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Lesson Plan The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States

This unit includes four lessons using primary sources to examine continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Interpret primary source documents in historical context
  • Analyze changes in the final drafts of the Constitution
  • Describe the evolution of the Bill of Rights
  • Compare issues facing the Continental Congress and present-day Congress
  • Analyze how Congress, under the Constitution, responds to contemporary issues

Time Required

Two weeks

Lesson Preparation

Resources

Readings essential to the lesson are provided online.

Student Background on the Articles of Confederation

On 12 June 1776, three weeks before the proclamation of independence, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft articles of government for a "firm league of friendship" of the thirteen divergent states. The Articles of Confederation were presented to Congress on July 12, however the frame of government proposed for a perpetual union by the committee appeared to many of the delegates as too centralized.

The kind of government which would be established to replace the British system was as vital to delegates as independence itself. Representatives of the states in the Second Continental Congress wanted to prevent the reappearance of any centralized authority which they associated with the British governmental system.

After prolonged discussion which centered on issues of representation, taxation, control of western lands, and the power of states, delegates agreed upon a confederate system which placed limited power in the hands of a central government. The Articles of Confederation became the framework for a government at war and were sent to the states for approval in 1777; however, they were not ratified until 1781, when the troubling issue of western lands was finally settled.

The decentralized government established under the Articles of Confederation was the product of forces which brought about the American Revolution.

  • The legislature consisted of a one-house Congress composed of no less than two nor more than seven representatives from each state.
  • In the Continental Congress, each state had one vote.
  • There were strict term limits placed on members of Congress.
  • No one could be a member for more than three out of six years and all delegates were subject to recall by their respective states.
  • Congress could declare war, make peace, enter into treaties and alliances, manage relations with Indian nations, establish standard weights and measures, coin money, borrow on the credit of the United States, settle differences between two or more states, establish a postal system, support a military force requested by the states, and appoint a Commander in Chief.
  • Articles VIII specified that expenses "incurred for the common defense and welfare" were to be paid by the national government. States, however, were asked to contribute rather than required to pay allotments into the national treasury. Congress was further weakened by a requirement that major legislation, including bills relating to finance, be passed by a two-thirds vote.

Amendments to the Articles required a unanimous vote of the states which was virtually impossible to obtain due to separate interests among the states. Ultimately, tensions within government and society led to the calling of a special convention in Philadelphia.

Resolution of the Continental Congress, 21 Februray 1787

Whereas there is provision in the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union for making alterations therein by the assent of a Congress of the United States and of the legislatures of the several States; And whereas experience hath evinced that there are defects in the present Confederation, as a mean to remedy which several of the States and particularly the State of New York by express instruction to their delegates in Congress have suggested a convention for the purposes expressed in the following resolution and such convention appearing to be the most probable mean of establishing in these states a firm national government.

Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alternations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to by Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union.

From Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1927

Report of the Committee of Detail

WE the People of the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, do ordain, declare and establish the following Constitution for the Government of Ourselves and our Posterity.

ARTICLE I.

The stile of this Government shall be, "The United States of America."

II.

The Government shall consist of supreme legislative, executive and judicial powers.

III.

The legislative power shall be vested in a Congress, to consist of two separate and distinct bodies of men, a House of Representatives, and a Senate; each of which shall, in all cases, have a negative on the other. The Legislature shall meet on the first Monday in December in every year.

IV.

Sect. 1. The Members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen every second year, by the people of the several States comprehended within this Union. The qualifications of the electors shall be the same, from time to time, as those of the electors in the several States, of the most numerous branch of their own legislatures.

Sect. 2. Every Member of the House of Representatives shall be of the age of twenty-five years at least; shall have been a citizen in the United States for at least three years before his election; and shall be, at the time of his election, a resident of the State in which he shall be chosen.

Sec. 3. The House of Representatives shall, at its first formation, and until the number of citizens and inhabitants shall be taken in the manner herein after described, consist of sixty-five members, of whom three shall be chosen in New-Hampshire, eight in Massachusetts, one in Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, five in Connecticut, six in New-York, four in New-Jersey, eight in Pennsylvania, one in Delaware, six in Maryland, ten in Virginia, five in North-Carolina, five in South-Carolina, and three in Georgia.Sect. 4. As the proportions of numbers in the different States will alter from time to time; as some of the States may hereafter be divided; as others may be enlarged by addition of territory; as two or more States may be united; as new States will be erected within the limits of the United States, the Legislature shall, in each of these cases, regulate the number of representatives by the number of inhabitants, according to the provisions herein after made, at the rate of one for every forty thousand.

