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Copyright, 1921, by Yale University Press 












VENTION " 226 

INDEX " 239 



Painting by Gilbert Stuart. In the Bowdoin 
College Art Collection, Brunswick, Maine. 
By courtesy of Gerald G. Wilder, Esq., Li 
brarian, Bowdoin College. Frontispiece 


Painting by Charles Willson Peale. In the 
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 
Philadelphia. The bequest of Mrs. Joseph 
Harrison. Charles Henry Hart says: "This 
is the latest portrait of Franklin from life. 
It was painted during the sittings of the con 
vention to frame the Constitution of the 
United States. The portrait seems to ex 
press the individuality of the man more 
satisfactorily than any other of Franklin's 
portraits." Facing page 10 


Plaster cast from the marble bust by Cer- 
rachi. In the collection of the New York 
Historical Society. " 20 


Engraving by W. Birch, 1799. Photograph 
in the collection of Ph. B. Wallace, Phila 
delphia. " " 108 




From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. Facing page lilt 



From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. " " ISO 



From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. " 126 


From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. " " 133 




From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. Facing page 138 


From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 
in the New York Public Library. ' 144 



From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. " 160 



From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 
in the New York Public Library. " " 154 




From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. Facing pagt 160 




From the Thomas A. Emmet Collection 

in the New York Public Library. " " 164 



"THE United States of America"! It was in the 
Declaration of Independence that this name was 
first and formally proclaimed to the world, and to 
maintain its verity the war of the Revolution was 
fought. Americans like to think that they were 
then assuming " among the Powers of the Earth the 
equal and independent Station to which the Laws 
of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them"; and, 
in view of their subsequent marvelous develop 
ment, they are inclined to add that it must have 
been before an expectant world. 

In these days of prosperity and national great 
ness it is hard to realize that the achievement of in 
dependence did not place the United States on a 
footing of equality with other countries and that, 


in fact, the new state was more or less an unwel 
come member of the world family. It is neverthe 
less true that the latest comer into the family of na 
tions did not for a long time command the respect 
of the world. This lack of respect was partly due 
to the character of the American population. Along 
with the many estimable and excellent people who 
had come to British North America inspired by the 
best of motives, there had come others who were 
not regarded favorably by the governing classes of 
Europe. Discontent is frequently a healthful sign 
and a forerunner of progress, but it makes one an 
uncomfortable neighbor in a satisfied and conserva 
tive community; and discontent was the underly 
ing factor in the migration from the Old World to 
the New. In any composite immigrant population 
such as that of the United States there was bound 
to be a large element of undesirables. Among 
those who came "for conscience's sake" were the 
best type of religious protestants, but there were 
also religious cranks from many countries, of al 
most every conceivable sect and of no sect at all. 
Many of the newcomers were poor. It was com 
mon, too, to regard colonies as inferior places of 
residence to which objectionable persons might be 
encouraged to go and where the average of the 


population was lowered by the influx of convicts 
and thousands of slaves. 

"The great number of emigrants from Europe" 
wrote Thieriot, Saxon Commissioner of Com 
merce to America, from Philadelphia in 1784 
"has filled this place with worthless persons to such 
a degree that scarcely a day passes without theft, 
robbery, or even assassination." 1 It would per 
haps be too much to say that the people of the 
United States were looked upon by the rest of the 
world as only half civilized, but certainly they were 
regarded as of lower social standing and of inferior 
quality, and many of them were known to be rough, 
uncultured, and ignorant. Great Britain and Ger 
many maintained American missionary societies, 
not, as might perhaps be expected, for the benefit 
of the Indian or negro, but for the poor, benighted 
colonists themselves; and Great Britain refused to 
commission a minister to her former colonies for 
nearly ten years after their independence had been 

It is usually thought that the dregs of humilia 
tion have been reached when the rights of foreigners 
are not considered safe in a particular country, so 

1 Quoted by W. E. Lingelbach, History Teacher' Magazine, 
March, 1913. 


that another state insists upon establishing therein 
its own tribunal for the trial of its citizens or sub 
jects. Yet that is what the French insisted upon 
in the United States, and they were supposed to be 
especially friendly. They had had their own ex 
perience in America. First the native Indian had 
appealed to their imagination. Then, at an ap 
propriate moment, they seemed to see in the Amer 
icans a living embodiment of the philosophical the 
ories of the time: they thought that they had at 
last found "the natural man" of Rousseau and Vol 
taire; they believed that they saw the social con 
tract theory being worked out before their very 
eyes. Nevertheless, in spite of this interest in 
Americans, the French looked upon them as an in 
ferior people over whom they would have liked to 
exercise a sort of protectorate. To them the Amer 
icans seemed to lack a proper knowledge of the 
amenities of life. Commissioner Thieriot, describ 
ing the administration of justice in the new re 
public, noticed that: "A Frenchman, with the 
prejudices of his country and accustomed to court 
sessions in which the officers have imposing robes 
and a uniform that makes it impossible to recog 
nize them, smiles at seeing in the court room 
men dressed in street clothes, simple, often quite 


common. He is astonished to see the public enter 
and leave the court room freely, those who prefer 
even keeping their hats on." Later he adds: "It 
appears that the court of France wished to set up a 
jurisdiction of its own on this continent for all mat 
ters involving French subjects." France failed in 
this ; but at the very time that peace was under dis 
cussion Congress authorized Franklin to negotiate 
a consular convention, ratified a few years later, ac 
cording to which the citizens of the United States 
and the subjects of the French King in the country 
of the other should be tried by their respective con 
suls or vice-consuls. Though this agreement was 
made reciprocal in its terms and so saved appear 
ances for the honor of the new nation, nevertheless 
in submitting it to Congress John Jay clearly 
pointed out that it was reciprocal in name rather 
than in substance, as there were few or no Ameri 
cans in France but an increasing number of French 
men in the United States. 

Such was the status of the new republic in the 
family of nations when the time approached for the 
negotiation of a treaty of peace with the mother 
country . The war really ended with the surrender of 
Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 . Yet even then the 
British were unwilling to concede the independence 

of the revolted colonies. This refusal of recogni 
tion was not merely a matter of pride; a division 
and a consequent weakening of the empire was in 
volved; to avoid this Great Britain seems to have 
been willing to make any other concessions that 
were necessary. The mother country sought to 
avoid disruption at all costs. But the time had 
passed when any such adjustment might have been 
possible. The Americans now flatly refused to 
treat of peace upon any footing except that of in 
dependent equality. The British, being in no posi 
tion to continue the struggle, were obliged to yield 
and to declare in the first article of the treaty of 
peace that "His Britannic Majesty acknowledges 
the said United States . . . to be free, sovereign, 
and independent states." 

With France the relationship of the United 
States was clear and friendly enough at the time. 
The American War of Independence had been 
brought to a successful issue with the aid of France. 
In the treaty of alliance which had been signed in 
1778 it had been agreed that neither France nor the 
United States should, without the consent of the 
other, make peace with Great Britain. More than 
that, in 1781, partly out of gratitude but largely 
as a result of clever manipulation of factions in 


Congress by the French Minister in Philadelphia, the 
Chevalier de la Luzerne, the American peace com 
missioners had been instructed "to make the most 
candid and confidential communications upon all 
subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the 
King of France; to undertake nothing in the nego 
tiations for peace or truce without their knowledge 
and concurrence; and ultimately to govern your 
selves by their advice and opinion." 1 If France 
had been actuated only by unselfish motives in sup 
porting the colonies in their revolt against Great 
Britain, these instructions might have been accept 
able and even advisable. But such was not the 
case. France was working not so much with philan 
thropic purposes or for sentimental reasons as for 
the restoration to her former position of supremacy 
in Europe. Revenge upon England was only a 
part of a larger plan of national aggrandizement. 
The treaty with France in 1778 had declared 
that war should be continued until the independ 
ence of the United States had been established, and 
it appeared as if that were the main purpose of the 
alliance. For her own good reasons France had 
dragged Spain into the struggle. Spain, of course, 
fought to cripple Great Britain and not to help the 

1 Secret Journals of Congress, June 15, 1781. 


United States. In return for this support France 
was pledged to assist Spain in obtaining certain ad 
ditions to her territory. In so far as these addi 
tions related to North America, the interests of 
Spain and those of the United States were far from 
being identical; in fact, they were frequently in di 
rect opposition. Spain was already in possession 
of Louisiana and, by prompt action on her entry 
into the war in 1780, she had succeeded in getting 
control of eastern Louisiana and of practically all 
the Floridas except St. Augustine. To consolidate 
these holdings and round out her American empire, 
Spain would have liked to obtain the title to all the 
land between the Alleghany Mountains and the 
Mississippi. Failing this, however, she seemed to 
prefer that the region northwest of the Ohio River 
should belong to the British rather than to the 
United States. 

Under these circumstances it was fortunate for 
the United States that the American Peace Com 
missioners were broad-minded enough to appreciate 
the situation and to act on their own responsibility. 
Benjamin Franklin, although he was not the first to 
be appointed, was generally considered to be the 
chief of the Commission by reason of his age, ex 
perience, and reputation. Over seventy-five years 


old, he was more universally known and admired 
than probably any man of his time. This many- 
sided American printer, almanac maker, writer, 
scientist, and philosopher by the variety of his 
abilities as well as by the charm of his manner 
seemed to have found his real mission in the diplo 
matic field, where he could serve his country and at 
the same time, with credit to himself, preach his 
own doctrines. 

When Franklin was sent to Europe at the out 
break of the Revolution, it was as if destiny had in 
tended him for that particular task. His achieve 
ments had already attracted attention; in his fur 
cap and eccentric dress "he fulfilled admirably the 
Parisian ideal of the forest philosopher"; and with 
his facility in conversation, as well as by the attrac 
tiveness of his personality, he won both young and 
old. But, with his undoubted zeal for liberty and 
his unquestioned love of country, Franklin never 
departed from the Quaker principles he affected 
and always tried to avoid a fight. In these ef 
forts, owing to his shrewdness and his willingness 
to compromise, he was generally successful. 

John Adams, being then the American repre 
sentative at The Hague, was the first Commis 
sioner to be appointed. Indeed, when he was first 

named, in 1779, he was to be sole commissioner to 
negotiate peace; and it was the influential French 
Minister to the United States who was responsible 
for others being added to the commission. Adams 
was a sturdy New Englander of British stock and 
of a distinctly English type medium height, a 
stout figure, and a ruddy face. No one questioned 
his honesty, his straightforwardness, or his lack of 
tact. Being a man of strong mind, of wide reading 
and even great learning, and having serene confi 
dence in the purity of his motives as well as in the 
soundness of his judgment, Adams was little in 
clined to surrender his own views, and was ready 
to carry out his ideas against every obstacle. By 
nature as well as by training he seems to have been 
incapable of understanding the French; he was sus 
picious of them and he disapproved of Franklin's 
popularity even as he did of his personality. 

Five Commissioners in all were named, but 
Thomas Jefferson and Henry Laurens did not take 
part in the negotiations, so that the only other ac 
tive member was John Jay, then thirty-seven years 
old and already a man of prominence in his own 
country. Of French Huguenot stock and type, he 
was tall and slender, with somewhat of a schol 
ar's stoop, and was usually dressed in black. His 


manners were gentle and unassuming, but his face, 
with its penetrating black eyes, its aquiline nose and 
pointed chin, revealed a proud and sensitive dis 
position. He had been sent to the court of Spain 
in 1780, and there he had learned enough to arouse 
his suspicions, if nothing more, of Spain's designs 
as well as of the French intention to support them. 
In the spring of 1782 Adams felt obliged to re 
main at The Hague in order to complete the nego 
tiations already successfully begun for a commer 
cial treaty with the Netherlands. Franklin, thus 
the only Commissioner on the ground in Paris, be 
gan informal negotiations alone but sent an urgent 
call to Jay in Spain, who was convinced of the 
fruitlessness of his mission there and promptly re 
sponded. Jay's experience in Spain and his knowl 
edge of Spanish hopes had led him to believe that 
the French were not especially concerned about 
American interests but were in fact willing to sacri 
fice them if necessary to placate Spain. He ac 
cordingly insisted that the American Commis 
sioners should disregard their instructions and, 
without the knowledge of France, should deal di 
rectly with Great Britain. In this contention he 
was supported by Adams when he arrived, but it 
was hard to persuade Franklin to accept this point 


of view, for he was unwilling to believe anything 
so unworthy of his admiring and admired French. 
Nevertheless, with his cautious shrewdness, he 
finally yielded so far as to agree to see what might 
come out of direct negotiations. 

The rest was relatively easy. Of course there 
were difficulties and such sharp differences of opin 
ion that, even after long negotiation, some matters 
had to be compromised. Some problems, too, 
were found insoluble and were finally left without a 
settlement. But such difficulties as did exist were 
slight in comparison with the previous hopeless 
ness of reconciling American and Spanish ambi 
tions, especially when the latter were supported by 
France. On the one hand, the Americans were the 
proteges of the French and were expected to give 
way before the claims of their patron's friends to an 
extent which threatened to limit seriously their 
growth and development. On the other hand, 
they were the younger sons of England, uncivilized 
by their wilderness life, ungrateful and rebellious, 
but still to be treated by England as children of the 
blood. In the all-important question of extent of 
territory, where Spain and France would have 
limited the United States to the east of the Alle- 
ghany Mountains, Great Britain was persuaded 


without great difficulty, having once conceded in 
dependence to the United States, to yield the 
boundaries which she herself had formerly claimed 
from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the 
Mississippi River on the west, and from Canada on 
the north to the southern boundary of Georgia. 
Unfortunately the northern line, through ignorance 
and carelessness rather than through malice, was 
left uncertain at various points and became the 
subject of almost continuous controversy until the 
last bit of it was settled in 191 1. 1 

The fisheries of the North Atlantic, for which 
Newfoundland served as the chief entrepot, had 
been one of the great assets of North America from 
the time of its discovery. They had been one of 
the chief prizes at stake in the struggle between the 
French and the British for the possession of the con 
tinent, and they had been of so much value that a 
British statute of 1775 which cut off the New Eng 
land fisheries was regarded, even after the "intoler 
able acts" of the previous year, as the height of 
punishment for New England. Many Englishmen 
would have been glad to see the Americans ex 
cluded from these fisheries, but John Adams, when 

1 See Lord Bryce's Introduction (p. xxiv) to W. A. Dunning. 
The British Empire and the United States (1914). 

he arrived from The Hague, displayed an apprecia 
tion of New England interests and the quality of 
his temper as well by flatly refusing to agree to any 
treaty which did not allow full fishing privileges. 
The British accordingly yielded and the Americans 
were granted fishing rights as "heretofore" en 
joyed. The right of navigation of the Mississippi 
River, it was declared in the treaty, should "forever 
remain free and open" to both parties; but here 
Great Britain was simply passing on to the United 
States a formal right which she had received from 
France and was retaining for herself a similar right 
which might sometime prove of use, for as long as 
Spain held both banks at the mouth of the Missis 
sippi River, the right was of little practical value. 

Two subjects involving the greatest difficulty of 
arrangement were the compensation of the Loyal 
ists and the settlement of commercial indebtedness. 
The latter was really a question of the payment of 
British creditors by American debtors, for there 
was little on the other side of the balance sheet, and 
it seems as if the frugal Franklin would have pre 
ferred to make no concessions and would have al 
lowed creditors to take their own chances of get 
ting paid. But the matter appeared to Adams 
in a different light perhaps his New England 


conscience was aroused and in this point of view 
he was supported by Jay. It was therefore finally 
agreed "that creditors on either side shall meet 
with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the 
full value in sterling money, of all bona fide debts 
heretofore contracted." However just this pro 
vision may have been, its incorporation in the 
terms of the treaty was a mistake on the part of 
the Commissioners, because the Government of the 
United States had no power to give effect to such 
an arrangement, so that the provision had no more 
value than an emphatic expression of opinion. Ac 
cordingly, when some of the States later disregarded 
this part of the treaty, the British had an excuse for 
refusing to carry out certain of their own obligations. 
The historian of the Virginia Federal Conven 
tion of 1788, H. B. Grigsby, relates an amusing 
incident growing out of the controversy over the 
payment of debts to creditors in England : 

A Scotchman, John Warden, a prominent lawyer and 
good classical scholar, but suspected rightly of Tory 
leanings during the Revolution, learning of the large 
minority against the repeal of laws in conflict with the 
treaty of 1783 (i. e., especially the laws as to the collec 
tion of debts by foreigners) caustically remarked that 
some of the members of the House had voted against 
paying for the coats on their backs. The story goes 


that he was summoned before the House in full session, 
and was compelled to beg their pardon on his knees; 
but as he rose, pretending to brush the dust from his 
knees, he pointed to the House and said audibly, with 
evident double meaning, "Upon my word, a dommed 
dirty house it is indeed." The Journal of the House, 
however, shows that the honor of the delegates was 
satisfied by a written assurance from Mr. Warden that 
he meant in no way to affront the dignity of the House 
or to insult any of its members. 

The other question, that of compensating the 
Loyalists for the loss of their property, was not so 
simple a matter, for the whole story of the Revolu 
tion was involved. There is a tendency among 
many scholars of the present day to regard the pol 
icy of the British toward their North American 
colonies as possibly unwise and blundering but as 
being entirely in accordance with the legal and 
constitutional rights of the mother country, and to 
believe that the Americans, while they may have 
been practically and therefore morally justified 
in asserting their independence, were still techni 
cally and legally in the wrong. It is immaterial 
whether or not that point of view is accepted, for 
its mere recognition is sufficient to explain the 
existence of a large number of Americans who were 
steadfast in their support of the British side of the 


controversy. Indeed, it has been estimated that as 
large a proportion as one-third of the population 
remained loyal to the Crown. Numbers must re 
main more or less uncertain, but probably the ma 
jority of the people in the United States, whatever 
their feelings may have been, tried to remain neu 
tral or at least to appear so; and it is undoubtedly 
true that the Revolution was accomplished by an 
aggressive minority and that perhaps as great a 
number were actively loyal to Great Britain. 

These Loyalists comprised at least two groups. 
One of these was a wealthy, property-owning class, 
representing the best social element in the colonies, 
extremely conservative, believing in privilege and 
fearing the rise of democracy. The other was com 
posed of the royal office-holders, which included 
some of the better families, but was more largely 
made up of the lower class of political and social 
hangers-on, who had been rewarded with these posi 
tions for political debts incurred in England. The 
opposition of both groups to the Revolution was 
inevitable and easily to be understood, but it was 
also natural that the Revolutionists should incline 
to hold the Loyalists, without distinction, largely 
responsible for British pre-Revolutionary policy, 
asserting that they misinformed the Government 

as to conditions and sentiment in America, partly 
through stupidity and partly through selfish in 
terest. It was therefore perfectly comprehensible 
that the feeling should be bitter against them in the 
United States, especially as they had given efficient 
aid to the British during the war. In various 
States they were subjected to personal violence at 
the hands of indignant "patriots," many being 
forced to flee from their homes, while their property 
was destroyed or confiscated, and frequently these 
acts were legalized by statute. 

The historian of the Loyalists of Massachusetts, 
James H. Stark, must not be expected to under 
state the case, but when he is describing, especially 
in New England, the reign of terror which was 
established to suppress these people, he writes : 

Loyalists were tarred and feathered and carried on 
rails, gagged and bound for days at a time; stoned, 
fastened in a room with a fire and the chimney stopped 
on top; advertised as public enemies, so that they 
would be cut off from all dealings with their neighbors; 
they had bullets shot into their bedrooms, their horses 
poisoned or mutilated; money or valuable plate ex 
torted from them to save them from violence, and on 
pretence of taking security for their good behavior; 
their houses and ships burned; they were compelled to 
pay the guards who watched them in their houses, and 


when carted about for the mob to stare at and abuse, 
they were compelled to pay something at every town. 

There is little doubt also that the confiscation of 
property and the expulsion of the owners from the 
community were helped on by people who were 
debtors to the Loyalists and in this way saw a 
chance of escaping from the payment of their 
rightful obligations . The "Act for confiscating the 
estates of certain persons commonly called absen 
tees " may have been a measure of self-defense for 
the State but it was passed by the votes of those 
who undoubtedly profited by its provisions. 

Those who had stood loyally by the Crown must 
in turn be looked out for by the British Govern 
ment, especially when the claims of justice were re 
inforced by the important consideration that many 
of those with property and financial interests in 
America were relatives of influential persons in 
England. The immediate necessity during the war 
had been partially met by assisting thousands to 
go to Canada where their descendants today 
form an important element in the population and 
are proud of being United Empire Loyalists 
while pensions and gifts were supplied to others. 
Now that the war was over the British were deter 
mined that Americans should make good to the 


Loyalists for all that they had suffered, and His 
Majesty's Commissioners were hopeful at least of 
obtaining a proviso similar to the one relating to 
the collection of debts. John Adams, however, ex 
pressed the prevailing American idea when he said 
that "paying debts and compensating Tories" were 
two very different things, and Jay asserted that 
there were certain of these refugees whom Ameri 
cans never would forgive. 

But this was the one thing needed to complete 
the negotiations for peace, and the British argu 
ments on the injustice and irregularity of the treat 
ment accorded to the Loyalists were so strong that 
the American Commissioners were finally driven to 
the excuse that the Government of the Confedera 
tion had no power over the individual States by 
whom the necessary action must be taken. Final 
ly, in a spirit of mutual concession at the end of 
the negotiations, the Americans agreed that Con 
gress should "recommend to the legislatures of the 
respective states to provide for the restitution" of 
properties which had been confiscated "belonging 
to real British subjects," and "that persons of any 
other description" might return to the United States 
for a period of twelve months and be "unmolested 
in their endeavours to obtain the restitution." 


With this show of yielding on the part of the 
American Commissioners it was possible to con 
clude the terms of peace, and the preliminary treaty 
was drawn accordingly and agreed to on November 
30, 1782. Franklin had been of such great service 
during all the negotiations, smoothing down ruffled 
feelings by his suavity and tact and presenting dif 
ficult subjects in a way that made action possible, 
that to him was accorded the unpleasant task of 
communicating what had been accomplished to 
Vergennes, the French Minister, and of requesting 
at the same time "a fresh loan of twenty million 
francs." Franklin, of course, presented his case 
with much "delicacy and kindliness of manner" 
and with a fair degree of success. "Vergennes 
thought that the signing of the articles was prema 
ture, but he made no inconvenient remonstrances, 
and procured six millions of the twenty." 1 On 
September 3, 1783, the definite treaty of peace was 
signed and in due time it was ratified by the British 
Parliament as well as by the American Congress. 
The new state, duly accredited, thus took its place 
in the family of nations; but it was a very humble 
place that was first assigned to the United States 
of America. 

1 ( 'banning, History of the United States, vol. iii, p. 368. 



THOUGH the word revolution implies a violent break 
with the past, there was nothing in the Revolution 
that transformed the essential character or the char 
acteristics of the American people. The Revolution 
severed the ties which bound the colonies to Great 
Britain; it created some new activities; some sol 
diers were diverted from their former trades and oc 
cupation; but, as the proportion of the population 
engaged in the war was relatively small and the area 
of country affected for any length of time was com 
paratively slight, it is safe to say that in general the 
mass of the people remained about the same after 
the war as before. The professional man was found 
in his same calling; the artisan returned to his tools, 
if he had ever laid them down; the shopkeeper re 
sumed his business, if it had been interrupted; the 
merchant went back to his trading; and the farmer 

before the Revolution remained a farmer afterward. 



The country as a whole was in relatively good 
condition and the people were reasonably prosper 
ous; at least, there was no general distress or pov 
erty. Suffering had existed in the regions ravaged 
by war, but no section had suffered unduly or had 
had to bear the burden of war during the entire pe 
riod of fighting. American products had been in 
demand, especially in the West India Islands, and 
an illicit trade with the enemy had sprung up, so 
that even during the war shippers were able to dis 
pose of their commodites at good prices. The 
Americans are commonly said to have been an agri 
cultural people, but it would be more correct to say 
that the great majority of the people were depend 
ent upon extractive industries, which would include 
lumbering, fishing, and even the fur trade, as well 
as the ordinary agricultural pursuits. Save for a 
few industries, of which shipbuilding was one of the 
most important, there was relatively little manu 
facturing apart from the household crafts. These 
household industries had increased during the war, 
but as it was with the individual so it was with the 
whole country; the general course of industrial ac 
tivity was much the same as it had been before 
the war. 

A fundamental fact is to be observed in the 


economy of the young nation : the people were rais 
ing far more tobacco and grain and were extracting 
far more of other products than they could possibly 
use themselves ; for the surplus they must find mar 
kets. They had, as well, to rely upon the outside 
world for a great part of their manufactured goods, 
especially for those of the higher grade. In other 
words, from the economic point of view, the United 
States remained in the former colonial stage of in 
dustrial dependence, which was aggravated rather 
than alleviated by the separation from Great Brit 
ain. During the colonial period, Americans had 
carried on a large amount of this external trade by 
means of their own vessels. The British Naviga 
tion Acts required the transportation of goods in 
British vessels, manned by crews of British sailors, 
and specified certain commodities which could be 
shipped to Great Britain only. They also required 
that much of the European trade should pass by 
way of England. But colonial vessels and colonial 
sailors came under the designation of "British," 
and no small part of the prosperity of New England, 
and of the middle colonies as well, had been due to 
the carrying trade. It would seem therefore as if a 
primary need of the American people immediately 
after the Revolution was to get access to their old 


markets and to carry the goods as much as possible 
in their own vessels. 

In some directions they were successful. One of 
the products in greatest demand was fish. The 
fishing industry had been almost annihilated by 
the war, but with the establishment of peace the 
New England fisheries began to recover. They 
were in competition with the fishermen of France 
and England who were aided by large bounties, yet 
the superior geographical advantages which the 
American fishermen possessed enabled them to 
maintain and expand their business, and the re 
habilitation of the fishing fleet was an important 
feature of their programme. In other directions 
they were not so successful. The British still be 
lieved in their colonial system and applied its prin 
ciples without regard to the interests of the United 
States. Such American products as they wanted 
they allowed to be carried to British markets, but 
in British vessels. Certain commodities, the pro 
duction of which they wished to encourage within 
their own dominions, they added to the prohibited 
list. Americans cried out indignantly that this was 
an attempt on the part of the British to punish 
their former colonies for their temerity in revolting. 
The British Government may well have derived 


some satisfaction from the fact that certain restric 
tions bore heavily upon New England, as John 
Adams complained; but it would seem to be much 
nearer the truth to say that in a truly characteris 
tic way the British were phlegmatically attending 
to their own interests and calmly ignoring the 
United States, and that there was little malice in 
their policy. 

European nations had regarded American trade 
as a profitable field of enterprise and as probably 
responsible for much of Great Britain's prosperity. 
It was therefore a relatively easy matter for the 
United States to enter into commercial treaties 
with foreign countries. These treaties, however, 
were not fruitful of any great result; for, "with un 
important exceptions, they left still in force the 
high import duties and prohibitions that marked 
the European tariffs of the time, as well as many 
features of the old colonial system. They were de 
signed to legalize commerce rather than to encour 
age it." ' Still, for a year or more after the war the 
demand for American products was great enough 
to satisfy almost everybody. But in 1784 France 
and Spain closed their colonial ports and thus ex 
cluded the shipping of the United States. This 

1 Clive Day, Encyclopedia of American Government, vol. i, p. 840. 


proved to be so disastrous for their colonies that 
the French Government soon was forced to relax 
its restrictions. The British also made some con 
cessions, and where their orders were not modified 
they were evaded. And so, in the course of a few 
years, the West India trade recovered. 

More astonishing to the men of that time than 
it is to us was the fact that American foreign 
trade fell under British commercial control again. 
Whether it was that British merchants were ac 
customed to American ways of doing things and 
knew American business conditions ; whether other 
countries found the commerce not as profitable as 
they had expected, as certainly was the case with 
France ; whether " American merchants and sea cap 
tains found themselves under disadvantages due 
to the absence of treaty protection which they had 
enjoyed as English subjects"; 1 or whether it was 
the necessity of trading on British capital what 
ever the cause may have been within a com 
paratively few years a large part of American trade 
was in British hands as it had been before the 
Revolution. American trade with Europe was car 
ried on through English merchants very much as 
the Navigation Acts had prescribed. 

1 C. R. Fish, American Diplomacy, pp. 56-57. 


From the very first settlement of the Ameri 
can continent the colonists had exhibited one of 
the earliest and most lasting characteristics of the 
American people adaptability. The Americans 
now proceeded to manifest that trait anew, not 
only by adjusting themselves to renewed com 
mercial dependence upon Great Britain, but by 
seeking new avenues of trade. A striking illus 
tration of this is to be found in the development of 
trade with the Far East. Captain Cook's voyage 
around the world (1768-1771), an account of which 
was first published in London in 1773, attracted a 
great deal of attention in America; an edition of the 
New Voyage was issued in New York in 1774. No 
sooner was the Revolution over than there began 
that romantic trade with China and the northwest 
coast of America, which made the fortunes of some 
families of Salem and Boston and Philadelphia. 
This commerce added to the prosperity of the 
country, but above all it stimulated the imagi 
nation of Americans. In the same way another 
outlet was found in trade with Russia by way of 
the Baltic. 

The foreign trade of the United States after the 
Revolution thus passed through certain well- 
marked phases. First there was a short period of 


prosperity, owing to an unusual demand for Amer 
ican products ; this was followed by a longer period 
of depression; and then came a gradual recovery 
through acceptance of the new conditions and 
adjustment to them. 

A similar cycle may be traced in the domestic or 
internal trade. In early days intercolonial com 
merce had been carried on mostly by water, and 
when war interfered commerce almost ceased for 
want of roads. The loss of ocean highways, how 
ever, stimulated road building and led to what 
might be regarded as the first " good-roads move 
ment " of the new nation, except that to our eyes it 
would be a misuse of the word to call any of those 
roads good. But anything which would improve 
the means of transportation took on a patriotic 
tinge, and the building of roads and the cutting of 
canals were agitated until turnpike and canal com 
panies became a favorite form of investment; and 
in a few years the interstate land trade had grown 
to considerable importance. But in the meantime, 
water transportation was the main reliance, and 
with the end of the war the coastwise trade had 
been promptly resumed. For a time it prospered; 
but the States, affected by the general economic 
conditions and by jealousy, tried to interfere with 


and divert the trade of others to their own advan 
tage. This was done by imposing fees and charges 
and duties, not merely upon goods and vessels 
from abroad but upon those of their fellow States. 
James Madison described the situation in the 
words so often quoted : " Some of the States, . . . 
having no convenient ports for foreign commerce, 
were subject to be taxed by their neighbors, thro 
whose ports, their commerce was carryed on. New 
Jersey, placed between Phila. & N. York, was lik 
ened to a Cask tapped at both ends : and N. Caro 
lina between Virga. & S. Carolina to a patient 
bleeding at both Arms." 1 

The business depression which very naturally 
followed the short revival of trade was so serious 
in its financial consequences that it has even been 
referred to as the "Panic of 1785." The United 
States afforded a good market for imported articles 
in 1783 and 1784, all the better because of the sup 
ply of gold and silver which had been sent into the 
country by England and France to maintain their 
armies and fleets and which had remained in the 
United States. But this influx of imported goods 
was one of the chief factors in causing the de 
pression of 1785, as it brought ruin to many of 

1 Recordt of the Federal Convention, vol. iii, p. 542. 


those domestic industries which had sprung up 
in the days of non-intercourse or which had been 
stimulated by the artificial protection of the war. 

