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of the common welfare and defence-whereas the United States have been too often compelled to make the administration of their affairs a succession of temporary expedients, inconsistent with order, economy, energy, or a scrupulous adherence to the public engagements, and now find themselves, at the close of a glorious struggle for independence, without any certain means of doing justice to those who have fought and suffered, and contributed their property and personal service to the common cause; whereas the security of their funded debt depends on the precarious concurrence of thirteen distinct deliberative assemblies, the dissent of any one of which might leave these States, at this early period of their existence, involved in all the disgrace and mischief of violated faith and national bankruptcy— and whereas it is essential to the happiness and security of these States, that their Union should be established on the most solid foundations, and it is manifest that this desirable object cannot be effected but by a GOVERNMENT, capable, both in peace and war, of making every member of the Union eontribute in just proportion to the common necessities, and directing the forces and wills of the several parts to a general end-Congress conceive it to be their
duty freely to state to their constituents the defects which have been discovered in the Confederation, and solemnly to call their attention to a thorough revisal of the same.
The above is a brief summary of these important resolutions, every line of which deserved the attentive consideration of persons calling themselves statesmen. But, as usual with him, Hamilton was anticipating the progress of opinion. He found that it would be impossible to carry his proposal through Congress, and he was unwilling to risk the injurious effect of its formal rejection. Waiting for the period when his principles would be forced on the nation by the lessons of a bitter experience, he withdrew his resolutions, leaving this endorsement on the draft he had made of them :— "Intended to be submitted to Congress in 1783, but abandoned for want of support."
No doubt, many regarded him as a dangerous innovator, objected to him as a political theorist, or smiled at him as a visionary. "But the temporary expedients of the moment," says Mr. Curtis, in his lucid History of the Constitution, "always pass away, The great ideas of a statesman like Hamilton, earnestly bent on the discovery and in
culcation of truth, do not pass away. Wiser than those by whom he was surrounded, with a deeper knowledge of the science of government and the wants of the country than all of them, and constantly enunciating principles which extended far beyond the temporizing policy of the hour, the smiles of his opponents only prove to posterity how far he was in advance of them.",
Perceiving, however, that he could effect little good for the present, and anxious to maintain his family by the practice of an honourable profession, Hamilton determined to retire from Congress. Before the resignation of Washington, or the ratifification of the Treaty, he had already returned home.
It is now generally admitted, that the interval which elapsed between the Peace of 1783 and the Convention of 1787 was full of extreme peril to the Confederacy. While Congress was sinking in the public estimation, unable to preserve its credit, or fulfil the national obligations, the jealousies and rivalries of the States were on the increase, and patriotism usually took the form of some narrow, local attachment. The people of America, united for a season by the great struggle for independence,
seemed about to split into a number of obscure and hostile factions, who only agreed in their devotion to republican forms, and in their antipathy to anything that resembled a strong government. It was observed that the relaxation of authority had been followed by a corresponding change in manners that the old respect of servants for masters, of children for their parents, of the young for the aged, was on the wane-that politeness and reverence were giving place to a rude and boisterous self-assertion-and, while good men apprehended a moral and social deterioration, merely prudent men looked forward with dismay to the prospect of political anarchy.
HAMILTON AT THE BAR.
HEN the British evacuated New York in
1783, that city numbered only twenty-five thousand inhabitants. It was, however, already a place of importance, and the return of peace secured for it a speedy accession of wealth and commerce. It was there that Hamilton resolved to fix his residence, and to commence the practice of his profession.
The first cause in which he was engaged exactly suited his character and talents. An action was brought by an American citizen against a British subject, under a local statute, which authorized proceedings for trespass by persons who had left their abodes in consequence of the invasion of the enemy, against those who had been in possession of the premises during the war. The statute expressly precluded a justification of the occupancy by virtue of any military order. The case involved