Sect. 5. All bills for raising or appropriating money, and for fixing the salaries of the officers of government, shall originate in the House of Representatives, and shall not be altered or amended by the Senate. No money shall be drawn from the public Treasury, but in pursuance of appropriations that shall originate in the House of Representatives.

Sect. 6. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment. It shall choose its Speaker and other officers.

Sect. 7. Vacancies in the House of Representatives shall be supplied by writs of election from the executive authority of the State, in the representation from which they shall happen.

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V.

Sect. 1. The Senate of the United States shall be chosen by the Legislatures of the several States. Each Legislature shall chuse two members. Vacancies may be supplied by the Executive until the next meeting of the Legislature. Each member shall have one vote.

Sect. 2. The Senators shall be chosen for six years; but immediately after the first election they shall be divided, by lot, into three classes, as nearly as may be, numbered one, two and three. The seats of the members of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that a third part of the members may be chosen every second year.

Sect. 3. Every member of the Senate shall be of the age of thirty years at least; shall have been a citizen in the United States for at least four years before his election; and shall be, at the time of his election, a resident of the State for which he shall be chosen.

Sect. 4. The Senate shall chuse its own President and other officers.VI.

Sect. 1. The times and places and the manner of holding the elections of the members of each House shall be prescribed by the Legislature of each State; but their provisions concerning them may at any time be altered by the Legislature of the United States.

Sect. 2. The Legislature of the United States shall have authority to established such uniform qualifications of the members of each house, with regard to property, as to the said Legislature shall seem expedient.

Sect. 3. In each House a majority of the members shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day.

Sect. 4. Each House shall be the judge of the elections returns and qualifications of its own members.

Sect. 5. Freedom of speech and debate in the Legislature shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of the Legislature; and the members of each House shall, in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at Congress, and in going to and returning from it.

Sect. 6. Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings; may punish its members for disorderly behaviour; and may expel a member.

Sect. 7. The House of Representatives, and the Senate, when it shall be acting in a legislative capacity shall keep a journal of their proceedings, and shall, from time to time, publish them: and the yeas and nays of the members of each House, on any question, shall, at the desire of one-fifth part of the members present, be entered on the journal.

Sect. 8. Neither House, without the consent of the other, shall adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that at which the two Houses are sitting. But this regulation shall not extend to the Senate, when it shall exercise the powers mentioned in the..........article.

Sect. 9. The members of each House shall be ineligible to, and incapable of holding any office under the authority of the United States, during the time for which they shall respectively be elected: and the members of the Senate shall be ineligible to, and incapable of holding any such office for one year afterwards.

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Sect. 10. The members of each House shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained and paid by the State, in which they shall be chosen.

Sect. 11. The enacting stile of the laws of the United States shall be, "Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the House of Representatives, and by the Senate of the United States, in Congress assembled.

Sect. 12. Each House shall possess the right of originating bills, except in the cases beforementioned.

Sect. 13. Every bill, which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President of the United States, for his revision: if, upon such revision, he approve of it, he shall signify his approbation by signing it: But if, upon such revision, it shall appear to him improper for being passed into a law, he shall return it, together with his objections against it, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider the bill. But if, after such reconsideration, two thirds of that House shall, notwithstanding the objections of the President, agree to pass it, it shall, together with his objections, be sent to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and, if approved by two thirds of the other House also, it shall become a law. But, in all such cases, the votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays; and the names of the persons voting for or against the bill shall be entered in the Journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within seven days after it shall have been presented to him, it shall be a law, unless the Legislature, by their adjournment, prevent its return; in which case it shall not be a law.

VII.

