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humble petition of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been, or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries,, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies. And whereas it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good conscience, for the people of these colonies, now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown, should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the people of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue and good order, as well as for the defence of our lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of our enemies: Therefore,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the united colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigences of their affairs has been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
Connecticut was more fortunate than most of the colonies. She had no royal governor. Her charter, granted by King Charles II, in 1662, was truly republican in its character. It provided for the election, by the freemen of the colony, of a governor, depnty governor, twelve assistants, councilors, or senators, and two deputies from each town, as a legislative assembly. Being very general and liberal, and conferring very large powers, no change was necessary to accommodate it to the revolution. Jonathan Trumbull was annually elected governor from 1769 to 1784, and entered with much spirit into the revolutionary movement. The people of Connecticut lived under the royal charter, without change, until the year 1818, when they formed their first state constitution.
On the 14th of June, 1776, the legislative assembly of Connecticut instructed their delegates in congress to propose to that body to declare the united American colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to the King of Great Britain.”
On the 14th of June, the legislative assembly of Delaware approved the resolution and preamble of congress, of May 15th, overturned the proprietory government, adopted an organic law or constitution, and established a government for the state.
A revolutionary committee of public safety called a convention of delegates of the people of Maryland, which assembled on the 21st of June, 1776. It took prompt measures for calling the militia into actual service, concurred with Virginia on the subject of independence, treaties with foreign powers, and a confederation of the colonies—reserving to each the internal government of its own affairs and people. Early in July it directed the election of delegates to a new couvention, to form a constitution and establish a new government for the colony. The constitutional convention was elected, convened, and formed a constitution for the state, under which the first election was held in December following.
A new provincial congress or couvention for New Jersey, elected by the people, in conformity to the recommendation of the general congress of May 15th, assembled at Burlington, June 11th, 1776. On the 22d, the convention " resolved that a government be formed for regulating the internal police of the colony, pursuant to the recommendation of the continental congress.” The convention immediately elected to the general congress, five delegates friendly to independence. The convention also framed, and on the 2d of July adopted and signed a constitution for the state; under which elections for members of both houses of the legislature provided for in it, were held immediately. The legislature assembled, organzed, and on the 29th of August, 1776, elected William Livingston governor. They also elected other officers, and fully organized a state government. That constitution continued in force and unaltered, until the year 1844, when a new one was formed and adopted.
On the 18th of June, 1776, a convention of delegates from the City of Philadelphia, and the several counties Pennsylvania, met in conference at Philadelphia, organized, and proceeded to form a constitution for the colony, as an independent state. They soon formed and adopted a state constitution, under which elections were held in many of the counties, and the legislative assembly met on the 28th of November, but in consequence of the violent opposition to it, many of the counties omitted to elect eounsellors, and the assembly was obliged to adjourn without organizing the government. The delinquent counties afterwards elected counsellors, and the new government was organized on the 4th of March, 1777, and Thomas Wharton, Jr., was elected president, and George Bryan, vice president. That constitution continued in force until 1790.
In conformity to the recommendation of congress, the people of the several counties of North Carolina proceeded and elected delegates to a provincial convention, which met at Halifax, on the 12th of November, 1776. On the 17th of December, the convention adopted and signed a declaration of rights, and on the day following, a constitution for the state of North Carolina. The convention also proceeded and elected Richard Caswell, governor, and organized a state government.
On the 31st of May, 1776, the congress or assembly of the colony of New York, adopted a preamble, in which they recited the preamble and resolution of the general continental congress, of May 15th, and also passed a resolution, recommending that the electors of the several counties of the colony proceed without delay to elect delegates to a convention, to take into consideration the ne cessity and propriety of instituting such new government, as in and by the said resolution of the continental congress, is described and recommended. Delegates were elected, a convention assembled, and a constitution for the state, was agreed upon and adopted by the convention, at Kingston, on the 20th of April, 1777. The following preamble prefixed to the constitution, shows the necessity for it, and the system of government by congress and committees, which had previously existed—the executive powers of the government being vested in committees, for want of a governor.
