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RETIREMENT OF WASHING CON.
by a number of civil and military officers and respectable citizens, soon afterwards entered the city; and the Ame. ricans, after a struggle which had lasted eight years, thus gained full and undisputed possession of the entire territory of the United States.
General Washington's military career was now about to close; and on the 4th of December, 1783, he met the principal officers of the army at Francis's tavern, in New York. The officers assembled at noon, and their revered and beloved commander soon entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed; filling a glass, and addressing the officers, he said, · With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you, and devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous ad happy as your former ones have been honourable.' Having drank, he added, 'I cannot come to take each of you by the hand, but shall be obliged to you if each of you will come and take me by the hand.'' In the midst of profound silence, and with the liveliest sensibility and tenderness, each of the officers took him by the hand; and at the close of the affecting ceremony, they all accompanied him to Whitehall, where a barge was in readiness to carry him across the river. Having embarked, General Washington turned round to his late companions in arms, took off his hat, respectfully bowed to them, and bade them a silent farewell. They returned the compliment, and went back in mute procession to the place where they had assembled.
Congress was then sitting at Annapolis, in Maryland, and thither General Washington proceeded, for the purpose of resigning that power which he had so successfully exercised. He remained a few days in Philadelphia, in order to settle his accounts with the treasury; and on the 19th of December, arrived at Annapolis.
At noon on the 23d, in presence of a numerous company of spectators, he resigned his commission into the hands of congress, and afterwards retired to his mansion at Mount Vernon.
Describe the scene of the 4th of December, 1783.-For what purpose did Washington proceed to Annapolis ?-Whither did he retire after his resignation ?
FORMATION OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION.
It was natural that the severe struggle of the Revolution should be followed by a season of comparative exhaustion and weakness. This effect was felt by the people of the United States for a considerable period after peace as well as independence had been secured The enthusiasm of a popular contest terminating in victory, began to subside, and the sacrifices of the Revolu tion soon became known and felt. The claims of those who had toiled, fought and suffered in the arduous conflict, were strongly urged, and the government had ueither resources nor power to satisfy them.
The general government had no separate and exclusive fund; but was under the necessity of making requisitions on the state governments for all money required for national purposes. When called upon for the funds to pay the arrears due to the army, and the interest on the public debt, the state legislatures were neither willing, nor indeed able to meet the demand. The wealth of the country had been exhausted by the war; and the proper method of drawing on its future resources, so well understood and so extensively employed at present, had not been yet discovered and applied by the general or the state governments.
Taxes could not be collected, because there was no money to represent the value of the little personal property which had not been, and the land which could no: be, destroyed; and commerce, though preparing to bursi from its thraldom, had not yet had time to restore to the annual produce of the country its exchangeable value. The states owed each a heavy debt for local services rendered during the Revolution, for which it was bound to provide, and each had its own domestic government to support.
What was the condition of the United States at the close of the revolutionary war?- What was the financial condition of the general government ?-Of the state governments ?-What was the condition of tommerce ?
Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that each state was anxious to retain for its own benefit, the sinall but rising revenue derived from foreign commerce ; and that the custom-houses in each commercial city were considered as the most valuable sources of income which the states possessed. Each state therefore made its own regulations, its tariff, and tonnage duties, and as a natural consequence, the different states clashed with each other ; one foreign nation became more favoured than another under the same circumstances; and one state pursued a system injurious to the interests of others.
Hence the confidence of foreign countries was destroyed; and they could not enter into treaties of commerce, with the general government, since they were not likely to be carried into effect. A general decay of trade, the rise of imported merchandise, the fall of produce, and an uncommon decrease in the value of lands ensued.
In Massachusetts where several laws were passed for the collection of taxes and debts, the discontent was so great that it led to open rebellion against the state government. The leader of the malcontents, Daniel Shays, raised a body of 300 men, proceeded to Springfield, where the supreme court was sitting, and surrounding the courthouse, compelled the judges to adjourn. After this success, his adherents increased so considerably, that it became necessary to order out an army of 4000 men to put a stop to their proceedings. This force was placed under ihe direction of General Lincoln, who, having first afforded sufficient protection to the court at Worcester to enable the judges to resume their functions, marched to Springield where the insurgents were on the point of seizing the state arsenal. A single well directed fire of artillery served to disperse the rebels and restore public order The chief insurgents were afterwards tried, and fourteen of them sentenced to death. But all were ultimately pardoned.
