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FAMILIAR EXPOSITION

OF THE

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

CHAPTER I.

History of the Colonies.

§ 1. BEFORE entering upon the more immediate object of this work, which is, to present to the general reader a familiar exposition of the nature and objects of the different provisions of the Constitution of the United States, it seems proper to take a brief review of the origin and settlement of the various States, originally composing the Union, and their political relations to each other at the time of its adoption. This will naturally conduct us back to the American Revolution, and to the formation of the Confederation of the States, consequent thereon. But if we stop here, we shall still be surrounded by difficulties, unless we understand the political organization of the various colonies during their common dependence upon the sovereignty of Great Britain, and we are in some degree made acquainted with the domestic institutions, policy, and legislation, which impressed upon each of them some peculiar habits, interests, opinions, attachments, and even prejudices, which may still be traced in the actual jurisprudence of each State, and are openly or silently referred to in some of the provisions of the Constitution of Government, by which they are

acter.

now. upited. This review will, however, contain but a rapid glance at these: various important topics, and the reader must be left to satisfy his further inquiries by the study of works of a mere large and comprehensive char

§ 2. The Thirteen American Colonies which, on the fourth day of July, 1776, declared themselves free and independent States, were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. All these colonies were originally settled by British subjects, under the express or implied authority of the government of Great Britain, except New York, which was originally settled by emigrants from Holland, and Delaware, which, although at one time an appendage to the Government of New York, was at first principally inhabited by the Dutch and Swedes. The British government, however, claimed the territory of all these colonies by the right of original discovery, and at all times resisted the claim of the Dutch to make any settlement in America. The Colony of New York became, at an early period, subject to British authority by conquest from the Dutch. Delaware was soon separated from New York, and was afterwards connected with, and a dependency upon, the proprietary government of Pennsylvania. The other States, now belonging to the Union, had no existence at the time of the Declaration of Independence; but have since been established within the territory, which was ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain in 1783, or within the territory, which has been since acquired by the United States, by purchase from other nations.

$ 3. At the time of the discovery of America, towards the close of the fifteenth century, (1492,) the various Indian tribes, which then inhabited it, maintained a claim to the exclusive possession and occupancy of the territory within their respective limits, as sovereign proprietors of the soil. They acknowledged no obedience, nor allegiance, nor subordination to any foreign nation whatso

ever ; and, as far as they have possessed the means, they have ever since constantly asserted this full right of dominion, and have yielded it up only, when it has been purchased from them by treaty, or obtained by force of arms and conquest. In short, like all the civilized na tions of the earth, the Indian tribes deemed themselves rightfully possessed, as sovereigns, of all the territories, within which they were accustomed to hunt, or to exercise other acts of ownership, upon the common principle, that the exclusive use gave them an exclusive right to the soil, whether it was cultivated or not.

§ 4. It is difficult to perceive, why their title was not, in this respect, as well founded as the title of

any

other nation, to the soil within its own boundaries. How, then, it may be asked, did the European nations acquire the general title, which they have always asserted to the whole soil of America, even to that in the occupancy of the Indian tribes ? The only answer, which can be given, is, their own assertion, that they acquired a general title thereto in virtue of their being the first discoverers thereof, or, in other words, that their title was founded upon the right of discovery. They established the doc trine, (whether satisfactorily or not is quite a different question,) that discovery is a sufficient foundation for the right to territory. As between themselves, with a view to prevent contests, where the same land had been visited by the subjects of different European nations, each of which might claim it as its own, there was no inconvenience in allowing the first discoverer to have the priority of right, where the territory was at the time desert and uninhabited. But as to nations, which had not acceded to the doctrine, and especially as to countries in the possession of native inhabitants and tribes at the time of the discovery, it seems difficult to perceive, what ground of right any discovery could confer. It would seem strange to us, if, in the present times, the natives of the South Sea Islands, or of Cochin China, should, by making a voyage to, and a discovery of, the United States, on that account set up a right to the soil within our boundaries. $5 The truth is, that the European nations paid not

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XIII.

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