To make matters worse, the currency was in a 
confused condition. "In 1784 the entire coin of 
the land, except coppers, was the product of for 
eign mints. English guineas, crowns, shillings and 
pence were still paid over the counters of shops and 
taverns, and with them were mingled many French 
and Spanish and some German coins. . . . The 
value of the gold pieces expressed in dollars was 
pretty much the same the country over. But the 
dollar and the silver pieces regarded as fractions of 
a dollar had no less than five different values." 1 
The importation of foreign goods was fast draining 
the hard money out of the country. In an effort 
to relieve the situation but with the result of mak 
ing it much worse, several of the States began to 
issue paper money; and this was in addition to 
the enormous quantities of paper which had been 
printed during the Revolution and which was now 
worth but a small fraction of its face value. 

The expanding currency and consequent depre 
ciation in the value of money had immediately 

1 McMaster, History of the People of the United State*, vol. i. 
pp. 190-191. 


resulted in a corresponding rise of prices, which for 
a while the States attempted to control. But in 
1778 Congress threw up its hands in despair and 
voted that "all limitations of prices of gold and sil 
ver be taken off," although the States for some 
time longer continued to endeavor to regulate 
prices by legislation. l The fluctuating value of the 
currency increased the opportunities for specula 
tion which war conditions invariably offer, and 
"immense fortunes were suddenly accumulated." 
A new financial group rose into prominence com 
posed largely of those who were not accustomed 
to the use of money and who were consequently 
inclined to spend it recklessly and extravagantly. 
Many contemporaries comment upon these 
things, of whom Brissot de Warville may be taken 
as an example, although he did not visit the United 
States until 1788: 

The inhabitants . . . prefer the splendor of wealth 
and the show of enjoyment to the simplicity of man 
ners and the pure pleasures which result from it. If 
there is a town on the American continent where the 
English luxury displays its follies, it is New York. 
You will find here the English fashions: in the dress of 
the women you will see the most brilliant silks, gauzes, 

1 W. E. H. Lecky, The American Revolution, New York, 1898, 
pp. 288-294. 


hats, and borrowed hair; equipages are rare, but they 
are elegant; the men have more simplicity in their 
dress; they disdain gewgaws, but they take their re 
venge in the luxury of the table; luxury forms already 
a class of men very dangerous to society ; I mean bache 
lors; the expense of women causes matrimony to be 
dreaded by men. Tea forms, as in England, the basis 
of parties of pleasure; many things are dearer here than 
in France; a hairdresser asks twenty shilling a month; 
washing costs four shillings a dozen. l 

An American writer of a later date, looking back 
upon his earlier years, was impressed by this same 
extravagance, and his testimony may well be used 
to strengthen the impression which it is the purpose 
of the present narrative to convey: 

The French and British armies circulated immense sums 
of money in gold and silver coin, which had the effect 
of driving out of circulation the wretched paper cur 
rency which had till then prevailed. Immense quan 
tities of British and French goods were soon imported : 
our people imbibed a taste for foreign fashions and lux 
ury; and in the course of two or three years, from the 
close of the war, such an entire change had taken place 
in the habits and manners of our inhabitants, that it 
almost appeared as if we had suddenly become a differ 
ent nation. The staid and sober habits of our ances 
tors, with their plain home-manufactured clothing, 

1 Quoted by Henry Tuckerman, America and her Commentator , 



were suddenly laid aside, and European goods of fine 
quality adopted in their stead. Fine ruffles, powdered 
heads, silks and scarlets, decorated the men; while the 
most costly silks, satins, chintzes, calicoes, muslins, 
etc., etc., decorated our females. Nor was their diet 
less expensive; for superb plate, foreign spirits, wines, 
etc., etc., sparkled on the sideboards of many farmers. 
The natural result of this change of the habits and cus 
toms of the people this aping of European manners 
and morals, was to suddenly drain our country of its 
circulating specie; and as a necessary consequence, the 
people ran in debt, times became difficult, and money 
hard to raise. 1 

The situation was serious, and yet it was not as 
dangerous or even as critical as it has generally 
been represented, because the fundamental bases 
of American prosperity were untouched. The way 
by which Americans could meet the emergency and 
recover from the hard times was fairly evident 
first to economize, and then to find new outlets 
for their industrial energies. But the process of 
adjustment was slow and painful. There were not 
a few persons in the United States who were even 
disposed to regret that Americans were not safely 
under British protection and prospering with Great 
Britain, instead of suffering in political isolation. 

1 Samuel Kercheval, History of the Valley of Virginia, 1833, pp. 


WHEN peace came in 1783 there were in the United 
States approximately three million people, who 
were spread over the whole Atlantic coast from 
Maine to Georgia and back into the interior as far 
as the Alleghany Mountains; and a relatively small 
number of settlers had crossed the mountain bar 
rier. About twenty per cent of the population, or 
some six hundred thousand, were negro slaves. 
There was also a large alien element of foreign 
birth or descent, poor when they arrived in Amer 
ica, and, although they had been able to raise 
themselves to a position of comparative comfort, 
life among them was still crude and rough. Many 
of the people were poorly educated and lacking in 
cultivation and refinement and in a knowledge of 
the usages of good society. Not only were they 
looked down upon by other nations of the world; 
there was within the United States itself a relatively 



small upper class inclined to regard the mass of the 
people as of an inferior order. 

Thus, while forces were at work favorable to 
democracy, the gentry remained in control of af 
fairs after the Revolution, although their numbers 
were reduced by the emigration of the Loyalists 
and their power was lessened. The explanation of 
this aristocratic control may be found in the fact 
that the generation of the Revolution had been ac 
customed to monarchy and to an upper class and 
that the people were wont to take their ideas and 
to accept suggestions from their betters without 
question or murmur. This deferential attitude is 
attested by the indifference of citizens to the right 
of voting. In our own day, before the great exten 
sion of woman suffrage, the number of persons vot 
ing approximated twenty per cent of the popula 
tion, but after the Revolution less than five per 
cent of the white population voted. There were 
many limitations upon the exercise of the suffrage, 
but the small number of voters was only partially 
due to these restrictions, for in later years, without 
any radical change in suffrage qualifications, the 
proportion of citizens who voted steadily increased. 

The fact is that many of the people did not care 
to vote. Why should they, when they were only 


registering the will or the wishes of their superiors? 
But among the relatively small number who con 
stituted the governing class there was a high stand 
ard of intelligence. Popular magazines were un 
heard of and newspapers were infrequent, so that 
men depended largely upon correspondence and 
personal intercourse for the interchange of ideas. 
There was time, however, for careful reading of the 
few available books ; there was time for thought, for 
writing, for discussion, and for social intercourse. 
It hardly seems too much to say, therefore, that there 
was seldom, if ever, a people certainly never a 
people scattered over so wide a territory who knew 
so much about government as did this controlling 
element of the people of the United States. 

The practical character, as well as the political 
genius, of the Americans was never shown to better 
advantage than at the outbreak of the Revolution, 
when the quarrel with the mother country was 
manifesting itself in the conflict between the Gov 
ernors, and other appointed agents of the Crown, 
and the popularly elected houses of the colonial leg 
islatures. When the Crown resorted to dissolving 
the legislatures, the revolting colonists kept up and 
observed the forms of government. When the leg 
islature was prevented from meeting, the members 


would come together and call themselves a congress 
or a convention, and, instead of adopting laws or 
orders, would issue what were really nothing more 
than recommendations, but which they expected 
would be obeyed by their supporters. To enforce 
these recommendations extra-legal committees, 
generally backed by public opinion and sometimes 
concretely supported by an organized "mob," 
would meet in towns and counties and would be 
often effectively centralized where the opponents 
of the British policy were in control. 

In several of the colonies the want of orderly 
government became so serious that, in 1775, the 
Continental Congress advised them to form tem 
porary governments until the trouble with Great 
Britain had been settled. When independence 
was declared Congress recommended to all the 
States that they should adopt governments of their 
own. In accordance with that recommendation, 
in the course of a very few years each State estab 
lished an independent government and adopted a 
written constitution. It was a time when men be 
lieved in the social contract or the "compact theory 
of the state," that states originated through agree 
ment, as the case might be, between king and no 
bles, between king and people, or among the people 


themselves. In support of this doctrine no less an 
authority than the Bible was often quoted, such a 
passage for example as II Samuel v, 3 : " So all the 
elders of Israel came to the King to Hebron; and 
King David made a covenant with them in Hebron 
before the Lord; and they anointed David King 
over Israel." As a philosophical speculation to ex 
plain why people were governed or consented to be 
governed, this theory went back at least to the 
Greeks, and doubtless much earlier; and, though of 
some significance in medieval thought, it became of 
greater importance in British political philosophy, 
especially through the works of Thomas Hobbes and 
John Locke. A very practical application of the 
compact theory was made in the English Revolu 
tion of 1688, when in order to avoid the embarrass 
ment of deposing the king, the convention of the 
Parliament adopted the resolution: "That King 
James the Second, having endeavored to subvert 
the Constitution of the Kingdom, by breaking the 
original Contract between King and People, and 
having, by the advice of Jesuits, and other wicked 
persons, violated the fundamental Laws, and with 
drawn himself out of this Kingdom, has abdicated 
the Government, and that the throne is hereby va 
cant." These theories were developed by Jean 


Jacques Rousseau in his Control Social a book 
so attractively written that it eclipsed all other 
works upon the subject and resulted in his being 
regarded as the author of the doctrine and 
through him they spread all over Europe. 

Conditions in America did more than lend color 
to pale speculation; they seemed to take this hy 
pothesis out of the realm of theory and to give it 
practical application. What happened when men 
went into the wilderness to live? The Pilgrim 
Fathers on board the Mayflower entered into 
an agreement which was signed by the heads 
of families who took part in the enterprise: 
"We, whose names are underwritten . . . Do 
by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the 
Presence of God and one another, covenant and 
combine ourselves together into a civil Body 

Other colonies, especially in New England, with 
this example before them of a social contract en 
tered into similar compacts or "plantation cove 
nants," as they were called. But the colonists were 
also accustomed to having written charters granted 
which continued for a time at least to mark the ex 
tent of governmental powers. Through this inter 
mingling of theory and practice it was the most 


natural thing in the world, when Americans came 
to form their new State Governments, that they 
should provide written instruments framed by their 
own representatives, which not only bound them 
to be governed in this way but also placed limita 
tions upon the governing bodies. As the first 
great series of written constitutions, these frames 
of government attracted wide attention. Con 
gress printed a set for general distribution, and 
numerous editions were circulated both at home 
and abroad. 

The constitutions were brief documents, varying 
from one thousand to twelve thousand words in 
length, which established the framework of the 
governmental machinery. Most of them, before 
proceeding to practical working details, enunciated 
a series of general principles upon the subject of 
government and political morality in what were 
called declarations or bills of rights. The charac 
ter of these declarations may be gathered from the 
following excerpts : 

That all men are by nature equally free and inde 
pendent, and have certain inherent rights, . . . the 
enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of ac 
quiring and possessing property, and pursuing and 
obtaining happiness and safety. 


That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclu 
sive or separate emoluments or privileges from the 
community, but in consideration of public services. 

The body politic is formed by a voluntary association 
of individuals; it is a social compact by which the 
whole people covenants with each citizen and each citi 
zen with the whole people that all shall be governed by 
certain laws for the common good. 

That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of 
laws, by any authority, without consent of the repre 
sentatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, 
and ought not to be exercised. 

That general warrants, . . . are grievous and op 
pressive, and ought not to be granted. 

All penalties ought to be proportioned to the nature of 
the offence. 

That sanguinary laws ought to be avoided, as far as is 
consistent with the safety of the State; and no law, to 
inflict cruel and unusual pains and penalties, ought to 
be made in any case, or at any time hereafter. 

No magistrate or court of law shall demand excessive 
bail or sureties, impose excessive fines . . . 

Every individual has a natural and unalienable right 
to worship God according to the dictates of his own 
conscience, and reason; . . . 


That the freedom of the press is one of the great bul 
warks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by 
despotic governments. 

It will be perceived at once that these are but 
variations of the English Declaration of Rights of 
1689, which indeed was consciously followed as a 
model; and yet there is a world-wide difference be 
tween the English model and these American cop 
ies. The earlier document enunciated the rights of 
English subjects, the recent infringement of which 
made it desirable that they should be reasserted 
in convincing form. The American documents as 
serted rights which the colonists generally had en 
joyed and which they declared to be "governing 
principles for all peoples in all future times." 

But the greater significance of these State Con 
stitutions is to be found in their quality as working 
instruments of government. There was indeed 
little difference between the old colonial and the 
new State Governments. The inhabitants of each 
of the Thirteen States had been accustomed to a 
large measure of self-government, and when they 
took matters into their own hands they were not 
disposed to make any radical changes in the forms 
to which they had become accustomed. Accord 
ingly the State Governments that were adopted 


simply continued a framework of government al 
most identical with that of colonial times. To be 
sure, the Governor and other appointed officials 
were now elected either by the people or the legis 
lature, and so were ultimately responsible to the 
electors instead of to the Crown; and other changes 
were made which in the long run might prove of 
far-reaching and even of vital significance; and yet 
the machinery of government seemed the same as 
that to which the people were already accustomed. 
The average man was conscious of no difference at 
all in the working of the Government under the 
new order. In fact, in Connecticut and Rhode Is 
land, the most democratic of all the colonies, where 
the people had been privileged to elect their own 
governors, as well as legislatures, no change what 
ever was necessary and the old charters were con 
tinued as State Constitutions down to 1818 and 
1842, respectively. 

To one who has been accustomed to believe that 
the separation from a monarchical government 
meant the establishment of democracy, a reading 
of these first State Constitutions is likely to cause 
a rude shock. A shrewd English observer, travel 
ing a generation later in the United States, went 
to the root of the whole matter in remarking of 


the Americans that, "When their independence 
was achieved their mental condition was not in 
stantly changed. Their deference for rank and for 
judicial and legislative authority continued nearly 
unimpaired." 1 They might declare that "all men 
are created equal," and bills of rights might assert 
that government rested upon the consent of the 
governed; but these constitutions carefully pro 
vided that such consent should come from property 
owners, and, in many of the States, from religious 
believers and even followers of the Christian faith. 
"The man of small means might vote, but none 
save well-to-do Christians could legislate, and in 
many states none but a rich Christian could be a 
governor." 2 In South Carolina, for example, a 
freehold of 10,000 currency was required of the 
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and members of 
the Council; 2,000 of the members of the Senate; 
and, while every elector was eligible to the House 
of Representatives, he had to acknowledge the be 
ing of a God and to believe in a future state of 
rewards and punishments, as well as to hold "a 
freehold at least of fifty acres of land, or a town lot." 

i George Combe, Tour of the United States, vol. i, p. 205. 
3 McMaster, Acquisition of Industrial, Popular, and Political 
Rights of Man in America, p. 20. 


It was government by a property-owning class, 
but in comparison with other countries this class 
represented a fairly large and increasing proportion 
of the population. In America the opportunity of 
becoming a property-owner was open to every one, 
or, as that phrase would then have been understood, 
to most white men. This system of class control is 
illustrated by the fact that, with the exception of 
Massachusetts, the new State Constitutions were 
never submitted to the people for approval. 

The democratic sympathizer of today is inclined 
to point to those first State Governments as a con 
tinuance of the old order. But to the conservative 
of that time it seemed as if radical and revolution 
ary changes were taking place. The bills of rights 
declared, "That no men, or set of men, are entitled 
to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges 
from the community, but in consideration of public 
services." Property qualifications and other re 
strictions on office-holding and the exercise of the 
suffrage were lessened. Four States declared in 
their constitutions against the entailment of es 
tates, and primogeniture was abolished in aris 
tocratic Virginia. There was a fairly complete 
abolition of all vestiges of feudal tenure in the 
holding of land, so that it may be said that in this 


period full ownership of property was established. 
The further separation of church and state was also 
carried out. 

Certainly leveling influences were at work, and 
the people as a whole had moved one step farther 
in the direction of equality and democracy, and it 
was well that the Revolution was not any more rad 
ical and revolutionary than it was. The change 
was gradual and therefore more lasting. One finds 
readily enough contemporary statements to the 
effect that, " Although there are no nobles in Amer 
ica, there is a class of men denominated 'gentle 
men,' who, by reason of their wealth, their talents, 
their education, their families, or the offices they 
hold, aspire to a preeminence," but, the same ob 
server adds, this is something which "the people re 
fuse to grant them." Another contemporary con 
tributes the observation that there was not so much 
respect paid to gentlemen of rank as there should 
be, and that the lower orders of people behave as 
if they were on a footing of equality with them. 

Whether the State Constitutions are to be re 
garded as property-conserving, aristocratic instru 
ments, or as progressive documents, depends upon 
the point of view. And so it is with the spirit of 
union or of nationality in the United States. One 


student emphasizes the fact of there being "thir 
teen independent republics differing . . . widely 
in climate, in soil, in occupation, in everything 
which makes up the social and economic life of the 
people"; while another sees "the United States a 
nation." There is something to be said for both 
sides, and doubtless the truth lies between them, 
for there were forces making for disintegration as 
well as for unification. To the student of the pres 
ent day, however, the latter seem to have been the 
stronger and more important, although the possi 
bility was never absent that the thirteen States 
would go their separate ways. 

There are few things so potent as a common dan 
ger to bring discordant elements into working har 
mony. Several times in the century and a half of 
their existence, when the colonies found themselves 
threatened by their enemies, they had united, or at 
least made an effort to unite, for mutual help. The 
New England Confederation of 1643 was organ 
ized primarily for protection against the Indians 
and incidentally against the Dutch and French. 
Whenever trouble threatened with any of the Euro 
pean powers or with the Indians and that was 
frequently a plan would be broached for getting 
the colonies to combine their efforts, sometimes 


for the immediate necessity and sometimes for a 
broader purpose. The best known of these plans 
was that presented to the Albany Congress of 1754, 
which had been called to make effective prepara 
tion for the inevitable struggle with the French and 
Indians. The beginning of the troubles which cul 
minated in the final breach with Great Britain had 
quickly brought united action in the form of the 
Stamp Act Congress of 1765, in the Committees 
of Correspondence, and then in the Continental 

It was not merely that the leaven of the Revolu 
tion was already working to bring about the freer 
interchange of ideas; instinct and experience led the 
colonies to united action. The very day that the 
Continental Congress appointed a committee to 
frame a declaration of independence, another com 
mittee was ordered to prepare articles of union. 
A month later, as soon as the Declaration of In 
dependence had been adopted, this second com 
mittee, of which John Dickinson of Pennsylvania 
was chairman, presented to Congress a report in 
the form of Articles of Confederation. Although 
the outbreak of fighting made some sort of united 
action imperative, this plan of union was subjected 
to debate intermittently for over sixteen months 


and even after being adopted by Congress, toward 
the end of 1777, it was not ratified by the States 
until March, 1781, when the war was already draw 
ing to a close. The exigencies of the hour forced 
Congress, without any authorization, to act as if it 
had been duly empowered and in general to proceed 
as if the Confederation had been formed. 

Benjamin Franklin was an enthusiast for union. 
It was he who had submitted the plan of union to 
the Albany Congress in 1754, which with modifica 
tions was recommended by that congress for adop 
tion. It provided for a Grand Council of represent 
atives chosen by the legislature of each colony, the 
members to be proportioned to the contribution of 
that colony to the American military service. In 
matters concerning the colonies as a whole, espe 
cially in Indian affairs, the Grand Council was to be 
given extensive powers of legislation and taxation. 
The executive was to be a President or Governor- 
General, appointed and paid by the Crown, with 
the right of nominating all military officers, and 
with a veto upon all acts of the Grand Council. 
The project was far in advance of the times and 
ultimately failed of acceptance, but in 1775, with 
the beginning of the troubles with Great Britain, 
Franklin took his Albany plan and, after modifying 


it in accordance with the experience of twenty 
years, submitted it to the Continental Congress as 
a new plan of government under which the colonies 
might unite. 

Franklin's plan of 1775 seems to have attracted 
little attention in America, and possibly it was not 
generally known ; but much was made of it abroad, 
where it soon became public, probably in the same 
way that other Franklin papers came out. It 
seems to have been his practice to make, with his 
own hand, several copies of such a document, which 
he would send to his friends with the statement 
that as the document in question was confidential 
they might not otherwise see a copy of it. Of 
course the inevitable happened, and such docu 
ments found their way into print to the apparent 
surprise and dismay of the author. Incidentally 
this practice caused confusion in later years, be 
cause each possessor of such a document would 
claim that he had the original. Whatever may 
have been the procedure in this particular case, it 
is fairly evident that Dickinson's committee took 
Franklin's plan of 1775 as the starting point of 
its work, and after revision submitted it to Con 
gress as their report; for some of the most impor 
tant features of the Articles of Confederation 


are to be found, sometimes word for word, in 
Franklin's draft. 

This explanation of the origin of the Articles of 
Confederation is helpful and perhaps essential in 
understanding the form of government established, 
because that government in its main features had 
been devised for an entirely different condition 
of affairs, when a strong, centralized government 
would not have been accepted even if it had been 
wanted. It provided for a "league of friendship," 
with the primary purpose of considering prepara 
tion for action rather than of taking the initiative. 
Furthermore, the final stages of drafting the Ar 
ticles of Confederation had occurred at the out 
break of the war, when the people of the various 
States were showing a disposition to follow readily 
suggestions that came from those whom they could 
trust and when they seemed to be willing to sub 
mit without compulsion to orders from the same 
source. These circumstances, quite as much as 
the inexperience of Congress and the jealousy of the 
States, account for the inefficient form of govern 
ment which was devised; and inefficient the Con 
federation certainly was. The only organ of gov 
ernment was a Congress in which every State 
was entitled to one vote and was represented by a 


delegation whose members were appointed annually 
as the legislature of the State might direct, whose 
expenses were paid by the State, and who were sub 
ject to recall. In other words, it was a council of 
States whose representatives had little incentive to 
independence of action. 

Extensive powers were granted to this Congress 
"of determining on peace and war, ... of en 
tering into treaties and alliances," of maintaining 
an army and a navy, of establishing post offices, of 
coining money, and of making requisitions upon 
the States for their respective share of expenses 
"incurred for the common defence or general wel 
fare." But none of these powers could be exer 
cised without the consent of nine States, which was 
equivalent to requiring a two-thirds vote, and even 
when such a vote had been obtained and a decision 
had been reached, there was nothing to compel the 
individual States to obey beyond the mere declara 
tion in the Articles of Confederation that, "Every 
State shall abide by the determinations of the 
United States in Congress assembled." 

No executive was provided for except that Con 
gress was authorized "to appoint such other com 
mittees and civil officers as may be necessary for 
managing the general affairs of the United States. 


under their direction." In judicial matters, Con 
gress was to serve as "the last resort on appeal in 
all disputes and differences" between States; and 
Congress might establish courts for the trial of 
piracy and felonies committed on the high seas and 
for determining appeals in cases of prize capture. 
The plan of a government was there but it lacked 
any driving force. Congress might declare war 
but the States might decline to participate in it; 
Congress might enter into treaties but it could not 
make the States live up to them; Congress might 
borrow money but it could not be sure of repaying 
it; and Congress might decide disputes without be 
ing able to make the parties accept the decision. 
The pressure of necessity might keep the States to 
gether for a time, yet there is no disguising the fact 
that the Articles of Confederation formed nothing 
more than a gentlemen's agreement. 



THE population of the United States was like a 
body of water that was being steadily enlarged by 
internal springs and external tributaries. It was 
augmented both from within and from without, 
from natural increase and from immigration. It 
had spread over the whole coast from Maine to 
Georgia and slowly back into the interior, at first 
along the lines of river communication and then 
gradually filling up the spaces between until the 
larger part of the available land east of the Alle- 
ghany Mountains was settled. There the stream 
was checked as if dammed by the mountain barrier, 
but the population was trickling through wherever 
it could find an opening, slowly wearing channels, 
until finally, when the obstacles were overcome, it 
broke through with a rush. 

Twenty years before the Revolution the expand 
ing population had reached the mountains and was 



ready to go beyond. The difficulty of crossing the 
mountains was not insuperable, but the French and 
Indian War, followed by Pontiac's Conspiracy, 
made outlying frontier settlement dangerous if not 
impossible. The arbitrary restriction of western 
settlement by the Proclamation of 1763 did not 
stop the more adventurous but did hold back the 
mass of the population until near the time of the 
Revolution, when a few bands of settlers moved 
into Kentucky and Tennessee and rendered im 
portant but inconspicuous service in the fighting. 
But so long as the title to that territory was in 
doubt no considerable body of people would move 
into it, and it was not until the Treaty of Peace in 
1783 determined that the western country as far as 
the Mississippi River was to belong to the United 
States that the dammed-up population broke over 
the mountains in a veritable flood. 

The western country and its people presented no 
easy problem to the United States: how to hold 
those people when the pull was strong to draw them 
from the Union; how to govern citizens so widely 
separated from the older communities; and, of 
most immediate importance, how to hold the 
land itself. It was, indeed, the question of the 
ownership of the land beyond the mountains which 


delayed the ratification of the Articles of Confedera 
tion. Some of the States, by right of their colonial 
charter grants "from sea to sea," were claiming 
large parts of the western region. Other States, 
whose boundaries were fixed, could put forward no 
such claims; and, as they were therefore limited in 
their area of expansion, they were fearful lest in the 
future they should be overbalanced by those States 
which might obtain extensive property in the West. 
It was maintained that the Proclamation of 1763 
had changed this western territory into "Crown 
lands," and as, by the Treaty of Peace, the title 
had passed to the United States, the non-claimant 
States had demanded in self-defense that the west 
ern land should belong to the country as a whole 
and not to the individual States. Rhode Island, 
Maryland, and Delaware were most seriously af 
fected, and they were insistent upon this point. 
Rhode Island and at length Delaware gave in, so 
that by February, 1779, Maryland alone held out. 
In May of that year the instructions of Maryland 
to her delegates were read in Congress, positively 
forbidding them to ratify the plan of union unless 
they should receive definite assurances that the 
western country would become the common prop 
erty of the United States. As the consent of all 


of the Thirteen States was necessary to the estab 
lishment of the Confederation, this refusal of Mary 
land brought matters to a crisis. The question 
was eagerly discussed, and early in 1780 the dead 
lock was broken by the action of New York in 
authorizing her representatives to cede her entire 
claim in western lands to the United States. 

It matters little that the claim of New York was 
not as good as that of some of the other States, es 
pecially that of Virginia. The whole situation was 
changed. It was no longer necessary for Maryland 
to defend her position; but the claimant States 
were compelled to justify themselves before the 
country for not following New York's example. 
Congress wisely refrained from any assertion of 
jurisdiction, and only urgently recommended that 
States having claims to western lands should cede 
them in order that the one obstacle to the final rati 
fication of the Articles of Confederation might 
be removed. 

Without much question Virginia's claim was the 
strongest; but the pressure was too great even for 
her, and she finally yielded, ceding to the United 
States, upon certain conditions, all her lands north 
west of the Ohio River. Then the Maryland 
delegates were empowered to ratify the Articles of 


Confederation. This was early in 1781, and in a 
very short time the other States had followed the 
example of New York and Virginia. Certain of the 
conditions imposed by Virginia were not acceptable 
to Congress, and three years later, upon specific 
request, that State withdrew the objectionable 
conditions and made the cession absolute. 

The territory thus ceded, north and west of the 
Ohio River, constituted the public domain. Its 
boundaries were somewhat indefinite, but subse 
quent surveys confirmed the rough estimate that it 
contained from one to two hundred millions of 
acres. It was supposed to be worth, on the aver 
age, about a dollar an acre, which would make this 
property an asset sufficient to meet the debts of the 
war and to leave a balance for the running expenses 
of the Government. It thereby became one of the 
strong bonds holding the Union together. 

"Land!" was the first cry of the storm-tossed mar 
iners of Columbus. For three centuries the leading 
fact of American history has been that soon after 1600 
a body of Europeans, mostly Englishmen, settled on 
the edge of the greatest piece of unoccupied agricul 
tural land in the temperate zone, and proceeded to 
subdue it to the uses of man. For three centuries the 
chief task of American mankind has been to go up 


westward against the land and to possess it. Our 
wars, our independence, our state building, our politi 
cal democracy, our plasticity with respect to immi 
gration, our mobility of thought, our ardor of initiative, 
our mildness and our prosperity, all are but incidents 
or products of this prime historical fact. 1 

It is seldom that one's attention is so caught and 
held as by the happy suggestion that American in 
terest in land or rather interest in American land 
began with the discovery of the continent. Even 
a momentary consideration of the subject, however, 
is sufficient to indicate how important was the desire 
for land as a motive of colonization. The founda 
tion of European governmental and social organiza 
tions had been laid in feudalism a system of land- 
holding and service. And although European states 
might have lost their original feudal character, and 
although new classes had arisen, land-holding still 
remained the basis of social distinction. 

One can readily imagine that America would be 
considered as El Dorado, where one of the rarest 
commodities as well as one of the most precious pos 
sessions was found in almost unlimited quantities 
and could be had for the asking. It is no wonder 

1 Lecture by J. Franklin Jameson before the Trustees of the 
Carnegie Institution, at Washington, in 1912, printed in the 
History Teacher's Magazine, vol. iv, 1913, p. 5. 


that family estates were sought in America and 
that to the lower classes it seemed as if a heaven 
were opening on earth. Even though available 
land appeared to be almost unlimited in quantity 
and easy to acquire, it was a possession that was 
generally increasing in value. Of course wasteful 
methods of farming wore out some lands, especially 
in the South; but, taking it by and large through 
out the country, with time and increasing density 
of population the value of the land was increasing. 
The acquisition of land was a matter of investment 
or at least of speculation. In fact, the purchase of 
land was one of the favorite get-rich-quick schemes 
of the time. George Washington was not the only 
man who invested largely in western lands. A 
list of those who did would read like a political 
or social directory of the time. Patrick Henry, 
James Wilson, Robert Morris, Gouverneur Morris, 
Chancellor Kent, Henry Knox, and James Monroe 
were among them. x 

It is therefore easy to understand why so much 
importance attached to the claims of the several 
States and to the cession of that western land by 

1 Not all the speculators were able to keep what they acquired. 
Fifteen million acres of land in Kentucky were offered for sale in 
1800 for non-payment of taxes. Channing, History of the United 
Stales, vol. iv, p. 91. 


them to the United States. But something more 
was necessary. If the land was to attain anything 
like its real value, settlers must be induced to oc 
cupy it. Of course it was possible to let the people 
go out as they pleased and take up land, and to let 
the Government collect from them as might be pos 
sible at a fixed rate. But experience during colo 
nial days had shown the weakness of such a method, 
and Congress was apparently determined to keep 
under its own control the region which it now pos 
sessed, to provide for orderly sale, and to permit 
settlement only so far as it might not endanger the 
national interests. The method of land sales and 
the question of government for the western coun 
try were recognized as different aspects of the same 
problem. The Virginia offer of cession forced the 
necessity of a decision, and no sooner was the Vir 
ginia offer framed in an acceptable form, in 1783, 
than two committees were appointed by Congress 
to report upon these two questions of land sales and 
of government. 

