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clusively reserved to the States. The consequence was, That great delays took place in collecting the taxes; and ne evils from this source were of incalculable extent, "ven during the Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress were often wholly without funds to meet the :xigencies of the public service; and if it had not been or their good fortune, in obtaining money by some loans a foreign countries, it is far from being certain, that this dilatory scheme of taxation would not have been fatal to the cause of the Revolution. After the

peace

of 1783, the States relapsed into utter indifference on this subject The requisitions of the Continental Congress for funds, even for the purpose of enabling them to pay the inter est of the public debt, were openly disregarded ; and, notwithstanding the most affecting appeals, made from time to time by the Congress, to the patriotism, the sense of duty, and the justice of the States, the latter refused to raise the necessary supplies. The consequence was, that the national treasury was empty ; the credit of the Confederacy was sunk to a low ebb; the public burdens were increasing; and the public faith was prostrated and openly violated.

§ 33. In the next place, the Continental Congress had no power to regulate commerce, either with foreign nations, or among the several States composing the Union. Commerce, both foreign and domestic, was left exclusively to the management of each particular State, according to its views of its own interests, or its local prejudices. The consequence was, that the most opposite regulations existed in the different States; and, in many cases, and especially between neighboring States, there was a perpetual course of retaliatory legislation, from their jealousies and rivalries in commerce, in agriculture, or in manufactures. Foreign nations did not fail to avail themselves of all the advantages accruing to themselves from this suicidal policy, tending to the common ruin. And as the evils grew more pressing, the resentments of the States against each other, and the consciousness, that their local interests were placed in opposition to each other, were daily increasing the mass of disaffection, until

it became obvious, that the dangers of immediate warfare between some of the States were imminent; and thus, the peace and safety of the Union were made dependent upon measures of the States, over which the General Government had not the slightest control. $ 34. But the evil did not rest here.

Our foreign commerce was not only crippled, but almost destroyed, by this want of uniform laws to regulate it. Foreign nations imposed upon our navigation and trade just such restrictions, as they deemed best to their own interest and policy. All of them had a common interest to stint our trade, and enlarge their own ; and all of them were well satisfied, that they might, in the distracted state of our legislation, pass whatever acts they pleased on this subject, with impunity. They did not fail to avail themselves, to the utmost, of their advantages. They pursued a system of the most rigorous exclusion of our shipping from all the benefits of their own commerce ; and endeavored to secure, with a bold and unhesitating confidence, a monopoly of ours. The effects of this system of operations, combined with our political weakness, were soon visible. Our navigation was ruined ; our mechanics were in a state of inextricable poverty ; our agricultire was withered ; and the little money still found in the country was gradually finding its way abroad, to supply our immediate wants. In the rear of all this, there was a heavy public debt, which there was no means to pay; and a state of alarmning embarrassment, in that most difficult and delicate of all relations, the relation of private debtors and creditors, threatened daily an overthrow even of the ordinary administration of justice. Severe, as were the calamities

the pressure of them was far less mischievous, than this slow but progressive destruction of all our re sources, all our industry, and all our credit. 35. There

other defects in the Confederation, of a subordinate character and importance. But these were sufficient to establish its utter unfitness, as a frame of government, for a free, enterprising, and industrious people. Great, however, and manifold as the eyils were, and, indeed, so glaring and so universar it

re many

of the war,

was yet extremely difficult to induce the States to concur in adopting any adequate remedies to redress them. For several years, efforts were made by some of our wisest and best patriots to procure an enlargement of the powers of the Continental Congress ; but, from the predominance of State jealousies, and the supposed in compatibility of State interests with each other, they all failed. At length, however, it became apparent, that the Confederation, being left without resources and without powers, must soon expire of its own debility. It had not only lost all vigor, but it had ceased even to be respected. It lrad approached the last stages of its decline ; and the only question, which remained, was, whether it should be left to a silent dissolution, or an attempt should be made to form a more efficient

government, before the great interests of the Union were buried beneath its ruins.