Sect. 1. The Legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises;

  • ..........To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States;
  • ..........To establish an uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States;
  • ..........To coin money;
  • ..........To regulate the value of foreign coin;
  • ..........To fix the standard of weights and measures;
  • ..........To establish post-offices;
  • ..........To borrow money, and emit bills on the credit of the United States;
  • ..........To appoint a Treasurer by ballot;
  • ..........To constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court;
  • ..........To make rules concerning captures on land and water;
  • ..........To declare the law and punishment of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and the punishment of counterfeiting the coin of the United States, and of offences against the law of nations;
  • ..........To subdue a rebellion in any State, on the application of its Legislature;
  • ..........To make war;
  • ..........To raise armies;
  • ..........To build and equip fleets;
  • ..........To call forth the aid of the militia, in order to execute the laws of the Union, enforce treaties, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;

And to make all laws that shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested, by this Constitution, in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Sect. 2. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against the United States, or any of them; and in adhering to the enemies of the United States, or any of them. The Legislature of the United States shall have power to declare the punishment of treason. No person shall be

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convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses. No attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, nor forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.

Sect. 3. The proportions of direct taxation shall be regulated by the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants, of every age, sex and condition, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the foregoing description, (except Indians not paying taxes) which number shall, within six years after the first meeting of the Legislature, and within the term of every ten years afterwards, be taken in such manner as the said Legislature shall direct.

Sect. 4. No tax or duty shall be laid by the Legislature on articles exported from any State; nor on the migration or importation of such persons as the several States shall think proper to admit; nor shall such migration or importation be prohibited.

Sect. 5. No capitation tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census herein before directed to be taken.

Sect. 6. No navigation act shall be passed without the assent of two-thirds. of the members present in each House.

Sect. 7. The United States shall not grant any title of nobility.

VII.

The acts of the Legislature of the United States made in pursuance of this constitution, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the several States, and of their citizens and inhabitants; and the judges in the several States shall be bound thereby in their decisions; any thing in the constitutions or laws of the several States to the contrary notwithstanding.

VIII.

Sect. 1. The Senate of the United States shall have power to make treaties, and to appoint ambassadors, and judges of the supreme court.

Sect. 2. In all disputes and controversies now subsisting, or that may hereafter subsist between two or more States, respecting jurisdiction or territory, the Senate shall possess the following powers. Whenever the Legislature, or the Executive authority, or the lawful agent of any State, in controversy with another, shall, by memorial to the Senate, state the matter in question, and apply for a hearing; notice of such memorial and application shall be given, by order of the Senate, to the Legislature or the Executive Authority of the other State in controversy. The Senate shall also assign a day for the appearance of the parties, by their agents, before that House. The agents shall be directed to appoint, by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question. But if the agents cannot agree, the Senate shall name three persons out of each of the several States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine names, as the Senate shall direct, shall, in their presence, be drawn out by lot; and the persons, whose names shall be so drawn, or any five of them shall be commissioners or judges to hear and finally determine the controversy; provided a majority of the judges, who shall hear the cause, agree in the determination. If either party shall neglect to attend at the day assigned, without shewing sufficient reasons for not attending, or, being present, shall refuse to strike, the Senate shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the clerk of the Senate shall strike in behalf of the party absent or refusing. If any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court; or shall not appear to prosecute or defend their claim

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or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce judgment. The judgment shall be final and conclusive. The proceedings shall be transmitted to the President of the Senate, and shall be lodged among the public records for the security of the parties concerned. Every commissioner shall, before he sit in judgment, take an oath, to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the State where the cause shall be tried,

well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgment, without favour, affection, or hope of reward.

Sect. 3. All controversies concerning lands claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions, as they respect such lands, shall have been decided or adjusted subsequent to such grants, or any of them, shall, on application to the Senate, be finally determined, as near as may be, in the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding controversies between different States.

IX.

Sect. 1. The Executive power of the United States shall be vested in a single person. His stile shall be, "The President of the United States of America;" and his title shall be, "His Excellency." He shall be elected by ballot by the Legislature. He shall hold his office during the term of seven years; but shall not be elected a second time.

Sect. 2. He shall, from time to time, give information to the Legislature of the State of the Union: he may recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary, and expedient: he may convene them on extraordinary occasions. In case of disagreement between the two Houses, with regard to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he think proper: he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed: he shall commission all the officers of the United States; and shall appoint officers in all cases not otherwise provided for by this constitution. He shall receive Ambassadors, and may correspond with the Supreme Executives of the several States. He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons; but his pardon shall not be pleadable in bar of an impeachment. He shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States. He shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during his continuance in office. Before he shall enter on the duties of his department, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation,

I------ solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States of America.