Thomas Jefferson was made chairman of both 
these committees. He was then forty years old 
and one of the most remarkable men in the country. 
Born on the frontier his father from the upper 
middle class, his mother "a Randolph" he had 


been trained to an outdoor life; but he was also a 
prodigy in his studies and entered William and 
Mary College with advanced standing at the age of 
eighteen. Many stories are told of his precocity 
and ability, all of which tend to forecast the later 
man of catholic tastes, omnivorous interest, and ex 
tensive but superficial knowledge ; he was a strange 
combination of natural aristocrat and theoretical 
democrat, of philosopher and practical politician. 
After having been a student in the law office of 
George Wythe, and being a friend of Patrick Henry, 
Jefferson early espoused the cause of the Revolu 
tion, and it was his hand that drafted the Declara 
tion of Independence. He then resigned from Con 
gress to assist in the organization of government in 
his own State. For two years and a half he served 
in the Virginia Assembly and brought about the 
repeal of the law of entailment, the abolition of 
primogeniture, the recognition of freedom of con 
science, and the encouragement of education. He 
was Governor of Virginia for two years and then, 
having declined reelection, returned to Congress in 
1783. There, among his other accomplishments, 
as chairman of the committee, he reported the 
Treaty of Peace and, as chairman of another com 
mittee, devised and persuaded Congress to adopt 


a national system of coinage which in its essentials 
is still in use. 

It is easy to criticize Jefferson and to pick flaws 
in the things that he said as well as in the things 
that he did, but practically every one admits that 
he was closely in touch with the course of events 
and understood the temper of his contemporaries. 
In this period of transition from the old order to the 
new, he seems to have expressed the genius of 
American institutions better than almost any other 
man of his generation. He possessed a quality 
that enabled him, in the Declaration of Independ 
ence, to give voice to the hopes and aspirations of a 
rising nationality and that enabled him in his own 
State to bring about so many reforms. 

Just how much actual influence Thomas Jeffer 
son had in the framing of the American land policy 
is not clear. Although the draft of the committee 
report in 1784 is in Jefferson's handwriting, it is al 
together probable that more credit is to be given to 
Thomas Hutchins, the Geographer of the United 
States, and to William Grayson of Virginia, espe 
cially for the final form which the measure took; 
for Jefferson retired from the chairmanship and had 
already gone to Europe when the Land Ordinance 
was adopted by Congress in 1785. This ordinance 


has been superseded by later enactments, to which 
references are usually made; but the original ordi 
nance is one of the great pieces of American legis 
lation, for it contained the fundamentals of the 
American land system which, with the modifica 
tions experience has introduced, has proved to be 
permanently workable and which has been envied 
and in several instances copied by other countries. 
Like almost all successful institutions of that sort, 
the Land Ordinance of 1785 was not an immedi 
ate creation but was a development out of former 
practices and customs and was in the nature of a 
compromise. Its essential features were the meth 
od of survey and the process for the sale of land. 
New England, with its town system, had in the 
course of its expansion been accustomed to proceed 
in an orderly method but on a relatively small scale. 
The South, on the other hand, had granted lands 
on a larger scale and had permitted individual se 
lection in a haphazard manner. The plan which 
Congress adopted was that of the New England 
survey with the Southern method of extensive 
holdings. The system is repellent in its rectangu 
lar orderliness, but it made the process of recording 
titles easy and complete, and it was capable of in 
definite expansion. These were matters of cardinal 


importance, for in the course of one hundred and 
forty years the United States was to have under its 
control nearly two thousand million acres of land. 

The primary feature of the land policy was the 
orderly survey in advance of sale. In the next place 
the township was taken as the unit, and its size was 
fixed at six miles square. Provision was then made 
for the sale of townships alternately entire and by 
sections of one mile square, or 640 acres each. In 
every township a section was reserved for educa 
tional purposes; that is, the land was to be dis 
posed of and the proceeds used for the development 
of public schools in that region. And, finally, the 
United States reserved four sections in the cen 
ter of each township to be disposed of at a later 
time. It was expected that a great increase in 
the value of the land would result, and it was pro 
posed that the Government should reap a part of 
the profits. 

It is evident that the primary purpose of the 
public land policy as first developed was to acquire 
revenue for the Government; but it was also evi 
dent that there was a distinct purpose of encourag 
ing settlement. The two were not incompatible, 
but the greater interest of the Government was in 
obtaining a return for the property. 


The other committee of which Jefferson was 
chairman made its report of a plan for the govern 
ment of the western territory upon the very day 
that the Virginia cession was finally accepted, 
March 1, 1784; and with some important modifica 
tions Jefferson's ordinance, or the Ordinance of 
1784 as it was commonly called, was ultimately 
adopted. In this case Jefferson rendered a service 
similar to that of framing the Declaration of In- 
pendence. His plan was somewhat theoretical and 
visionary, but largely practical, and it was con 
structive work of a high order, displaying not 
so much originality as sympathetic appreciation 
of what had already been done and an instinctive 
forecast of future development. Jefferson seemed 
to be able to gather up ideas, some conscious and 
some latent in men's minds, and to express them 
in a form that was generally acceptable. 

It is interesting to find in the Articles of Confed 
eration (Article XI) that, "Canada acceding to 
this confederation, and joining in the measures of 
the United States, shall be admitted into, and en 
titled to all the advantages of this Union : but no 
other colony shall be admitted into the same unless 
such admission be agreed to by nine States." The 
real importance of this article lay in the suggestion 


of an enlargement of the Confederation. The Con 
federation was never intended to be a union of only 
thirteen States. Before the cession of their west 
ern claims it seemed to be inevitable that some of 
the States should be broken up into several units. 
At the very time that the formation of the Confed 
eration was under discussion Vermont issued a de 
claration of independence from New York and New 
Hampshire, with the expectation of being admitted 
into the Union. It was impolitic to recognize the 
appeal at that time, but it seems to have been gen 
erally understood that sooner or later Vermont 
would come in as a full-fledged State. 

It might have been a revolutionary suggestion 
by Maryland, when the cession of western lands 
was under discussion, that Congress should have 
sole power to fix the western boundaries of the 
States, but her further proposal was not even re 
garded as radical, that Congress should "layout 
the land beyond the boundaries so ascertained into 
separate and independent states." It seems to 
have been taken as a matter of course in the proce 
dure of Congress and was accepted by the States. 
But the idea was one thing; its carrying out was 
quite another. Here was a great extent of western 
territory which would be valuable only as it could 


be sold to prospective settlers. One of the first 
things these settlers would demand was protection 
protection against the Indians, possibly also 
against the British and the Spanish, and protection 
in their ordinary civil life. The former was a de 
tail of military organization and was in due time 
provided by the establishment of military forts 
and garrisons; the latter was the problem which 
Jefferson's committee was attempting to solve. 

The Ordinance of 1784 disregarded the natural 
physical features of the western country and, by 
degrees of latitude and meridians of longitude, ar 
bitrarily divided the public domain into rectangu 
lar districts, to the first of which the following 
names were applied: Sylvania, Michigania, Cher- 
ronesus, Assenisipia, Mesopotamia, Illinoia, Sara 
toga, Washington, Polypotamia, Pelisipia. The 
amusement which this absurd and thoroughly Jef- 
fersonian nomenclature is bound to cause ought not 
to detract from the really important features of the 
Ordinance. In each of the districts into which the 
country was divided the settlers might be author 
ized by Congress, for the purpose of establishing a 
temporary government, to adopt the constitution 
and laws of any one of the original States. When 
any such area should have twenty thousand free 


inhabitants it might receive authority from Con 
gress to establish a permanent constitution and 
government and should be entitled to a representa 
tive in Congress with the right of debating but not 
of voting. And finally, when the inhabitants of 
any one of these districts should equal in number 
those of the least populous of the thirteen original 
States, their delegates should be admitted into 
Congress on an equal footing. 

Jefferson's ordinance, though adopted, was never 
put into operation. Various explanations have 
been offered for this failure to give it a fair trial. 
It has been said that Jefferson himself was to blame. 
In the original draft of his ordinance Jefferson had 
provided for the abolition of slavery in the new 
States after the year 1800, and when Congress re 
fused to accept this clause Jefferson, in a manner 
quite characteristic, seemed to lose all interest in 
the plan. There were, however, other objections, 
for there were those who felt that it was somewhat 
indefinite to promise admission into the Confedera 
tion of certain sections of the country as soon as 
their population should equal in number that of the 
least populous of the original States. If the orig 
inal States should increase in population to any 
extent, the new States might never be admitted. 


But on the other hand, if from any cause the popu 
lation of one of the smaller States should suddenly 
decrease, might not the resulting influx of new 
States prove dangerous? 

But the real reason why the ordinance remained 
a dead letter was that, while it fixed the limits with 
in which local governments might act, it left the 
creation of those governments wholly to the future. 
At Vincennes, for example, the ordinance made no 
change in the political habits of the people. " The 
local government bowled along merrily under this 
system. There was the greatest abundance of 
government, for the more the United States neg 
lected them the more authority their officials as 
sumed." 1 Nor could the ordinance operate until 
settlers became numerous. It was partly, indeed, 
to hasten settlement that the Ordinance of 1785 for 
the survey and sale of the public lands was passed. 2 

In the meantime efforts were being made by 
Congress to improve the unsatisfactory ordinance 
for the government of the West. Committees were 

1 Jacob Piat Dunn, Jr., Indiana: A Redemption from Slavery, 

2 Although the machinery was set in motion, by the appoint 
ment of men and the beginning of work, it was not until 1789 that 
the survey of the first seven ranges of townships was completed 
and the land offered for sale. 


appointed, reports were made, and at intervals of 
weeks or months the subject was considered. 
Some amendments were actually adopted, but 
Congress, notoriously inefficient, hesitated to un 
dertake a fundamental revision of the ordinance. 
Then, suddenly, in July, 1787, after a brief period 
of adjournment, Congress took up this subject and 
within a week adopted the now famous Ordinance 
of 1787. 

The stimulus which aroused Congress to activity 
seems to have come from the Ohio Company. 
From the very beginning of the public domain 
there was a strong sentiment in favor of using west 
ern land for settlement by Revolutionary soldiers. 
Some of these lands had been offered as bounties to 
encourage enlistment, and after the war the project 
of soldiers' settlement in the West was vigorously 
agitated. The Ohio Company of Associates was 
made up of veterans of the Revolution, who were 
looking for homes in the West, and of other persons 
who were willing to support a worthy cause by a 
subscription which might turn out to be a good in 
vestment. The company wished to buy land in 
the West, and Congress had land which it wished to 
sell. Under such circumstances it was easy to 
strike a bargain. The land, as we have seen, was 


roughly estimated at one dollar an acre; but, as the 
company wished to purchase a million acres, it de 
manded and obtained wholesale rates of two-thirds 
of the usual price. It also obtained the privilege 
of paying at least a portion in certificates of Revo 
lutionary indebtedness, some of which were worth 
about twelve and a half cents on the dollar. Only 
a little calculation is required to show that a 
large quantity of land was therefore sold at about 
eight or nine cents an acre. It was in connection 
with this land sale that the Ordinance of 1787 
was adopted. 

The promoter of this enterprise undertaken by 
the Ohio Company was Manasseh Cutler of Ips 
wich, Massachusetts, a clergyman by profession 
who had served as a chaplain in the Revolution 
ary War. But his interests and activities ex 
tended far beyond the bounds of his profession. 
When the people of his parish were without prop 
er medical advice he applied himself to the study 
and practice of medicine. At about the same 
time he took up the study of botany, and be 
cause of his describing several hundred species of 
plants he is regarded as the pioneer botanist of 
New England. His next interest seems to have 
grown out of his Revolutionary associations, for it 


centered in this project for settlement of the West, 
and he was appointed the agent of the Ohio Com 
pany. It was in this capacity that he had come to 
New York and made the bargain with Congress 
which has just been described. Cutler must have 
been a good lobbyist, for Congress was not an effi 
cient body, and unremitting labor, as well as diplo 
macy, was required for so large and important 
a matter. Two things indicate his method of pro 
cedure. In the first place he found it politic to 
drop his own candidate for the governorship of the 
new territory and to endorse General Arthur St. 
Clair, then President of Congress. And in the 
next place he accepted the suggestion of Colonel 
William Duer for the formation of another com 
pany, known as the Scioto Associates, to purchase 
five million acres of land on similar terms, "but 
that it should be kept a profound secret." It was 
not an accident that Colonel Duer was Secretary 
of the Board of the Treasury through whom these 
purchases were made, nor that associated with him 
in this speculation were " a number of the principal 
characters in the city." These land deals were 
completed afterwards, but there is little doubt that 
there was a direct connection between them and 
the adoption of the ordinance of government. 


The Ordinance of 1787 was so successful in its 
working and its renown became so great that claims 
of authorship, even for separate articles, have been 
filed in the name of almost every person who had 
the slightest excuse for being considered. Thou 
sands of pages have been written in eulogy and in 
dispute, to the helpful clearing up of some points 
and to the obscuring of others. But the author 
ship of this or of that clause is of much less impor 
tance than the scope of the document as a working 
plan of government. As such the Ordinance of 
1787 owes much to Jefferson's Ordinance of 1784. 
Under the new ordinance a governor and three 
judges were to be appointed who, along with their 
other functions, were to select such laws as they 
thought best from the statute books of all the 
States. The second stage in self-government 
would be reached when the population contained 
five thousand free men of age; then the people were 
to have a representative legislature with the usual 
privilege of making their own laws. Provision was 
made for dividing the whole region northwest of 
the Ohio River into three or four or five districts 
and the final stage of government was reached 
when any one of these districts had sixty thousand 
free inhabitants, for it might then establish its 


own constitution and government and be admit 
ted into the Union on an equal footing with the 
original States. 

The last-named provision for admission into the 
Union, being in the nature of a promise for the fu 
ture, was not included in the body of the document 
providing for the government, but was contained 
in certain "articles of compact, between the orig 
inal States and the people and States in the said 
territory, [which should] forever remain unalter 
able, unless by common consent." These articles 
of compact were in general similar to the bills of 
rights in State Constitutions; but one of them 
found no parallel in any State Constitution. Ar 
ticle VI reads: "There shall be neither slavery 
nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, 
otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, where 
of the party shall have been duly convicted." This 
has been hailed as a f arsighted, humanitarian meas 
ure, and it is quite true that many of the leading 
men, in the South as well as in the North, were 
looking forward to the time when slavery would 
be abolished. But the motives predominating at 
the time were probably more nearly represented 
by Grayson, who wrote to James Monroe, three 
weeks after the ordinance was passed: "The 


clause respecting slavery was agreed to by the 
southern members for the purpose of preventing 
tobacco and indigo from being made on the north 
west side of the Ohio, as well as for several other 
political reasons." 

It is over one hundred and forty years since 
the Ordinance of 1787 was adopted, during which 
period more than thirty territories of the United 
States have been organized, and there has never 
been a time when one or more territories were not 
under Congressional supervision, so that the proc 
ess of legislative control has been continuous. 
Changes have been made from time to time hi or 
der to adapt the territorial government to changed 
conditions, but for fifty years the Ordinance of 
1787 actually remained in operation, and even 
twenty years later it was specifically referred to by 
statute. The principles of territorial government 
today are identical with those of 1787, and those 
principles comprise the largest measure of local 
self-government compatible with national control, 
a gradual extension of self-government to the 
people of a territory, and finally complete state 
hood and admission into the Union on a footing of 
equality with the other States. 

In 1825, when the military occupation of Oregon 


was suggested in Congress, Senator Dickerson 
of New Jersey objected, saying, "We have not 
adopted a system of colonization and it is to be 
hoped we never shall." Yet that is just what 
America has always had. Not only were the 
first settlers on the Atlantic coast colonists from 
Europe; but the men who went to the frontier were 
also colonists from the Atlantic seaboard. And 
the men who settled the States in the West were 
colonists from the older communities. The Amer 
icans had so recently asserted their independence 
that they regarded the name of colony as not 
merely indicating dependence but as implying 
something of inferiority and even of reproach. 
And when the American colonial system was being 
formulated in 1783-87 the word "Colony" was not 
used. The country under consideration was the 
region west of the Alleghany Mountains and in 
particular the territory north and west of the Ohio 
River and, being so referred to in the documents, 
the word "Territory" became the term applied to 
all the colonies. 

The Northwest Territory increased so rapidly in 
population that in 1800 it was divided into two 
districts, and in 1802 the eastern part was admitted 
into the Union as the State of Ohio. The rest of 


the territory was divided in 1805 and again in 1809; 
Indiana was admitted as a State in 1816 and Illi 
nois in 1818. So the process has gone on. There 
were thirteen original States and six more have be 
come members of the Union without having been 
through the status of territories, making nineteen 
in all; while twenty-nine States have developed 
from the colonial stage. The incorporation of the 
colonies into the Union is not merely a political 
fact; the inhabitants of the colonies become an 
integral part of the parent nation and in turn be 
come the progenitors of new colonies. If such a 
process be long continued, the colonies will eventu 
ally outnumber the parent States, and the colonists 
will outnumber the citizens of the original States 
and will themselves become the nation. Such has 
been the history of the United States and its people. 
By 1850, indeed, one-half of the population of the 
United States was living west of the Alleghany 
Mountains, and at the present time approximately 
seventy per cent are to be found in the West. 

The importance of the Ordinance of 1787 was 
hardly overstated by Webster in his famous debate 
with Hayne when he said: "We are accustomed 
... to praise the lawgivers of antiquity ; we help 
to perpetuate the fame of Solon and Lycurgus; 


but I doubt whether one single law of any law 
giver, ancient or modern, has produced effects 
of more distinct, marked and lasting character 
than the Ordinance of 1787." While improved 
means of communication and many other material 
ties have served to hold the States of the Union to 
gether, the political bond was supplied by the 
Ordinance of 1787, which inaugurated the American 
colonial system. 



JOHN FISKE summed up the prevailing impression 
of the government of the Confederation in the title 
to his volume, The Critical Period of American 
History. "The period of five years," says Fiske, 
"following the peace of 1783 was the most critical 
moment in all the history of the American people. 
The dangers from which we were saved in 1788 
were even greater than were the dangers from 
which we were saved in 1865." Perhaps the plight 
of the Confederation was not so desperate as he 
would have us believe, but it was desperate enough. 
Two incidents occurring between the signing of the 
preliminary terms of peace and the definitive treaty 
reveal the danger in which the country stood. The 
main body of continental troops made up of mili 
tiamen and short-term volunteers always prone 
to mutinous conduct was collected at Newburg 
on the Hudson, watching the British in New York. 

6 81 


Word might come at any day that the treaty had 
been signed, and the army did not wish to be dis 
banded until certain matters had been settled 
primarily the question of their pay. The officers 
had been promised half -pay for life, but nothing defi 
nite had been done toward carrying out the prom 
ise. The soldiers had no such hope to encourage 
them, and their pay was sadly in arrears. In De 
cember, 1782, the officers at Newburg drew up an 
address in behalf of themselves and their men and 
sent it to Congress. Therein they made the threat, 
thinly veiled, of taking matters into their own hands 
unless their grievances were redressed. 

There is reason to suppose that back of this 
movement or at least in sympathy with it 
were some of the strongest men in civil as in mili 
tary life, who, while not fomenting insurrection, 
were willing to bring pressure to bear on Congress 
and the States. Congress was unable or unwilling 
to act, and in March, 1783, a second paper, this 
time anonymous, was circulated urging the men 
not to disband until the question of pay had been 
settled and recommending a meeting of officers on 
the following day. If Washington's influence was 
not counted upon, it was at least hoped that he 
would not interfere; but as soon as he learned of 


what had been done he issued general orders calling 
for a meeting of officers on a later day, thus super 
seding the irregular meeting that had been sug 
gested. On the day appointed the Commander- 
in-Chief appeared and spoke with so much warmth 
and feeling that his "little address . . . drew 
tears from many of the officers." He inveighed 
against the unsigned paper and against the meth 
ods that were talked of, for they would mean the 
disgrace of the army, and he appealed to the patri 
otism of the officers, promising his best efforts in 
their behalf. The effect was so strong that, when 
Washington withdrew, resolutions were adopted 
unanimously expressing their loyalty and their 
faith in the justice of Congress and denouncing the 
anonymous circular. 

The general apprehension was not diminished 
by another incident in June. Some eighty troops 
of the Pennsylvania line in camp at Lancaster 
marched to Philadelphia and drew up before the 
State House, where Congress was sitting. Their 
purpose was to demand better treatment and the 
payment of what was owed to them. So far it 
was an orderly demonstration, although not in 
keeping with military regulations; in fact the men 
had broken away from camp under the lead of 


noncommissioned officers. But when they had been 
stimulated by drink the disorder became serious. 
The humiliating feature of the situation was that 
Congress could do nothing, even in self-protection. 
They appealed to the Pennsylvania authorities 
and, when assistance was refused, the members of 
Congress in alarm fled in the night and three days 
later gathered in the college building in Princeton. 
Congress became the butt of many jokes, but 
men could not hide the chagrin they felt that their 
Government was so weak. The feeling deep 
ened into shame when the helplessness of Congress 
was displayed before the world. Weeks and even 
months passed before a quorum could be obtained 
to ratify the treaty recognizing the independence 
of the United States and establishing peace. Even 
after the treaty was supposed to be in force the 
States disregarded its provisions and Congress 
could do nothing more than utter ineffective pro 
tests. But, most humiliating of all, the British 
maintained their military posts within the north 
western territory ceded to the United States, and 
Congress could only request them to retire. The 
Americans' pride was hurt and their pockets were 
touched as well, for an important issue at stake was 
the control of the lucrative fur trade. So resentment 


grew into anger; but the British held on, and the 
United States was powerless to make them with 
draw. To make matters worse, the Confederation, 
for want of power to levy taxes, was facing bank 
ruptcy, and Congress was unable to devise ways 
and means to avert a crisis. 

The Second Continental Congress had come into 
existence in 1775. It was made up of delegations 
from the various colonies, appointed in more or less 
irregular ways, and had no more authority than it 
might assume and the various colonies were willing 
to concede; yet it was the central body under which 
the Revolution had been inaugurated and carried 
through to a successful conclusion. Had this Con 
gress grappled firmly with the financial problem 
and forced through a system of direct taxation, the 
subsequent woes of the Confederation might have 
been mitigated and perhaps averted. In their en 
thusiasm over the Declaration of Independence the 
people by whom is meant the articulate class 
consisting largely of the governing and commercial 
elements would probably have accepted such a 
usurpation of authority. But with their lack of ex 
perience it is not surprising that the delegates to 
Congress did not appreciate the necessity of such 
radical action and so were unwilling to take the 


responsibility for it. They counted upon the good 
will and support of their constituents, which sim 
mered down to a reliance upon voluntary grants 
from the States in response to appeals from Con 
gress. These desultory grants proved to be so un 
satisfactory that, in 1781, even before the Articles 
of Confederation had been ratified, Congress asked 
for a grant of additional power to levy a duty of 
five per cent ad valorem upon all goods imported 
into the United States, the revenue from which 
was to be applied to the discharge of the principal 
and interest on debts "contracted . . . for sup 
porting the present war." Twelve States agreed, 
but Rhode Island, after some hesitation, finally 
rejected the measure in November, 1782. 

The Articles of Confederation authorized a sys 
tem of requisitions apportioned among the " several 
States in proportion to the value of all land within 
each State." But, as there was no power vested in 
Congress to force the States to comply, the situa 
tion was in no way improved when the Articles were 
ratified and put into operation. In fact, matters 
grew worse as Congress itself steadily lost ground 
in popular estimation, until it had become little 
better than a laughing-stock, and with the ending 
of the war its requests were more honored in the 


breach than in the observance. In 1782 Congress 
asked for $8,000,000 and the following year for $2,- 
000,000 more, but by the end of 1783 less than 
$1,500,000 had been paid in. 

In the same year, 1783, Congress made another 
attempt to remedy the financial situation by pro 
posing the so-called Revenue Amendment, accord 
ing to which a specific duty was to be laid upon 
certain articles and a general duty of five per cent 
ad valorem upon all other goods, to be in operation 
for twenty-five years. In addition to this it was 
proposed that for the same period of time $1,500,- 
000 annually should be raised by requisitions, and 
the definite amount for each State was specified un 
til "the rule of the Confederation" could be carried 
into practice. It was then proposed that the ar 
ticle providing for the proportion of requisitions 
should be changed so as to be based not upon land 
values but upon population, in estimating which 
slaves should be counted at three-fifths of their 
number. In the course of three years thereafter 
only two States accepted the proposals in full, 
seven agreed to them in part, and four failed to act 
at all. Congress in despair then made a further 
representation to the States upon the critical con 
dition of the finances and accompanied this with 


an urgent appeal, which resulted in all the States 
except New York agreeing to the proposed impost. 
But the refusal of one State was sufficient to block 
the whole measure, and there was no further hope 
for a treasury that was practically bankrupt. In 
five years Congress had received less than two and 
one-half million dollars from requisitions, and for 
the fourteen months ending January 1, 1786, the 
income was at the rate of less than $375,000 a year, 
which was not enough, as a committee of Congress 
reported, "for the bare maintenance of the Federal 
Government on the most economical establishment 
and in time of profound peace." In fact, the in 
come was not sufficient even to meet the interest 
on the foreign debt. 

In the absence of other means of obtaining funds 
Congress had resorted early to the unfortunate ex 
pedient of issuing paper money based solely on the 
good faith of the States to redeem it. This fiat 
money held its value for some little time; then it 
began to shrink and, once started on the downward 
path, its fall was rapid. Congress tried to meet 
the emergency by issuing paper in increasing quan 
tities until the inevitable happened: the paper 
money ceased to have any value and practically 
disappeared from circulation. Jefferson said that 


by the end of 1781 one thousand dollars of Conti 
nental scrip was worth about one dollar in specie. 

The States had already issued paper money of 
their own, and their experience ought to have 
taught them a lesson, but with the coming of hard 
times after the war, they once more proposed by 
issuing paper to relieve the "scarcity of money" 
which was commonly supposed to be one of the 
principal evils of the day. In 1785 and 1786 paper 
money parties appeared in almost all the States. 
In some of these the conservative element was 
strong enough to prevent action, but in others the 
movement had to run its fatal course. The futility 
of what they were doing should have been revealed 
to all concerned by proposals seriously made that 
the paper money which was issued should depre 
ciate at a regular rate each year until it should 
finally disappear. 

The experience of Rhode Island is not to be re 
garded as typical of what was happening through 
out the country but is, indeed, rather to be con 
sidered as exceptional. Yet it attracted wide 
spread attention and revealed to anxious observers 
the dangers to which the country was subject if the 
existing condition of affairs were allowed to con 
tinue. The machinery of the State Government 


was captured by the paper-money party in the 
spring election of 1786. The results were disap 
pointing to the adherents of the paper-money cause, 
for when the money was issued depreciation began 
at once, and those who tried to pay their bills dis 
covered that a heavy discount was demanded. 
In response to indignant demands the legislature 
of Rhode Island passed an act to force the accept 
ance of paper money under penalty and thereupon 
tradesmen refused to make any sales at all some 
closed their shops, and others tried to carry on busi 
ness by exchange of wares. The farmers then re 
taliated by refusing to sell their produce to the 
shopkeepers, and general confusion and acute dis 
tress followed. It was mainly a quarrel between 
the farmers and the merchants, but it easily grew 
into a division between town and country, and 
there followed a whole series of town meetings and 
county conventions. The old line of cleavage was 
fairly well represented by the excommunication of 
a member of St. John's Episcopal Church of Provi 
dence for tendering bank notes, and the expulsion 
of a member of the Society of the Cincinnati for a 
similar cause. 

The contest culminated in the case of Trevett vs. 
Weeden, 1786, which is memorable in the judicial 


annals of the United States. The legislature, 
not being satisfied with ordinary methods of en 
forcement, had provided for the summary trial 
of offenders without a jury before a court whose 
judges were removable by the Assembly and were 
therefore supposedly subservient to its wishes. In 
the case in question the Superior Court boldly de 
clared the enforcing act to be unconstitutional, and 
for their contumacious behavior the judges were 
summoned before the legislature. They escaped 
punishment, but only one of them was reelected 
to office. 

Meanwhile disorders of a more serious sort, 
which startled the whole country, occurred in 
Massachusetts. It is doubtful if a satisfactory ex 
planation ever will be found, at least one which will 
be universally accepted, as to the causes and origin 
of Shays' Rebellion in 1786. Some historians 
maintain that the uprising resulted primarily from 
a scarcity of money, from a shortage in the circu 
lating medium; that, while the eastern counties 
were keeping up their foreign trade sufficiently at 
least to bring in enough metallic currency to relieve 
the stringency and could also use various forms of 
credit, the western counties had no such remedy. 
Others are inclined to think that the difficulties of 


the farmers in western Massachusetts were caused 
largely by the return to normal conditions after the 
extraordinarily good times between 1776 and 1780, 
and that it was the discomfort attending the proc 
ess that drove them to revolt. Another explana 
tion reminds one of present-day charges against un 
due influence of high financial circles, when it is in 
sinuated and even directly charged that the rebel 
lion was fostered by conservative interests who 
were trying to create a public opinion in favor of a 
more strongly organized government. 

Whatever other causes there may have been, the 
immediate source of trouble was the enforced pay 
ment of indebtedness, which to a large extent had 
been allowed to remain in abeyance during the war. 
This postponement of settlement had not been 
merely for humanitarian reasons; it would have 
been the height of folly to collect when the currency 
was greatly depreciated. But conditions were sup 
posed to have been restored to normal with the 
cessation of hostilities, and creditors were generally 
inclined to demand payment. These demands, co 
inciding with the heavy taxes, drove the people 
of western Massachusetts into revolt. Feeling 
ran high against lawyers who prosecuted suits for 
creditors, and this antagonism was easily transferred 


to the courts in which the suits were brought. 
The rebellion in Massachusetts accordingly took 
the form of a demonstration against the courts. 
A paper was carried from town to town in the 
County of Worcester, in which the signers promised 
to do their utmost "to prevent the sitting of the 
Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the county, or 
of any other court that should attempt to take 
property by distress." 

The Massachusetts Legislature adjourned in 
July, 1786, without remedying the trouble and also 
without authorizing an issue of paper money which 
the hard-pressed debtors were demanding. In the 
months following mobs prevented the courts from 
sitting in various towns. A special session of the 
legislature was then called by the Governor but, 
when that special session had adjourned on the 
18th of November, it might just as well have never 
met. It had attempted to remedy various griev 
ances and had made concessions to the malcontents, 
but it had also passed measures to strengthen the 
hands of the Governor. This only seemed to in 
flame the rioters, and the disorders increased. 
After the lower courts a move was made against 
the State Supreme Court, and plans were laid for a 
concerted movement against the cities in the eastern 


part of the State. Civil war seemed imminent. 
The insurgents were led by Daniel Shays, an officer 
in the army of the Revolution, and the party of law 
and order was represented by Governor James 
Bowdoin, who raised some four thousand troops 
and placed them under the command of General 
Benjamin Lincoln. 

