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vernment deeper than in the mere sanction of delegated authority. The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE

CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE.'

"1

It is but fair to add that the Committee of Congress, which had drawn up the Articles of Confederation, were not blind to the difficulties of their task. "To form a permanent Union," says their report, "accommodated to the opinions and wishes of the delegates of so many States, differing in habits, produce, commerce, and internal police, was found to be a work which nothing but time and reflection, conspiring with a disposition to conciliate, could mature and accomplish."

The revolutionary war being closed in 1783, by the acknowledgment of the independence of the colonies by the Crown of England, the revolutionary Government began visibly to decline. The Confederation became a "shadow without a substance." The sense of a common danger had in some degree suppressed the

1 Federalist, 22. M'Lean, New York, 1778. Capitals and italics sic.

2 CURTIS'S Constitution of the

United States, vol. iii., 491,
Appendix. Sampson Low & Co.,
London, 1854.

antagonisms of the States; but, that passed away, they revived in all their force; and then it was found that a union of thirteen sovereignties was an impossibility. There existed, however, then as now, two great political parties the one clung with tenacious fondness to their State independence, and watched with the keenest jealousy any contraction of its sovereignty; the other, without disregarding the claims of the State to its internal government, desired the establishment of a powerful and a National republic.

Between these two parties the Confederation rapidly fell into anarchy and confusion.

42

III.

THE CONVENTION.

In the previous chapter we have traced the progress of democratic freedom, from its birth in the separate colonies, through successive but partial unions. It is very noteworthy how instinctively at the approach of danger the colonies turned for safety to the idea of union. And this was something more than a union of States: it was a union of people. When in 1774 its necessity had become pressing, and delegates from twelve States were authorized to consult together for "the common welfare;" and again in 1775, when the revolutionary Congress represented all the States; on both these occasions, the delegates referred their authority, not to the State Legislatures, but to the People in their sovereign capacity. They had been appointed principally by the citizens in Convention; and when not so, by the popular branch of the Legislature only. A fatal de

parture from this mode was adopted in the case of the Confederation, and the delegates were chosen by the State Legislatures.

After the War of Independence had terminated in 1783, that Confederation dragged on through four years of a useless and dishonoured existence. Still, "that Congress should forego the right of originating changes in the system of government; that it should advise the States to confer that power upon another assembly; and that it should sanction a general revision of the Federal Constitution, with the express declaration of its present inadequacy, were all preliminary essentials to a successful reform. Feeble as it had become from the overgrown vitality of State power, and from the lack of numbers and talent upon its roll, it was still the Government of the Union; the Congress of America; the lineal successor of that renowned assembly which had defied the power of England, and brought into existence the thirteen United States. If it stood but the poor shadow of a great name, it was still a name with which to do more than conjure; for it bore a constitutional relation to the

States, still reverenced by the wise and thoughtful, and still necessary to be regarded by all who desired the security of Constitutional Liberty."

1

It was Hamilton-than whom a purer or wiser patriot never lived-who first saw, that while Congress was practically unable to revise its own "Articles," and was utterly powerless under them as they stood, it was nevertheless desirable to obtain its sanction for a new constitution. He, whose "mature and energetic youth, trained in the school of Washington, had been devoted to the formation and establishment of the Union, knew too well that if its golden cord were once broken, no human agency could again restore it to life. He knew the value of habit, the respect for an established, however enfeebled, authority; and while he felt and insisted on the necessity for a new Constitution, and did all in his power to make the country perceive the defects of the old one, he wisely and honestly admitted that the assent of Congress must be gained to any movement which proposed to remedy the evil.” 2

It was therefore resolved, that Congress 2 CURTIS, i. 365.

1 CURTIS, i. 362.

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