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then come to the resolution of declaring America independent, the necessity of such a compact, as well for mutual security and succor, as for obtaining foreign aid, was obvious.
On the 11th of June 1776, therefore, the day following that, in which the resolution in favor of independence passed in committee of the whole, congress determined to appoint a committee to prepare and digest the form of a confederation ; and the next day, the following gentlemen were selected for this important object. Mr. Bartlet, from New Hampshire ; Samuel Adams, from Massachusetts ; Mr. Hopkins, from Rhode Island ; Mr. Sherman, from Connecticut; R. Livingston, from New York ; Mr. Dickinson, from Pennsylvania ; Mr. McKean, from Delaware ; Mr. Stone, from Maryland ; Mr. Nelson, from Virginia ; Mr. Hewes, from North Carolina ; E. Rutledge, from South Carolina ; and Mr. Gwinnett, from Georgia.
This committee, on the 12th of July following, reported a plan of confederacy, consisting of twenty articles. Eighty copies only were ordered to be printed, and the members, as well as the secretary and printer, were under an injunction not to disclose the contents of it, or furnish copies to any person. On the 22d of the same month, it was discussed in committee of the whole, and was under consideration, until the 20th of August, when an amended draft was reported to the house.
The difficulty in agreeing upon the details of the system, as well as the gloomy aspect of American affairs at this period, prevented congress from resuming this subject, until April 1777; when they resolved, that two days in each week should be employed, “ until it shall be wholly discussed.” The amended draft was considered and debated accordingly, until the 26th of June, when it was again postponed to the 2d of October, and was not finally adopted by congress, until the 15th of November, 1777.
The outlines of the system were, that the thirteen states formed a confederacy, under the style and name of the United States of America ;" by which they entered, “ into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their defense, the security of
their liberties, 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.”
Each state was to retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, not expressly delegated to the United States in congress assembled. Delegates were to be annually appointed by each state, not less than three, nor more than seven, to meet in congress, on the first Monday of November, every year; and each state had a right to recall their delegates within the year, and to appoint others, in their stead. No person to be capable of being a delegate, for more than three years, in any term of six years, or of holding any office of emolument under the United States-each state to maintain its own delegates, and in determining questions, to have one vote.
No state was to enter into a treaty, agreement, or alliance with any foreign nation; nor were any two or more states, to enter into any confederation or alliance whatever, between themselves, without the consent of congress.
The states were likewise prohibited from laying imposts, which should interfere with any stipulations in treaties entered into by congress with any nation, prince, or state, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed to France and Spain. Nor could they keep vessels of war, in time of peace, except such number only as congress should deem necessary, for the defense of the state, or its trade; nor keep up any body of forces, except such number, as, in the judgment of congress, were requisite, to garrison their forts ; nor engage in any war, except actually invaded by enemies, or in such imminent danger of invasion, as not to admit of the delay of consulting congress.
All the charges of war and other expenses, to be incurred for the common defense, or general welfare, were to be defrayed out of a common treasury, to be supplied by the several states, in proportion to the value of all lands within each state granted to, or surveyed for any person, as such lands, buildings, and improvements thereon, should be estimated, according to such mode as
congress might from time to time, direct and appoint ; the taxes for paying such proportion to be laid and levied by the legislatures of the several states, within the time agreed upon by congress.
The general legislature had the sole and exclusive power of peace and war, except in case of invasion, or imminent danger of invasion of any state-of sending and receiving ambassadors -entering into treaties and alliances, with a proviso, that no treaty of commerce should abridge the legislative power of the respective states, of imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners, as their people were subject to, or of prohibiting exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatever -of deciding captures made on land or water-of granting letters of marque and reprisal, in time of peace—appointing courts for trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and for the trial of appeals, in all cases of captures. Congress were, also, invested with the power of finally determining all disputes and differences then subsisting, or which should arise, between two or more states, concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever, and the manner of exercising this power, was particularly pointed out, in the articles—no state, however, was to be deprived of territory, for the benefit of the United States. They had, likewise, the sole right of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by themselves, or by the states ; of fixing the standard of weights and measures, of regulating the trade, and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the states, establishing and regulating post-offices, appointing all officers of the land forces, in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers; appointing all naval officers, and making rules for the government of the land and naval forces.
They were authorized to appoint a committee, to sit, in the recess of congress, to be denominated a committee of the states, to consist of one delegate from each state—to appoint other committees and civil officers—to appoint a president of congress; but no person was to serve in that office, more than one year, in any term of three years—to ascertain the necessary sums of money to
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be raised, and to appropriate and apply the same—to borrow money, or emit bills on the credit of the United States, transmitting to each state, every half year, the amount so borrowed or emitted to build and equip a navy—to agree on the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each state, for its quo. ta, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants of such state, the legislature of each state to appoint the regimental officers, raise the men, and clothe, arm, and equip them, at the expense of the United States. Congress were never to engage in war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, enter into any treaties or alliances, coin money, or regulate its value, ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States, emit bills of credit, borrow or appropriate money, agree upon the number of vessels of war, or the number of land and sea forces, or appoint a commander in chief of the army and navy, unless nine states should assent to the same -nor could a question, on any other point, except adjournment from day to day, be determined, unless by the votes of a majority of the United States in congress. A committee of the states, or any nine of them, were authorized to execute, in the recess of congress, such of the powers of that body, as by the consent of nine states, congress should think expedient to vest them with ; but no power was to be delegated to this committee, the exercise of which required the voice of nine states in congress. Every state was to abide by the determination of congress, on all questions submitted to them by the confederation ; the union was to be perpetual, nor was any alteration in the articles to be made, unless agreed to, in congress, and afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every state. The articles provided, that Canada, acceding to the confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, should be admitted into the union ; but no other colony, without the consent of nine states.
This plan of union, was to be proposed to the legislatures of all the states, and, if approved, they were advised to authorize their delegates in congress, to ratify the same; this being done, it was to be conclusive.*
* Note 1.
In forming a plan of union, among thirteen states, differing in extent, wealth, and population, as well as in habits, education, and religious opinions, and between some of which serious disputes existed relative to boundaries, unanimity on all questions, was not to be expected.
In discussing its principles, a diversity of sentiment prevailed among the states, on three important points.
First, as to the mode of voting in congress, whether, by states, or according to wealth or population.
Second, as to the rule, by which the expenses of the union, should be apportioned among the states.
Third, relative to the disposition of the vacant and unpatented western lands.
With respect to the first, it was urged by Virginia, that the votes, should be in proportion to the population or wealth of each state, and not by states, as reported by the committee.
When this part was under the consideration of congress, in October 1777, it was first proposed, as an amendment, that the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, and Georgia, should each have one vote, and he other states one vote, for every fifty thousand white inhabitants. The states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, (the latter then represented by one member only,) were in favor of this proposition-North Carolina divided, and the other states against it. It was then moved, that each state should send one delegate for every thirty thousand inhabitants, and that each delegate have a vote. On this question, Virginia was in the affirmative, North Carolina divided, and all the other states in the negative.
It was also proposed, that the representatives of each state, be computed by numbers, proportioned according to its contribution of money, or tax levied and paid. The state of Virginia alone, was in favor of this proposition ; and on the final question, that the votes should be by states, Virginia was against it, and North Carolina divided.
With respect to the expenses of the union, it was decided, in committee of the whole, that they should be paid by the states.