He shall be removed from his office on impeachment by the House of Representatives, and conviction in the Supreme Court, of treason, bribery, or corruption. In case of his removal as aforesaid, death, resignation, or disability to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the President of the Senate shall exercise those powers and duties until another President of the United States be chosen, or until the disability of the President be removed.

X.

Sect. 1. The Judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as shall, when necessary, from time to time, be constituted by the Legislature of the United States.

Sect. 2. The Judges of the Supreme Court, and of the Inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour. They shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Sect. 3. The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to all cases arising under laws passed by the Legislature of the United States; to all cases affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls; to the trial of

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impeachments of Officers of the United States; to all cases of Admiralty and Maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies between two or more States (except such as shall regard Territory or Jurisdiction) between a State and citizens of another State, between citizens of different States, and between a State or the citizens thereof and foreign States, citizens or subjects. In cases of Impeachment, cases affecting Ambassadors, other Public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, this Jurisdiction shall be original. In all the other cases beforementioned it shall be appellate, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Legislature shall make. The Legislature may assign any part of the jurisdiction abovementioned (except the trial of the President of the United States) in the manner and under the limitations which it shall think proper, to such Inferior Courts as it shall constitute from time to time.

Sect. 4. The trial of all criminal offences (except in cases of impeachments) shall be in the State where they shall be committed; and shall be by jury.

Sect. 5. Judgment, in cases of Impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States. But the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

XI.

No State shall coin money; nor grant letters of marque and reprisal; nor enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; nor grant any title of nobility.

XII.

No State, without the consent of the Legislature of the United States shall emit bills of credit, or make any thing but specie a tender in payment of debts; lay imposts or duties on imports; nor keep troops or ships of war in time of peace; nor enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with any foreign power; nor engage in any war, unless it shall be actually invaded by enemies, or the danger of invasion be so imminent, as not to admit of a delay, until the Legislature of the United States can be consulted.

XIII.

The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

XIV.

Any person charged with treason, felony, or high misdemeanor in any State, who shall flee from justice, and shall be found in any other State, shall, on demand of the Executive Power of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of the offence.

XV.

Full faith shall be given in each State to the acts of the Legislatures, and to the records and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.

XVI.

New States lawfully constituted or established within the limits of the United States may be admitted, by the Legislature, into this government, but to such admission the consent of two thirds of the Members present in each House shall be necessary. If a new State shall arise within the limits of any of the present States, the consent of the Legislatures of such States shall be also necessary to its admission. If the admission be consented to, the new States shall be admitted on the same terms with the original States. But the Legislature may make conditions with the new States concerning the public debt, which shall be then subsisting.

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XVII.

The United States shall guaranty to each State a Republican form of government; and shall protect each State against foreign invasions, and, on the application of its Legislature against domestic violence.

XVIII.

On the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the States in the Union, for an amendment of this Constitution, the Legislature of the United States shall call a Convention for that purpose.

XIX.

The Members of the Legislatures, and the executive and judicial officers of the United States, and of the several States, shall be bound by oath to support this Constitution.

XX.

The ratification of the Conventions of .......... States shall be sufficient for organising this Constitution.

XXI.

This Constitution shall be laid before the United States in Congress assembled, for their approbation, and it is the opinion of this Convention that it should be afterwards submitted to a Convention chosen in each State, under the recommendation of its Legislature, in order to receive the ratification of such Convention.

XXII.

To introduce this government, it is the opinion of this Convention, that each assenting Convention should notify its assent and ratification to the United States in Congress assembled; that Congress, after receiving the assent and ratification of the Conventions of .......... States, should appoint and publish a day, as early as may be, and appoint a place for commencing proceedings under this Constitution; that after such publication, the Legislatures of the several States should elect Members of the Senate, and direct the election of Members of the House of Representatives; and that the Members of the Legislature should meet at the time and place assigned by Congress, and should, as soon as may be, after their meeting, choose the President of the United States, and proceed to execute this Constitution.


The United States Constitution

The Constitution

WE, the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

ARTICLE I.
Sect. 1. ALL legislative powers, herein grated, shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Sect. 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second year by all the people of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be appointed among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to the respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxes, three fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New-Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantation one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New-Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North-Carolina five, South-Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

Sect. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year; so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen, by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in a the absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall by on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United State is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurence of two thirds of the members present.