The time of year was unfortunate for the in 
surgents, especially as December was unusually 
cold and there was a heavy snowfall. Shays could 
not provide stores and equipment and was unable 
to maintain discipline. A threatened attack on 
Cambridge came to naught for, when preparations 
were made to protect the city, the rebels began a 
disorderly retreat, and in the intense cold and deep 
snow they suffered severely, and many died from 
exposure. The center of interest then shifted to 
Springfield, where the insurgents were attempting 
to seize the United States arsenal. The local mil 
itia had already repelled the first attacks, and the 
appearance of General Lincoln with his troops com 
pleted the demoralization of Shays' army. The in 
surgents retreated, but Lincoln pursued relentlessly 
and broke them up into small bands, which then 
wandered about the country preying upon the un 
fortunate inhabitants. When spring came, most 


of them had been subdued or had taken refuge in 
the neighboring States. 

Shays' Rebellion was fairly easily suppressed, 
even though it required the shedding of some blood. 
But it was the possibility of further outbreaks that 
destroyed men's peace of mind. There were sim 
ilar disturbances in other States; and there the 
Massachusetts insurgents found sympathy, sup 
port, and finally a refuge. When the worst was 
over, and Governor Bowdoin applied to the neigh 
boring States for help in capturing the last of the 
refugees, Rhode Island and Vermont failed to re 
spond to the extent that might have been expected 
of them. The danger, therefore, of the insurrec 
tion spreading was a cause of deep concern. This 
feeling was increased by the impotence of Congress. 
The Government had sufficient excuse for inter 
vention after the attack upon the national arsenal 
in Springfield. Congress, indeed, began to raise 
troops but did not dare to admit its purpose and 
offered as a pretext an expedition against the 
Northwestern Indians. The rebellion was over be 
fore any assistance could be given. The ineffi 
ciency of Congress and its lack of influence were 
evident. Like the disorders in Rhode Island, 
Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts helped to bring 


about a reaction and strengthened the conservative 
movement for reform. 

These untoward happenings, however, were only 
symptoms : the causes of the trouble lay far deeper. 
This fact was recognized even in Rhode Island, for 
at least one of the conventions had passed resolu 
tions declaring that, in considering the condition of 
the whole country, what particularly concerned 
them was the condition of trade. Paradoxical as it 
may seem, the trade and commerce of the country 
were already on the upward grade and prosperity 
was actually returning. But prosperity is usually a 
process of slow growth and is seldom recognized by 
the community at large until it is well established. 
Farsighted men forecast the coming of good times 
in advance of the rest of the community, and pros 
per accordingly. The majority of the people know 
that prosperity has come only when it is unmistak 
ably present, and some are not aware of it until it 
has begun to go. If that be true in our day, much 
more was it true in the eighteenth century, when 
means of communication were so poor that it took 
days for a message to go from Boston to New York 
and weeks for news to get from Boston to Charles 
ton. It was a period of adjustment, and as we look 
back after the event we can see that the American 


people were adapting themselves with remarkable 
skill to the new conditions. But that was not so 
evident to the men who were feeling the pinch of 
hard times, and when all the attendant circum 
stances, some of which have been described, are 
taken into account, it is not surprising that commer 
cial depression should be one of the strongest influ 
ences in, and the immediate occasion of, bringing 
men to the point of willingness to attempt some 
radical changes. 

The fact needs to be reiterated that the people 
of the United States were largely dependent upon 
agriculture and other forms of extractive indus 
try, and that markets for the disposal of their 
goods were an absolute necessity. Some of the 
States, especially New England and the Middle 
States, were interested in the carrying trade, but 
all were concerned in obtaining markets. On ac 
count of jealousy interstate trade continued a pre 
carious existence and by no means sufficed to dis 
pose of the surplus products, so that foreign mar 
kets were necessary. The people were especially 
concerned for the establishment of the old trade 
with the West India Islands, which had been the 
mainstay of their prosperity in colonial times; and 
after the British Government, in 1783, restricted 


that trade to British vessels, many people in the 
United States were attributing hard times to Brit 
ish malignancy. The only action which seemed 
possible was to force Great Britain in particular, 
but other foreign countries as well, to make such 
trade agreements as the prosperity of the United 
States demanded. The only hope seemed to lie in 
a commercial policy of reprisal which would force 
other countries to open their markets to American 
goods. Retaliation was the dominating idea in the 
foreign policy of the time. So in 1784 Congress 
made a new recommendation to the States, prefac 
ing it with an assertion of the importance of com 
merce, saying: "The fortune of every Citizen is in 
terested in the success thereof; for it is the constant 
source of wealth and incentive to industry; and the 
value of our produce and our land must ever rise or 
fall in proportion to the prosperous or adverse state 
of trade." 

And after declaring that Great Britain had 
"adopted regulations destructive of our commerce 
with her West India Islands," it was further as 
serted: "Unless the United States in Congress as 
sembled shall be vested with powers competent to 
the protection of commerce, they can never com 
mand reciprocal advantages in trade." It was 


therefore proposed to give to Congress for fifteen 
years the power to prohibit the importation or ex 
portation of goods at American ports except in 
vessels owned by the people of the United States 
or by the subjects of foreign governments having 
treaties of commerce with the United States. This 
was simply a request for authorization to adopt 
navigation acts. But the individual States were 
too much concerned with their own interests and 
did not or would not appreciate the rights of the 
other States or the interests of the Union as a 
whole. And so the commercial amendment of 
1784 suffered the fate of all other amendments pro 
posed to the Articles of Confederation. In fact 
only two States accepted it. 

It usually happens that some minor occurrence, 
almost unnoticed at the time, leads directly to the 
most important consequences. And an incident 
in domestic affairs started the chain of events in the 
United States that ended in the reform of the Fed 
eral Government. The rivalry and jealousy among 
the States had brought matters to such a pass that 
either Congress must be vested with adequate 
powers or the Confederation must collapse. But 
the Articles of Confederation provided no remedy, 
and it had been found that amendments to that 


instrument could not be obtained. It was neces 
sary, therefore, to proceed in some extra-legal fash 
ion. The Articles of Confederation specifically for 
bade treaties or alliances between the States unless 
approved by Congress . Yet Virginia and Maryland, 
in 1785, had come to a working agreement regard 
ing the use of the Potomac River, which was the 
boundary line between them. Commissioners rep 
resenting both parties had met at Alexandria and 
soon adjourned to Mount Vernon, where they not 
only reached an amicable settlement of the imme 
diate questions before them but also discussed the 
larger subjects of duties and commercial matters in 
general. When the Maryland legislature came to 
act on the report, it proposed that Pennsylvania 
and Delaware should be invited to join with 
them in formulating a common commercial policy. 
Virginia then went one step farther and invited 
all the other States to send commissioners to a 
general trade convention and later announced 
Annapolis as the place of meeting and set the time 
for September, 1786. 

This action was unconstitutional and was so 
recognized, for James Madison notes that "from 
the Legislative Journals of Virginia it appears, 
that a vote to apply for a sanction of Congress was 


followed by a vote against a communication of the 
Compact to Congress," and he mentions other sim 
ilar violations of the central authority. That this 
did not attract more attention was probably due to 
the public interest being absorbed just at that 
time by the paper money agitation. Then, too, 
the men concerned seem to have been willing to 
avoid publicity. Their purposes are well brought 
out in a letter of Monsieur Louis Otto, French 
Charge d' Affaires, written on October 10, 1786, to 
the Comte de Vergennes, Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, though their motives may be somewhat 

Although there are no nobles in America, there is a 
class of men denominated "gentlemen," who, by rea 
son of their wealth, their talents, their education, 
their families, or the offices they hold, aspire to a pre 
eminence which the people refuse to grant them; and, 
although many of these men have betrayed the inter 
ests of their order to gain popularity, there reigns 
among them a connection so much the more intimate 
as they almost all of them dread the efforts of the 
people to despoil them of their possessions, and, more 
over, they are creditors, and therefore interested in 
strengthening the government, and watching over the 
execution of the laws. 

These men generally pay very heavy taxes, while the 
small proprietors escape the vigilance of the collectors. 


The majority of them being merchants, it is for their 
interest to establish the credit of the United States in 
Europe on a solid foundation by the exact payment 
of debts, and to grant to congress powers extensive 
enough to compel the people to contribute for this pur 
pose. The attempt, my lord, has been vain, by pam 
phlets and other publications, to spread notions of jus 
tice and integrity, and to deprive the people of a free 
dom which they have so misused. By proposing a 
new organization of the federal government all minds 
would have been revolted ; circumstances ruinous to the 
commerce of America have happily arisen to furnish the 
reformers with a pretext for introducing innovations. 

They represented to the people that the American 
name had become opprobrious among all the nations 
of Europe; that the flag of the United States was every 
where exposed to insults and annoyance; the husband 
man, no longer able to export his produce freely, would 
soon be reduced to want; it was high time to retaliate, 
and to convince foreign powers that the United States 
would not with impunity suffer such a violation of the 
freedom of trade, but that strong measures could be 
taken only with the consent of the thirteen states, and 
that congress, not having the necessary powers, it was 
essential to form a general assembly instructed to pre 
sent to congress the plan for its adoption, and to point 
out the means of carrying it into execution. 

The people, generally discontented with the obsta 
cles in the way of commerce, and scarcely suspecting 
the secret motives of their opponents, ardently em 
braced this measure, and appointed commissioners, 
who were to assemble at Annapolis in the beginning 
of September. 


The authors of this proposition had no hope, nor even 
desire, to see the success of this assembly of commis 
sioners, which was only intended to prepare a question 
much more important than that of commerce. The 
measures were so well taken that at the end of Septem 
ber no more than five states were represented at An 
napolis, and the commissioners from the northern 
states tarried several days at New York in order to 
retard their arrival. 

The states which assembled, after having waited 
nearly three weeks, separated under the pretext that 
they were not in sufficient numbers to enter on busi 
ness, and, to justify this dissolution, they addressed to 
the different legislatures and to congress a report, the 
translation of which I have the honor to enclose 
to you. 1 

Among these "men denominated 'gentlemen" 5 
to whom the French Charge d' Affaires alludes, was 
James Madison of Virginia. He was one of the 
younger men, unfitted by temperament and phy 
sique to be a soldier, who yet had found his oppor 
tunity in the Revolution. Graduating in 1771 
from Princeton, where tradition tells of the part he 
took in patriotic demonstrations on the campus 
characteristic of students then as now he had 
thrown himself heart and soul into the American 
cause. He was a member of the convention to 

1 Quoted by Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Conttitu- 
tion, vol. ii, Appendix, pp. 899-400. 


frame the first State Constitution for Virginia in 
1776, and from that time on, because of his ability, 
he was an important figure in the political history 
of his State and of his country. He was largely 
responsible for bringing about the conference be 
tween Virginia and Maryland and for the subse 
quent steps resulting in the trade convention at 
Annapolis. And yet Madison seldom took a con 
spicuous part, preferring to remain in the back 
ground and to allow others to appear as the leaders. 
When the Annapolis Convention assembled, for ex 
ample, he suffered Alexander Hamilton of New 
York to play the leading r61e. 

Hamilton was then approaching thirty years of 
age and was one of the ablest men in the United 
States. Though his best work was done in later 
years, when he proved himself to be perhaps the 
most brilliant of American statesmen, with an ex 
traordinary genius for administrative organization, 
the part that he took in the affairs of this period 
was important. He was small and slight in person 
but with an expressive face, fair complexion, and 
cheeks of "almost feminine rosiness." The usual 
aspect of his countenance was thoughtful and even 
severe, but in conversation his face lighted up with 
a remarkably attractive smile. He carried himself 


erectly and with dignity, so that in spite of his 
small figure, when he entered a room "it was ap 
parent, from the respectful attention of the com 
pany, that he was a distinguished person." A con 
temporary, speaking of the opposite and almost 
irreconcilable traits of Hamilton's character, pro 
nounced a bust of him as giving a complete ex 
position of his character: "Draw a handkerchief 
around the mouth of the bust, and the remnant of 
the countenance represents fortitude and intrepid 
ity such as we have often seen in the plates of Ro 
man heroes. Veil in the same manner the face and 
leave the mouth and chin only discernible, and 
all this fortitude melts and vanishes into almost 
feminine softness." 

Hamilton was a leading spirit in the Annapolis 
Trade Convention and wrote the report that it 
adopted. Whether or not there is any truth in 
the assertion of the French charge that Hamilton 
and others thought it advisable to disguise their 
purposes, there is no doubt that the Annapolis 
Convention was an all-important step in the 
progress of reform, and its recommendation was 
the direct occasion of the calling of the great 
convention that framed the Constitution of the 
United States. 


The recommendation of the Annapolis delegates 
was in the form of a report to the legislatures of 
their respective States, in which they referred to 
the defects in the Federal Government and called 
for "a convention of deputies from the different 
states for the special purpose of entering into this 
investigation and digesting a Plan for supplying 
such defects." Philadelphia was suggested as the 
place of meeting, and the time was fixed for the 
second Monday in May of the next year. 

Several of the States acted promptly upon this 
recommendation and in February, 1787, Congress 
adopted a resolution accepting the proposal and 
calling the convention "for the sole and express 
purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation 
and reporting . . . such alterations ... as shall 
. . . render the Federal Constitution adequate to 
the exigencies of Government and the preservation 
of the Union." Before the time fixed for the meet 
ing of the Philadelphia Convention, or shortly after 
that date, all the States had appointed deputies 
with the exception of New Hampshire and Rhode 
Island. New Hampshire was favorably disposed 
toward the meeting but, owing to local conditions, 
failed to act before the Convention was well under 
way. Delegates, however, arrived in time to share 


in some of the most important proceedings. Rhode 
Island alone refused to take part, although a letter 
signed by some of the prominent men was sent to 
the Convention pledging their support. 



THE body of delegates which met in Philadelphia in 
1787 was the most important convention that ever 
sat in the United States. The Confederation was 
a failure, and if the new nation was to be justified 
in the eyes of the world, it must show itself capable 
of effective union. The members of the Convention 
realized the significance of the task before them, 
which was, as Madison said, "now to decide forever 
the fate of Republican government." Gouverneur 
Morris, with unwonted seriousness, declared : " The 
whole human race will be affected by the proceed 
ings of this Convention . ' ' James Wilson spoke with 
equal gravity : "After the lapse of six thousand years 
since the creation of the world America now presents 
the first instance of a people assembled to weigh 
deliberately and calmly and to decide leisurely and 
peaceably upon the form of government by which 
they will bind themselves and their posterity." 



Not all the men to whom this undertaking was 
entrusted, and who were taking themselves and 
their work so seriously, could pretend to social dis 
tinction, but practically all belonged to the upper 
ruling class. At the Indian Queen, a tavern on 
Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut, some 
of the delegates had a hall in which they lived by 
themselves. The meetings of the Convention were 
held in an upper room of the State House. The 
sessions were secret; sentries were placed at the 
door to keep away all intruders ; and the pavement 
of the street in front of the building was covered 
with loose earth so that the noises of passing traffic 
should not disturb this august assembly. It is not 
surprising that a tradition grew up about the Fed 
eral Convention which hedged it round with a sort 
of awe and reverence. Even Thomas Jefferson re 
ferred to it as "an assembly of demigods." If we 
can get away from the glamour which has been 
spread over the work of the Fathers of the Consti 
tution and understand that they were human be 
ings, even as we are, and influenced by the same 
motives as other men, it may be possible to ob 
tain a more faithful impression of what actually 
took place. 

Since representation in the Convention was to be 


by States, just as it had been in the Continental 
Congress, the presence of delegations from a ma 
jority of the States was necessary for organization. 
It is a commentary upon the times, upon the diffi 
culties of travel, and upon the leisurely habits of 
the people, that the meeting which had been called 
for the 14th of May could not begin its work for 
over ten days. The 25th of May was stormy, and 
only twenty-nine delegates were on hand when 
the Convention organized. The slender attendance 
can only partially be attributed to the weather, for 
in the following three months and a half of the Con 
vention, at which fifty-five members were present 
at one time or another, the average attendance was 
only slightly larger than that of the first day. In 
such a small body personality counted for much, in 
ways that the historian can only surmise. Many 
compromises of conflicting interests were reached 
by informal discussion outside of the formal ses 
sions. In these small gatherings individual char 
acter was often as decisive as weighty argument. 
George Washington was unanimously chosen as 
the presiding officer of the Convention. He sat on 
a raised platform, in a large, carved, high-backed 
chair, from which his commanding figure and dig 
nified bearing exerted a potent influence on the 


assembly, an influence enhanced by the formal cour 
tesy and stately intercourse of the times. Wash 
ington was the great man of his day and the mem 
bers not only respected and admired him; some of 
them were actually afraid of him. When he rose 
to his feet he was almost the Commander-in-Chief 
again. There is evidence to show that his support 
or disapproval was at times a decisive factor in the 
deliberations of the Convention. 

Virginia, which had taken a conspicuous part in 
the calling of the Convention, was looked to for 
leadership in the work that was to be done. James 
Madison, next to Washington the most important 
member of the Virginia delegation, was the very 
opposite of Washington in many respects small 
and slight in stature, inconspicuous in dress as in 
figure, modest and retiring, but with a quick, active 
mind and wide knowledge obtained both from ex 
perience in public affairs and from extensive read 
ing. Washington was the man of action ; Madison, 
the scholar in politics. Madison was the younger 
by nearly twenty years, but Washington admired 
him greatly and gave him the support of his in 
fluence a matter of no little consequence, for 
Madison was the leading expert worker of the Con 
vention in the business of framing the Constitution. 


Governor Edmund Randolph, with his tall figure, 
handsome face, and dignified manner, made an 
excellent impression in the position accorded to 
him of nominal leader of the Virginia delegation. 
Among others from the same State who should be 
noticed were the famous lawyers, George Wythe 
and George Mason. 

Among the deputies from Pennsylvania the fore 
most was James Wilson, the "Caledonian," who 
probably stood next in importance in the Conven 
tion to Madison and Washington. He had come 
to America as a young man just when the troubles 
with England were beginning and by sheer ability 
had attained a position of prominence. Several 
times a member of Congress, a signer of the Dec 
laration of Independence, he was now regarded as 
one of the ablest lawyers in the United States. A 
more brilliant member of the Pennsylvania delega 
tion, and one of the most brilliant of the Conven 
tion, was Gouverneur Morris, who shone by his 
cleverness and quick wit as well as by his wonder 
ful command of language. But Morris was ad 
mired more than he was trusted; and, while he sup 
ported the efforts for a strong government, his sup 
port was not always as great a help as might have 
been expected. A crippled arm and a wooden leg 


might detract from his personal appearance, but 
they could not subdue his spirit and audacity. 1 

There were other prominent members of the 
Pennsylvania delegation, but none of them took an 
important part in the Convention, not even the 
aged Benjamin Franklin, President of the State. 
At the age of eighty-one his powers were failing, 
and he was so feeble that his colleague Wilson read 
his speeches for him. His opinions were respected, 
but they do not seem to have carried much weight. 

Other noteworthy members of the Convention, 
though hardly in the first class, were the handsome 
and charming Rufus King of Massachusetts, one 
of the coming men of the country, and Nathaniel 

1 There is a story which illustrates admirably the audacity of 
Morris and the austere dignity of Washington. The story runs 
that Morris and several members of the Cabinet were spending 
an evening at the President's house in Philadelphia, where they 
were discussing the absorbing question of the hour, whatever it 
may have been. "The President," Morris is said to have related 
on the following day, "was standing with his arms behind him 
his usual position his back to the fire. I started up and spoke, 
stamping, as I walked up and down, with my wooden leg; and, as 
I was certain I had the best of the argument, as I finished I stalked 
up to the President, slapped him on the back, and said, 'Ain't I 
right, General?' The President did not speak, but the majesty 
of the American people was before me. Oh, his look! How I 
wished the floor would open and I could descend to the cellar! 
You know me," continued Mr. Morris, "and you know my eye 
would never quail before any other mortal." W. T. Read, Life 
and Correspondence of George Read (1870) p. 441. 


Gorham of the same State, who was President of 
Congress a man of good sense rather than of 
great ability, but one whose reputation was high 
and whose presence was a distinct asset to the Con 
vention. Then, too, there were the delegates from 
South Carolina: John Rutledge, the orator, Gen 
eral Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of Revolutionary 
fame, and his cousin, Charles Pinckney. The last 
named took a conspicuous part in the proceedings 
in Philadelphia but, so far as the outcome was con 
cerned, left his mark on the Constitution mainly in 
minor matters and details. 

The men who have been named were nearly all 
supporters of the plan for a centralized government. 
On the other side were William Paterson of New 
Jersey, who had been Attorney-General of his 
State for eleven years and who was respected for 
his knowledge and ability; John Dickinson of Dela 
ware, the author of the Farmer's Letters and chair 
man of the committee of Congress that had framed 
the Articles of Confederation able, scholarly, 
and sincere, but nervous, sensitive, and conscien 
tious to the verge of timidity whose refusal to 
sign the Declaration of Independence had cost him 
his popularity, though he was afterward returned 
to Congress and became president successively of 


Delaware and of Pennsylvania; Elbridge Gerry of 
Massachusetts, a successful merchant, prominent 
in politics, and greatly interested in questions of 
commerce and finance; and the Connecticut dele 
gates, forming an unusual trio, Dr. William Samuel 
Johnson, Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth. 
These men were fearful of establishing too strong a 
government and were at one time or another to be 
found in opposition to Madison and his supporters. 
They were not mere obstructionists, however, and 
while not constructive in the same way that Madi 
son and Wilson were, they must be given some 
credit for the form which the Constitution finally 
assumed. Their greatest service was in restraining 
the tendency of the majority to overrule the rights 
of States and in modifying the desires of individ 
uals for a government that would have been too 
strong to work well in practice. 

Alexander Hamilton of New York, as one of the 
ablest members of the Convention, was expected to 
take an important part, but he was out of touch 
with the views of the majority. He was aristo 
cratic rather than democratic and, however excel 
lent his ideas may have been, they were too radi 
cal for his fellow delegates and found but little sup 
port. He threw his strength hi favor of a strong 


government and was ready to aid the movement in 
whatever way he could. But within his own delega 
tion he was outvoted by Robert Yates and John 
Lansing, and before the sessions were half over he 
was deprived of a vote by the withdrawal of his 
colleagues. Thereupon, finding himself of little 
service, he went to New York and returned to 
Philadelphia only once or twice for a few days at 
a time, and finally to sign the completed document. 
Luther Martin of Maryland was an able lawyer 
and the Attorney-General of his State; but he was 
supposed to be allied with undesirable interests, 
and it was said that he had been sent to the Con 
vention for the purpose of opposing a strong gov 
ernment. He proved to be a tiresome speaker and 
his prosiness, when added to the suspicion attach 
ing to his motives, cost him much of the influence 
which he might otherwise have had. 

All in all, the delegates to the Federal Conven 
tion were a remarkable body of men. Most of them 
had played important parts in the drama of the 
Revolution; three-fourths of them had served in 
Congress, and practically all were persons of note 
hi their respective States and had held important 
public positions. They may not have been the 
"assembly of demigods" which Jefferson called 


them, for another contemporary insisted "that 
twenty assemblies of equal number might be col 
lected equally respectable both in point of ability, 
integrity, and patriotism." Perhaps it would be 
safer to regard the Convention as a fairly represen 
tative body, which was of a somewhat higher order 
than would be gathered together today, because 
the social conditions of those days tended to bring 
forward men of a better class, and because the 
seriousness of the crisis had called out leaders of 
the highest type. 

Two or three days were consumed in organizing 
the Convention electing officers, considering the 
delegates' credentials, and adopting rules of proce 
dure; and when these necessary preliminaries had 
been accomplished the main business was opened 
with the presentation by the Virginia delegation of 
a series of resolutions providing for radical changes 
in the machinery of the Confederation. The prin 
cipal features were the organization of a legislature 
of two houses proportional to population and with 
increased powers, the establishment of a separate 
executive, and the creation of an independent ju 
diciary. This was in reality providing for a new 
government and was probably quite beyond the 


ideas of most of the members of the Convention, 
who had come there under instructions and with 
the expectation of revising the Articles of Confed 
eration. But after the Virginia Plan had been the 
subject of discussion for two weeks so that the 
members had become a little more accustomed to 
its proposals, and after minor modifications had 
been made in the wording of the resolutions, the 
Convention was won over to its support. To 
check this drift toward radical change the opposi 
tion headed by New Jersey and Connecticut pre 
sented the so-called New Jersey Plan, which was in 
sharp contrast to the Virginia Resolutions, for it 
contemplated only a revision of the Articles of Con 
federation, but after a relatively short discussion, 
the Virginia Plan was adopted by a vote of seven 
States against four, with one State divided. 

The dividing line between the two parties or 
groups in the Convention had quickly manifested 
itself. It proved to be the same line that had di 
vided the Congress of the Confederation, the cleav 
age between the large States and the small States. 
The large States were in favor of representation in 
both houses of the legislature according to popula 
tion, while the small States were opposed to any 
change which would deprive them of their equal 


vote in Congress, and though outvoted, they were 
not ready to yield. The Virginia Plan, and subse 
quently the New Jersey Plan, had first been con 
sidered in committee of the whole, and the ques 
tion of "proportional representation," as it was 
then called, would accordingly come up again in 
formal session. Several weeks had been occupied 
by the proceedings, so that it was now near the end 
of June, and in general the discussions had been 
conducted with remarkably good temper. But it 
was evidently the calm before the storm. And the 
issue was finally joined when the question of repre 
sentation in the two houses again came before the 
Convention. The majority of the States on the 
29th of June once more voted in favor of propor 
tional representation in the lower house. But on 
the question of the upper house, owing to a pecu 
liar combination of circumstances the absence 
of one delegate and another's change of vote caus 
ing the position of their respective States to be re 
versed or nullified the vote on the 2d of July re 
sulted in a tie. This brought the proceedings of 
the Convention to a standstill. A committee of 
one member from each State was appointed to con 
sider the question, and, "that time might be given 
to the Committee, and to such as chose to attend 


to the celebration on the anniversary of Independ* 
ence, the Convention adjourned" over the Fourth. 
The committee was chosen by ballot, and its com 
position was a clear indication that the small-State 
men had won their fight, and that a compromise 
would be effected. 

It was during the debate upon this subject, when 
feeling was running high and when at times it 
seemed as if the Convention in default of any satis 
factory solution would permanently adjourn, that 
Franklin proposed that "prayers imploring the as 
sistance of Heaven ... be held in this Assembly 
every morning." Tradition relates that Hamilton 
opposed the motion. The members were evidently 
afraid of the impression which would be created 
outside, if it were suspected that there were dis 
sensions in the Convention, and the motion was not 
put to a vote. 

How far physical conditions may influence men 
in adopting any particular course of action it is 
impossible to say. But just when the discussion in 
the Convention reached a critical stage, just when 
the compromise presented by the committee was 
ready for adoption or rejection, the weather turned 
from unpleasantly hot to being comfortably cool. 
And, after some little time spent in the consideration 


of details, on the 16th of July, the great com 
promise of the Constitution was adopted. There 
was no other that compared with it in importance. 
Its most significant features were that in the upper 
house each State should have an equal vote and 
that in the lower house representation should be 
apportioned on the basis of population, while direct 
taxation should follow the same proportion. The 
further proviso that money bills should originate 
in the lower house and should not be amended in 
the upper house was regarded by some delegates as 
of considerable importance, though others did not 
think so, and eventually the restriction upon amend 
ment by the upper house was dropped. 

There has long been a prevailing belief that an 
essential feature of the great compromise was the 
counting of only three-fifths of the slaves in enu 
merating the population. This impression is quite 
erroneous. It was one of the details of the com 
promise, but it had been a feature of the revenue 
amendment of 1783, and it was generally accepted 
as a happy solution of the difficulty that slaves pos 
sessed the attributes both of persons and of prop 
erty. It had been included both in the amended 
Virginia Plan and in the New Jersey Plan; and 
when it was embodied in the compromise it was 


described as "the ratio recommended by Congress 
in their resolutions of April 18, 1783." A few 
months later, in explaining the matter to the 

Massachusetts convention, Rufus King said that, 


"This rule . . . was adopted because it was the 
language of all America." In reality the three- 
fifths rule was a mere incident in that part of the 
great compromise which declared that "represen 
tation should be proportioned according to direct 
taxation." As a further indication of the attitude 
of the Convention upon this point, an amendment 
to have the blacks counted equally with the whites 
was voted down by eight States against two. 

With the adoption of the great compromise a 
marked difference was noticeable in the attitude of 
the delegates. Those from the large States were 
deeply disappointed at the result and they asked 
for an adjournment to give them time to consider 
what they should do. The next morning, before 
the Convention met, they held a meeting to deter 
mine upon their course of action. They were ap 
parently afraid of taking the responsibility for 
breaking up the Convention, so they finally decided^ 
to let the proceedings go on and to see what might 
be the ultimate outcome. Rumors of these dis 
sensions had reached the ears of the public, and it 


may have been to quiet any misgivings that the 
following inspired item appeared in several local 
papers : " So great is the unanimity, we hear, that 
prevails in the Convention, upon all great federal 
subjects, that it has been proposed to call the room 
in which they assemble Unanimity Hall." 

On the other hand the effect of this great com 
promise upon the delegates from the small States 
was distinctly favorable. Having obtained equal 
representation in one branch of the legislature, they 
now proceeded with much greater willingness to 
consider the strengthening of the central govern 
ment. Many details were yet to be arranged, and 
sharp differences of opinion existed in connection 
with the executive as well as with the judiciary. 
But these difficulties were slight in comparison with 
those which they had already surmounted in the 
matter of representation. By the end of July the 
fifteen resolutions of the original Virginia Plan had 
been increased to twenty-three, with many en 
largements and amendments, and the Convention 
had gone as far as it could effectively in determin 
ing the general principles upon which the govern 
ment should be formed. There were too many 
members to work efficiently when it came to the ac 
tual framing of a constitution with all the inevitable 


details that were necessary in setting up a ma 
chinery of government. Accordingly this task was 
turned over to a committee of five members who 
had already given evidence of their ability in this 
direction. Rutledge was made the chairman, and 
the others were Randolph, Gorham, Ellsworth, and 
Wilson. To give them time to perfect their work, 
on the 26th of July the Convention adjourned for 
ten days. 



