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The Declaration of the representatives of the united colonies of North America, in General Congress assembled, that “these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states," was but the initial act in the great work of founding a free republic out of a dismembered portion of one of the mightiest empires of the earth. It was an easy matter to declare the states free, but they well knew it would be a laborious task to support that declaration, and consummate the work thus begun. Already fleets were hovering upon our coasts, and armies traversed our provinces, with the dire purpose of quelling rebellion by fire and sword, and all the vast ini. quities of war. At the very time the Declaration was made, a British squadron was near our coast, bearing thousands of hired mercenaries, some of them veterans from the vast armies of Frederick the Great, all win the laurels of glory or the gold of plunder, in the exercise of their desolating profession. Combined with these foes from without, were the more dreaded foes within — those who, through principle or interest, adhered to the Crown. They consisted chiefly of the timid, the time-serving, the ambitious, and the indolent, who feared British power, courted its caresses, sought the preferments it could bestow, or loved ease better than freedom. This class was not small nor weak, but by its secret treacheries, or open resistance, it weakened the bond of the American union, and greatly strengthened the royal arm.

With such a great work before them - with such beset

eager to

ments in the way — by such dangers surrounded - it is no wonder that great doubt, and anxiety, and dread, pervaded the minds of the people, and caused American legislators to desire a more tangible bond of union than a Federal Congress, and a Federal Army. The various state governments were in utter confusion, and in their practical operations they harmonized in few things, except in making provisions for the army; and even this paramount claim was often so neglected by particular states as almost to paralyze the military movements. Royal governments in all the colonies had been overiurned, and the people, in spontaneous assemblies, collected the best fragments together and formed provincial congresses, in which they vested local governmental powers. But these were perceived to be but broken reeds to depend upon in the great work of the revolution yet to be performed; and the statesmen of that dark hour, feeling the necessity of a central power, regarded a confederation of the several states, with Congress as a controlling head, a measure essential to the perpetuity, not only of their efforts to become free, but of their very existence.

As early as July, 1775, that far-sighted and clearheaded statesman, Doctor Franklin, submitted to the consideration of Congress a sketch of articles of confederation between the colonies, limiting the duration of their vitality to the time when reconciliation with Great Britain should take place; or in the event of the failure of that desirable result, to be perpetual. At that time, Congress seemed to have no fixed plans for the future the teeming present, with all its vast and novel concerns, engrossed their whole attention; and Doctor Franklin's plan seems not to have been discussed at all in the National Council. But when a declaration of independence was proposed, that idea alone suggested the necessity of a confederation of the states to carry forward

the work to a successful consummation. Congress, therefore, on the eleventh of June, 1776, resolved that a committee should be appointed to prepare, and properly digest, a form of confederation to be entered into by the several states. The committee appointed under the resolution consisted of one delegate from each state. John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, (who was opposed to the Declaration of Independence, and would have voted against it, if he had been present,) was chosen chairman, and through him the committee reported a draft of articles of confederation, on the twelfth of July. Almost daily debates upon the subject ensued until the twentieth of August, when the report was laid aside, and was not taken up again for consideration until the seventh of April, 1777. In the meanwhile, the several states had adopted constitutions for their respective government, and Congress was practically acknowledged the supreme head in all matters appertaining to the war, public finances, &c. It emitted bills of credit, or paper money, appointed foreign ministers, and opened negotiations with foreign governments.

From the seventh of April, until the fifteenth of November following, the subject was debated two or three times a week, and several amendments were made. As the Confederation might be a permanent bond of Union, of course local interests were considered prospectively. If the union had been designed to be temporary, to meet the exigencies arising from the state of war in which the colonies then were, local questions could hardly have had weight enough to have elicited debate; but such was not the case, and of course the sagacious men, who were then in Congress, looked beyond the present, and endeavored to legislate accordingly. From the seventh of October, until the fifteenth of November, the debates upon it were almost daily, and the conflicting interests of the several states were strongly brought

into view by the different speakers. On that day, the following draft, containing all of the amendments, was laid before Congress, and after a spirited debate was adopted :



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 seventy-seven, and in the second year of the independence of America, agree to certain articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, 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 New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

ARTICLE 1. The style of this confederacy shall be,“ The United States of America."

ARTICLE 2. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

ARTICLE 3. The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mu

tual 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 4. 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 fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states; and the people of each state shall have free ingress 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, felony, 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 5. For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislature 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,

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