CHAPTER VI.

Origin of the Constitution.

$36. In 1785, commissioners were appointed by the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia, to form a compact, relative to the navigation of the rivers Potomac and Roanoke, and the Chesapeake Bay. The commissioners met, accordingly, at Alexandria, in Virginia ; but, feeling the want of adequate powers, they recommended proceedings of a more enlarged nature.

The legislature of Virginia accordingly, in January, 1786, proposed a convention of commissioners from all the States, for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of trade, and the propriety of a uniform system of com. mercial relations, for their permanent harmony and common interest. Pursuant to this proposal, commissioners were appointed by five States, who met at Annapolis, in September, 1786. They framed a Report, to be laid before the Continental Congress, advising the latter to call a General Convention, of commissioners from all the States, to meet in Philadelphia, in May, 1787, for a more effectual revision of the Articles of Confederation.

§ 37. Congress adopted the recommendation of the Report, and in February, 1787, passed a resolution for assembling a Convention accordingly. All the States, except Rhode Island, appointed delegates ; and they met at Philadelphia. After very protracted deliberations, and great diversities of opinion, they finally, on the 17th. of September, 1787, framed the present Constitution of the United States, and recommended it to be laid by the Congress before the several States, to be by them considered and ratified, in conventions of the representatives of the people, to be called for that purpose. The Continental Congress accordingly took measures for this purpose. Conventions were accordingly called in all the States, except Rhode Island, and, after many warm discussions, the Constitution was ratified by all of them, except North Carolina and Rhode Island.

$ 38. The assent of nine States only being required to put the Constitution into operation, measures were ta ken for this purpose, by Congress, in September, 1788, as soon as the requisite ratifications were ascertained. Electors of President and Vice President were chosen, who subsequently assembled and gave their votes; and the necessary elections of Senators and Representatives being made, the first Congress under the Constitution assembled at New York, (the then seat of government,) on Wednesday, the 4th day of March, 1789, for commencing proceedings under the Constitution however, of both Houses, for the transaction of business generally, did not assemble until the 6th of April following, when, the votes of the Electors being counted, it was found, that George Washington was unanimously elected President, and John Adams was elected Vice President. On the 30th of April, President Washington was sworn into office ; and the government mmediately went into full operation. North Carolina afterwards, in a new convention, held in November, 1789, adopted the Constitution; and Rhode Island, also by a con

A quorum, Fuation, held in May, 1790. So that all the thirteen States, by the authority of the people thereof, finally became parties under the new government.

39. Thus was achieved another, and still more glorious, triumph, in the cause of liberty, even than that, by which we were separated from the parent country. It was not achieved, however, without great difficulties and sacrifices of opinion. It required all the wisdom, the patriotism, and the genius of our best statesmen, to overcome the objections, which, from various causes, were arrayed against it. The history of those times is full of melancholy instruction, at once to admonish us of the dangers, through which we have passed, and of the neressity of incessant vigilance, to guard and preserve, what has been thus hardly earned. The Constitution was adopted unanimously in New Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia. It was supported by large majorities in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina. In the remaining States, it was carried by small majorities; and especially, in Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia, by little more than a mere preponderating vote. What a humiliating lesson is this, after all our sufferings and sacrifices, and after our long and sad experience of the evils of disunited councils, and of the pernicious influence of State jealousies, and local interests ! It teaches us, how slowly even adversity brings the mind to a due sense of what political wisdom requires. It teachhow liberty itself may

be lost, when men are found ready to hazard its permanent blessings, rather than submit to the wholesome restraints, which its permanent security demands.

§ 40. To those great men, who thus framed the Constitution, and secured the adoption of it, we owe a debt of gratitude, which can scarcely be repaid. It was not then, as it is now, looked upon, from the blessings, which, under the guidance of Divine Providence, it has bestowed, with general favor and affection. On the contrary, many of those pure and disinterested patriots, who stood forth, the firm advocates of its principles, did so at the expense of their existing popularity. They

es us,

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