RUTLEDGE and his associates on the committee of 
detail accomplished so much in such a short time 
that it seems as if they must have worked day and 
night. Their efforts marked a distinct stage in the 
development of the Constitution. The committee 
left no records, but some of the members retained 
among their private papers drafts of the different 
stages of the report they were framing, and we are 
therefore able to surmise the way in which the com 
mittee proceeded. Of course the members were 
bound by the resolutions which had been adopted 
by the Convention and they held themselves close 
ly to the general principles that had been laid down. 
But in the elaboration of details they seem to have 
begun with the Articles of Confederation and to 
have used all of that document that was consist 
ent with the new plan of government. Then they 
made use of the New Jersey Plan, which had been 



put forward by the smaller States, and of a third 
plan which had been presented by Charles Pinck- 
ney; for the rest they drew largely upon the State 
Constitutions. By a combination of these different 
sources the committee prepared a document bear 
ing a close resemblance to the present Constitution, 
although subjects were in a different order and in 
somewhat different proportions, which, at the end 
of ten days, by working on Sunday, they were able 
to present to the Convention. This draft of a 
constitution was printed on seven folio pages with 
wide margins for notes and emendations. 

The Convention resumed its sessions on Mon 
day, the 6th of August, and for five weeks the re 
port of the committee of detail was the subject of 
discussion. For five hours each day, and sometimes 
for six hours, the delegates kept persistently at 
their task. It was midsummer, and we read in the 
diary of one of the members that in all that period 
only five days were "cool." Item by item, line by 
line, the printed draft of the Constitution was con 
sidered. It is not possible, nor is it necessary, to 
follow that work minutely; much of it was purely 
formal, and yet any one who has had experience 
with committee reports knows how much import 
ance attaches to matters of phrasing. Just as the 


Virginia Plan was made more acceptable to the ma 
jority by changes in wording that seem to us insig 
nificant, so modifications in phrasing slowly won 
support for the draft of the Constitution. 

The adoption of the great compromise, as we 
have seen, changed the whole spirit of the Conven 
tion. There was now an expectation on the part 
of the members that something definite was going 
to be accomplished, and all were concerned in mak 
ing the result as good and as acceptable as possible. 
In other words, the spirit of compromise pervaded 
every action, and it is essential to remember this in 
considering what was accomplished. 

One of the greatest weaknesses of the Confedera 
tion was the inefficiency of Congress. More than 
four pages, or three-fifths of the whole printed 
draft, were devoted to Congress and its powers. 
It is more significant, however, that in the new 
Constitution the legislative powers of the Confed 
eration were transferred bodily to the Congress of 
the United States, and that the powers added were 
few in number, although of course of the first im 
portance. The Virginia Plan declared that, in ad 
dition to the powers under the Confederation, Con 
gress should have the right "to legislate in all cases 
to which the separate States are incompetent." 


Virginia Plan was made more acceptable to the ma 
jority by changes in wording that seem to us insig 
nificant, so modifications in phrasing slowly won 
support for the draft of the Constitution. 

The adoption of the great compromise, as we 
have seen, changed the whole spirit of the Conven 
tion. There was now an expectation on the part 
of the members that something definite was going 
to be accomplished, and all were concerned in mak 
ing the result as good and as acceptable as possible. 
In other words, the spirit of compromise pervaded 
every action, and it is essential to remember this in 
considering what was accomplished. 

One of the greatest weaknesses of the Confedera 
tion was the inefficiency of Congress. More than 
four pages, or three-fifths of the whole printed 
draft, were devoted to Congress and its powers. 
It is more significant, however, that in the new 
Constitution the legislative powers of the Confed 
eration were transferred bodily to the Congress of 
the United States, and that the powers added were 
few in number, although of course of the first im 
portance. The Virginia Plan declared that, in ad 
dition to the powers under the Confederation, Con 
gress should have the right "to legislate in all cases 
to which the separate States are incompetent." 


This statement was elaborated in the printed draft 
which granted specific powers of taxation, of regu 
lating commerce, of establishing a uniform rule of 
naturalization, and at the end of the enumeration 
of powers two clauses were added giving to Con 
gress authority : 

To call forth the aid of the militia, in order to execute 
the laws of the Union, enforce treaties, suppress insur 
rections, and repel invasions; 

And to make all laws that shall be necessary and prop 
er for carrying into execution the foregoing powers. 

On the other hand, it was necessary to place 
some limitations upon the power of Congress. A 
general restriction was laid by giving to the execu 
tive a right of veto, which might be overruled, how 
ever, by a two-thirds vote of both houses. Follow 
ing British tradition yielding as it were to an in 
herited fear these delegates in America were led 
to place the first restraint upon the exercise of con 
gressional authority in connection with treason. 
The legislature of the United States was given the 
power to declare the punishment of treason; but 
treason itself was defined in the Constitution, and 
it was further asserted that a person could be con 
victed of treason only on the testimony of two wit 
nesses, and that attainder of treason should not 


"work corruption of blood nor forfeiture except 
during the life of the person attainted." Arising 
more nearly out of their own experience was the 
prohibition of export taxes, of capitation taxes, and 
of the granting of titles of nobility. 

While the committee of detail was preparing its 
report, the Southern members of that committee 
had succeeded in getting a provision inserted that 
navigation acts could be passed only by a two- 
thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. New 
England and the Middle States were strongly in 
favor of navigation acts for, if they could require 
all American products to be carried in American- 
built and American-owned vessels, they would give 
a great stimulus to the ship-building and commerce 
of the United States. They therefore wished to 
give Congress power in this matter on exactly the 
same terms that other powers were granted. The 
South, however, was opposed to this policy, for it 
wanted to encourage the cheapest method of ship 
ping its raw materials. The South also wanted a 
larger number of slaves to meet its labor demands. 
To this need New England was not favorably dis 
posed. To reconcile the conflicting interests of the 
two sections a compromise was finally reached. The 
requirement of a two-thirds vote of both houses for 


the passing of navigation acts which the Southern 
members had obtained was abandoned, and on the 
other hand it was determined that Congress should 
not be allowed to interfere with the importation of 
slaves for twenty years. This, again, was one of 
the important and conspicuous compromises of the 
Constitution. It is liable, however, to be misun 
derstood, for one should not read into the senti 
ment of the members of the Convention any of the 
later strong prejudice against slavery. There were 
some who objected on moral grounds to the recog 
nition of slavery in the Constitution, and that word 
was carefully avoided by referring to "such Persons 
as any States now existing shall think proper to ad 
mit." And there were some who were especially 
opposed to the encouragement of that institution 
by permitting the slave trade, but the majority of 
the delegates regarded slavery as an accepted in 
stitution, as a part of the established order, and 
public sentiment on the slave trade w r as not much 
more emphatic and positive than it is now on 
cruelty to animals. As Ellsworth said, "The mo 
rality or wisdom of slavery are considerations be-> 
longing to the States themselves," and the com 
promise was nothing more or less than a bargain 
between the sections. 


The fundamental weakness of the Confederation 
was the inability of the Government to enforce its 
decrees, and in spite of the increased powers of 
Congress, even including the use of the militia "to 
execute the laws of the Union," it was not felt that 
this defect had been entirely remedied. Experi 
ence under the Confederation had taught men that 
something more was necessary in the direction of 
restricting the States in matters which might inter 
fere with the working of the central Government. 
As in the case of the powers of Congress, the Arti 
cles of Confederation were again resorted to and 
the restrictions which had been placed upon the 
States in that document were now embodied in 
the Constitution with modifications and additions. 
But the final touch was given in connection with 
the judiciary. 

There was little in the printed draft and there is 
comparatively little in the Constitution on the sub 
ject of the judiciary. A Federal Supreme Court 
was provided for, and Congress was permitted, but 
not required, to establish inferior courts; while the 
jurisdiction of these tribunals was determined upon 
the general principles that it should extend to 
cases arising under the Constitution and laws of 
the United States, to treaties and cases in which 


foreigners and foreign countries were involved, and 
to controversies between States and citizens of dif 
ferent States. Nowhere in the document itself is 
there any word as to that great power which has 
been exercised by the Federal courts of declaring 
null and void laws or parts of laws that are re 
garded as in contravention to the Constitution. 
There is little doubt that the more important men 
in the Convention, such as Wilson, Madison, Gou- 
verneur Morris, King, Gerry, Mason, and Luther 
Martin, believed that the judiciary would exercise 
this power, even though it should not be specifically 
granted. The nearest approach to a declaration of 
this power is to be found in a paragraph that was 
inserted toward the end of the Constitution. Odd 
ly enough, this was a modification of a clause intro 
duced by Luther Martin with quite another intent. 
As adopted it reads : " That this Constitution and 
the Laws of the United States . . . and all Trea 
ties . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land; 
and the Judges in every State shall be bound there 
by; any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any 
State to the Contrary notwithstanding." This 
paragraph may well be regarded as the keystone of 
the constitutional arch of national power. Its sig 
nificance lies in the fact that the Constitution is 


regarded not as a treaty nor as an agreement between 
States, but as a law; and while its enforcement is 
backed by armed power, it is a law enforceable in 
the courts. 

One whole division of the Constitution has been 
as yet barely referred to, and it not only presented 
one of the most perplexing problems which the Con 
vention faced but one of the last to be settled 
that providing for an executive. There was a gen 
eral agreement in the Convention that there should 
be a separate executive. The opinion also devel 
oped quite early that a single executive was better 
than a plural body, but that was as far as the mem 
bers could go with any degree of unanimity. At 
the outset they seemed to have thought that the 
executive would be dependent upon the legislature, 
appointed by that body, and therefore more or less 
subject to its control. But in the course of the 
proceedings the tendency was to grant greater and 
greater powers to the executive; in other words, 
he was becoming a figure of importance. No such 
office as that of President of the United States was 
then in existence. It was a new position which 
they were creating. We have become so accus 
tomed to it that it is difficult for us to hark back 
to the time when there was no such officer and to 


realize the difficulties and the fears of the men who 
were responsible for creating that office. 

The presidency was obviously modeled after 
the governorship of the individual States, and yet 
the incumbent was to be at the head of the 
Thirteen States. Rufus King is frequently quot 
ed to the effect that the men of that time had 
been accustomed to considering themselves sub 
jects of the British king. Even at the time of the 
Convention there is good evidence to show that 
some of the members were still agitating the desir 
ability of establishing a monarchy in the United 
States. It was a common rumor that a son of 
George III was to be invited to come over, and 
there is reason to believe that only a few months 
before the Convention met Prince Henry of Prussia 
was approached by prominent people in this coun 
try to see if he could be induced to accept the head 
ship of the States, that is, to become the king of the 
United States. The members of the Convention 
evidently thought that they were establishing 
something like a monarchy. As Randolph said, 
the people would see "the form at least of a little 
monarch, " and they did not want him to have des 
potic powers. When the sessions were over, a lady 
asked Franklin : " Well, Doctor, what have we got, 


a republic or a monarchy? " "A republic," replied 
the doctor, "if you can keep it.'* 

The increase of powers accruing to the executive 
office necessitated placing a corresponding check 
upon the exercise of those powers. The obvious 
method was to render the executive subject to im 
peachment, and it was also readily agreed that his 
veto might be overruled by a two-thirds vote of 
Congress; but some further safeguards were neces 
sary, and the whole question accordingly turned 
upon the method of his election and the length of 
his term. In the course of the proceedings of the 
Convention, at several different times, the mem 
bers voted in favor of an appointment by the na 
tional legislature, but they also voted against 
it. Once they voted for a system of electors cho 
sen by the State legislatures and twice they voted 
against such a system. Three times they voted to 
reconsider the whole question. It is no wonder 
that Gerry should say: "We seem to be entirely 
at a loss." 

So it came to the end of August, with most of the 
other matters disposed of and with the patience of 
the delegates worn out by the long strain of four 
weeks' close application. During the discussions it 
had become apparent to every one that an election 


of the President by the people would give a decided 
advantage to the large States, so that again there 
was arising the divergence between the large and 
small States. In order to hasten matters to a con 
clusion, this and all other vexing details upon which 
the Convention could not agree were turned over to 
a committee made up of a member from each State. 
It was this committee which pointed the way to a 
compromise by which the choice of the executive 
was to be entrusted to electors chosen in each State 
as its legislature might direct. The electors were 
to be equal in number to the State's representation 
in Congress, including both senators and represen 
tatives, and in each State they were to meet and to 
vote for two persons, one of whom should not be an 
inhabitant of that State. The votes were to be 
listed and sent to Congress, and the person who had 
received the greatest number of votes was to be 
President, provided such a number was a majority 
of all the electors. In case of a tie the Senate was 
to choose between the candidates and, if no one had 
a majority, the Senate was to elect "from the five 
highest on the list." 

This method of voting would have given the 
large States a decided advantage, of course, in that 
they would appoint the greater number of electors, 


but it was not believed that this system would 
ordinarily result in a majority of votes being cast 
for one man. Apparently no one anticipated the 
formation of political parties which would concen 
trate the votes upon one or another candidate. It 
was rather expected that in the great majority of 
cases " nineteen times in twenty," one of the dele 
gates said there would be several candidates and 
that the selection from those candidates would fall 
to the Senate, in which all the States were equally 
represented and the small States were in the major 
ity. But since the Senate shared so many powers 
with the executive, it seemed better to transfer the 
right of "eventual election" to the House of Repre 
sentatives, where each State was still to have but 
one vote. Had this scheme worked as the design 
ers expected, the interests of large States and 
small States would have been reconciled, since in 
effect the large States would name the candidates 
and, "nineteen times in twenty," the small States 
would choose from among them. 

Apparently the question of a third term was 
never considered by the delegates in the Con 
vention. The chief problem before them was the 
method of election. If the President was to be cho 
sen by the legislature, he should not be eligible to 


reelection. On the other hand, if there was to be 
some form of popular election, an opportunity for 
reelection was thought to be a desirable incentive 
to good behavior. Six or seven years was taken as 
an acceptable length for a single term and four 
years a convenient tenure if reelection was per 
mitted. It was upon these considerations that the 
term of four years was eventually agreed upon, 
with no restriction placed upon reelection. 

When it was believed that a satisfactory method 
of choosing the President had been discovered 
and it is interesting to notice the members of the 
Convention later congratulated themselves that at 
least this feature of their government was above 
criticism it was decided to give still further pow 
ers to the President, such as the making of treaties 
and the appointing of ambassadors and judges, al 
though the advice and consent of the Senate was 
required, and in the case of treaties two-thirds of 
the members present must consent. 

The presidency was frankly an experiment, the 
success of which would depend largely upon the 
first election; yet no one seems to have been anx 
ious about the first choice of chief magistrate, and 
the reason is not far to seek. From the moment 
the members agreed that there should be a single 


executive they also agreed upon the man for the po 
sition. Just as Washington had been chosen unan 
imously to preside over the Convention, so it was 
generally accepted that he would be the first head 
of the new state. Such at least was the trend of 
conversation and even of debate on the floor of the 
Convention. It indicates something of the con 
ception of the office prevailing at the time that 
Washington, when he became President, is said to 
have preferred the title, "His High Mightiness, the 
President of the United States and Protector of 
their Liberties." 

The members of the Convention were plainly 
growing tired and there are evidences of haste in 
the work of the last few days. There was a ten 
dency to ride rough-shod over those whose tempera 
ments forced them to demand modifications in 
petty matters. This precipitancy gave rise to con 
siderable dissatisfaction and led several delegates 
to declare that they would not sign the completed 
document. But on the whole the sentiment of the 
Convention was overwhelmingly favorable. Ac 
cordingly on Saturday, the 8th of September, a new 
committee was appointed, to consist of five mem 
bers, whose duty it was "to revise the stile of and 
arrange the articles which had been agreed to by 


the House." The committee was chosen by bal 
lot and was made up exclusively of friends of the 
new Constitution : Doctor Johnson of Connecticut, 
Alexander Hamilton, who had returned to Phila 
delphia to help in finishing the work, Gouverneur 
Morris, James Madison, and Rufus King. On 
Wednesday the twelfth, the Committee made its re 
port, the greatest credit for which is probably to be 
given to Morris, whose powers of expression were so 
greatly admired. Another day was spent in wait 
ing for the report to be printed. But on Thursday 
this was ready, and three days were devoted to go 
ing over carefully each article and section and giv 
ing the finishing touches. By Saturday the work 
of the Convention was brought to a close, and the 
Constitution was then ordered to be engrossed. 
On Monday, the 17th of September, the Conven 
tion met for the last time. A few of those present 
being unwilling to sign, Gouverneur Morris again 
cleverly devised a form which would make the 
action appear to be unanimous: "Done in Con 
vention by the unanimous consent of the states 
present ... in witness whereof we have here 
unto subscribed our names." Thirty-nine dele 
gates, representing twelve States, then signed the 


When Charles Biddle of Philadelphia, who was 
acquainted with most of the members of the Con 
vention, wrote his Autobiography, which was pub 
lished in 1802, he declared that for his part he con 
sidered the government established by the Consti 
tution to be "the best in the world, and as perfect 
as any human form of government can be." But 
he prefaced that declaration with a statement that 
some of the best informed members of the Federal 
Convention had told him "they did not believe a 
single member was perfectly satisfied with the Con 
stitution, but they believed it was the best they 
could ever agree upon, and that it was infinitely 
better to have such a one than break up without 
fixing on some form of government, which I believe 
at one time it was expected they would have done." 

One of the outstanding characteristics of the 
members of the Federal Convention was their prac 
tical sagacity. They had a very definite object 
before them. No matter how much the members 
might talk about democracy in theory or about an 
cient confederacies, when it came to action they did 
not go outside of their own experience. The Con 
stitution was devised to correct well-known defects 
and it contained few provisions which had not been 
tested by practical political experience. Before 


the Convention met, some of the leading men in the 
country had prepared lists of the defects which ex 
isted in the Articles of Confederation, and in the 
Constitution practically every one of these defects 
was corrected and by means which had already 
been tested in the States and under the Articles of 



THE course of English history shows that Anglo- 
Saxon tradition is strongly in favor of observing 
precedents and of trying to maintain at least the 
form of law, even in revolutions. When the Eng 
lish people found it impossible to bear with James 
II and made it so uncomfortable for him that he 
fled the country, they shifted the responsibility 
from their own shoulders by charging him with 
*' breaking the original Contract between King and 
People." When the Thirteen Colonies had reached 
the point where they felt that they must separate 
from England, their spokesman, Thomas Jefferson, 
found the necessary justification in the funda 
mental compact of the first settlers "in the wilds of 
America" where "the emigrants thought proper to 
adopt that system of laws under which they had 
hitherto lived in the mother country"; and in the 
Declaration of Independence he charged the King 



of Great Britain with "repeated injuries and usurpa 
tions all having in direct object the establishment 
of an absolute Tyranny over these States." 

And so it was with the change to the new form 
of government in the United States, which was ac 
complished only by disregarding the forms pre 
scribed in the Articles of Confederation and has 
been called, therefore, "the Revolution of 1789." 
From the outset the new constitution was placed 
under the sanction of the old. The movement be 
gan with an attempt, outwardly at least, to revise 
the Articles of Confederation and in that form was 
authorized by Congress. The first breach with the 
past was made when the proposal in the Virginia 
Resolutions was accepted that amendments made 
by the Convention in the Articles of Confederation 
should be submitted to assemblies chosen by the 
people instead of to the legislatures of the separate 
States. This was the more readily accepted be 
cause it was believed that ratification by the legis 
latures would result in the formation of a treaty 
rather than in a working instrument of government. 
The next step was to prevent the work of the Con 
vention from meeting the fate of all previous 
amendments to the Articles of Confederation, 
which had required the consent of every State in 



the Union. At the time the committee of detail 
made its report, the Convention was ready to agree 
that the consent of all the States was not necessary, 
and it eventually decided that, when ratified by the 
conventions of nine States, the Constitution should 
go into effect between the States so ratifying. 

It was not within the province of the Convention 
to determine what the course of procedure should 
be in the individual States; so it simply transmitted 
the Constitution to Congress and in an accompany 
ing document, which significantly omitted any re 
quest for the approval of Congress, strongly ex 
pressed the opinion that the Constitution should 
"be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen 
in each state by the people thereof." This was 
nothing less than indirect ratification by the people ; 
and, since it was impossible to foretell in advance 
which of the States would or would not ratify, the 
original draft of "We, the People of the States 
of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
. . ." was changed to the phrase " We, the People 
of the United States." No man of that day could 
imagine how significant this change would appear 
in the light of later history. 

Congress did not receive the new Constitution 
enthusiastically, yet after a few days' discussion 


it unanimously voted, eleven States being pres 
ent, that the recommendations of the Convention 
should be followed, and accordingly sent the docu 
ment to the States, but without a word of approval 
or disapproval. On the whole the document was 
well received, especially as it was favored by the 
upper class, who had the ability and the opportu 
nity for expression and were in a position to make 
themselves heard. For a time it looked as if the 
Constitution would be readily adopted. 

The contest over the Constitution in the States 
is usually taken as marking the beginning of the 
two great national political parties in the United 
States. This was, indeed, in a way the first great 
national question that could cause such a division. 
There had been, to be sure, Whigs and Tories in 
America, reproducing British parties, but when the 
trouble with the mother country began, the suc 
cessive congresses of delegates were recognized and 
attended only by the so-called American Whigs, 
and after the Declaration of Independence the 
name of Tory became a reproach, so that with the 
end of the war the Tory party disappeared. After 
the Revolution there were local parties in the va 
rious States, divided on one and another question, 
such as that of hard and soft money, and these issues 


had coincided in different States; but they were 
in no sense national parties with organizations, 
platforms, and leaders; they were purely local, and 
the followers of one or the other would have denied 
that they were anything else than Whigs. But a 
new issue was now raised. The Whig party split 
in two, new leaders appeared, and the elements 
gathered in two main divisions the Federalists 
advocating, and the Anti-Federalists opposing, the 
adoption of the new Constitution. 

There were differences of opinion over all the 
questions which had led to the calling of the Fed 
eral Convention and the framing of the Constitu 
tion and so there was inevitably a division upon the 
result of the Convention's work. There were those 
who wanted national authority for the suppression 
of disorder and of what threatened to be anarchy 
throughout the Union; and on the other hand there 
were those who opposed a strongly organized gov 
ernment through fear of its destroying liberty. 
Especially debtors and creditors took opposite 
sides, and most of the people in the United States 
could have been brought under one or the other 
category. The former favored a system of gov 
ernment and legislation which would tend to re 
lieve or postpone the payment of debts; and, as that 


relief would come more readily from the State Gov 
ernments, they were naturally the friends of State 
rights and State authority and were opposed to any 
enlargement of the powers of the Federal Govern 
ment. On the other hand, were those who felt the 
necessity of preserving inviolate every private and 
public obligation and who saw that the separate 
power of the States could not accomplish what was 
necessary to sustain both public and private cred 
it; they were disposed to use the resources of the 
Union and accordingly to favor the strengthening 
of the national government. In nearly every State 
there was a struggle between these classes. 

In Philadelphia and the neighborhood there was 
great enthusiasm for the new Constitution. Al 
most simultaneously with the action by Congress, 
and before notification of it had been received, a 
motion was introduced in the Pennsylvania As 
sembly to call a ratifying convention. The Anti- 
Federalists were surprised by the suddenness of 
this proposal and to prevent action absented them 
selves from the session of the Assembly, leaving 
that body two short of the necessary quorum for 
the transaction of business. The excitement and 
indignation in the city were so great that early the 
next morning a crowd gathered, dragged two of the 


absentees from their lodgings to the State House, 
and held them firmly in their places until the roll 
was called and a quorum counted, when the House 
proceeded to order a State convention. As soon 
as the news of this vote got out, the city gave itself 
up to celebrating the event by the suspension of 
business, the ringing of church bells, and other 
demonstrations. The elections were hotly con 
tested, but the Federalists were generally success 
ful. The convention met towards the end of No 
vember and, after three weeks of futile discussion, 
mainly upon trivial matters and the meaning of 
words, ratified the Constitution on the 12th of De 
cember, by a vote of forty-six to twenty -three. 
Again the city of Philadelphia celebrated. 

Pennsylvania was the first State to call a conven 
tion, but its final action was anticipated by Dela 
ware, where the State convention met and ratified 
the Constitution by unanimous vote on the 7th of 
December. The New Jersey convention spent only 
a week in discussion and then voted, also unani 
mously, for ratification on the 18th of December. 
The next State to ratify was Georgia, where the 
Constitution was approved without a dissenting 
vote on January 2, 1788. Connecticut followed 
immediately and, after a session of only five days, 


declared itself in favor of the Constitution, on the 
9th of January, by a vote of over three to one. 

The results of the campaign for ratification thus 
far were most gratifying to the Federalists, but the 
issue was not decided. With the exception of 
Pennsylvania, the States which had acted were of 
lesser importance, and, until Massachusetts, New 
York, and Virginia should declare themselves, the 
outcome would be in doubt. The convention of 
Massachusetts met on the same day that the Con 
necticut convention adjourned. The sentiment of 
Boston, like that of Philadelphia, was strongly 
Federalist; but the outlying districts, and in par 
ticular the western part of the State, where Shays' 
Rebellion had broken out, were to be counted in the 
opposition. There were 355 delegates who took 
part in the Massachusetts convention, a larger 
number than was chosen in any of the other States, 
and the majority seemed to be opposed to ratifica 
tion. The division was close, however, and it was 
believed that the attitude of two men would deter 
mine the result. One of these was Governor John 
Hancock, who was chosen chairman of the conven 
tion but who did not attend the sessions at the out 
set, as he was confined to his house by an attack of 
gout, which, it was maliciously said, would disappear 

< fa *.**., 


as soon as it was known which way the majority 
of the convention would vote. The other was 
Samuel Adams, a genuine friend of liberty, who was 
opposed on principle to the general theory of the 
government set forth in the Constitution. "I 
stumble at the threshold," he wrote. " I meet with 
a national government, instead of a federal union 
of sovereign states." But, being a shrewd poli 
tician, Adams did not commit himself openly and, 
when the tradesmen of Boston declared themselves 
in favor of ratification, he was ready to yield his 
personal opinion. 

There were many delegates in the Massachusetts 
convention who felt that it was better to amend the 
document before them than to try another Federal 
Convention, when as good an instrument might not 
be devised. If this group were added to those who 
were ready to accept the Constitution as it stood, 
they would make a majority in favor of the new 
government. But the delay involved in amending 
was regarded as dangerous, and it was argued that, 
as the Constitution made ample provision for 
changes, it would be safer and wiser to rely upon 
that method. The question was one, therefore, of 
immediate or future amendment. Pressure was ac 
cordingly brought to bear upon Governor Hancock 


and intimations were made to him of future politi- 
cal preferment, until he was persuaded to propose 
immediate ratification of the Constitution, with an 
urgent recommendation of such amendments as 
would remove the objections of the Massachusetts 
people. When this proposal was approved by 
Adams, its success was assured, and a few days 
later, on the 6th of February, the convention voted 
187 to 168 in favor of ratification. Nine amend 
ments, largely in the nature of a bill of rights, were 
then demanded, and the Massachusetts representa 
tives in Congress were enjoined " at all times, . . . 
to exert all their influence, and use all reasonable 
and legal methods, To obtain a ratification of the 
said alterations and provisions." On the very day 
this action was taken, Jefferson wrote from Paris to 
Madison: "I wish with all my soul that the nine 
first conventions may accept the new Constitution, 
to secure to us the good it contains; but I equally 
wish that the four latest, whichever they may be, 
may refuse to accede to it till a declaration of rights 
be annexed." 

Boston proceeded to celebrate as Philadelphia, 
and Benjamin Lincoln wrote to Washington, on 
the 9th of February, enclosing an extract from the 
local paper describing the event: 


By the paper your Excellency will observe some ac 
count of the parade of the Eighth the printer had by no 
means time eno to do justice to the subject. To give 
you some idea how far he has been deficient I will men 
tion an observation I heard made by a Lady the last 
evening who saw the whole that the description in the 
paper would no more compare with the original than 
the light of the faintest star would with that of the Sun 
fortunately for us the whole ended without the least 
disorder and the town during the whole evening was, 
so far as I could observe perfectly quiet. * 

He added another paragraph which he later struck 
out as being of little importance; but it throws an 
interesting sidelight upon the customs of the time. 

The Gentlemen provided at Faneul Hall some bis 
cuit & cheese four q- Casks of wine three barrels & 
two hog ? of punch the moment they found that the 
people had drank sufficiently means were taken to 
overset the two hog* punch this being done the com 
pany dispersed and the day ended most agreeably. 2 

Maryland came next. When the Federal Con 
vention was breaking up, Luther Martin was 
speaking of the new system of government to his 
colleague, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, and ex 
claimed: "I'll be hanged if ever the people of 
Maryland agree to it!" To which his colleague 

1 Documentary History, vol. iv, pp. 488-490. 'Ibid. 


retorted: "I advise you to stay in Philadelphia, lest 
you should be hanged." And Jenifer proved to be 
right, for in Maryland the Federalists obtained 
control of the convention and, by a vote of 63 to 11, 
ratified the Constitution on the 26th of April. 

In South Carolina, which was the Southern State 
next in importance to Virginia, the compromise on 
the slave trade proved to be one of the deciding 
factors in determining public opinion. When the 
elections were held, they resulted in an overwhelm 
ing majority for the Federalists, so that after a ses 
sion of less than two weeks the convention ratified 
the Constitution, on the 28th of May, by a vote of 
over two to one. 

The only apparent setback which the adoption of 
the Constitution had thus far received was in New 
Hampshire, where the convention met early in 
February and then adjourned until June to see 
what the other States might do. But this delay 
proved to be of no consequence for, when the time 
came for the second meeting of the New Hamp 
shire delegates, eight States had already acted fa 
vorably and adoption was regarded as a certainty. 
This was sufficient to put a stop to any further 
waiting, and New Hampshire added its name to the 
list on the 21st of June; but the division of opinion 


was fairly well represented by the smallness of the 
majority, the vote standing 57 to 46. 

Nine States had now ratified the Constitution 
and it was to go into effect among them. But the 
support of Virginia and New York was of so much 
importance that their decisions were awaited with 
uneasiness. In Virginia, in spite of the support of 
such men as Washington and Madison, the senti 
ment for and against the Constitution was fairly 
evenly divided, and the opposition numbered in its 
ranks other names of almost equal influence, such 
as Patrick Henry and George Mason. Feeling ran 
high; the contest was a bitter one and, even after 
the elections had been held and the convention had 
opened, early in June, the decision was in doubt 
and remained in doubt until the very end. The 
situation was, in one respect at least, similar to that 
which had existed in Massachusetts, in that it was 
possible to get a substantial majority in favor of the 
Constitution provided certain amendments were 
made. The same arguments were used, strength 
ened on the one side by what other States had done, 
and on the other side by the plea that now was the 
time to hold out for amendments. The example of 
Massachusetts, however, seems to have been de 
cisive, and on the 25th of June, four days later than 


New Hampshire, the Virginia convention voted to 
ratify, "under the conviction that whatsoever im 
perfections may exist in the Constitution ought 
rather to be examined in the mode prescribed there 
in, than to bring the Union into danger by delay, 
with a hope of obtaining amendments previous to 
the ratification." 