Judgement, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit, under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgement and punishment, according to law.

Sect. 4. The times, places and manner, of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Sect. 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualification, of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secresy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.

Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Sect. 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been encreased, during such time; and no person holding any officer under the United States shall be a member of either House, during his continuance in office.

Sect. 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senates shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve; he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be re-passed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Sect. 8. The Congress shall have power To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties; imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post-offices and post-roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offences against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings;--and,

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States,or in any department or officer thereof.

Sect. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.

No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the sensus or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another: Nor shall vessels bound to or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another.

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, or any kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Sect. 10. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the new produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State, on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and controul of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

ARTICLE II.
Sec. 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows.

Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose a President. But in choosing the President the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors, shall be the Vice-President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice-President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office, who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.

In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President; and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States; and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend, the Constitution of the United States."

Sect. 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other offices of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. But the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Sect. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Sect. 4. The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office, on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE III.
Sect. 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such Inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and Inferior Courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour; and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Sect. 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more States, between a State and citizen of another State, between citizens of different States, between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States, and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.

Sect. 3. Treason, against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on consession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.

ARTICLE IV.
Sect. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings, of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings, shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

Sect. 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A person, charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State form which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.

No person, held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour; but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.

Sect. 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed to erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have power to dispose of an make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed, as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee, to every State in this Union, a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

ARTICLE V.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention, for proposing amendments; which, in either case, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislature of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses, in the ninth section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

ARTICLE VI.
All debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges in every State, shall be bound thereby; any thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under the United States.

ARTICLE VII.
The ratification of the Conventions of Nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this constitution, between the States so ratifying the same.

Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the States present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independance of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, President, (and Deputy from Virginia.)
New-Hampshire. John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman.
Massachusetts. Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King.
Connecticut. William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman.
New-York. Alexander Hamilton.
New-Jersey. William Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton.
Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris.
Delaware. George Read, Gunning Bedford, jun. John Dickenson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom.
Maryland. James M'Henry, Daniel of St. Tho. Jenifer, Daniel Carrol.
Virginia. John Blair, James Madison, jun.
North-Carolina. William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson.
South-Carolina. John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler.
Georgia. William Few, Abraham Baldwin.

Attest, .......... WILLIAM JACKSON, Secretary

Excerpt from Thomas Jefferson's letter to James Madison

Paris
20 December 1787

...I like much the general idea of framing a government which should go on of itself peaceably, without needing continual recurrence to the state legislatures. I like the organization of the government into Legislative, Judiciary and Executive. I like the power given the Legislature to levy taxes.... I am captivated by the compromise of the opposite claims of the great and little states, of the latter to equal, and the former to proportional influence. I am much pleased too with the substitution of the method of voting by persons, instead of that of voting by states; and I like the negative given to the Executive with a third of either house, though I should have liked it better had the Judiciary been associated for that purpose, or invested with a similar and separate power. There are other good things of less moment.

I will now add what I do not like. First the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land.... Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.

The second feature I dislike, and greatly dislike, is that abandonment in every instance of the necessity of rotation in office, and most particularly in the case of the President. Experience concurs with reason in concluding that the first magistrate will always be re-elected if the constitution permits it. He is then an officer for life.... If once elected, and at a second or third election outvoted by one or two votes, he will pretend false votes, foul play hold possession of the reins of government, be supported by the states voting for him, especially if they are the central ones.... An incapacity to be elected a second term would have been the only effectual preventative. The power of removing him every fourth year by the vote of the people is a power which will not be exercised....

I have thus told you freely what I like and dislike: merely as a matter of curiosity for I know your own judgment has been formed on all these points after having heard every thing which could be urged on them. I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.... After all, it is my principle that the will of the Majority should always prevail. If they approve the proposed Convention in all it's (sic.) parts, I shall concur in it chearfully (sic.), in hopes that they will amend it whenever they shall find it work [sic.] wrong.

I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another as in Europe. Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty. I have tried you by this time with my disquisitions and will therefore only add assurances of the sincerity of those sentiments of esteem and attachment with which I am Dear Sir your affectionate friend and servant....

