« PreviousContinue »
which has furnished nearly all the revenues for the support of our national government, since the year 1789; and it has contributed largely to the prosperity of the country, by incidentally encouraging aud promoting mechanical, manufacturing, and mining inindustry, and domestic industry of all kinds. Under the confederation, congress had no such powers, and enjoyed no such advantages. Each state regulated foreign commerce for itself, and levied duties for its own benefit. Commercial strife be tween the states grew up immediately on the return of peace. Each state levied low duties to invite commerce to its own sea-ports. The object was to attract and increase commerce, and not to foster domestic industry. The advantages of the latter seemed to be entirely lost sight of, by the most of our public men of that day.
Each state retaining the whole taxing power, and the power to regulate foreign as well as domestic commerce, the states were independent of each other and of the confederate government upon all such subjects. The states on the sea-board could and did levy duties for their own exclusive benefit, on imported goods finally sold to, and consumed in, the interior agricultural states. This was taxing the people of one state for the benefit of those of another - which was clearly unjust, but unavoidable under the system of government then existing. The system itself occasioned a multiplicity of different laws, and different rates of duty in the several states each state striving to promote the interests of its own people--and all the states competing with each other, to encourage commerce to their respective parts. The effiect was great commercial strife and confusion; generally very low duties, large imports in proportion to the ability of the people to pay; and the debt of the country for foreign goods and products was increased and rolled up, until the credit of the merchants and the people became exhausted, and imports were checked by that cause alone. Many small furnaces, forges, and factories, for the manufacture of pig and bar iron, edge tools, and cloth of various kinds, had sprung up during the war, and having then the entire command of the home market, they had flourished; but were soon ruined and their operations suspended, when the markets were supplied and glutted by foreign goods of a similar character.
The states and the people of all classes were deeply involved in debt, and greatly impoverished by the war, and the depreciation and utter worthlessness of the continenlal money. Under the discordant system adopted by the several states of regulating commerce and encouraging foreign imports, on the return of peace, the country was immediately flooded with foreign goods ; the debts of the people and of the merchants were greatly increased ; the infant manufactures of the country which had grown up during the war were deprived of their domestic markets, and soon utterly prostrated; and the industry of the people of all the states was more or less paralized. Hence peace brought no relief to the people; and the country was nearly as much exhausted during the seven year's peace, under the articles of confederation, as by the previous seven year's war. It was more prostrated in its industry and condition in 1789, than it was in 1782, and much more weighed down with debt.
REASONS FOR FORMING THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
The commercial and financial embarrassments of the country, and the conflicting laws of the several states upon the subject of commerce, entirely satisfied the people of the utter inefficiency of the government under the articles of confederation, to answer the purposes for which it was established. They were the principal causes, more potent than all others, which satisfied the people of the necessity of conferring on congress unlimited powers of taxation, for the purpose of carrying on the government, and also power to regulate foreign commerce, and commerce between the states. They were the principal, and almost the only causes which induced the calling of a national convention, and the formation and adoption of the present constitution of the United States. With these exceptions, and power over the militia, the constitution confers on congress no more powers than the articles of confederation did. This the reader will see, by comparing the two care fully together. By adding these powers to the powers held by congress under the confederation, and creating a national judiciary, and a chief national executive officer, the convention established in connection with the state governments, the most perfect government ever formed upon the earth.
The union was intended to be perpetual, as appears by the preamble to the articles of confederation, and the 13th article thereof. The constitution was intended to establish a more perfect union, and a stronger and more complete government than the confederation.
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.
Of the Legislature.
1. All legislative powers herein granted, shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
1. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states; and the electors of each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
2. No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabtant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
3. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and including Indians not taxed, threefifths of all other persons.
The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one representative; and untll such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three ; Massachusetts eight; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one; Connecticut five; New York six ; New Jersey four; Pennsylvania eight; Delaware one; Maryland six ; Virginia ten; North Carolina five; South Carolina five; and Georgia three.
4. When vacancies happen in the representation of any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill up such vacancies.
5. The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment,
1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof for six years, and each senator shall have one vote.
2. Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided, as equally as may be, into three classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth, and the third class at the expiration of the sixth year ; so that one-third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen, by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legis.. lature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
3. No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.
4. The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
5. The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a president pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.
6. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United Siates is tried, the chief justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.
7. Judgment in case of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit, under the United States; but the party convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law.
1. The times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing senators.
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
1. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business ; but a smaller number may
adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.
2. Each House may determine the rule of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.
3. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House, on any question, shall at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.