When the New York convention began its ses 
sions on the 17th of June, it is said that more than 
two-thirds of the delegates were Anti-Federalist in 
sentiment. How a majority in favor of the Con 
stitution was obtained has never been adequately 
explained, but it is certain that the main credit for 
the achievement belongs to Alexander Hamilton. 
He had early realized how greatly it would help the 
prospects of the Constitution if thinking people 
could be brought to an appreciation of the import 
ance and value of the new form of government. In 
order to reach the intelligent public everywhere, 
but particularly in New York, he projected a series 
of essays which should be published in the news 
papers, setting forth the aims and purposes of the 
Constitution. He secured the assistance of Madi 
son and Jay, and before the end of October, 1787, 
published the first essay in The Independent Gazet 
teer. From that time on these papers continued to 


be printed over the signature of "Publius," some 
times as many as three or four in a week. There 
were eighty-five numbers altogether, which have 
ever since been known as The Federalist. Of these 
approximately fifty were the work of Hamilton, 
Madison wrote about thirty and Jay five. Al 
though the essays were widely copied in other 
journals, and form for us the most important com 
mentary on the Constitution, making what is re 
garded as one of America's greatest books, it is 
doubtful how much immediate influence they had. 
Certainly in the New York convention itself Ham 
ilton's personal influence was a stronger force. His 
arguments were both eloquent and cogent, and met 
every objection; and his efforts to win over the op 
position were unremitting. The news which came 
by express riders from New Hampshire and then 
from Virginia were also deciding factors, for New 
York could not afford to remain out of the new 
Union if it was to embrace States on either side. 
And yet the debate continued, as the opposition was 
putting forth every effort to make ratification con 
ditional upon certain amendments being adopted. 
But Hamilton resolutely refused to make any con 
cessions and at length was successful in persuading 
the New York convention, by a vote of 30 against 


27, on the 26th of July, to follow the example of 
Massachusetts and Virginia and to ratify the Con 
stitution with merely a recommendation of future 

The satisfaction of the country at the outcome of 
the long and momentous struggle over the adoption 
of the new government was unmistakable. Even 
before the action of New York had been taken, the 
Fourth of July was made the occasion for a great 
celebration throughout the United States, both as 
the anniversary of independence and as the con 
summation of the Union by the adoption of the 

The general rejoicing was somewhat tempered, 
however, by the reluctance of North Carolina 
and Rhode Island to come under "the new roof." 
Had the convention which met on the 21st of 
July in North Carolina reached a vote, it would 
probably have defeated the Constitution, but it was 
doubtless restrained by the action of New York 
and adjourned without coming to a decision. A 
second convention was called in September, 1789, 
and in the meantime the new government had come 
into operation and was bringing pressure to bear 
upon the recalcitrant States which refused to aban 
don the old union for the new. One of the earliest 


acts passed by Congress was a revenue act, levying 
duties upon foreign goods imported, which were 
made specifically to apply to imports from Rhode 
Island and North Carolina. This was sufficient 
for North Carolina, and on November 21, 1789, the 
convention ratified the Constitution. But Rhode 
Island still held out. A convention of that State 
was finally called to meet in March, 1790, but ac 
complished nothing and avoided a decision by ad 
journing until May. The Federal Government 
then proceeded to threaten drastic measures by 
taking up a bill which authorized the President to 
suspend all commercial intercourse with Rhode 
Island and to demand of that State the payment 
of its share of the Federal debt. The bill passed 
the Senate but stopped there, for the State gave in 
and ratified the Constitution on the 29th of May. 
Two weeks later Ellsworth, who was now United 
States Senator from Connecticut, wrote that 
Rhode Island had been "brought into the Union, 
and by a pretty cold measure in Congress, which 
would have exposed me to some censure, had it not 
produced the effect which I expected it would and 
which in fact it has done. But 'all is well that ends 
well.' The Constitution is now adopted by all the 
States and I have much satisfaction, and perhaps 


some vanity, in seeing, at length, a great work fin 
ished, for which I have long labored incessantly." 1 
Perhaps the most striking feature of these con 
ventions is the trivial character of the objections 
that were raised. Some of the arguments, it is 
true, went to the very heart of the matter and con 
sidered the fundamental principles of government. 
It is possible to tolerate and even to sympathize 
with a man who declared : 

Among other deformities the Constitution has an aw 
ful squinting. It squints toward monarchy; . . . 
your president may easily become a king. ... If 
your American chief be a man of ambition and ability 
how easy it is for him to render himself absolute. We 
shall have a king. The army will salute him monarch. l 

But it is hard to take seriously a delegate who 
asked permission "to make a short apostrophe to 
liberty," and then delivered himself of this bathos: 

O liberty ! thou greatest good thou fairest prop 
erty with thee I wish to live with thee I wish to 
die ! Pardon me if I drop a tear on the peril to which 
she is exposed; I cannot, sir, see this brightest of jewels 
tarnished! a jewel worth ten thousand worlds! and 
shall we part with it so soon? Ono! 2 

'"Connecticut's Ratification of the Federal Constitution," 
by B. C. Steiner, in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian 
Society, April, 1915, pp. 88-89. 

3 Elliot's Debates on the Federal Constitution, vol. iii, p. 144. 


There might be some reason in objecting to the 
excessive power vested in Congress; but what is one 
to think of the fear that imagined the greatest point 
of danger to lie in the ten miles square which later 
became the District of Columbia, because the Gov 
ernment might erect a fortified stronghold which 
would be invincible? Again, in the light of subse 
quent events it is laughable to find many protesting 
that, although each house was required to keep a 
journal of proceedings, it was only required "from 
time to time to publish the same, excepting such parts 
as may in their judgment require secrecy." All sorts 
of personal charges were made against those who 
were responsible for the framing of the Constitution. 
Hopkinson wrote to Jefferson in April, 1788: 

You will be surprised when I tell you that our public 
News Papers have anounced General Washington to be 
a Fool influenced & lead by that Knave Dr. Franklin, 
who is a public Defaulter for Millions of Dollars, that 
Mr. Morris has defrauded the Public out of as many 
Millions as you please & that they are to cover their 
frauds by this new Government. x 

All things considered, it is difficult to avoid the con 
clusion that such critics and detractors were trying 
to find excuses for their opposition. 

1 Documentary History of the Constitution, vol. iv, p. 563. 


The majorities in the various conventions can 
hardly be said really to represent the people of their 
States, for only a small percentage of the people 
had voted in electing them; they were representa 
tive rather of the propertied upper class. This cir 
cumstance has given rise to the charge that the 
Constitution was framed and adopted by men who 
were interested in the protection of property, in the 
maintenance of the value of government securities, 
and in the payment of debts which had been in 
curred by the individual States in the course of the 
Revolution. Property-holders were unquestion 
ably assisted by the mere establishment of a strong 
government. The creditor class seemed to require 
some special provision and, when the powers of 
Congress were under consideration in the Federal 
Convention, several of the members argued strong 
ly for a positive injunction on Congress to assume 
obligations of the States. The chief objection to 
this procedure seemed to be based upon the fear of 
benefiting speculators rather than the legitimate 
creditors, and the matter was finally compromised 
by providing that all debts should be "as valid 
against the United States under this Constitution 
as under the Confederation." The charge that the 
Constitution was framed and its adoption obtained 


by men of property and wealth is undoubtedly 
true, but it is a mistake to attribute unworthy mo 
tives to them. The upper classes in the United 
States were generally people of wealth and so 
would be the natural holders of government secur 
ities. They were undoubtedly acting in self -pro 
tection, but the responsibility rested upon them 
to take the lead. They were acting indeed for 
the public interest in the largest sense, for condi 
tions in the United States were such that every 
man might become a landowner and the people in 
general therefore wished to have property rights 

In the autumn of 1788 the Congress of the old 
Confederation made testamentary provision for its 
heir by voting that presidential electors should be 
chosen on the first Wednesday in January, 1789; 
that these electors should meet and cast their votes 
for President on the first Wednesday in February; 
and that the Senate and House of Representatives 
should assemble on the first Wednesday in March. 
It was also decided that the seat of government 
should be in the City of New York until otherwise 
ordered by Congress. In accordance with this pro 
cedure, the requisite elections were held, and the 
new government was duly installed. It happened 


in 1789 that the first Wednesday in March was 
the fourth day of that month, which thereby be 
came the date for the beginning of each subsequent 

The acid test of efficiency was still to be applied 
to the new machinery of government. But Amer 
icans then, as now, were an adaptable people, with 
political genius, and they would have been able to 
make almost any form of government succeed. If 
the Federal Convention had never met, there is 
good reason for believing that the Articles of Con 
federation, with some amendments, would have 
been made to work. The success of the new gov 
ernment was therefore in a large measure depend 
ent upon the favor of the people. If they wished 
to do so, they could make it win out in spite of ob 
stacles. In other words, the new government would 
succeed exactly to the extent to which the people 
stood back of it. This was the critical moment 
when the slowly growing prosperity, described at 
length and emphasized in the previous chapters, 
produced one of its most important effects. In 
June, 1788, Washington wrote to Lafayette: 

I expect, that many blessings will be attributed to 
our new government, which are now taking their rise 
from that industry and frugality into the practice of 


which the people have been forced from necessity. I 
really believe that there never was so much labour and 
economy to be found before in the country as at the 
present moment . If they persist in the habits they are 
acquiring, the good effects will soon be distinguishable. 
When the people shall find themselves secure under an 
energetic government, when foreign Nations shall be 
disposed to give us equal advantages in commerce from 
dread of retaliation, when the burdens of the war shall 
be in a manner done away by the sale of western lands, 
when the seeds of happiness which are sown here shall 
begin to expand themselves, and when every one (un 
der his own vine and fig-tree) shall begin to taste the 
fruits of freedom then all these blessings (for all 
these blessings will come) will be referred to the foster 
ing influence of the new government. Whereas many 
causes will have conspired to produce them. 

A few months later a similar opinion was expressed 
by Crevecoeur in writing to Jefferson : 

Never was so great a change in the opinion of the 
best people as has happened these five years; almost 
everybody feels the necessity of coercive laws, gov 
ernment, union, industry, and labor. . . . The ex 
ports of this country have singularly increased within 
these two years, and the imports have decreased in 

The new Federal Government was fortunate in be 
ginning its career at the moment when returning 


prosperity was predisposing the people to think 
well of it. The inauguration of Washington marked 
the opening of a new era for the people of the 
United States of America. 





The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States 
of America 

WHEN in the Course of human events, it becomes 
necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands 
which have connected them with another, and to as 
sume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and 
equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Na 
ture's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opin 
ions of mankind requires that they should declare the 
causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Crea 
tor with certain unalienable Rights, that among these 
are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That 
to secure these rights, Governments are instituted 
among Men, deriving their just powers from the con 
sent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Gov 
ernment becomes destructive of these ends, it is the 

1 The documents in this Appendix follow the text of the Revised 
Statutes of the United States, Second Edition, 1878. 



Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to in 
stitute new Government, laying its foundation on such 
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to 
them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and 
Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Gov 
ernments long established should not be changed for 
light and transient causes; and accordingly all expe 
rience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to 
suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right them 
selves by abolishing the forms to which they are accus 
tomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpa 
tions, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a 
design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is 
their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Govern 
ment, and to provide new Guards for their future se 
curity. Such has been the patient sufferance of these 
Colonies; and such is now the necessity which con 
strains them to alter their former Systems of Govern 
ment. The history of the present King of Great Brit 
ain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, 
all having in direct object the establishment of an ab 
solute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let 
Facts be submitted to a candid world. 

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most whole 
some and necessary for the public good. 

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of im 
mediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in 
their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and 
when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend 
to them. 

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommo 
dation of large districts of people, unless those people 
would relinquish the right of Representation in the 


Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable 
to tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places 
unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the deposi 
tory of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of 
fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, 
for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the 
rights of the people. 

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolu 
tions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legis 
lative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned 
to the People at large for their exercise; the State re 
maining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers 
of invasion from without, and convulsions within. 

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of 
these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for 
Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others 
to encourage their migration hither, and raising the 
conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. 

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by 
refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary 

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, 
for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and 
payment of their salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent 
hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat 
out their substance. 

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing 
Armies without the Consent of our legislature. 

He has affected to render the Military independent 
of and superior to the Civil Power. 


He has combined with others to subject us to a juris 
diction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowl 
edged by our laws; giving his Assent to their acts of 
pretended Legislation : 

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us : 

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punish 
ment for any Murders which they should commit on 
the Inhabitants of these States: 

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world : 

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent: 

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of 
Trial by Jury: 

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for 
pretended offences: 

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a 
neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbi 
trary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as 
to render it at once an example and fit instrument for 
introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies : 

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most 
valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms 
of our Government : 

For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring 
themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in 
all cases whatsoever. 

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us 
out of his Protection and waging War against us. 

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, 
burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign 
mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desola 
tion and tyranny, already begun with circumstances 
of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most 


barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a 
civilized nation. 

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Cap 
tive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Coun 
try, to become the executioners of their friends and 
Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, 
and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our 
frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known 
rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all 
ages, sexes and conditions. 

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Peti 
tioned for Redress in the most humble terms : Our re 
peated Petitions have been answered only by repeated 
injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by 
every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the 
ruler of a free People. 

Nor have We been wanting in attention to our Brit- 
tish brethren. We have warned them from time to 
time of attempts by their legislature to extend an un 
warrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded 
them of the circumstances of our emigration and settle 
ment here. We have appealed to their native justice 
and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the 
ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpa 
tions, which, would inevitably interrupt our connec 
tions and correspondence^] They too have been deaf 
to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, 
therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces 
our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of 
mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. 

We, therefore, the Representative of the united 
States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, 

appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the 
rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by 
Authority of the good People of these Colonies, sol 
emnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies 
are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent 
States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to 
the British Crown, and that all political connection be 
tween them and the State of Great Britain, is and 
ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and In 
dependent States, they have full Power to levy War, 
conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Com 
merce, and to do all other Acts and Things which 
Independent States may of right do. And for the 
support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance 
on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually 
pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our 
sacred Honor. 


New Hampshire. 



Massachusetts Bay. 



Rhode Island. 





New York. 



New Jersey. 









GEO. Ross. 









North Carolina. 



South Carolina. 





NOTE. Mr. Ferdinand Jefferson, Keeper of the Rolls in the 
Department of State, at Washington, says: "The names of 
the signers are spelt above as in the fac-simile of the original, 
but the punctuation of them is not always the same; neither do 
the names of the States appear in the fac-simile of the original. 
The names of the signers of each State are grouped together 
in the fac-simile of the original, except the name of Matthew 
Thornton, which follows that of Oliver Wolcott." 


To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the under' 

signed Delegates of the States affixed to our Names 

send greeting. 

WHEREAS the Delegates of the United States of 
America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth 
day of November in the Year of our Lord One 
Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventyseven, and 
in the Second Year of the Independence of America 
agree to certain articles of Confederation and per 
petual Union between the States of Newhampshire, 
Massachusetts-bay, Rhodeisland and Providence 
Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North- 
Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia in the Words 
following, viz. 

" Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between 
the States of Newhampshire, Massachusetts-bay, 
Rhodeisland and Providence Plantations, Con 
necticut, New-York, New- Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, 
South-Carolina and Georgia. 
ARTICLE I. The stile of this confederacy shall be 

"The United States of America." 



ARTICLE II. Each State retains its sovereignty, 
freedom and independence, and every power, juris 
diction and right, which is not by this confederation 
expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress 

ARTICLE III. The said States hereby severally 
enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, 
for their common defence, the security of their liber 
ties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding 
themselves to assist each other, against all force offered 
to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on 
account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other 
pretence whatever. 

ARTICLE IV. The better to secure and perpetuate 
mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of 
the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants 
of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds and fugi 
tives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all priv 
ileges and immunities of free citizens in the several 
States; and the people of each State shall have free in 
gress and regress to and from any other State, and shall 
enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, 
subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions 
as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that 
such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent 
the removal of property imported into any State, to 
any other State of which the owner is an inhabitant; 
provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction 
shall be laid by any State, on the property of the 
United States, or either of them. 

If any person guilty of, or charged with treason, fel 
ony, or other high misdemeanor in any State, shall flee 
from justice, and be found in any of the United States, 


he shall upon demand of the Governor or Executive 
power, of the State from which he fled, be delivered 
up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of 
his offence. 

Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these 
States to the records, acts and judicial proceedings of 
the courts and magistrates of every other State. 

ARTICLE V. For the more convenient management 
of the general interests of the United States, delegates 
shall be annually appointed in such manner as the leg 
islature of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress 
on the first Monday in November, in every year, with 
a power reserved to each State, to recall its delegates, 
or any of them, at any time within the year, and to 
send others in their stead, for the remainder of the year. 

No State shall be represented in Congress by less 
than two, nor by more than seven members; and no 
person shall be capable of being a delegate for more 
than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any 
person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any of 
fice under the United States, for which he, or another 
for his benefit receives any salary, fees or emolument 
of any kind. 

Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a 
meeting of the States, and while they act as members 
of the committee of the States. 

In determining questions in the United States, in 
Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote. 

Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not 
be impeached or questioned in any court, or place out 
of Congress, and the members of Congress shall be 
protected in their persons from arrests and imprison 
ments, during the time of their going to and from, and 


attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or 
breach of the peace. 

ARTICLE VI. No State without the consent of the 
United States in Congress assembled, shall send any 
embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into 
any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with any 
king prince or state; nor shall any person holding any 
office of profit or trust under the United States, or any 
of them, accept of any present, emolument, office or 
title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or 
foreign state; nor shall the United States in Congress 
assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility. 

No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, 
confederation or alliance whatever between them, 
without the consent of the United States in Congress 
assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for 
which the same is to be entered into, and how long it 
shall continue. 

No state shall lay any imposts or duties, which may 
interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into 
by the United States in Congress assembled, with any 
king, prince or state, in pursuance of any treaties al 
ready proposed by Congress, to the courts of France 
and Spain. 

No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace 
by any State, except such number only, as shall be 
deemed necessary by the United States in Congress 
assembled, for the defence of such State, or its trade; 
nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State, 
in time of peace, except such number only, as in the 
judgment of the United States, in Congress assembled, 
shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts neces 
sary for the defence of such State ; but every State shall 


always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, 
sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide 
and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a 
due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper 
quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage. 

No State shall engage in any war without the con 
sent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless 
such State be actually invaded by enemies, or shall 
have received certain advice of a resolution being 
formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, 
and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a de 
lay, till the United States in Congress assembled can 
be consulted : nor shall any State grant commissions to 
any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or re 
prisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the 
United States in Congress assembled, and then only 
against the kingdom or state and the subjects thereof, 
against which war has been so declared, and under 
such regulations as shall be established by the United 
States in Congress assembled, unless such State be in 
fested by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be 
fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the 
danger shall continue, or until the United States in 
Congress assembled shall determine otherwise. 

ARTICLE VII. When land-forces are raised by any 
State for the common defence, all officers of or under 
the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the Legisla 
ture of each State respectively by whom such forces 
shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall 
direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State 
which first made the appointment. 

ARTICLE VIII. All charges of war, and all other ex 
penses that shall be incurred for the common defence 


or general welfare, and allowed by the United States 
in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a com 
mon treasury, which shall be supplied by the several 
States, in proportion to the value of all land within 
each State, granted to or surveyed for any person, as 
such land and the buildings and improvements thereon 
shall be estimated according to such mode as the 
United States in Congress assembled, shall from time 
to time direct and appoint. 

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid 
and levied by the authority and direction of the Legis 
latures of the several States within the time agreed 
upon by the United States in Congress assembled. 

ARTICLE IX. The United States in Congress as 
sembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and 
power of determining on peace and war, except in the 
cases mentioned in the sixth article of sending and 
receiving ambassadors entering into treaties and al 
liances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be 
made whereby the legislative power of the respective 
States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts 
and duties on foreigners, as their own people are sub 
jected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or im 
portation of any species of goods or commodities what 
soever of establishing rules for deciding in all cases, 
what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in 
what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in 
the service of the United States shall be divided or ap 
propriated of granting letters of marque and re 
prisal in times of peace appointing courts for the 
trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high 
seas and establishing courts for receiving and deter, 
mining finally appeals in all cases of captures, provided 


that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge 
of any of the said courts. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall also 
be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differ 
ences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise be 
tween two or more States concerning boundary, juris 
diction or any other cause whatever; which authority 
shall always be exercised in the manner following. 
Whenever the legislative or executive authority or 
lawful agent of any State in controversy with another 
shall present a petition to Congress, stating the matter 
in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof 
shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative 
or executive authority of the other State in contro 
versy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the 
parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be di 
rected to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or 
judges to constitute a court for hearing and determin 
ing the matter in question: but if they cannot agree, 
Congress shall name three persons out of each of the 
United States, and from the list of such persons each 
party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners 
beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thir 
teen; and from that number not less than seven, nor 
more than nine names as Congress shall direct, shall 
in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot, and 
the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five 
of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and 
finally determine the controversy, so always as a ma 
jor part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall 
agree in the determination: and if either party shall 
neglect to attend at the day appointed, without show 
ing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or 


being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall 
proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, 
and the Secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of 
such party absent or refusing; and the judgment and 
sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner 
before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if 
any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the author 
ity of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or 
cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pro 
nounce sentence, or judgment, which shall in like man 
ner be final and decisive, the judgment or sentence and 
other proceedings being in either case transmitted to 
Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for 
the security of the parties concerned: provided that 
every commissioner, before he sits in judgment, shall 
take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of 
the supreme or superior court of the State where the 
cause shall be tried, "well and truly to hear and deter 
mine the matter in question, according to the best of 
his judgment, without favour, affection or hope of re 
ward:" provided also that no State shall be deprived 
of territory for the benefit of the United States. 

All controversies concerning the private right of soil 
claimed under different grants of two or more States, 
whose jurisdiction as they may respect such lands, and 
the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the 
said grants or either of them being at the same time 
claimed to have originated antecedent to such settle 
ment of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either 
party to the Congress of the United States, be finally 
determined as near as may be in the same manner 
as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting 
territorial jurisdiction between different States. 


The United States in Congress assembled shall also 
have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulat 
ing the alloy and value of coin struck by their own 
authority, or by that of the respective States. fixing 
the standard of weights and measures throughout the 
United States. regulating the trade and managing 
all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the 
States, provided that the legislative right of any State 
within its own limits be not infringed or violated 
establishing and regulating post-offices from one State 
to another, throughout all the United States, and ex 
acting such postage on the papers passing thro' the 
same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the 
said office appointing all officers of the land forces, 
in the service of the United States, excepting regimen 
tal officers appointing all the officers of the naval 
forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the 
service of the United States making rules for the 
government and regulation of the said land and naval 
forces, and directing their operations. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall have 
authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of 
Congress, to be denominated "a Committee of the 
States," and to consist of one delegate from each State; 
and to appoint such other committees and civil officers 
as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of 
the United States under their direction to appoint 
one of their number to preside, provided that no person 
be allowed to serve in the office of president more than 
one year in any term of three years; to ascertain the 
necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of 
the United States, and to appropriate and apply the 
same for defraying the public expenses to borrow 


money, or emit bills on the credit of the United States, 
transmitting every half year to the respective States 
an account of the sums of money so borrowed or 
emitted, to build and equip a navy to agree up 
on the number of land forces, and to make requisitions 
from each State for its quota, in proportion to the num 
ber of white inhabitants in such State; which requisi 
tion shall be binding, and thereupon the Legislature of 
each State shall appoint the regimental officers, raise 
the men and cloath, arm and equip them in a soldier 
like manner, at the expense of the United States; and 
the officers and men so cloathed, armed and equipped 
shall march to the place appointed, and within the 
time agreed on by the United States in Congress as 
sembled: but if the United States in Congress as 
sembled shall, on consideration of circumstances judge 
proper that any State should not raise men, or should 
raise a smaller number than its quota, and that any 
other State should raise a greater number of men than 
the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, 
officered, cloathed, armed and equipped in the same 
manner as the quota of such State, unless the legisla 
ture of such State shall judge that such extra number 
cannot be safely spared out of the same, in which case 
they shall raise officer, cloath, arm and equip as many 
of such extra number as they judge can be safely 
spared. And the officers and men so cloathed, armed 
and equipped, shall march to the place appointed, and 
within the time agreed on by the United States in 
Congress assembled. 

The United States in Congress assembled shall never 
engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque and re 
prisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or 


alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value there 
of, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for 
the defence and welfare of the United States, or any of 
them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit 
of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree 
upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or pur 
chased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, 
nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, 
unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a ques 
tion on any other point, except for adjourning from 
day to day be determined, unless by the votes of a 
majority of the United States in Congress assembled. 

The Congress of the United States shall have power 
to adjourn to any time within the year, and to any 
place within the United States, so that no period of 
adjournment be for a longer duration than the space 
of six months, and shall publish the journal of their 
proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relat 
ing to treaties, alliances or military operations, as in 
their judgment require secresy ; and the yeas and nays 
of the delegates of each State on any question shall be 
entered on the journal, when it is desired by any delegate; 
and the delegates of a State, or any of them, at his or 
their request shall be furnished with a transcript of the 
said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, 
to lay before the Legislatures of the several States. 

ARTICLE X. The committee of the States, or any 
nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the re 
cess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the 
United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of 
nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to 
vest them with; provided that no power be delegated 
to the said committee, for the exercise of which, by the 


articles of confederation, the voice of nine States in the 
Congress of the United States assembled is requisite. 

ARTICLE XI. Canada acceding to this confedera 
tion, and joining in the measures of the United States, 
shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advan 
tages of this Union: but no other colony shall be ad; 
mitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed 
to by nine States. 

ARTICLE XII. All bills of credit emitted, monies 
borrowed and debts contracted by, or under the au 
thority of Congress, before the assembling of the 
United States, in pursuance of the present confedera 
tion, shall be deemed and considered as a charge 
against the United States, for payment and satisfac 
tion whereof the said United States, and the public 
faith are hereby solemnly pledged. 

ARTICLE XIII. Every State shall abide by the de 
terminations of the United States in Congress as 
sembled, on all questions which by this confederation 
are submitted to them. And the articles of this con 
federation shall be inviolably observed by every State, 
and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any altera 
tion at any time hereafter be made in any of them; un 
less such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the 
United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the 
Legislatures of every State. 

And whereas it has pleased the Great Governor of 
the world to incline the hearts of the Legislatures we 
respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and 
to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confed 
eration and perpetual union. Know ye that we the 
undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and 
authority to us given for that purpose, do by these 


presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective 
constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each 
and every of the said articles of confederation and per 
petual union, and all and singular the matters and 
things therein contained : and we do further solemnly 
plight and engage the faith of our respective con 
stituents, that they shall abide by the determinations 
of the United States in Congress assembled, on all 
questions, which by the said confederation are sub 
mitted to them. And that the articles thereof shall 
be inviolably observed by the States we respectively 
represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual. 

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands 
in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State 
of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the 
year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred 
and seventy-eight, and in the third year of the 
independence of America. 1 

On the part & behalf of the State of New Hampshire. 


August 8th, 1778. 

On the part and behalf of the State of Massachusetts Bay. 




1 From the circumstances of delegates from the same State hav 
ing signed the Articles of Confederation at different times, as 
appears by the dates, it is probable they affixed their names as 
they happened to be present in Congress, after they had been 
authorized by their constituents. 


On the part and behalf of the State of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations. 



On the part and behalf of the Sta'e of Connecticut. 



On the part and behalf of the State of New York. 



On the part and in behalf of the State of New Jersey, 
Novr. 26, 1778. 


On the part and behalf of the State of Pennsylvania. 



On the part & behalf of the State of Delaware. 




On the part and behalf of the State of Maryland. 

1781. 1781. 


On the part and behalf of the State of Virginia. 




On the part and behalf of the State of No. Carolina. 



On the part & behalf of the State of South Carolina. 




On the part & behalf of the State of Georgia. 





An Ordinance for the government of the territory of the 
United States northwest of the river Ohio. 

SECTION 1. Be it ordained by the United States in 
Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the 
purpose of temporary government, be one district, 
subject, however, to be divided into two districts, as 
future circumstances may, in the opinion of Congress, 
make it expedient. 

SEC. 2. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, 
That the estates both of resident and non-resident pro 
prietors in the said territory, dying intestate, shall de 
scend to, and be distributed among, their children and 
the descendants of a deceased child in equal parts, the 
descendants of a deceased child or grandchild to take 
the share of their deceased parent in equal parts among 
them; and where there shall be no children or descend 
ants, then in equal parts to the next of kin, in equal de 
gree; and among collaterals, the children of a deceased 
brother or sister of the intestate shall have, in equal 
parts among them, their deceased parent's share; and 
there shall, in no case, be a distinction between kindred 
of the whole and half blood; saving in all cases to the 



widow of the intestate, her third part of the real estate 
for life, and one-third part of the personal estate; and 
this law relative to descents and dower, shall remain in 
full force until altered by the legislature of the district. 
And until the governor and judges shall adopt laws as 
hereinafter mentioned, estates in the said territory 
may be devised or bequeathed by wills in writing, 
signed and sealed by him or her in whom the estate 
may be, (being of full age,) and attested by three wit 
nesses; and real estates may be conveyed by lease and 
release, or bargain and sale, signed, sealed, and deliv 
ered by the person, being of full age, in whom the es 
tate may be, and attested by two witnesses, provided 
such wills be duly proved, and such conveyances be 
acknowledged, or the execution thereof duly proved, 
and be recorded within one year after proper magis 
trates, courts, and registers, shall be appointed for 
that purpose; and personal property may be trans 
ferred by delivery, saving, however, to the French and 
Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kas- 
kaskias, Saint Vincents, and the neighboring villages, 
who have heretofore professed themselves citizens of 
Virginia, their laws and customs now being in force 
among them, relative to the descent and conveyance 
of property. 

SEC. 3. Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid t 
That there shall be appointed, from time to time, by 
Congress, a governor, whose commission shall continue 
in force for the term of three years, unless sooner re 
voked by Congress; he shall reside in the district, and 
have a freehold estate therein, in one thousand acres 
of land, while in the exercise of his office. 

SEC. 4. There shall be appointed from time to time, 


by Congress, a secretary, whose commission shall con 
tinue in force for four years, unless sooner revoked; he 
shall reside in the district, and have a freehold estate 
therein, in five hundred acres of land, while in the ex 
ercise of his office. It shall be his duty to keep and 
preserve the acts and laws passed by the legislature, 
and the public records of the district, and the proceed 
ings of the governor in his executive department, and 
transmit authentic copies of such acts and proceedings 
every six months to the Secretary of Congress. There 
shall also be appointed a court, to consist of three 
judges, any two of whom to form a court, who shall 
have a common-law jurisdiction, and reside in the dis 
trict, and have each therein a freehold estate, in five 
hundred acres of land, while in the exercise of their 
offices; and their commissions shall continue in force 
during good behavior. 

SEC. 5. The governor and judges, or a majority of 
them, shall adopt and publish in the distric[t] such 
laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may 
be necessary, and best suited to the circumstances of 
the district, and report them to Congress from time to 
time, which laws shall be in force in the district until 
the organization of the general assembly therein, un 
less disapproved of by Congress; but afterwards the 
legislature shall have authority to alter them as they 
shall think fit. 

SEC. 6. The governor, for the time being, shall be 
commander-in-chief of the militia, appoint and com 
mission all officers in the same below the rank of gen 
eral officers; all general officers shall be appointed and 
commissioned by Congress. 