Whereas the many tyrannical and oppressive usurpations of the king and parliament of Great Britain, on the rights and liberties of the people of the American colonies, had reduced them to the new cessity of introducing a government by congress and committees, as temporary expedients, and to exist no longer than the grievances of the people should remain without redress.
And whereas the congress of the colony of New York, did, on the thirty-first day of May, now last past, resolve as follows, viz ;
Whereas the present government of this colony, by congress and committees, was instituted while the former government, under the crown of Great Britain, existed in full force, and was established for the sole purpose of opposing the usurpation of the British parliament, and was intended to expire on a reconcilation with Great Britain, which it was then apprehended would soon take place, but is now considered as remote and uncertain.
And whereas many and great inconveniences attended the said mode of government by congress and committees, as of necessity, in many instances, legislative, judicial and executive powers have been vested therein, especially since the dissolution of the former government, by the abdication of the late governor, and the exclusion of this colony from the protection of the king of Great Britain.
That constitution continued in force until 1821, and was in some respects the best of all the American constitutions.
A constitution for Georgia was adopted, and a state government organized, in 1777.
The first constitution of Massachusetts was adopted in 1780. The executive powers of the colony and state were exercised by the council and legislative committees, as they were in New York, for more than five
Sec. 12. ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND CONDITION OF THE
COUNTRY UNDER THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. The government went into operation under the articles of confederation, in March, 1781, and four executive departments were soon organized under it, each with a secretary at its head,-called the departments of Foreign Affairs, War, Marine, and Finance. Administrative duties had been previously performed by committees of congress, and by boards of commissioners established by congress, and the President of congress had represented the sovereignty of the nation. The organization of executive departments gave the confederation more the form of a regular government ; but congress had no more power under it, than they had exercised by common consent during a period of six years.
Congress had no power of taxation, no powers over commerce and navigation, and very little credit. Bills of credit and treasury certificates to the amount of more than two hundred millions of dollars, had been issued and had supported the government and
enabled it to carry on the war several years ; but they had deprea ciated to almost nothing, and became nearly worthless. Georgia had been overrun by British troops, subdued, and the royal government re-established. Charleston had been taken, a large portion of the Carolinas had been subdued, and all the colonies were greatly exhausted ; the people had become disheartened, the government and the whole country were on the verge of bankruptcy, and nothing but the aid of France, Spain, and Holland, finally saved the United States from British conquest and dominion.
Spain became involved in the war against Great Britain, June, 1779, and Holland in December, 1780. The aid of these powers and of France, assisted in keeping up the drooping spirits of the Americans, and to prolong the contest, until the capitulation of Cornwallis, at Yorktown, in Virginia, in October, 1781. The war was long, expensive, and exhausting to the British government and people, as well as to the Americans. A series of reverses termininating in the great victory over Cornwallis, disheartened the British government and people from the further prosecution of the war, and that subsequently put an end to the struggle. Negotiations for peaoe were entered upon a few months afterwards, and a preliminary treaty of peace signed, November 30, 1782.
The articles of confederation were in force eight years, from March, 1781, until the government was organized and went iuto effect under the constitution, on the 4th of March, 1789. But the people of the United States were greatly disappointed in their expectations of the efficiency of the government under them. The government was crippled and powerless in several particulars. It had no power over commerce and navigation, and no power of taxation, and was entirely dependent on the states, for revenues without any power to coeroe the state governments to answer the requisitions of congress to pay their respective portions of the national expenses and the national debt.
The levy of duties on foreign goods and products imported into a country, has been the easiest, and most advantageous and efficient mode of taxation and of raising national revenues, of any system ever devised.
It has been one of the principal modes of raising revenue adopted and in use among the nations of Europe during the last two hundred years. It is the system of taxation.