There might be some reason in objecting to the excessive power vested
in Congress; but what is one to think of the fear that imagined the
greatest point of danger to lie in the ten miles square which later
became the District of Columbia, because the Government might erect a
fortified stronghold which would be invincible? Again, in the light of
subsequent events it is laughable to find many protesting that, although
each house was required to keep a journal of proceedings, it was only
required "FROM TIME TO TIME to publish the same, excepting such parts
as may in their judgment require secrecy." All sorts of personal charges
were made against those who were responsible for the framing of the
Constitution. Hopkinson wrote to Jefferson in April, 1788:
"You will be surprised when I tell you that our public News Papers have
announced General Washington to be a Fool influenced & lead by that Knave
Dr. Franklin, who is a public Defaulter for Millions of Dollars, that
Mr. Morris has defrauded the Public out of as many Millions as you
please & that they are to cover their frauds by this new Government."*
* "Documentary History of the Constitution," vol. IV, p. 563.
All things considered, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that such
critics and detractors were trying to find excuses for their opposition.
The majorities in the various conventions can hardly be said really to
represent the people of their States, for only a small percentage of the
people had voted in electing them; they were representative rather of
the propertied upper class. This circumstance has given rise to the
charge that the Constitution was framed and adopted by men who were
interested in the protection of property, in the maintenance of the
value of government securities, and in the payment of debts which had
been incurred by the individual States in the course of the Revolution.
Property holders were unquestionably assisted by the mere establishment
of a strong government. The creditor class seemed to require some
special provision and, when the powers of Congress were under
consideration in the Federal Convention, several of the members argued
strongly for a positive injunction on Congress to assume obligations
of the States. The chief objection to this procedure seemed to be based
upon the fear of benefiting speculators rather than the legitimate
creditors, and the matter was finally compromised by providing that
all debts should be "as valid against the United States under
this Constitution asunder the Confederation." The charge that the
Constitution was framed and its adoption obtained by men of property and
wealth is undoubtedly true, but it is a mistake to attribute unworthy
motives to them. The upper classes in the United States were generally
people of wealth and so would be the natural holders of government
securities. They were undoubtedly acting in self-protection, but the
responsibility rested upon them to take the lead. They were acting
indeed for the public interest in the largest sense, for conditions in
the United States were such that every man might become a landowner
and the people in general therefore wished to have property rights
In the autumn of 1788 the Congress of the old Confederation made
testamentary provision for its heir by voting that presidential electors
should be chosen on the first Wednesday in January, 1789; that these
electors should meet and cast their votes for President on the first
Wednesday in February; and that the Senate and House of Representatives
should assemble on the first Wednesday in March. It was also decided
that the seat of government should be in the City of New York until
otherwise ordered by Congress. In accordance with this procedure,
the requisite elections were held, and the new government was duly
installed. It happened in 1789 that the first Wednesday in March was
the fourth day of that month, which thereby became the date for the
beginning of each subsequent administration.
The acid test of efficiency was still to be applied to the new machinery
of government. But Americans then, as now, were an adaptable people,
with political genius, and they would have been able to make almost any
form of government succeed. If the Federal Convention had never met,
there is good reason for believing that the Articles of Confederation,
with some amendments, would have been made to work. The success of the
new government was therefore in a large measure dependent upon the favor
of the people. If they wished to do so, they could make it win out in
spite of obstacles. In other words, the new government would succeed
exactly to the extent to which the people stood back of it. This was the
critical moment when the slowly growing prosperity, described at length
and emphasized in the previous chapters, produced one of its most
important effects. In June, 1788, Washington wrote to Lafayette:
"I expect, that many blessings will be attributed to our new government,
which are now taking their rise from that industry and frugality into
the practice of which the people have been forced from necessity. I
really believe that there never was so much labour and economy to be
found before in the country as at the present moment. If they persist
in the habits they are acquiring, the good effects will soon be
distinguishable. When the people shall find themselves secure under an
energetic government, when foreign Nations shall be disposed to give us
equal advantages in commerce from dread of retaliation, when the burdens
of the war shall be in a manner done away by the sale of western lands,
when the seeds of happiness which are sown here shall begin to expand
themselves, and when every one (under his own vine and fig-tree) shall
begin to taste the fruits of freedom - then all these blessings (for all
these blessings will come) will be referred to the fostering influence
of the new government. Whereas many causes will have conspired to
A few months later a similar opinion was expressed by Crevecoeur in
writing to Jefferson:
"Never was so great a change in the opinion of the best people as has
happened these five years; almost everybody feels the necessity of
coercive laws, government, union, industry, and labor.... The exports of
this country have singularly increased within these two years, and the
imports have decreased in proportion."
The new Federal Government was fortunate in beginning its career at the
moment when returning prosperity was predisposing the people to think
well of it. The inauguration of Washington marked the opening of a new
era for the people of the United States of America.
*The documents in this Appendix follow the text of the "Revised
Statutes of the United States", Second Edition, 1878.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - 1776
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,
and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal
station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them,
a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should
declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That
to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of
the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in
such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety
and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long
established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and
accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train
of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a
design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is
their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for
their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these
Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter
their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of
Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all
having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over
these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for
the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should
be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right
of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and
formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records,
for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of
Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;
the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of
invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing
to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the
conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent
to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their
offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the
Consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
to the Civil Power. He has combined with others to subject us to a
jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our
laws; giving his Assent to their acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging
its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument
for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and
altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government:
For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested
with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection
and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to
compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun
with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most
barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas
to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their
friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to
bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages,
whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all
ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in
the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by
repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act
which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free People.