SEC. 7. Previous to the organization of the general 


assembly the governor shall appoint such magistrates, 
and other civil officers, in each county or township, as 
he shall find necessary for the preservation of the peace 
and good order in the same. After the general as 
sembly shall be organized the powers and duties of 
magistrates and other civil officers shall be regulated 
and defined by the said assembly; but all magis 
trates and other civil officers, not herein otherwise di 
rected, shall, during the continuance of this temporary 
government, be appointed by the governor. 

SEC. 8. For the prevention of crimes and injuries, 
the laws to be adopted or made shall have force in all 
parts of the district, and for the execution of process, 
criminal and civil, the governor shall make proper di 
visions thereof; and he shall proceed, from time to 
time, as circumstances may require, to lay out the 
parts of the district in which the Indian titles shall 
have been extinguished, into counties and townships, 
subject, however, to such alterations as may thereafter 
be made by the legislature. 

SEC. 9. So soon as there shall be five thousand free 
male inhabitants, of full age, in the district, upon giv 
ing proof thereof to the governor, they shall receive 
authority, with time and place, to elect representatives 
from their counties or townships, to represent them in 
the general assembly: Provided, That for every five 
hundred free male inhabitants there shall be one repre 
sentative, and so on, progressively, with the number of 
free male inhabitants, shall the right of representation 
increase, until the number of representatives shall 
amount to twenty-five; after which the number and 
proportion of representatives shall be regulated by the 
legislature: Provided, That no person be eligible or 


qualified to act as a representative, unless he shall 
have been a citizen of one of the United States three 
years, and be a resident in the district, or unless he 
shall have resided in the district three years; and, 
in either case, shall likewise hold in his own right, 
in fee-simple, two hundred acres of land within the 
same: Provided also, That a freehold in fifty acres of 
land in the district, having been a citizen of one of 
the States, and being resident in the district, or the 
like freehold and two years' residence in the district, 
shall be necessary to qualify a man as an elector of 
a representative. 

SEC. 10. The representatives thus elected shall 
serve for the term of two years; and in case of the death 
of a representative, or removal from office, the gov 
ernor shall issue a writ to the county or township, for 
which he was a member, to elect another in his stead, 
to serve for the residue of the term. 

SEC. 11. The general assembly, or legislature, shall 
consist of the governor, legislative council, and a house 
of representatives. The legislative council shall con 
sist of five members, to continue in office five years, 
unless sooner removed by Congress; any three of whom 
to be a quorum; and the members of the council shall 
be nominated and appointed in the following manner, 
to wit: As soon as representatives shall be elected 
the governor shall appoint a time and place for them 
to meet together, and when met they shall nominate 
ten persons, resident in the district, and each possessed 
of a freehold in five hundred acres of land, and return 
their names to Congress, five of whom Congress shall 
appoint and commission to serve as aforesaid; and 
whenever a vacancy shall happen in the council, by 


death or removal from office, the house of representa 
tives shall nominate two persons, qualified as aforesaid, 
for each vacancy, and return their names to Congress, 
one of whom Congress shall appoint and commission 
for the residue of the term; and every five years, four 
months at least before the expiration of the time of 
service of the members of the council, the said house 
shall nominate ten persons, qualified as aforesaid, and 
return their names to Congress, five of whom Congress 
shall appoint and commission to serve as members of 
the council five years, unless sooner removed. And 
the governor, legislative council, and house of repre 
sentatives shall have authority to make laws in all 
cases for the good government of the district, not re 
pugnant to the principles and articles in this ordinance 
established and declared. And all bills, having passed 
by a majority in the house, and by a majority in the 
council, shall be referred to the governor for his assent; 
but no bill, or legislative act whatever, shall be of any 
force without his assent. The governor shall have 
power to convene, prorogue, and dissolve the general 
assembly when, in his opinion, it shall be expedient. 

SEC. 12. The governor, judges, legislative council, 
secretary, and such other officers as Congress shall ap 
point in the district, shall take an oath or affirmation of 
fidelity, and of office; the governor before the President 
of Congress, and all other officers before the governor. 
As soon as a legislature shall be formed in the district, 
the council and house assembled, in one room, shall 
have authority, by joint ballot, to elect a delegate 
to Congress, who shall have a seat in Congress, with 
a right of debating, but not of voting, during this 
temporary government. 


SEC. 13. And for extending the fundamental prin 
ciples of civil and religious liberty, which form the 
basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitu 
tions, are erected; to fix and establish those principles 
as the basis of all laws, constitutions, and governments, 
which forever hereafter shall be formed in the said 
territory; to provide, also, for the establishment of 
States, and permanent government therein, and for 
their admission to a share in the Federal councils on an 
equal footing with the original States, at as early pe 
riods as may be consistent with the general interest: 

SEC. 14. It is hereby ordained and declared, by the 
authority aforesaid, that the following articles shall be 
considered as articles of compact, between the original 
States and the people and States in the said territory, 
and forever remain unalterable, unless by common 
consent, to wit: 


No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and 
orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of 
his mode of worship, or religious sentiments, in the 
said territories. 


The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be 
entitled to the benefits of the writs of habeas corpus, 
and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate represen 
tation of the people in the legislature, and of judicial 
proceedings according to the course of the common 
law. All persons shall be bailable, unless for capital 
offences, where the proof shall be evident, or the pre 
sumption great. All fines shall be moderate; and no 


cruel or unusual punishments shall be inflicted. No 
man shall be deprived of his liberty or property, but by 
the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land, and 
should the public exigencies make it necessary, for the 
common preservation, to take any person's property, 
or to demand his particular services, full compensa 
tion shall be made for the same. And, in the just 
preservation of rights and property, it is understood 
and declared, that no law ought ever to be made or 
have force in the said territory, that shall, in any 
manner whatever, interfere with or affect private con 
tracts, or engagements, bona fide, and without fraud 
previously formed. 


Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary 
to good government and the happiness of mankind, 
schools and the means of education shall forever be 
encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be 
observed towards the Indians; their lands and prop 
erty shall never be taken from them without their con 
sent; and in their property, rights, and liberty they 
never shall be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and 
lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded 
in justice and humanity shall, from time to time, be 
made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and 
for preserving peace and friendship with them. 


The said territory, and the States which may be 
formed therein, shall forever remain a part of this con 
federacy of the United States of America, subject to 
the Articles of Confederation, and to such alterations 


therein as shall be constitutionally made; and to all the 
acts and ordinances of the United States in Congress 
assembled, conformable thereto. The inhabitants and 
settlers in the said territory shall be subject to pay a 
part of the Federal debts, contracted, or to be con 
tracted, and a proportional part of the expenses of 
government to be apportioned on them by Congress, 
according to the same common rule and measure by 
which apportionments thereof shall be made on the 
other States; and the taxes for paying their proportion 
shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction 
of the legislatures of the district, or districts, or new 
States, as in the original States, within the time agreed 
upon by the United States in Congress assembled. 
The legislatures of those districts, or new States, shall 
never interfere with the primary disposal of the soil by 
the United States in Congress assembled, nor with any 
regulations Congress may find necessary for securing 
the title in such soil to the bona-fide purchasers. No 
tax shall be imposed on lands the property of the 
United States; and in no case shall non-resident pro 
prietors be taxed higher than residents. The navi 
gable waters leading into the Mississippi and Saint 
Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, 
shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to 
the inhabitants of the said territory as to the citizens 
of the United States, and those of any other States 
that may be admitted into the confederacy, without 
any tax, impost, or duty therefor. 


There shall be formed in the said territory not less 
than three nor more than five States; and the bound- 


aries of the States, as soon as Virginia shall alter her 
act of cession and consent to the same, shall become 
fixed and established as follows, to wit: The western 
State, in the said territory, shall be bounded by the 
Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Wabash Rivers; a direct 
line drawn from the Wabash and Post Vincents, due 
north, to the territorial line between the United States 
and Canada; and by the said territorial line to the 
Lake of the Woods and Mississippi. The middle State 
shall be bounded by the said direct line, the Wabash 
from Post Vincents to the Ohio, by the Ohio, by a di 
rect line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great 
Miami to the said territorial line, and by the said terri 
torial line. The eastern State shall be bounded by the 
last-mentioned direct line, the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and 
the said territorial line: Provided, however t And it is 
further understood and declared, that the boundaries 
of these three States shall be subject so far to be al 
tered, that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expe 
dient, they shall have authority to form one or two 
States in that part of the said territory which lies north 
of an east and west line drawn through the southerly 
bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. And whenever 
any of the said States shall have sixty thousand free 
inhabitants therein, such State shall be admitted, by 
its delegates, into the Congress of the United States, 
on an equal footing with the original States, in all re 
spects whatever; and shall be at liberty to form a per 
manent constitution and State government: Provided, 
The constitution and government, so to be formed, 
shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles 
contained in these articles, and, so far as it can be 
consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, 


such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and 
when there may be a less number of free inhabitants 
in the State than sixty thousand. 


There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servi 
tude in the said territory, otherwise than in the pun 
ishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted : Provided always, That any person es 
caping into the same, from whom labor or service is 
lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such 
fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed 
to the person claiming his or her labor or service as 

Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the 
resolutions of the 23d of April, 1784, relative to the 
subject of this ordinance, be, and the same are hereby, 
repealed, and declared null and void. 

Done by the United States, in Congress assembled, 
the 13th day of July, in the year of our Lord 1787, and 
of their sovereignty and independence the twelfth. 



We THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form 
a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure do 
mestic Tranquility, provide for the common de 
fence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the 
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Poster 
ity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for 
the United States of America. 


SECTION. 1. All legislative Powers herein grant 
ed shall be vested in a Congress of the United 
States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of 

SECTION. 2. ' The House of Representatives shall 
be composed of Members chosen every second Year 
by the People of the several States, and the Electors 
in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite 
for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the 
State Legislature. 

a No Person shall be a Representative who shall not 
have attained to the Age of twenty-five Years, and 
been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and 
who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that 
State in which he shall be chosen. 



3 [Representatives and direct Taxes shall be appor 
tioned among the several States which may be included 
within this Union, according to their respective Num 
bers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole 
Number of free Persons, including those bound to Ser 
vice for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not 
taxed, three fifths 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 Num 
ber of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 
thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least 
one Representative; and until such enumeration shall 
be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled 
to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and 
Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New- 
York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Dela 
ware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina 
five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three. 

4 When vacancies happen in the Representation 
from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall 
issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies. 

5 The House of Representatives shall chuse their 
Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole 
Power of Impeachment. 

SECTION. 3. x 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 Con 
sequence 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 Ex 
piration of the second year, of the second Class at the 
Expiration of the fourth Year, and of 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 Re 
cess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive 
thereof may make temporary Appointments until the 
next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill 
such Vacancies. 

3 No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have at 
tained to the Age of thi[r]ty 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 chuse 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 Im 
peachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they 
shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President 
of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall pre 
side: And no Person shall be convicted without the 
Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. 

7 Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not ex 
tend further than to removal from Office, and dis 
qualification 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, accord 
ing to Law. 

SECTION. 4. * 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 Places 
of chusing 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. 

SECTION. 5. * Each House shall be the Judge of the 
Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Mem 
bers, 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 Rules of its Pro 
ceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, 
and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a 

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. 

4 Neither House, during the Session of Congress, 
shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for 
more than three days, nor to any other Place than that 
in which the two Houses shall be sitting. 


SECTION. 6. " The Senators and Representatives 
shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be 
ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of 
the United States. They shall in all Cases, except 
Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged 
from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of 
their respective Houses, and in going to and returning 
from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either 
House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place. 

2 No Senator or Representative shall, during the 
Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any 
civil Office under the Authority of the United States, 
which shall have been created, or the Emoluments 
whereof shall have been encreased during such time; 
and no Person holding any Office under the United 
States, shall be a Member of either House during his 
Continuance in Office. 

SECTION. 7. * All Bills for raising Revenue shall 
originate in the House of Representatives; but the 
Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on 
other Bills. 

2 Every Bill which shall have passed the House of 
Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it be 
come a Law, be presented to the President of the 
United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not 
he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in 
which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Ob 
jections at large on their Journal, and proceed to re 
consider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds 
of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be 
sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, 
by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if ap 
proved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a 


Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses 
shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names 
of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be 
entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If 
any Bill shall not be returned by the President within 
ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been 
presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like 
Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by 
their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case 
it shall not be a Law. 

3 Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the 
Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representa 
tives may be necessary (except on a question of Ad 
journment) shall be presented to the President of the 
United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, 
shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, 
shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and 
House of Representatives, according to the Rules and 
Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill. 

SECTION. 8. J The Congress shall have Power To 
lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to 
pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence 
and general Welfare of the United States; but all Du 
ties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout 
the United States; 

2 To borrow Money on the credit of the United 

3 To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and 
among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; 

4 To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, 
and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies 
throughout the United States; 

5 To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of 


foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and 

6 To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting 
the Securities and current Coin of the United States; 

7 To establish Post Offices and post Roads; 

8 To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, 
by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inven 
tors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings 
and Discoveries; 

9 To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme 

10 To define and punish Piracies and Felonies com 
mitted on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law 
of Nations; 

1 * To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Re 
prisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land 
and Water; 

1 3 To raise and support Armies, but no Appropria 
tion of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term 
than two Years; 

13 To provide and maintain a Navy; 

14 To make Rules for the Government and Regula 
tion of the land and naval Forces; 

15 To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute 
the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and 
repel Invasions; 

1 6 To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplin 
ing, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them 
as may be employed in the Service of the United States, 
reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment 
of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Mili 
tia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; 

17 To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases 


whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten 
Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, 
and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of 
the Government of the United States, and to exercise 
like Authority over all places purchased by the Con 
sent of the Legislature of the State in which the 
Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, 
Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; 

18 To make all Laws which shall be necessary and 
proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Pow 
ers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution 
in the Government of the United States, or in any 
Department or Officer thereof. 

SECTION. 9. I The Migration or Importation of such 
Persons as any of the States now existing shall think 
proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Con 
gress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred 
and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on 
such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each 

2 The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall 
not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or 
Invasion the public Safety may require it. 

3 No Bill of Attainder or expost facto Law shall be 

4 No Capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, 
unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration 
herein before directed to be taken. 

5 No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported 
from any State. 

6 No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of 
Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over 


those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, 
one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties 
in another. 

7 No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but 
in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and 
a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and 
Expenditures of all public Money shall be published 
from time to time. 

8 No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United 
States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or 
Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the 
Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or 
Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or 
foreign State. 

SECTION. 10. T No State shall enter into any Trea 
ty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of 
Marque or Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; 
make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender 
in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex 
post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of 
Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility. 

2 No State shall, without the Consent of the Con 
gress, lay any Imposts or Duties on imports or Ex 
ports, except what may be absolutely necessary for ex 
ecuting it's inspection Laws : and the net Produce of all 
Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or 
Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the 
United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the 
Revision and Controul of the Congress. 

3 No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, 
lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of 
War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or 
Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, 


or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such 
imminent Danger as will not admit of delay. 


SECTION. 1. x The executive Power shall be vested 
in a President of the United States of America. He 
shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, 
and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the 
same Term, be elected, as follows 

2 Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the 
Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, 
equal to the whole Number of Senators and Repre 
sentatives to which the State may be entitled in the 
Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person 
holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United 
States, shall be appointed an Elector. 

3 The Congress may determine the Time of chusing 
the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give 
their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout 
the United States. 

4 No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citi 
zen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of 
this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of Presi 
dent; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office 
who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five 
Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the 
United States. 

5 In Case of the Removal of the President from Of 
fice, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to dis 
charge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the 
same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Con 
gress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, 


Death, Resignation, or Inability, both of the President 
and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then 
act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, 
until the Disability be removed, or a President shall 
be elected. 

6 The President shall, at stated Times, receive for 
his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be 
encreased nor dimished during the Period for which he 
shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within 
that Period any other Emolument from the United 
States, or any of them. 

7 Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he 
shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: "I do 
solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute 
the Office of the President of the United States, and 
will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and 
defend the Constitution of the United States." 

SECTION. 2. * The President shall be Commander 
in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, 
and of the Militia of the several States, when called in 
to the actual Service of the United States; he may re 
quire the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in 
each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject 
relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and 
he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons 
for Offences against the United States, except in Cases 
of Impeachment. 

2 He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and 
Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two 
thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall 
nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of 
the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public 
Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, 


and all other Officers of the United States, whose Ap 
pointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and 
which shall be established by Law: but the Congress 
may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Of 
ficers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in 
the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments. 

3 The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacan 
cies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, 
by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End 
of their next Session. 

SECTION. 3. He shall from time to time give to the 
Congress Information of the State of the Union, and 
recommend to their Consideration such Measures as 
he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on ex 
traordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either 
of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, 
with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may ad 
journ them to such Time as he shall think proper; he 
shall receive Ambassadors and other public Minis 
ters; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully ex 
ecuted, and shall Commission all the Officers of the 
United States. 

SECTION. 4. The President, Vice President and 
all civil Officers of the United States, shall be re 
moved from Office on Impeachment for, and Convic 
tion of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and 


SECTION. 1. The judicial Power of the United 
States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in 
such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to 


time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the 
supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices 
during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, re 
ceive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall 
not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. 

SECTION. 2. z The judicial Power shall extend to all 
Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitu 
tion, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties 
made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; 
to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public 
Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty 
and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to 
which the United States shall be a Party; to Con 
troversies between two or more States; between a 
State and Citizens of another State between Citi 
zens of different States, between Citizens of the 
same State claiming Lands under Grants of different 
States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, 
and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects; 

2 In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public 
Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State 
shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original 
Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, 
the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, 
both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and 
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. 

3 The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Im 
peachment, shall be by Jury ; and such Trial shall be 
held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been 
committed ; but when not committed within any State, 
the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the 
Congress may by Law have directed. 

SECTION. 3. ' Treason against the United States, 


shall consist only in levying War against them, or in 
adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Com 
fort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless 
on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt 
Act, or on Confession in open Court. 

2 The Congress shall have Power to declare the Pun 
ishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall 
work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during 
the Life of the Person attainted. 


SECTION. 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in 
each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial 
Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress 
may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which 
such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, 
and the Effect thereof. 

SECTION. 2. ' The Citizens of each State shall be 
entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in 
the several States. 

2 A person charged in any State with Treason, Fel 
ony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and 
be found in another State, shall on Demand of the 
Executive Authority of the State from which he fled, 
be delivered up to be removed to the State having 
jurisdiction of the Crime. 

3 No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, 
under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, 
in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be 
discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall 
be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such 
Service or Labour may be due. 


SECTION. 3. r New States may be admitted by the 
Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be 
formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other 
State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two 
or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent 
of the Legislature of the States concerned as well as of 
the Congress. 

2 The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and 
make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the 
Territory or other Property belonging to the United 
States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so 
construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United 
States, or of any particular State. 

SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to 
every State in this Union a Republican Form of Gov 
ernment, and shall protect each of them against Inva 
sion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the 
Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) 
against domestic Violence. 


The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses 
shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to 
this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legis 
latures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a 
Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in 
either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, 
as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Leg 
islatures of three fourths of the several States, or by 
Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the 
other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the 
Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be 


made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred 
and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and 
fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article ; 
and that no State, without its Consent, shall be de 
prived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate. 


1 All Debts contracted and Engagements entered 
into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be 
as valid against the United States under this Constitu 
tion, as under the Confederation. 

2 This Constitution, and the Laws of the United 
States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and 
all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the 
Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme 
Law of the Land ; and the Judges in every State shall 
be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or 
Laws of any States to the Contrary notwithstanding. 

3 The Senators and Representatives before men 
tioned, and the Members of the several State Legisla 
tures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of 
the United States and of the several States, shall be 
bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Con 
stitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required 
as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under 
the United States. 


The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, 
shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Con 
stitution between the States so ratifying the Same. 


DONE in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the 
States present the Seventeenth Day of September 
in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hun 
dred and Eighty seven, and of the Independance 
of the United States of America the Twelfth In 
Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed 
our Names, 

Presidt. and Deputy from Virginia. 

New Hampshire. 



New York. 

New Jersey. 















North Carolina. 



South Carolina. 





Attest WILLIAM JACKSON Secretary 


THERE are many comprehensive histories which in 
clude the period covered by the present volume, of 
which a few without disparaging the others are 
deserving of mention for some particular reason. 
David Ramsay's History of the American Revolution, 
2 vols. (1789, and subsequently reprinted), gives but 
little space to this particular period, but it reveals the 
contemporary point of view. Richard Hildreth's His 
tory of the United States, 6 vols. (1849-1852), is another 
early work that is still of value, although it is written 
with a Federalist bias. J. B. McMaster's History of 
the People of the United States from the Revolution to the 
Civil War, 8 vols. (1883-1913), presents a kaleido 
scopic series of pictures gathered largely from contem 
porary newspapers, throwing light upon, and add 
ing color to the story. E. M. Avery's History of the 
United States, of which seven volumes have been pub 
lished (1904-1910), is remarkable for its illustrations 
and reproductions of prints, documents, and maps. 
Edward Channing's History of the United States, of 
which four volumes have appeared (1905-1917), is 
the latest, most readable, and probably the best of 
these comprehensive histories. 

Although it was subsequently published as Volume 
vi in a revised edition of his History of the United States 



of America, George Bancroft's History of the Formation 
of the Constitution, 2 vols. (1882), is really a separate 
work. The author appears at his best in these vol 
umes and has never been entirely superseded by later 
writers. G. T. Curtis's History of the Constitution of the 
United States, 2 vols. (1854), which also subsequently 
appeared as Volume I of his Constitutional History of 
the United States, is one of the standard works, but 
does not retain quite the same hold that Bancroft's 
volumes do. 

Of the special works more nearly covering the same 
field as the present volume, A. C. McLaughlin's The 
Confederation and the Constitution (1905), in the Amer 
ican Nation, is distinctly the best. John Fiske's Criti 
cal Period of American History (1888), written with 
the clearness of presentation and charm of style which 
are characteristic of the author, is an interesting and 
readable comprehensive account. Richard Frothing- 
ham's Rise of the Republic of the United States (1872; 
6th ed. 1895), tracing the two ideas of local self-govern 
ment and of union, begins with early colonial times 
and culminates in the Constitution. 

The treaty of peace opens up the whole field of diplo 
matic history, which has a bibliography of its own. 
But E. S. Corwin's French Policy and the American Al 
liance (1916) should be mentioned as the latest and 
best work, although it lays more stress upon the phases 
indicated by the title. C. H. Van Tyrie's Loyalists in 
the American Revolution (1902) remains the standard 
work on this subject, but special studies are appearing 
from time to time which are changing our point of view. 

The following books on economic and industrial as 
pects are not for popular reading, but are rather for 


reference: E. R. Johnson et al., History of the Domestic 
and Foreign Commerce of the United States, 2vols. (1915); 
V. S. Clark, History of the Manufactures of the United 
States, 1607-1860 (1916). G. S. Callender has written 
short introductions to the various chapters of his Selec 
tions from the Economic History of the United States 
(1909), which are brilliant interpretations of great 
value. P. J. Treat's The National Land System, 1785- 
1820 (1910), gives the most satisfactory account of the 
subject indicated by the title. Of entirely different 
character is Theodore Roosevelt's Winning of the West, 
4 vols. (1889-96; published subsequently in various 
editions), which is both scholarly and of fascinating 
interest on the subject of the early expansion into 
the West. 

On the most important subject of all, the formation 
of the Constitution, the material ordinarily wanted 
can be found in Max Farrand's Records of the Federal 
Convention, 3 vols. (1910), and the author has sum 
marized the results of his studies in The Framing of the 
Constitution (1913). C. A. Beard's An Economic In 
terpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913) 
gives some interesting and valuable facts regarding 
economic aspects of the formation of the Constitution, 
and particularly on the subject of investments in 
government securities. There is no satisfactory ac 
count of the adoption of the Constitution, but the de 
bates in many of the State conventions are included 
in Jonathan Elliot's Debates on the Federal Constitu 
tion, 5 vols. (1836-1845, subsequently reprinted in 
many editions). 

A few special works upon the adoption of the Con 
stitution in the individual States may be mentioned: 


H. B. Grigsby's History of the Virginia Federal Con 
vention 0/1788, Virginia Historical Society Collections, 
N. S., ix and x (1890-91); McMaster and Stone's 
Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787-88 
(1888); S. B. Harding's Contest over the Ratification of 
the Federal Constitution in the State of Massachusetts 
(1896); O. G. Libby's The Geographical Distribution of 
the Vote of the Thirteen States on the Federal Constitution, 
1787-1788 (University of Wisconsin, Bulletin, Econom 
ics, Political Science, and History Series, i, No. 1, 1894). 

Contemporary differences of opinion upon the Con 
stitution will be found in P. L. Ford's Pamphlets on the 
Constitution, etc. (1888). The most valuable commen 
tary on the Constitution, The Federalist, is to be found 
in several editions of which the more recent are by E. 
H. Scott (1895) and P. L. Ford (1898). 

A large part of the so-called original documents or 
first-hand sources of information is to be found in let 
ters and private papers of prominent men. For most 
readers there is nothing better than the American States 
men Series, from which the following might be selected : 
H. C. Lodge's George Washington (2 vols., 1889) and 
Alexander Hamilton (1882); J. T. Morse's Benjamin 
Franklin (1889), John Adams (1885), andThomas Jef 
ferson (1883) ; Theodore Roosevelt's Gouverneur Morris, 
(1888). Other readable volumes are P. L. Ford's The 
True George Washington (1896) and The Many-sided 
Franklin (1899) ; F. S. Oliver's Alexander Hamilton, An 
Essay on American Union (Newed. London, 1907) ; W. 
G. Brown's Life of Oliver Ellsworth (1905); A. McL. 
Hamilton's The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton 
(1910); James Schouler's Thomas Jefferson (1893); 
Gaillard Hunt's Life of James Madison (1902). 


Of the collections of documents it may be worth 
while to notice: Documentary History of the Constitu 
tion of the United States, 5 vols. (1894-1905); B. P. 
Poore's Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Char 
ters, etc., 2 vols. (1877) ; F. N. Thorpe's The Federal and 
State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and other Organic 
Laws, 7 vols. (1909); and the Journals of the Conti 
nental Congress (1904-1914), edited from the original 
records in the Library of Congress by Worthington C. 
Ford and Gaillard Hunt, of which 23 volumes have 
appeared, bringing the records down through 1782. 





FORTY signatures were attached to the Constitution 
of the United States in the Federal Convention on 
September 17, 1787, by thirty-nine delegates, repre 
senting twelve States, and the secretary of the Con 
vention, as the attesting officer. George Washing 
ton, who signed as president of the Convention, was 
a delegate from Virginia. There are reproduced in 
this volume the effigies or pretended effigies of thirty- 
seven of them, from etchings by Albert Rosenthal 
in an extra-illustrated volume devoted to the Mem 
bers of the Federal Convention, 1787, in the Thomas 
Addis Emmet Collection owned by the New York 
Public Library. The autographs are from the same 
source. This series presents no portraits of David 
Brearley of New Jersey, Thomas Fitzsimons of Pennsyl 
vania, and Jacob Broom of Delaware. With respect 
to the others we give such information as Albert Ro 
senthal, the Philadelphia artist, inscribed on each por 
trait and also such other data as have been unearthed 
from the correspondence of Dr. Emmet, preserved in the 
Manuscript Division of the New York Public Library. 
Considerable controversy has raged, on and off, but 
especially of late, in regard to the painted and etched 
is 225 


portraits which Rosenthal produced nearly a gener 
ation ago, and in particular respecting portraits which 
were hung in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. State 
ments in the case by Rosenthal and by the late Charles 
Henry Hart are in the American Art News, March 3, 
1917, p. 4. See also Hart's paper on bogus American 
portraits in Annual Report, 1913, of the American His 
torical Association. To these may be added some 
interesting facts which are not sufficiently known by 
American students. 

In the ninth decade of the nineteenth century, 
principally from 1885 to 1888, a few collectors of 
American autographs united in an informal association 
which was sometimes called a "Club," for the purpose 
of procuring portraits of American historical char 
acters which they desired to associate with respective 
autographs as extra-illustrations. They were pioneers 
in their work and their purposes were honorable. 
They cooperated in effort and expenses, in a most 
commendable mutuality. Prime movers and workers 
were the late Dr. Emmet, of New York, and Simon 
Gratz, Esq., still active in Philadelphia. These men 
have done much to stimulate appreciation for and the 
preservation of the fundamental sources of American 
history. When they began, and for many years 
thereafter, not the same critical standards reigned 
among American historians, much less among Ameri 
can collectors, as the canons now require. The mem 
bers of the "Club" entered into an extensive cor 
respondence with the descendants of persons whose 
portraits they wished to trace and then have repro 
duced. They were sometimes misled by these descend 
ants, who themselves, often great-grandchildren or 


more removed by ties and time, assumed that a given 
portrait represented the particular person in demand, 
because in their own uncritical minds a tradition was 
as good as a fact. 

The members of the "Club," then, did the best they 
could with the assistance and standards of their time. 
The following extract from a letter written by Gratz 
to Emmet, November 10, 1885, reveals much that 
should be better known. He wrote very frankly as 
follows: "What you say in regard to Rosenthal's work 
is correct: but the fault is not his. Many of the 
photographs are utterly wanting in expression or 
character; and if the artist were to undertake to cor 
rect these deficiencies by making the portrait what 
he may suppose it should be, his production (while 
presenting a better appearance artistically} might be 
very much less of a likeness than the photograph from 
which he works. Rosenthal always shows me a rough 
proof of the unfinished etching, so that I may advise 
him as to corrections & additions which I may consider 
justifiable & advisable." 

Other correspondence shows that Rosenthal re 
ceived about twenty dollars for each plate ' which he 
etched for the "Club." 

The following arrangement of data follows the order 
of the names as signed to the Constitution. The 
Emmet numbers identify the etchings in the bound 
volume from which they have been reproduced. 

1. George Washington, President (also delegate from 
Virginia), Emmet 9497, inscribed "Joseph 
Wright Pinxit Phila. 1784. Albert Rosenthal 
Phila. 1888. Aqua fortis." 



2. John Langdon, Emmet 9439, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting 
by Trumbull." 

Mr. Walter Langdon, of Hyde Park, N. Y., 
in January, 1885, sent to Dr. Emmet a photo 
graph of a "portrait of Governor John Lang 
don LL.D." An oil miniature painted on 
wood by Col. John Trumbull, in 1792, is in 
the Yale School of Fine Arts. There is also a 
painting of Langdon in Independence Hall, by 
James Sharpless. 

3. Nicholas Oilman, Emmet 9441, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." A drawing 
by the same artist formerly hung in Independ 
ence Hall. The two are not at all alike. No 
contemporary attribution is made and the 
Emmet correspondence reveals nothing. 


4. Nathaniel Gorham, Emmet 9443. It was etched 

by Albert Rosenthal but without inscription of 
any kind or date. A painting by him, in like 
ness identical, formerly hung in Independence 
Hall. No evidence in Emmet correspondence. 

