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ey, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coins, and fix the standard of weights and measures.” of the power over the coinage and currency of the country is, to produce uniformity in the value of money throughout the Union, and thus to save us from the embarrassments of a perpetually fluctuating and variable currency. If each State might coin money, as it pleased, there would be no security for any uniform coinage, or any uniform standard of value ; and a great deal of base and false coin, would constantly be thrown into the market. The evils from this cause are abundantly felt among the small principalities of continental Europe. The power to fix the standard of weights and measures is a matter of great public convenience, although it has hitherto remained in a great measure dormant. The introduction of the decima mode of calculation, in dollars and cents, instead of the old and awkward system of pounds, shillings, and pence, has been found of great public convenience, although it was at first somewhat unpopular. A similar system in weights and measures has been thought by many statesmen to have advantages equally great and universal. At all events, the power is safe in the hands of Congress, and may hereafter be acted upon, whenever either our foreign, or our domestic intercourse, shall imperiously require a new system.
$ 178. The next power of Congress is, “to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities, and current coin of the United States." This is a natural, and, in a just view, an indispensable appendage to the power to borrow money, and to coin money. Without it, there would be no adequate means for the General Government to punish frauds or forgeries, detrimental to its own interests, and subversive of public and prita confidence.
Post Office and Post Roads.-Patents for Inventions.
$ 179. The next power of Congress, is “to establish post offices, and post roads." This power is peculiarly appropriate to the National Government, and would be at once unwieldy, dilatory, and irregular in the hands of the States, from the utter impracticability of adopting any uniform system of regulations for the whole continent, and from the inequality of the burdens, and benefits of any local system, among the several States, in proportion to their own expenditures. Under the auspices of the General Government, the post office has already become one of the most beneficent, and useful of our national establishments. It circulates intelligence, of a commercial, political, literary, and private nature, with incredible speed and regularity. It thus administers, in a very high degree, to the comfort, the interests, and the necessities of persons in every
rank and station of life. It is not less effective, as an instrument of the government; enabling it, in times of peace and war, to send its orders, execute its measures, transmit its funds, and regulate its operations, with a promptitude and certainty, which are of incalculaple importance, in point of economy, as well as of energy. The rapidity of its movements has been, in a general view, doubled within the last twenty years ; and there were, at the close of the year 1838, twelve thousand five hundred and fifty-three post offices in the United States; and mails then travelled, in various directions and on various routes, more than one hundred and thirty-four thousand miles. The net amount of postage, in the same year, amounted to little short of three millions of dollars. It seems wholly unnecessary to vindicate the grant of a power, which has been thus demonstrated to be of the highest value to all the people of the Union.
$ 180. The next power of Congress is, “to promote the progress of science, and the useful arts, by securing, for limited times, to authors, and inventors, the exclusive right to their respective writings, and discoveries.” The utility of this power has never been questioned. Indeed, if authors, or inventors, are to have any real property or interest in their writings, or discoveries, it is manifest, that the power of protection must be given to, and administered by, the General Government. A copy-right, or patent, granted by a single State, might be violated with impunity by every other; and, indeed, adverse titles might at the same time be set up in different States to the same thing, each of which, according to the laws of the State, in which it originated, might be equally valid. No class of men are more meritorious, or are better entitled to public patronage, than authors and inventors. They have rarely obtained, as the histories of their lives sufficiently establish, any due encouragement and reward for their ingenuity and public spirit. They have often languished in poverty, and died in neglect, while the world has derived immense wealth from their labors, and science and the arts have reaped unbounded advantages from their discoveries. They have but too often possessed a barren fame, and seen the fruits of their genius gathered by those, who have not blushed to purloin, what they have been unable to create. It is, indeed, but a poor reward, to secure to authors and inventors, for a limited period, only, an exclusive title to that, which is, in the noblest sense, their own property ; and to require it ever afterwards to be dedicated to the public. But, such as the provision is, it is impossible to doubt its justice, or its policy, so far as it aims at their protection and encouragement.
§ 181. The power, in its terms, is confined to authors and inventors; and cannot be extended to the introducers of
or inventions. This has been thought, by some ns of high distinction, to be a defect in the Constitution. But perhaps the policy of further extending the right is questionable ; and, at all events, the restriction has not hitherto operated as any discouragement of science or the arts. It has been doubted, whether Congress has authority to decide the fact, that a person is an author or inventor, in the sense of the Constitution, so as to preclude that question from judicial inquiry. But, at ali events, such a construction ought never to be put upon the terms of any general act in favor of a particular inventor, unless it be inevitable.
any new works:
$ 182. The next power of Congress is, “ to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.” But this will hereafter properly come under review, in considering the structure and powers of the Judicial department.
Punishment of Piracies and Felonies.-Declaration of
183. The next power of Congress is, “to define, and punish piracies and felonies, committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations.” Piracy is commonly defined to be robbery, or forcible depredation upon the high seas with intent to steal. But felony" is a term, not so exactly understood or defined. It is usually applied to designate capital offences, that is, of fences punishable with death ; but its true original mean ing seems to be, to designate such offences as are by the common law punished by forfeiture of lands and goods.
Offences against the law of nations” are still less clearly defined ; and therefore, as to these, as well as to felonies, the power to define, as well as to punish, is very properly given. As the United States are responsible to foreign governments for the conduct of our own citizens on the high seas, and as the power to punish offences committed there is also indispensable to the due protection and support of our navigation and commerce, and the States, separately, are incapable of affording adequate redress in such cases, the power is appropriately vested in the General Government.
§ 184. What the true meaning of the phrase “high seas,” is, within the intent of this clause, does not seem
That the power
to be matter of any serious doubt. In order to understand it, resort must be had to the common law, in which, the definition of “high seas” is, that the high seas embrace not only all the waters of the ocean, which are out of sight of land, but also all waters on the seacoast below lowwater mark, whether those waters be within the territorial sovereignty of a foreign nat on or of a domestic State. It has accordingly been held, by our ablest law writers, that the main or high seas properly begin at low-water mark.
§ 185. The next power of Congress is, “to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." to declare war should belong exclusively to the National Government, would hardly seem matter of controversy. If it belonged to the States severally, it would be in the power of any one of them, at any time, to involve the whole Union in hostilities with a foreign country, not only against their interests, but against their judgement. Their very existence might thus be jeoparded without their consent, and their liberties sacrificed to private resentment, or popular prejudice. The power cannot, therefore, be safely deposited, except in the General Government; and, if in the General Government, it ought to belong to Congress, where all the States and all the people of the States are represented ; and where a majority of both Houses must concur, to authorize the declaration. War, indeed, is, in its mildest form, so dreadful a calamity ; it destroys so many lives, wastes so much property, and introduces so much moral desolation ; that nothing but the strongest state of necessity can justify, or excuse it. In a republican government, it should never be resorted to, except as a last expedient to vindicate its rights ; for military power and military ambition have but too often fatally trumphed over the liberties of the people. § 186. The power to declare
if vested in the Gen eral Government, might have been vested in the President, or in the Senate, or in both, or in the House of Representatives alone. In monarchies, the power is ordinarily vested in the Executive. But certainly, in a republic,