The time at length came when the public mind gave okens of being prepared for a change in the constitution of the general government–an occurrence the necessity
What regulations of the states embarrassed commerce ?-What pre venied foreign treaties of commerce ?- What was the consequence ?-\Vhat took place in Massachusetts ?--How did the insurgents proceed?Who led the rebellion in Massachusetts ?- What success had he ?What force was sent against the insurgenis ?-How did General Lincoln proceed ?—What was the result?-What change in the government .ecame necessary ?
CONVENTION AT ALEXANDRIA.
of which had been long foreseen by Washington, Adams, and other distinguished patriots of that period. The evils resulting from the weakness and inefficiency of the old confederation had become so intolerable that the voice of the nation cried out for relief.
The first decisive measures proceeded from the merchants, who came forward simultaneously in all parts of the country, with representations of the utter prostration of the mercantile interests, and petitions for a speedy and efficient remedy. It was shown, that the advantages of this most important source of national prosperity, were flowing into the hands of foreigners, and that the native merchants were suffering for the want of a just protection, and a uniform system of trade. The wise and reflecting were convinced that some decided efforts were necessary to strengthen the general government, or that a dissolution of the union, and perhaps a devastating anarchy, would be inevitable.
The first step towards the formation of a new constitution, was rather accidental than premeditated. Certain citizens of Virginia and Maryland had formed a scheme for promoting the navigation of the Potomac river and Chesapeake bay, and commissioners were appointed by those iwo states to meet at Alexandria, in March, 1785, and devise some plan of operation. These persons made a visit to Mount Vernon, and, while there, it was pro posed among themselves that more important objects should be connected with the purpose at first in view, and that the state governments should be solicited to appoint other commissioners with more enlarged powers, instructed to form a plan for maintaining a naval force in the Chesapeake, and also to fix upon some system of duties,,upon exports and imports, in which both states should agree, and that in the end, congress should be petitioned to allow these privileges,
This project was approved by the legislature of Vir ginia, and commissioners were accordingly appointed. The same legislature passed a resolution, recommending the design to other states, and inviting them to unite, by their commissioners, in an attempt to establish such a system of commercial relations as would promote general harmony and prosperity. Five states, in addition to Vir
Who had foreseen its necessity?-What was done by the merchants?What was the first step taken towards the formation of a new constita tion ?-What was accomplished by the commissioners at Alexandria'
THE FEDERAL CONVENTION.
gina, acceded to this proposition, namely, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York From these states, commissioners assembled at Annapolis in September, 1786, but they had hardly entered into a discussion of the topics which naturally forced themselves into view, before they discovered the powers with which they were entrusted, to be so limited, as to tie up their hands from effecting any purpose that could be of essentia! utility. On this account, as well as from the circumstance. that so few states were represented, they wisely declined deciding on any important measures in reference to the particular subjects for which they had come together. This convention is memorable, however, as having been the prelude to the one which followed.
Before the commissioners adjourned, a report was agreed upon, in which the necessity of a revision and reform of the articles of the old federal compact was strongly urged, and which contained a recommendation to all the state legislatures, for the appointment of deputies, to meet at Philadelphia, with more ample powers and instructions. This report was laid before congress, and a resolution was passed by that body, recommending a convention for the purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and giving a more substantial and efficient form to the consti tution of the general government.
In conformity with these recommendations, a convention of delegates from the several states met at Philadelphia, in May, 1787. Of this body of eminent statesmen, George Washington was unanimously elected president.
The convention was composed of some of the most illustrious men, whose names adorn our national history, Besides Washington himself, there were Adams, Jeffer son, Madison, Patrick Henry, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay. Randolph, the Lees, and a host of others. The discus. sion and arrangement of the several articles, was carried on with closed doors, and lasted four months. At length, on the 17th of September, the proposed constitution was made public. It was presented to congress, and by that body submitted to the several states for acceptance.
This constitution is essentially different from the olu articles of confederation. The most important point of
What was done by the assembly at Annapolis ?-Where did they recommend a convention to be held ?-Whai was done by congress ?-When did the convention assemble ?-Who was chosen president ?Who were distinguished members of the convention ?-When was thn proposed constitution made public?