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Chief Justice of the United States, As an acknowledgment of his kind consideration, and a slight tribute to the character of the man, the Christian, and the judge.

In inscribing this little volume to you, sir, however great may be the respect your character demands, and whatever may be my desire, I expect not so much to honor you as to reflect honor upon myself. While it affords to you only a slight testimonial of gratitude and esteem, it secures to me the merit of a just appreciation of integrity and ability. I am happy also that it affords me an opportunity of subscribing myself Your friend and ob’t servant,

J. A. WILLIAMS. Baltimore, May 10, 1848.

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By the favorable dispensation of an all-wise Providence, it is our enviable lot to live in a land happy and free, and peculiarly blessed above all others. Here all enjoy an equality of rights, all have an influence, and all possess, to some extent, the high and inestimable privilege of participating in the government. It therefore behooves all to acquaint themselves with its nature and principles, in order that they may the better know their rights, and the better use their influence. Upon an acquaintance with the government depends the proper exercise of their influence, and upon this depends our glory as a nation, our prosperity and happiness as members of society, and the security of our rights and privileges both as men and American citizens. This little work, I flatter myself, will aid in a measure to the attainment of that acquaintance, and thus, by conferring a benefit, entitle itself in some degree to the favorable consideration and patronage of the public.

I will not, like some authors, use the language of selfcommendation, or, like others, descant upon the defects of my work; nor have I any apology to offer for its publication, except a just desire for my own advancement, and my

belief that it will be useful for the instruction of

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many of my fellow citizens, and afford them, in reference to the price, at least a quid pro quo. The avowal, says some one, of conscious defects, of involuntary publication, of youth, inexperience, and inability to resist the importunate solicitations of friends, is ever believed to be insincere; and, if it is true, ought, in many instances, to operate in the total suppression of the work for which it means to apologize. This is therefore most respectfully submitted, without praise or apology, to the examination of the American public, to gain their approbation by its merits, or their disapprobation by its demerits. The first I would certainly be grateful for, and the latter exceedingly regret. But whether it shall be my happiness to gain the one, or my misfortune to incur the other, I purpose, should the sale of this volume justify it, shortly to issue another, on the legal organization and the powers of the government; and probably still another, in which will be completed an entire view of the constitutional jurisprudence of the United States.

With these remarks, Į now commit this volume to the doubtful current of public opinion ; and with the prayer that God's blessing may attend it, I resign it, with all my fears and expectations concerning it, to the just disposition of his all-wise and beneficent will.



NOTAING perhaps is more adequate to illustrate the true genius of our government, or better calculated to prepare the mind for an examination of its powers, than a brief sketch of the confederacies formed by the American colonists previous to its adoption. United by a community of language and feeling, having the same end in view, being subjects of the same government, and equally exposed to the attacks of a common enemy, they were naturally led to associations for their common defence and welfare. The eastern colonies, 80 early as the year 1643, entered into a compact under the style of the “United Colonies of New England.” Their articles of confederation were wise and politic, marked by that jealousy for state sovereignty which characterized all our subsequent confederacies, and which we have no reason to regret io still so plainly visible in our present Constitution. This confederation may be regarded as the root from which has sprung this glorious and mighty republic. Even at this early period these colonies assumed the character of independent states, the attention of the mother country being drawn from them, and absorbed by the civil war with which it was then so fearfully agitated They existed under this confederacy until 1686, when their charters were va"cated by commission from James II. After the disso

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