In Part One we briefly examine some of the principles and
thoughts of government as colonies evolved into states and states joined for
the common good to over through a tyrannical English The history
behind the war for independence in the 1700's will set the stage for the
secession of Southern states in the 1860's. The independent nature of the
people and the individual states could be seen early in the history of the
Objective: Identify the need for the Declaration of
A. Breaking Away from
the end of the French and Indian Wars,
September 1774, an assembly or Congress of the "ablest and wealthiest men
The colonies that had risen up against
Second Continental Congress met in
The Congress also claimed the authority over all the colonies in order to establish the American Continental Army. The Virginian landowner and militia colonel, George Washington, who had fought the French in the Seven Years' War, was placed in command.
B. The Articles of Confederation
On the advice of Richard Henry Lee of
committee reported on July 12, of the same year, but no plan was agreed upon
until November 2, 1777. The delay was due to the fact that each state was
afraid that some of its rights might be encroached upon, so, finally, it was
decided that each state was to have only one vote in Congress. They next argued
over the question of revenue, and it was decided that revenue should be raised
by requisition on the states. The question of the public lands also prevented
some colonies from giving hearty support of the plan. Marylanders would not
ratify the Articles of Confederation, even after they were adopted. This
It was the Thirteen Colonies who had won their
A call was made to hold a general convention of the
states to revise the Articles of Confederation. In September 1786 an
attempt was made to regulate trade among all the states through revision.
Representatives from only five states met in
B. The Constitution
In 1787 delegates from 12 of the existing 13 states met
Samuel Adams, who also declined to attend the convention, shared Henry's suspicions. The convention met behind closed doors. The doors were locked and the members pledged themselves to secrecy. This pledge was faithfully kept for fifty years.
After James Madison's death, his journal was published, and the particulars, as to parties and debates in the convention became known to the world. Some members advocated three republics; others one, with three presidents. Several issues arose in the convention that required compromise. Equal and fair representation by each state in the union was settled by creating a Senate, where each state had equal representation, and a House of Representatives, where each state was represented according to its population.
Another compromise involved the counting of Negroes in determining representation. Northern states felt that Negroes should not be counted, as the Southern states had many more Negroes than did Northern states. Southern states felt the Negro population should be counted. The issue was settled by counting five Negroes as equal to three white men when determining representation.
a third compromise the abolition of the slave-trade was introduced.
Important to all states was the issue of states rights, which brought about the tenth amendment which states:
"the powers not delegated
This was brought about after
Each state firmly believed, that because they had freely entered into the Constitution they could withdraw from it as they saw necessary. Each state was to remain a separate entity and retain their individual sovereignty. Virginia, and New York, in their ratification of the Constitution, stated that they the reserved the right to secede from the union whenever the National Government used its powers to the oppression and injury of the people.
created by the states, with the consent of each individual state and it only took nine states to validate the document.
The Articles of Confederation in the preamble and in Article XIII refer to "a perpetual union",
"And Whereas it hath 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
Confederation 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 perpetual Union, and all and singular the matters and things
therein contained: And we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of
our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the
United States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said Confederation
are submitted to them. And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably
observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the
but each state chose to
seceded from the Articles, dissolving that bond by document, to seek a
new union from whichever states might ratify a new constitution. The term
"perpetual union" was not incorporated into the
It is important to realize that the formation of the
Daniel Webster, a noted orator, Senator from
"It is the true policy of government to suffer the different pursuits of society to take their own course, and not to give excessive bounty or encouragement to one over another. This also is the true spirit of the Constitution. It has not, in my opinion, conferred on the government the power of changing the occupation of the people of different states and sections and of forcing them into other employments." and
"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it?" (Rep. Daniel Webster, Remarks to the House, Dec. 9, 1814, _Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster, Vol. 14, p. 61, published 1903 and Respectfully Quoted: a Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1989)
"I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. - - - From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy." (Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837; Works 1:403)
"If the states were not
left to leave the
"The Union is a
Samuel Adams, a founding father also with
"Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.
"The first proposition is,
'that it be explicitly declared, that all powers not expressly delegated to
Congress are reserved to the several States, to be by them exercised.' This
appears, to my mind, to be a summary of a bill of rights, which gentlemen are
anxious to obtain. It removes a doubt which many have entertained respecting
the matter, and gives assurance that, if any law made by the Federal Government
shall be extended beyond the power granted by the proposed Constitution and
inconsistent with the Constitution of this State, it will be an error, and
adjudged by the courts of law to be void. It is consonant with the second
article in the present Confederation, that each state retains its Sovereignty,
freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is
not; by this Confederation, expressly delegated to the
Finally a few quotes from delegates to the Constitutional Convention (Commentaries on the Constitution, Volt III, p 287):
"The attributes of sovereignty are now enjoyed by
every State in the Union"-Alexander Hamilton of
"The thirteen States are thirteen
Sovereignties" James Wilson of
"Each state enjoys sovereign power"-Gouverneur
"The Government made by a number of Sovereign
States"-Roger Sherman of
"The thirteen states are thirteen sovereign
References and Details:
"The Story of the Confederate States" by Joseph T. Derry, Part 1, Chapter 3.
"The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates" by Edward A. Pollard, Chapter 1 and 2.
"The South was Right" by James R. Kennedy & Walter D. Kennedy, Chapter 8.
"The Story of the Confederate States" by Joseph T. Derry, Part 1, Chapter 3.
"Truths of History" by Mildred Lewis Rutherford, Chapter 1.
"The South Under Siege 1830-2000: A History of the Relations Between the North and the South" by Frank Conner, Chapter 3
"Respectfully Quoted: a Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service," Library of Congress
Part 1 Questions:
In short essay format give and support an opinion for at least two of these questions:
1.What were some similarities between the
American Revolutionary War and the War for
2. Were the Articles of Confederation a success for failure?
3. Why was a Constitutional Convention called?
4. Explain the different functions and results of the Continental Congresses.
5. Pick one fact that you learned from Part I and explain its significance in your understanding of American history.