From Jefferson, Thomas. The Portable Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Merrill D. Peterson. New York: Penguin Books, 1975

Richmond, State of Virginia

Richmond, State of Virginia. In convention, Wednesday, the 25th of June, 1788 : The convention, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a committee of the whole convention, to take into farther consideration, the proposed Constitution of government for the United States.

RICHMOND, State of VIRGINIA
in Convention,

Wednesday,the 25th of June, 1788

THEConvention, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a Committee of the whole Convention, to take into farther consideration, the proposed Constitution of Government for the United States; and after sometime spent therein, Mr. President resumed the chair, and Mr. Mathews reported, that the Committee had, according to order, again had the said proposed Constitution under their consideration, and had gone through the same, and come to several resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and are as followeth;

WHEREAS the powers granted under the proposed Constitution are the gift of the people, and every power not granted thereby, remains with them, and at their will; No right therefore of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity, by the President, or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: And among other essential rights liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States;

AND WHEREAS any imperfections which may exist in the said Constitution ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein for obtaining amendments, than by a delay with a hope of obtaining previous amendments, to bring the Union into danger;

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, That the said Constitution be ratified.

But in order to relieve the apprehensions of those, who may be solicitous for amendments, Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, That whatsoever amendments may be deemed necessary be recommended to the consideration of the Congress, which shall first assemble under the said Constitution, to be acted upon according to the mode prescribed in the fifth article thereof.

The first resolution being read a second time, a motion was made, and the question being put to amend the same by substituting in lieu of the said resolution and its preamble, the following resolution;

Resolved, That previous to the ratification of the new Constitution of Government recommended by the late Federal Convention, a declaration of rights asserting and securing from encroachment the great principles of civil and religious liberty, and the unalienable rights of the people, together with amendments to the most exceptionable parts of the said Constitution of Government, ought to be referred by this Convention to the other states in the American confederacy for their consideration;

It passed in the negative---Ayes 80---Noes 88.

NOTE: Some text has been deleted for the purpose of this discussion.

The second resolution being then read a second time, a motion was made and the question being put to amend the same by striking out the preamble thereto;

It was resolved in the affirmative,

And then the main question being put that the Convention do agree with the Committee in the second resolution so amended;

It was resolved in the affirmative.

On motion, Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and report a form of ratification, pursuant to the first resolution; and that his Excellency Governor Randolph, Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Madison, Mr. Marshall, and Mr. Corbin, compose the said Committee.

On motion, Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and report such amendments as shall by them be deemed necessary to be recommended, pursuant to the second resolution; and that the Honorable George Wythe, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Henry, His Excellency Governor Randolph, Mr. George Mason, Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Madison, Mr. Tyler, Mr. John Marshall, Mr. Monroe, Mr. Ronald, Mr. Bland, Mr. Meriwether Smith, the Honorable Paul Carrington, Mr. Innes, Mr. Hopkins, the Honorable John Blair, and Mr. Simms, compose the said Committee.

His Excellency Governor Randolph reported, from the Committee appointed, according to order, a form of ratification, which was read and agreed to by the Convention, in the words following:

VIRGINIA TO WIT:

WE the Delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, DO in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination, can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified, by the Congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any capacity, by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes: and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.

With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the searcher of hearts for the purity of our intentions, and under the conviction, that, whatsoever imperfections may exist in the Constitution, ought rather to be examined in the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into danger by a delay, with a hope of obtaining amendments previous to the ratification:

We the said Delegates, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, do by these presents assent to, and ratify the Constitution recommended on the sevententh day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven, by the Foederal Convention for the Government of the United States; hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said Constitution is binding upon the said People, according to an authentic copy hereto annexed, in the words following:

[Here follows the Constitution at large, which is omitted, having been so often printed.]

On motion, Ordered, That the Secretary of this Convention cause to be engrossed, forthwith, two fair copies of the form of ratification, and of the proposed Constitution of Government, as recommended by the Foederal Convention on the seventeenth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.

And then the Convention adjourned until to-morrow morning, twelve o'clock.

IN CONVENTION.
FRIDAY, the 27th of JUNE, 1788.