5. Rufus King, Emmet 9445, inscribed "Etched by 

Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting by 
Trumbull." King was painted by Col. John 
Trumbull from life and the portrait is in the 
Yale School of Fine Arts. Gilbert Stuart 
painted a portrait of King and there is one by 
Charles Willson Peale in Independence Hall. 



6. William Samuel Johnson, Emmet 9447, inscribed 

"Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 from 
Painting by Gilbert Stuart." A painting by 
Rosenthal after Stuart hung in Independence 
Hall. Stuart's portrait of Dr. Johnson "was 
one of the first, if not the first, painted by 
Stuart after his return from England." Dated 
on back 1792. Also copied by Graham. 
Mason, Life of Stuart, 208. 

7. Roger Sherman, Emmet 9449, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting 
by Earle." The identical portrait copied by 
Thomas Hicks, after Ralph Earle, is in Inde 
pendence Hall. 


8. Alexander Hamilton, Emmet 9452, inscribed 

" Etched by Albert Rosenthal 1888 after Trum- 
bull." A full length portrait, painted by Col. 
John Trumbull, is in the City Hall, New York. 
Other Hamilton portraits by Trumbull are in 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 
the Boston Museum of Art, and in private 


9. William Livingston, Emmet 9454, inscribed 

" Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila., 1888." A 
similar portrait, painted by Rosenthal, formerly 
hung in Independence Hall . No correspondence 
relating to it is in the Emmet Collection. 


10. David Brearley. There is no portrait. Emmet 

9456 is a drawing of a Brearley coat-of-arms 
taken from a book-plate. 

11. William Paterson, Emmet 9458, inscribed "Albert 

Rosenthal Phila. 1888." A painted portrait 
by an unknown artist was hung in Independ 
ence Hall. The Emmet correspondence re 
veals nothing. 

12. Jonathan Dayton, Emmet 9460, inscribed "Albert 

Rosenthal." A painting by Rosenthal also 
formerly hung in Independence Hall. The 
two are dissimilar. The etching is a profile, 
but the painting is nearly a full-face portrait. 
The Emmet correspondence reveals no evidence. 


13. Benjamin Franklin, Emmet 9463, inscribed "C. 

W. Peale Pinxit. Albert Rosenthal Sc." 

14. Thomas Mifflin, Emmet 9466, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting 
by Gilbert Stuart." A portrait by Charles 
Willson Peale, in civilian dress, is in Independ 
ence Hall. The Stuart portrait shows Mifflin 
in military uniform. 

15. Robert Morris, Emmet 9470, inscribed "Gilbert 

Stuart Pinxit. Albert Rosenthal Sc." The 
original painting is in the Historical Society of 
Pennsylvania. Stuart painted Morris in 1795. 
A copy was owned by the late Charles Henry 
Hart; a replica also existed in the possession 
of Morris's granddaughter. Mason, Life of 
Stuart, 225. 


16. George Clymer, Emmet 9475, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting 
by C. W. Peale." There is a similar type 
portrait, yet not identical, in Independence 
Hall, where the copy was attributed to Dalton 
Edward Marchant. 

17. Thomas Fitzsimons. There is no portrait and the 

Emmet correspondence offers no information. 

18. Jared Ingersoll, Emmet 9468, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal after Painting by C. W. 
Peale." A portrait of the same origin, said to 
have been copied by George Lambdin, "after 
Rembrandt Peale," hung in Independence 

19. James Wilson, Emmet 9472, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal 1888." Seems to have 
been derived from a painting by Charles Will- 
son Peale in Independence Hall. 

20. Gouverneur Morris, Emmet 9477, inscribed 

" Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after a 
copy by Marchant from Painting by T. Sully." 
The Emmet correspondence has no reference 
to it. 


21. George Read, Emmet 9479, inscribed "Etched by 

Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." There is in 
Emmet 9481 a stipple plate " Engraved by J. B. 

Longacre from a Painting by Pine." It 

is upon the Longacre-Pine portrait that Rosen- 
thai and others, like H. B. Hall, have depended 
for their portrait of Read. 


22. Gunning Bedford, Jr., Emmet 9483, inscribed 

"Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." 
Rosenthal also painted a portrait, "after 
Charles Willson Peale," for Independence Hall. 
The etching is the same portrait. On May 13, 
1883, Mr. Simon Gratz wrote to Dr. Emmet: 
"A very fair lithograph can, I think, be made 
from the photograph of Gunning Bedford, Jun. ; 
which I have just received from you. I shall 
call the artist's attention to the excess of 
shadow on the cravat." The source was a 
photograph furnished by the Bedford de 

23. John Dickinson, Emmet 9485, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after Painting 
by C. W. Peale." The Peale painting is in 
Independence Hall. 

24. Richard Basseit, Emmet 9487, inscribed "Albert 

Rosenthal." There was also a painting by 
Rosenthal in Independence Hall. While simi 
lar in type, they are not identical. They vary 
in physiognomy and arrangement of hair. 
There is nothing in the Emmet correspondence 
about this portrait. 

25. Jacob Broom. There is no portrait and no i "for 

mation in the Emmet correspondence. 


26. James McHenry, Emmet 9490, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." Rosenthal 
also painted a portrait for Independence Hall 
"afterSaint-Memin." They are not alike. The 


etching faces three-quarters to the right, whilst 
the St. Memin is a profile portrait. In Janu 
ary, 1885, Henry F. Thompson, of Baltimore, 
wrote to Dr. Emmet: "If you wish them, you 
can get Portraits and Memoirs of James Mc- 
Henry and John E. Howard from their grand 
son J. Howard McHenry whose address is No. 
48 Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore." 

27. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Emmet 9494, in 

scribed "Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 
1888 after Trumbull." Rosenthal also painted 
a portrait for Independence Hall. They are not 
identical. A drawn visage is presented in the 
latter. In January, 1885, Henry F. Thompson 
of Baltimore, wrote to Dr. Emmet : " Mr. Daniel 
Jenifer has a Portrait of his Grand Uncle Daniel 
of St. Thomas Jenifer and will be glad to make 
arrangements for you to get a copy of it. . . . 
His address is No. 281 Linden Ave, Baltimore." 
In June, of the same year, Simon Gratz wrote 
to Emmet: "The Dan. of St. Thos. Jenifer is so 
bad, that I am almost afraid to give it to Rosen- 
thai. Have you a better photograph of this 
man (from the picture in Washington [sic.]), 
spoken of in one of your letters?" 

28. Daniel Carroll, Emmet 9492, inscribed " Etched by 

Albert Rosenthal, Phila. 1888." Henry F. 
Thompson, of Baltimore, in January, 1885, 
wrote to Dr. Emmet: "If you will write to 
Genl. John Carroll No. 61 Mount Vernon 
Place you can get a copy of Mr. Carroll's 
(generally known as Barrister Carroll) Por 



29. John Blair, Emmet 9500, inscribed "Albert 

Rosenthal Etcher." He also painted a por 
trait for Independence Hall. The two are of 
the same type but not alike. The etching is a 
younger looking picture. There is no evidence 
in the Emmet correspondence. 

30. James Madison, Jr., Emmet 9502, inscribed 

"Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after 
Painting by G. Stuart." Stuart painted sev 
eral paintings of Madison, as shown in Mason, 
Life of Stuart, pp. 218-9. Possibly the Rosen- 
thai etching was derived from the picture in the 
possession of the Coles family of Philadelphia. 


31. William Blount, Emmet 9504, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." He also 
painted a portrait for Independence Hall. 
The two are alike. In November, 1885, Moses 
White, of Knoxville, Tenn., wrote thus: Genl. 
Marcus J. Wright, published, last year, a life 
of Wm. Blount, which contains a likeness of 
him. . . . This is the only likeness of Gov. 
Blount that I ever saw." This letter was 
written to Mr. Bathurst L. Smith, who for 
warded it to Dr. Emmet. 

32. Richard Dobbs Spaight, Emmet 9506, inscribed 

"Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1887." 
In Independence Hall is a portrait painted by 
James Sharpless. On comparison these two 
are of the same type but not alike. The 


etching presents an older facial appearance. 
On November 8, 1886, Gen. John Meredith 
Read, writing from Paris, said he had found in 
the possession of his friend in Paris, J. R. D. 
Shepard, "St. Memin's engraving of his great 
grandfather Governor Spaight of North Caro 
lina." In 1887 and 1888, Dr. Emmet and Mr. 
Gratz were jointly interested in having Albert 
Rosenthal engrave for them a portrait of 
Spaight. On December 9, 1887, Gratz wrote 
to Emmet: "Spaight is worthy of being etched; 
though I can scarcely agree with you that our 
lithograph is not a portrait of the M. O. C. Is 
it taken from the original Sharpless portrait, 
which hangs in our old State House? . . . 
However if you are sure you have the right man 
in the photograph sent, we can afford to ignore 
the lithograph." 

33. Hugh Williamson, Emmet 9508, inscribed 

"Etched by Albert Rosenthal after Painting 
by J. Trumbull Phila. 1888," Rosenthal also 
painted a copy "after John Wesley Jarvis" for 
Independence Hall. The two are undoubtedly 
from the same original source. The Emmet 
correspondence presents no information on this 


34. John Rutledge, Emmet 9510, inscribed "Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888 after J. Trum- 
bull." The original painting was owned by the 
Misses Rutledge, of Charleston, S. C 


35. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Emmet 9512, in 

scribed "Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 
1888. Painting by Trumbull." An oil minia 
ture on wood was painted by Col. John Trum 
bull, in 1791, which is in the Yale School of 
Fine Arts. Pinckney was also painted by 
Gilbert Stuart and the portrait was owned by 
the family at Runnymeade, S. C. TrumbulFs 
portrait shows a younger face. 

36. Charles Pinckney, Emmet 9514, inscribed " Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." He also 
painted a portrait for Independence Hall. 
They are alike. In the Emmet correspondence 
the following information, furnished to Dr. 
Emmet, is found: "Chas. Pinckney Mr. 
Henry L. Pinckney of Stateburg [S. C.] has a 
picture of Gov. Pinckney." The owner of this 
portrait was a grandson of the subject. On 
January 12, 1885, P. G. De Saussure wrote to 
Emmet: "Half an hour ago I received from the 
Photographer two of the Pictures [one being] 
Charles Pinckney copied from a portrait owned 
by Mr. L. Pinckney who lives in Stateburg, 
S. C." The owner had put the portrait at Dr. 
Emmet's disposal, in a letter of December 
4, 1884, in which he gave its dimensions as 
"about 3 ft. nearly square," and added, "it is 
very precious to me." 

37. Pierce Butler, Emmet 9516, inscribed "Etched by 

Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." He also 
painted a portrait for Independence Hall. 
They are dissimilar and dubious. Three let 
ters in the Emmet correspondence refer to the 


Butler portraiture. On January 31, 1887, 
Mrs. Sarah B. Wister, of Philadelphia, wrote 
to Dr. Emmet: "I enclose photograph copies 
of two miniatures of Maj. Butler wh. Mr. 
Louis Butler [a bachelor then over seventy 
years old living in Paris, France] gave me not 
long ago : I did not know of their existence until 
1882, & never heard of any likeness of my great 
grandfather, except an oil-portrait wh. was last 
seen more than thirty years ago in a lumber 
room in his former house at the n. w. corner of 
8th & Chestnut streets [Phila.], since then 
pulled down." On February 8th, Mrs. Wister 
wrote: "I am not surprised that the two minia 
tures do not strike you as being of the same 
person. Yet I believe there is no doubt of it; 
my cousin had them from his father who was 
Maj. Butler's son. The more youthful one is 
evidently by a poor artist, & therefore probably 
was a poor likeness." In her third letter to 
Dr. Emmet, on April 5, 1888, Mrs. Wister 
wrote: "I sent you back the photo, from the 
youthful miniature of Maj. Butler & regret 
very much that I have no copy of the other 
left; but four sets were made of wh. I sent 
you one & gave the others to his few living 
descendants. I regret this all the more as 
I am reluctant to trust the miniature again 
to a photographer. I live out of town so that 
there is some trouble in sending & calling for 
them; (I went personally last time, & there 
are no other likenesses of my great grandfather 



38. William Few, Emmet 9518, inscribed "Etched by 

Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." He also 
painted a portrait "after John Ramage," for 
Independence Hall. They are identical. 

39. Abraham Baldwin, Emmet 9520, inscribed " Etched 

by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 1888." There is 
also a painting "after Fulton" in Independ 
ence Hall. They are of the same type but not 
exactly alike, yet likely from the same original. 
The variations may be just artist's vagaries. 
There is no information in the Emmet corre 

40. William Jackson, Secretary, Emmet 9436, in 

scribed "Etched by Albert Rosenthal Phila. 
1888 after Painting by J. Trumbull." Rosen- 
thai also painted a copy after Trumbull for 
Independence Hall. They are identical. 


Adams, John, on American 
Peace Commission, 9 et seq.; 
personal characteristics, 10; 
negotiates commercial treaty 
with the Netherlands, 11; 
on fisheries question, 13-14; 
on settlement of commer 
cial indebtedness, 14-15; on 
granting compensation to 
Loyalists, 20; complains of 
trade restrictions for New 
England, 26 

Adams, Samuel, and the Con 
stitution, 151, 152 

Albany Congress (1754), 49, 

Annapolis Trade Convention 
(1786), 100-06 

Anti-Federalist party, 147 

Articles of Confederation, adop 
tion (1777), 49-50; ratifica 
tion (1781), 50, 57-59; based 
on Franklin's plan of union, 
61-52; provisions, 52-54, 67- 
68, 86, 100; questions of land 
ownership delay ratification, 
56-57, 58; financial power of 
Congress under, 86; failure 
of Commercial amendment 
of 1784, 99; relation to 
Constitution, 125, 131, 144; 
defects corrected in Con 
stitution, 142; attempt at 
revision, 144-45; text, 175- 

Assenisipia, 69 


Bancroft, George, History of 
the Formation of the Con- 
sitution, cited, 103 (note) 

Biddle, Charles, Autobiogra 
phy, on the Constitution 

Bowdoin, James, Governor of 
Massachusetts, and Shays' 
Rebellion, 94, 95 

Bryce, Lord, cited, 13 (note) 

Cambridge (Mass.), Shays' Re 
bellion at, 94 

Canada, Loyalists go to, 19; 
Articles of Confederation on 
admitting, 67 

Channing, Edward, History of 
the United States, cited, 21 
(note), 61 (note) 

Cherronesus, 69 

China, trade with, 28 

Combe, George, Tour of the 
United States, quoted, 45 

Commerce, before Revolution, 
24; conditions after Revo 
lution, 24-27; commercial 
treaties, 26; development of 
trade with Far East, 28; 
phases of United States 
foreign trade, 28-29; domes 
tic trade, 29-30; policy of 
reprisal, 97-99 

Committees of Correspond 
ence, 49 




Confederation, the, 35 et seq., 
108; see also Articles of 

Congress, Continental, advises 
States to adopt governments, 
38; prints constitutions, 41; 
Declaration of Independ 
ence, 49, 63, 143-44, 167-74; 
Articles of Confederation, 
49-50, 51; see also Articles of 
Confederation; Franklin's 
plan of union, 50-51; com 
position, 85; financial prob 
lem, 85-86 

Congress, Federal, 52-53; pow 
ers and duties, 53-54; and 
Northwest Territory, 62; 
national system of coinage, 
63-64; Land Ordinance 
(1785), 64-66, 71; Jefferson's 
Ordinance of 1784, 69-71, 75; 
Ordinance of 1787, 72-80, 
190-200; inefficiency, 81-84, 
127; Revenue Amendment, 
87; financial crisis, 87-88; 
commercial amendment of 
1784, 98-99; calls Federal 
Convention, 106; reception 
of Constitution, 145-46; 
votes that presidential elec 
tors be chosen (1788), 163 

Congress, United States, Con 
stitutional powers and limi 
tations, 127-29, 130, 131, 
136; objection to excessive 
power of, 161; revenue act 
(1789), 159 

Connecticut, State govern 
ment, 44; ratification of Con 
stitution, 149-50 

Constitution, development of, 
108 et seq., 125 et seq.\ great 
compromise of, 121-23, 127; 
transmitted to Congress, 
145-46; contest over ratifi 
cation, 146 ct seq. ; framed by 
propertied interests, 162- 
163; text, 201-18; bibliog 
raphy, 221-22 

Cook, Captain James, 28 
Cornwallis, General Edward, 

surrender at Yorktown 

(1781), 5 
Crevecceur, letter to Jefferson, 

Cutler, Manasseh, 73-74 


Day, Clive, Encyclopedia of 
American Government, cited, 
26 (note) 

Declaration of Independence, 
adopted, 49; Jefferson drafts, 
63; charges against the King, 
143-44; text, 167-74 

Delaware, and western land 
policy, 57; Annapolis Trade 
Convention, 100; ratifica 
tion of Constitution, 149 

Dickerson, Senator, of New 
Jersey, quoted, 78 

Dickinson, John, chairman of 
committee to prepare Ar 
ticles of Confederation, 49, 
51, 114; against centralized 
government, 114 

District of Columbia, fear of a 
fortified stronghold, 161 

Duer, Colonel William, 74 

Dunn, J. P., Jr., Indiana: A 
Redemption from Slavery, 
quoted, 71 

Dunning, W. A., The British 
Empire and the United States, 
cited, 13 (note) 


Elliot's Debates on the Federal 
Constitution, cited 160 (note) 

Ellsworth, Oliver, delegate to 
Federal Convention, 115, 
124; on slavery, 130; report 
on Rhode Island's ratifica 
tion of Constitution, 159 

England, see Great Britain 

Executive, see President 



Federal Convention, 106-07, 
108 et seq.; Records, cited, 
30 (note) 

Federalist, The, 157 

Federalist party, 147 

Finance, questions of settle 
ment of debts, 14-15, 147- 
148; condition of currency, 
31-32; national system of 
coinage, 63-64; Revenue 
Amendment, 87; financial 
crisis, 87-88; revenue act 
(1789), 159 

Fish, C. R., American Diplo 
macy, quoted, 27 

Fisheries, 13-14, 25 

Fiske, John, The Critical Pe 
riod of American History, 
quoted, 81 

France, attitude toward United 
States, 4-5; relationship of 
United States with, 6-8; 
treaty with United States 
(1778), 7; excludes United 
States shipping, 26-27 

Franklin, Benjamin, author 
ized to negotiate consular 
convention with France, 5; 
on Peace Commission, 8-9, 
11-12, 21; personal charac 
teristics, 9; on settlement of 
debts, 14; Albany plan, 50; 
presents plan of union to 
Continental Congress (1775), 
50-52; in Federal Conven 
tion, 113, 120; on the new 
republic, 134-35; personal 
charge against, 161; bibliog 
raphy, 222 

French and Indian War, effect 
on settlement, 56 

Georgia, ratification of Con 
stitution, 149 

Germany, American mission 
ary societies, 3 

Gerry, Elbridge, 115, 132, 135 
Gorham, Nathaniel,! 13-14, 124 
Grayson, William, of Virginia, 

64; quoted, 76-77 
Great Britain, attitude toward 
former colonies, 8; American 
missionary societies, 3; ad 
mits independence of colo 
nies, 6; France and, 7; Spain 
and, 7; and United States 
boundary lines, 12-13; and 
fisheries, 13-14; relation to 
American trade, 24-28, 97- 
98; compact theory of gov 
ernment in, 39; military 
posts retained by, 84-85 
Grigsby, H. B., quoted, 15-16 

Hamilton, Alexander, at Anna 
polis Trade Convention, 104, 
105; personal characteristics, 
104-05; at Federal Conven 
tion, 115-16, 120; on com 
mittee to revise Constitu 
tion, 140; and The Federalist, 
156-57; influence in New 
York convention, 157; bibli 
ography, 222 

Hancock, John, 150, 151-52 
Henry, Prince, of Prussia, ap 
proached on subject of be 
coming king of United States, 

Henry, Patrick, 61, 63, 155 
Hopkinson, letter to Jefferson, 


Hutchins, Thomas, Geographer 
of the United States, 64 


Illinoia, 69 

Illinois admitted as State 
(1818), 79 

Independent Gazetteer, The, 156 

Indian Queen Tavern, dele 
gates to Federal Convention 
at, 109 



Indiana admitted as State 
(1816). 79 

Jameson, J. F., quoted, 59- 

Jay, John, on reciprocity of 
consular convention with 
France, 5; Peace Commis 
sioner, 10, 11; personal char 
acteristics, 10-11; sent to 
Spain, 11; on settlement of 
debts, 15; on compensation 
to Loyalists, 20; and The 
Federalist, 156-57 

Jefferson, Ferdinand, quoted, 
174 (note) 

Jefferson, Thomas, on Peace 
Commission, 10; and land 
policy, 62-64; life and char 
acteristics, 62-63; Ordinance 
of 1784, 67, 69-71, 75; on 
value of Continental scrip, 
88-89; opinion of Federal 
Convention, 109, 116; spokes 
man for colonies, 143; on 
ratification of Constitution, 
152; Hopkinson's letter to, 
161; CrevecoBur's letter to, 
165; bibliography, 222 

Jefferson's Ordinance of 1784, 
see Ordinance of 1784 

Jenifer, Daniel of St. Thomas, 

Johnson, Dr. W. S., 115, 140 

Judiciary, 131-33 


Kent, Chancellor, 61 

Kercheval, Samuel, History of 
the Valley of Virginia, quoted, 

King, Rufus, in Federal Con 
vention, 113, 132, 140; on 
three-fifths rule, 122; on 
form of executive, 134 

Knox, Henry, 61 

Lafayette, Marquis de, Wash 
ington's letter to, 164-65 

La Luzerne, Chevalier de, 
French Minister in Phila 
delphia, 7 

Land, question of ownership of 
western, 56-57; cession to 
United States by States, 
58-59; American interest in, 
59-62; Jefferson and land 
policy, 62-64; plan for sale 
under Ordinance of 1785, 

Land Ordinance of 1785, 64-66, 

Lansing, John, 116 

Laurens, Henry, 10 

Lecky, W. E. H., The American 
Revolution, cited, 32 (note) 

Lincoln, General Benjamin, 
and Shays' Rebellion, 94; 
letter to Washington, 152- 

Lingelbach, W. E., cited, 3 

Loyalists, question of compen 
sation of, 16-17, 19-20; 
groups comprising, 17; treat 
ment of, 18-19; Commis 
sioners agree to restitution, 20 


McMaster, J. B., History of the 
People of the United States, 
quoted, 31; Acquisition of 
Industrial, Popular, and Po 
litical Rights of Man in 
America, quoted, 45 

Madison, James, describes 
trade situation, 30; on viola 
tion of federal authority by 
Virginia, 100-01; personal 
characteristics, 103-04; and 
Annapolis Trade Conven 
tion, 104; quoted, 108; Wash 
ington and, 111; for strong 



Madison, James Continued 
central government, 115; 
in Federal Convention, 111, 
132, 140; supports Con 
stitution, 155; and The Fed 
eralist, 156-57 

Martin, Luther, 116, 132, 153 

Maryland, and land claims, 57, 
58; suggestion as to power of 
Congress over western land, 
68; agreement with Virginia, 
100, 104; ratification of Con 
stitution, 153-54 

Mason, George, 112, 132, 155 

Massachusetts, State Constitu 
tion submitted to people for 
approval, 46; Shays' Rebel 
lion (1786), 91-96; ratifica 
tion of Constitution, 150-53 

Mayflower Compact, 40 

Mesopotamia, 69 

Michigania, 69 

Mississippi River, right of 
navigation declared, 14 

Monroe, James, invests in 
western land, 61; Grayson 
writes to, 76 

Morris, Gouverneur, invests in 
western land, 61; quoted, 
108, 140; in Federal Con 
vention, 112-13, 132, 140; 
and Washington, 113 (note) 

Morris, Robert, invests in 
western land, 61 


Navigation Acts, 24, 27 
Netherlands, the, commercial 

treaty with, 11 
New England, prosperity due 

to commerce, 24; effect of 

trade restrictions on, 26; 

"plantation covenants" 40; 

system of land grant, 65; 

interest in trade, 97; favors 

navigation acts, 129 
New England Confederation 

(1643), 48 

New Hampshire, Vermont 
withdraws from New York 
and, 68; and Federal Con 
vention, 106-07; ratification 
of Constitution, 154-55, 157 

New Jersey, ratification of 
Constitution, 149 

New Jersey Plan, 118, 119, 
121, 125-26 

New York cession of western 
land claims to United States, 
58, 59; Vermont withdraws 
from New Hampshire and, 
68; refuses to accede to 
Revenue Amendment, 88; 
ratification of Constitution, 
150, 156-58 

New York City chosen as seat 
of government, 163 

Newburg on the Hudson, mu 
tinous Revolutionary sol 
diers at, 81-82 

Newfoundland, fisheries, 13 

North Carolina, ratification of 
Constitution, 158 

Northwest Ordinance, 55 et 
seq.; see also Land Ordinance 
of 1785, Ordinance of 1784, 
Ordinance of 1787 

Northwest Territory, settle 
ment, 55-56; States relin 
quish claims, 57-59; ques 
tions of land sale and govern 
ment, 62 et seq. 


Ohio admitted as State (1802), 


OhioCompanyof Associates, 72 
Ordinance of 1784,67,69-71,75 
Ordinance of 1785, see Land 

Ordinance of 1785 
Ordinance of 1787, Congress 
adopts, 72; stimulus from 
Ohio Company, 72-74; au 
thorship, 75; provisions, 75- 
77; successful operation, 77- 
80; text, 190-200 



Oregon, question of military 
occupation (1825), 77-78 

Otto, -Louis, French Charge 
d'Affaires, letter to Ver- 
gennes, 101-03 

Panic of 1785, 30-31 

Paterson, William, against plan 
of centralized government, 

Pelisipia, 69 

Pennsylvania, invited to form 
commercial policy with other 
States, 100; ratification of 
Constitution, 148-49 

Philadelphia, enthusiasm for 
Constitution in, 148, 149 

Philadelphia Convention, see 
Federal Convention 

Pilgrim Fathers, Mayflower 
Compact, 40 

Pinckney, Charles, 114, 126 

Pinckney, General C. C., 114 

Political parties, 146-47; see 
also names of parties 

Polypotamia, 69 

Pontiac's Conspiracy, effect 
on settlement, 56 

Potomac River, agreement be 
tween Virginia and Mary 
land regarding, 100 

President, creation of office, 
133-34; presidency modeled 
after State governorships, 
134; election of, 136-37; 
third term, 137-38; powers, 
138; Washington chosen as 
first, 138-39 

Princeton, Congress flees to, 

Proclamation of 1763, 56, 57 


Randolph, Edmund, 112, 124; 

quoted, 134 
Read. W. T., Life and Corre 

spondence of George Read, 
quoted, 113 (note) 
"Revolution of 1789," 144 
Revolutionary War, effect on 
American people, 22; eco 
nomic conditions after, 23 
et seq. 

Rhode Island, State govern 
ment, 44; and question of 
western land ownership, 
57; rejects tariff provision 
(1782), 86; currency trouble 
(1786), 89-90; attitude to 
ward Shays' Rebellion, 95; 
recognition of bad trade con 
ditions, 96; and Federal 
Convention, 106; ratifica 
tion of Constitution, 158, 

Roads, see Transportation 
Rousseau, J. J., Contrat Social, 


Russia, trade with, 28 
Rutledge, John, 114, 124, 125 

St. Clair, General Arthur, Cut 
ler endorses for governorship 
of New York, 74 

Saratoga, 69 

Scioto Associates, 74 

Shays, Daniel, 94 

Shays' Rebellion (1786), 91-96 

Sherman, Roger, 115 

Slavery, Ordinance of 1784 on, 
70; Ordinance of 1787 on, 
76-77; counting of slaves 
in enumerating population, 
121-22; attitude of Federal 
Convention delegates to 
ward, 130 

Slave trade, compromise con 
cerning, 129-30 

South, system of land grant, 
65; need for slaves, 129 

South Carolina, class control 
in, 45; ratification of Con 
stitution, 154 



Spain, France and, 7-8; and 
United States, 8; possessions 
in America, 8; Jay sent to, 
11; excludes United States 
shipping, 26 

Stamp Act Congress (1765), 

Stark, J. H., quoted, 18-19 

State governmants, establish 
ment of, 38; constitutions, 
41-43; identical with colon 
ial, 44; aristocratic tenden 
cies, 44-45, 47-48; demo 
cratic tendencies, 46-47, 48 

Steiner, B. C., Connecticut's 
Ratification of the Federal 
Constitution, quoted, 159- 

Suffrage, 36-37, 45 

Supreme Court established, 
131; see also Judiciary 

Sylvania, 69 

Thieriot, Saxon Commissioner 
of Commerce to America, 
quoted, 3, 4-5 

Tory party, 146 

Transportation, 29-30; see also 

Treaty of Peace (1783), 1 et 
seq.\ ratified, 21; determines 
boundaries, 12-13, 56; bibli 
ography of diplomatic his 
tory connected with, 220 

Trevett vs. Weeden (1786), 90- 

Tuckerman, Henry, America 
and her Commentators, cited, 
33 (note) 


United Empire Loyalists, 19 
United States, named, 1; sta 
tus as new republic, 1-5; 
population, 2-3, 35, 55-56; 
boundaries, 12-13, 56; eco 

nomic condition after Revo 
lution, 23 et seq.; commercial 
treaties, 26; aristocratic con 
trol in, 36, 44-45; suffrage 
after the Revolution, 36-37; 
political genius in, 37-38; 
see also names of States, 
State governments 

Vergennes, Comte de, French 
Minister, Franklin and, 21; 
Otto's letter to, 101-03 

Vermont, withdraws from New 
York and New Hampshire, 
68; attitude in Shays' Re 
bellion, 95 

Vincennes, effect of Ordinance 
of 1784 on, 71 

Virginia, abolishes primogeni 
ture, 46; cession of western 
claims to United States, 58, 
59, 62; agreement with 
Maryland, 100; and Anna 
polis Trade Convention, 
100-01, 103-04; ratification 
of Constitution, 150, 155- 
156, 157 

Virginia Plan, 117-19, 121-22, 
123, 126-27, 144 

Virginia Resolutions, see Vir 
ginia Plan 


Warden, John, Grigsby's story 
of, 15-18 

Warville, Brissot de, quoted, 

Washington, George, invests 
in western land, 61; influ 
ence over disaffected soldiers, 
82-83; in Federal Conven 
tion, 110-11; and Madison, 
111; and Morris, 113 (note); 
chosen as President, 139; 
Lincoln's letter to, 152-53; 



Washington, George Cont'd 
supports Constitution, 155; 
personal charge against, 161 ; 
letter to Lafayette, 164-65; 
inauguration, 166 

Washington, name given divi 
sion of Northwest Territory, 

Webster, Daniel, on Ordinance 
of 1787, 79-80 

West Indies, trade with, 23, 27, 


Whig party, 146-47 
Wilson, James, 61, 108, 112. 

115, 124, 132 
Wythe, George, 63, 112 

Yates, Robert, 116 


Los Angeles 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

2 6 1977 




07 1888 

Form L9-Series 4939 

3 1158 00861 1328 


AA 000862841 4