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point another committee to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between the colonies. This committee, on the 12th of July following, reported a plan of a confederacy, consisting of twenty articles.
§ 25. This draft was considered and debated at various times; but was finally adopted by Congress, November, 15, 1777. These Articles of Confederation were ratified in July, 1778, by the delegates from all the States, except New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. But they were subsequently signed on the part of New Jersey, November 25, 1778, and were ratified on the part of Delaware, February 22, 1779. The delegates from Maryland did not sign the articles until March 1, 1781, though in the mean time she had zealously united with the other States in the prosecution of the war. The ratification of the articles was, therefore, completed March 1, 1781, and, on the second day of March, 1781, Congress assembled under the Confederation.
§ 26. These articles are printed at length in the Appendix. They formed the thirteen States, by the style of "The United States of America," into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their 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 pretence whatever. (Art. III.)
§ 27. Each State retained its own sovereignty, and all powers not expressly delegated to the United States in congress assembled. Delegates were to be chosen every year by each State, not less than three, nor more than seven in number, to meet in congress. Each State was to support the expenses of its own delegates. In deciding
questions, the votes were taken by States, each State hav ing a single vote.
§ 28. All the expenses of the war and for the general welfare were to be supplied by the several States, in proportion to the value of the lands and improvements thereon in each State, surveyed for or granted to any person.
§ 29. Congress was authorized to appoint a committee, consisting of one delegate from each State, to sit during the recess of Congress, called a committee of the States. The committee of the States, or any nine of its members, were authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of that body, as Congress, with the consent of nine States, should think fit to invest them with; but no power was to be delegated to the committee, the exercise of which required nine States in Congress.
§ 30. Congress could not engage in war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, enter into treaties or alliances, coin money or regulate its value, determine the sums necessary for the use of the United States, emit bills of credit, borrow or appropriate money, designate the size of the army and navy, or appoint a commander-in-chief of the army or navy, without the assent of nine States; nor could a question upon any other point, except adjournment from day to day, be determined unless by the votes of the majority of the States in Congress.
§ 31. This Confederation was intended to be perpetual; nor was any alteration in the articles to be made, unless agreed to in Congress and afterward confirmed by the legislature of every State.
§ 32. Down to the time of the final ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, the direction of the Revolutionary war devolved upon the Continental Congress
There was no settled form of government. The powers of the Congress were not defined; but were altogether vague and uncertain. In fact, the government was of a revolutionary or provisional character, exercising such authority as the necessities of the times required.
§ 33. It was soon found that the plan detailed in the Articles of Confederation was impracticable. It gave to Congress no means of enforcing its laws upon the States, and the States disregarded the recommendations of Congress with impunity. The Congress had no power to lay taxes or collect a revenue for the public service; nor could it regulate commerce, either with foreign nations or among the several States. The public debt incurred by the war was very great, and the Articles of Confederation in no way provided effectual means for its payment.
§ 34. It became evident in a short time that distress and ruin would overspread the country, unless some different and more vigorous form of government were adopted. This discouraging state of affairs led to the proceedings which finally terminated in the formation and adoption of the present federal constitution.
$35. It has been said that the government of the United States has passed through the three following forms:
(1.) The Revolutionary.
§ 36. The Revolutionary government extended from the time of the meeting of the first Continental Congress, March 5, 1774, down to the final ratification of the Articles of Confederation, March 1, 1781.
The Confederate government extended from the ratification of the Articles of Confederation down to the
time when the Constitution went into operation, March 4, 1789.
The Constitutional government is that which has existed under the Constitution, and to it we are now about to direct our attention.
ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION.
§ 37. IN 1785, the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland appointed commissioners to form a compact relative to the navigation of the Chesapeake bay and the rivers Potomac and Pocomoke. They met, but felt that larger powers were necessary, and referred the subject to their respective States.
§ 38. Accordingly, in January, 1786, the legislature of Virginia appointed several gentlemen "to meet such commissioners as were, or might be, appointed by the other States in the Union, at such time and place as should be agreed upon by the said commissioners, to take into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States; to consider how far a uniform system, in their commercial intercourse and regulations, might be necessary to their common interest and permanent harmony; and to report to the several States such an act relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them, would enable the United States in congress assembled effectually to provide for the same."
§ 39. It was afterward agreed that this meeting should be held at Annapolis, in Maryland, in September of the
same year. The resolutions were communicated to the States, and the meeting was held at the time and place appointed. Commissioners from the States of Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attended. Delegates were appointed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, but did not attend.
§ 40. So small was the number of States represented, that the delegates did not think proper to proceed to the important business which had brought them together. They were also satisfied that they ought to be intrusted with more ample powers, embracing other objects in addition to the mere regulation of trade and commerce.
§ 41. They, therefore, prepared an address and a report to be submitted to Congress and all the States, in which they recommended the States to concur "in the appointment of commissioners to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May, 1787, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as should appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union, and to report such an act for that purpose to the United States in congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterward confirmed by the legislature of every State, will effectively provide for the same."
§ 42. Virginia first appointed delegates. The legisla ture of New York instructed its delegates in Congress to bring the subject before that body; and in February, 1787, Congress, by a resolution, declared that it was expedient "that a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several States, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of