MR. Wythe reported, from the Committee appointed, such amendments to the proposed Constitution of Government for the United States, as were by them deemed necessary to be recommended to the consideration of the Congress which shall first assemble under the said Constitution, to be acted upon according to the mode prescribed in the fifth article thereof; and he read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered them in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and are as followeth:

That there be a Declaration or Bill of Rights asserting and securing from encroachment the essential and unalienable rights of the people in some such manner as the following:

1st. That there are certain natural rights of which men when they form a social compact cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among which are the enjoyment of life, and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

2d. That all power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates therefore are their trustees, and agents, and at all times amenable to them.

3d. That the Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.

4th. That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate public emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator or judge, or any other public office to be hereditary.

5th. That the legislative, executive and judiciary powers of government should be separate and distinct, and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the public burthens, they should at fixed periods be reduced to a private station, return into the mass of the people; and the vacancies be supplied by certain and regular elections, in which all or any part of the former members to be eligible or ineligible, as the rules of the Constitution of Government, and the laws shall direct.

6th. That elections of Representatives in the legislature ought to be free and frequent, and all men having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to the community, ought to have the right of suffrage: and no aid, charge, tax or fee can be set, rated, or levied upon the people without their own consent, or that of their representatives, so elected, nor can they be bound by any law, to which they have not in like manner assented for the public good.

7th. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws by any authority without the consent of the representatives, of the people in the legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.

8th. That in all capital and criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence and be allowed counsel in his favor, and to a fair and speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty (except in the government of the land and naval forces) nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself.

9th. That no freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, privileges or franchises, or outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty, or property but by the law of the land.

10th. That every freeman restrained of his liberty is entitled to a remedy to enquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same, if unlawful, and that such remedy ought not to be denied nor delayed.

11th. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is one of the greatest securities to the rights of the people, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable.

12th. That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy by recourse to the laws for all injuries and wrongs he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, and that all establishments, or regulations contravening these rights, are oppressive and unjust.

13th. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

14th. That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his papers, and property; all warrants therefore to search suspected places, or seize any freeman, his papers or property, without information upon oath (or affirmation of a person religiously serupulous of taking an oath) of legal and sufficient cause, are greivous and oppressive, and all general warrants to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected person without specially naming or describing the place or person, are dangerous and ought not to be granted.

15th. That the people have a right peaceably to assemble together to consult for the common good, or to instruct their representatives; and that every freeman has a right to petition or apply to the Legislature for redress of grievances.

16th. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and publishing their sentiments; that the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and ought not to be violated.

17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

18th. That no soldier in time of peace ought to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, and in time of war in such manner only as the laws direct.

19th. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead.

20th. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the [?] exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.

NOTE: Some text has been deleted for the purpose of this discussion.

New York

Congress of the United States, begun and held at the city of New-York, on Wednesday, the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred eighty-nine : The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added ... Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives ... that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states as amendments to the Constitution ...

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
Begun and held at the City of NEW-YORK, on Wednesday, the Fourth of MARCH, One Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty-nine.

THE Conventions of a Number of the States having, at the Time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a Desire, in Order to prevent Misconstruction or Abuse of its Powers, that further declaratory and restrictive Clauses should be added: And as extending the Ground of public Confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent Ends of its Institution.

RESOLVED, by the Senate, and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, Two Thirds of both Houses concurring, That the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States: All, or any of, which Articles, when ratified by Three-Fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all Intents and Purposes as Part of the said Constitution, viz.

ARTICLES in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article the First. --After the First Enumeration, required by the First Article of the Constitution, there shall be One Representative for every Thirty Thousand, until the Number shall amount to One Hundred; after which the Proportion shall be so regulated by Congress that there shall not be less than One Hundred Representatives, nor less than One Representative for every Forty Thousand Persons, until the Number of Representatives shall amount to Two Hundred, after which the Proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than Two Hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every Fifty Thousand Persons.

Article the Second. --No Law varying the Compensations for the Services of the Senators and Representatives shall take Effect, until an Election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Article the Third. --Congress shall make no Law respecting the Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free Exercise thereof; or abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press, or to the Right of the People peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.

Article the Fourth. --A well regulated Militia being necessary to the Security of a free State, the Right of the People to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

Article the Fifth. --No Soldier shall, in Time of Peace, be quartered in any House without the Consent of the Owner, nor, in Time of War, but in a Manner to be prescribed by Law.

