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of independent States for a special purpose, and the first Congress was nothing more than a voluntary meeting of delegates from separate communities, to concert measures of resistance to the demands of England. When war became imminent, they were obliged to raise a continental army, to appoint a commander-in-chief, and to do other acts of sovereignty, which are generally supposed to belong exclusively to a national government. A little later, the Declaration of Independence expressly established the principle, that the United States could enter into treaties, contract alliances, levy war, or conclude peace, in their corporate capacity. And on the 17th of November, 1777, Congress recommended the thirteen States to invest their delegates with competent powers to subscribe articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union; but this recommendation was not finally adopted by all the States, till after a delay of nearly three years and a half. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina, ratified the Articles on the 9th of July, 1778; North Carolina followed on the 21st of July, Georgia on the 24th of the same month, and New Jersey on the 26th of November; but Delaware did not sign till the 5th of May, 1779, and Maryland not till the 1st of March, 1781.

These Articles of Confederation were, in themselves, very vague and unsatisfactory. They declared, as might have been expected, that their object was to establish a permanent Union, for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare. They provided, that the free inhabitants of each State should be entitled to all the privileges of free citizens in the several States; that there should be an open intercourse and commerce between them; that fugitives from justice should be delivered up by one State to another; and that full credit should be given in each State to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of every other State. But they likewise declared, that each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, not expressly delegated by the instrument itself to the United States in Congress assembled. The Congress was to consist of one Representative Assembly, elected by the several States, in such manner as the Legislature of each State might determine; but no State was to be represented by more than seven, or less than two delegates, and, in deciding any question, each State was to have one yote.

To the Congress, so constituted, was committed the sole right of determining on peace and war, of sending and receiving ambassadors, of entering into treaties and alliances, of dealing with all captures and prizes, of granting letters of marque and reprisal, and of establishing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies on the high seas. It was also invested with power to decide, in the last resort, all disputes between two or more States, concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause; to regulate the alloy and value of coin, struck by its own authority, or that of the respective States; to fix the standard of weights and measures; to regulate the trade with the Indians; to take the management of the post-offices; and generally to appoint all officers in the service of the United States, and to direct the operations of the forces by sea and land.

But the restrictions which accompanied these powers rendered them almost nugatory. By the same instrument it was provided, that Congress should never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque or reprisal, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money or regulate its value, nor ascertain the sums of money necessary for the public defence and welfare, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels for the navy, or the number of land and sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commanderin-chief, unless nine States should assent to the same. And, while all expenses for the common defence and welfare had to be defrayed out of a public treasury, this treasury was to be supplied, not by taxes, duties, or imposts levied by the authority of Congress, but by taxes laid and levied by the Legislatures of the several States, in proportion to the value of the land, buildings, and improvements within the limits of each State. And although the Articles of Confederation declared that every State should abide by the decision of Congress, on all the questions subject to the control of that body, they contained no provision for enforcing its measures, and practically left every State at liberty to disregard them, unless constrained by the fear of the penalties of civil war.

There was, indeed, one security against the dissolution of the Confederacy, in the existence of a


vast territory, as yet unoccupied, but hereafter to be formed into new States and Governments, which was held, as it were, in trust by Congress, for the benefit of the whole Union. It was clear that no single State could withdraw from the Confederacy, without risking its interest in these possessions, and there can be little doubt that this consideration had a powerful influence in binding the States together. Still, whatever may have been the force of this motive, and of those recollections of common danger and glory, which had been left by the events of the war, it soon became apparent, when the pressure from without was removed by the return of peace, that the several members of the league had a strong tendency to fly asunder, and that the constitution they had adopted was far too feeble to serve as a restraining tie.

The proofs of the weakness of the government were too patent to be denied. While Hamilton was urging a provision for the maintenance of a peace establishment of military and naval forces, the mutiny of some eighty soldiers at Philadelphia, and the refusal of the local authorities to call out the militia, obliged Congress to leave that place, and to adjourn to Princeton, in New Jersey. It

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