Nor have We been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have
warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend
an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the
circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to
their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the
ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would
inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence[.] They too
have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must,
therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation,
and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace
We, therefore, the Representative of the united States of America, in
General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world
for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority
of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That
these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent
States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State of Great
Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and
Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace,
contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and
Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support
of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and
our sacred Honor.
New Hampshire. JOSIAH BARTLETT, WM. WHIPPLE, MATTHEW THORNTON.
Massachusetts Bay. SAML. ADAMS, JOHN ADAMS, ROBT. TREAT PAINE, ELBRIDGE
Rhode Island. STEP. HOPKINS, WILLIAM ELLERY.
Connecticut. ROGER SHERMAN, SAM'EL HUNTINGTON,WM. WILLIAMS, OLIVER
New York. WM. FLOYD, PHIL. LIVINGSTON, FRANS. LEWIS, LEWIS MORRIS.
RICHD. STOCKTON, JNO. WITHERSPOON, FRAS. HOPKINSON, JOHN HART, ABRA.
Pennsylvania. ROBT. MORRIS, BENJAMIN RUSH,BENJA. FRANKLIN, JOHN MORTON,
GEO. CLYMER, JAS. SMITH, GEO. TAYLOR, JAMES WILSON, GEO. ROSS.
Delaware. CAESAR RODNEY, GEO. READ, THO. M'KEAN.
Maryland. SAMUEL CHASE, WM. PACA,, THOS. STONE, CHARLES CARROLL of
Virginia. GEORGE W WYTHE, RICHARD HENRY LEE, TH. JEFFERSON, BENJA.
HARRISON, THOS. NELSON, JR., FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE, CARTER BRAXTON.
North Carolina. WM. HOOPER, JOSEPH HEWES, JOHN PENN.
South Carolina. EDWARD RUTLEDGE, THOS. HEYWARD, JUNR., THOMAS LYNCH,
JUNR., ARTHUR MIDDLETON.
Georgia. BUTTON GWINNETT, LYMAN HALL, GEO. WALTON.
NOTE. - Mr. Ferdinand Jefferson, Keeper of the Rolls in the Department of
State, at Washington, says: "The names of the signers are spelt above
as in the fac-simile of the original, but the punctuation of them is
not always the same; neither do the names of the States appear in the
fac-simile of the original. The names of the signers of each State are
grouped together in the fac-simile of the original, except the name of
Matthew Thornton, which follows that of Oliver Wolcott."
ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION - 1777.
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates
of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.
WHEREAS the Delegates of the United States of America in Congress
assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the Year of our Lord
One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventyseven, and in the Second Year of
the Independence of America agree to certain articles of
Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of Newhampshire,
Massachusetts-bay, Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations, Connecticut,
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North
Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia in the Words following, viz.
"Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States of
Newhampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations,
Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia.
ARTICLE I. The stile of this confederacy shall be "The United States of
ARTICLE II. 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
ARTICLE III. The said States hereby severally 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, binding
themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or
attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion,
sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.
ARTICLE IV. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and
intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union,
the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds and
fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges
and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people
of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other
State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce,
subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the
inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall
not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into
any State, to any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant;
provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by
any State, on the property of the United States, or either of them.
If any person guilty of, or charged with treason, felony, or other high
misdemeanor in any State, shall flee from justice, and be found in any
of the United States, he shall upon demand of the Governor or Executive
power, of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to
the State having jurisdiction of his offence.
Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the
records, acts and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of
every other State.
ARTICLE V. For the more convenient management of the general interests
of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such
manner as the legislature of each State shall direct, to meet in
Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a power
reserved to each State, to recall its delegates, or any of them, at
any time within the year, and to send others in their stead, for the
remainder of the year.
No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor by more
than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate
for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any
person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the
United States, for which he, or another for his benefit receives any
salary, fees or emolument of any kind.
Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States,
and while they act as members of the committee of the States.
In determining questions in the United States, in Congress assembled,
each State shall have one vote.
Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or
questioned in any court, or place out of Congress, and the members
of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and
imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and
attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the
ARTICLE VI. No State without the consent of the United States in
Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy
from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with
any king prince or state; nor shall any person holding any office of
profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept of any
present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any
king, prince or foreign state; nor shall the United States in Congress
assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility.
No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation or
alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States
in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the
same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.
No state shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere with any
stipulations in treaties, entered into by the United States in Congress
assembled, with any king, prince or state, in pursuance of any treaties
already proposed by Congress, to the courts of France and Spain.
No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except
such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in
Congress assembled, for the defence of such State, or its trade; nor
shall any body of forces be kept up by any State, in time of peace,
except such number only, as in the judgment of the United States, in
Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts
necessary for the defence of such State; but every State shall always
keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed
and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use,
in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper
quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.
No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United
States in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by
enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being
formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the danger
is so imminent as not to admit of a delay, till the United States
in Congress assembled can be consulted: nor shall any State grant
commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or
reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States
in Congress assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state and
the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and
under such regulations as shall be established by the United States in
Congress assembled, unless such State be infested by pirates, in which
case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept
so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States in
Congress assembled shall determine otherwise.
ARTICLE VII. When land-forces are raised by any State for the common
defence, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be
appointed by the Legislature of each State respectively by whom such
forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct,
and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the
ARTICLE VIII. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be
incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the
United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common
treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States, in proportion
to the value of all land within each State, granted to or surveyed for