitated the American people,--whether this phrase be a mere nullity, or whether the Constitution was indeed formed by the whole people?

§ 31. It is one of the rules1 for interpreting laws, that they must be understood according to the context, i. e. the whole must be taken in connexion. This passage will, therefore, be better understood when we have reviewed the entire Constitution. The preamble throws light upon the instrument, and the instrument upon the preamble. It is sufficient to remark here, that the terms used are in perfect accordance with the mode by which the Constitution was ratified: this was by con

1 Blackstone's Comm. 59.

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