Article the Sixth. --The Right of the People to be secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers, and Effects, against unreasonable Searches and Seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrant shall issue, but upon probable Cause supported by Oath, or Affirmation, and particularly describing the Place to be searched, and the Persons or Things to be seized.

Article the Seventh. --No Person shall be held to answer for a Capital, or otherwise Infamous Crime, unless on a Presentment or Indictment of a Grand Jury; except in Cases arising in the Land or Naval Forces; or in the Militia, when in actual Service in Time of War or public Danger: Nor shall any Person be subject for the same Offence to be Twice put in Jeopardy of Life or Limb; nor shall be compelled, in any Criminal Case, to be a Witness against himself; nor be deprived of Life, Liberty or Property, without due Process of Law: Nor shall private Property be taken for public Use without just Compensation.

Article the Eighth. --In all Criminal Prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the Right to a speedy and public Trial, by an impartial Jury of the State and District wherein the Crime shall have been committed, which District shall have been previously ascertained by Law; and to be informed of the Nature and Cause of the Accusation; to be confronted with the Witnesses against him; to have compulsory Process for obtaining Witnesses in his Favour; and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his Defence.

Article the Ninth. --In Suits at Common Law, where the Value in Controversy shall exceed Twenty Dollars, the Right of Trial by Jury shall be preserved, and no Fact tried by a Jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the Rules of the Common Law.

Article the Tenth. --Excessive Bail shall not be required; nor excessive Fines imposed;d nor cruel and unusual Punishments inflicted.

Article the Eleventh. --The Enumeration in the Constitution of certain Rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.

Article the Twelfth. --The Powers not delegated to the nited States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the People.

FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERGSpeaker of the House of RepresentativesJOHN ADAMSVice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate.
Attest, JOHN BECKLEYClerk of the House of RepresentativesSAM. A. OTISSecretary of the Senate.

A true Copy of the Original, duly examined:
Witness
HENRY WARDSecretary.

State of Rhode-Island, and Providence-Plantations.
In GENERAL ASSEMBLY, October Session, A. D. 1789.

IT is Voted and Resolved, That the Secretary be directed to cause to be printed One Hun- dred and Fifty Copies of the Amendments to the new Constitution, as agreed to by Congress, and which have been communicated by the President of the United States to this Legislature: And that One Copy thereof be sent to each Town-Clerk in the State as soon as may be, to be laid before the Freemen at the Town-Meetings to be holden on Monday next, agreeably to a former Resolve of this Assembly, for their Consideration.

A true Copy:
Witness,..........HENRY WARD, Sec'ry.

PRINTED BY BENNETT WHEELER.

Federalist Papers

Federalist No. 1
General Introduction

For the Independent Journal.

Author: Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. {emphasis added for purposes of the lesson} It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

NOTE: This is an exerpt from Federalist Paper No. 1, with emphasis added to focus on information particularly relevant to the lesson. The full text of this document is available at https://guides.loc.gov/federalist-papers/full-text.

A Note on Legislation

The work of making laws is a complicated matter, one governed by the Constitution, tradition, and rules of order established over the past two hundred years. The first step is for a bill to be introduced in Congress; thereafter, discussion, debate, revision, and consensus all contribute to the process. Committees meet, recommendations are made, and a majority of both chambers of Congress--the House of Representatives and the Senate--must agree to the bill before sending it on to the President as a law to be considered. In a recent years, it has been estimated that several thousand bills are introduced in Congress each term, and of that number a few hundred are enacted into law.

For futher information, see "How Our Laws Are Made," revised and updated by John V. Sullivan, Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives.

..disabled in the service of the United States...

By the United States in Congress assembled. June 7, 1785 : Resolved, that it be and it is hereby recommended to the several states, to make provision for officers, soldiers or seamen, who have been disabled in the service of the United States, in the following manner, viz. ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "disabled."

By the United States in Congress
Assembled.

JUNE 7, 1785

RESOLVED,
THAT
 it be and it is hereby recommended to the several states, to make provision for officers, soldiers or seamen, who have been disabled in the service of the United States, in the following manner, viz.

1. A complete list shall be made out by such person or persons as each state shall direct, of all that officers, soldiers or seamen resident in their respective states, who have served in the army or navy of the United States, or in the militia in the service of the United States, and have been disabled in such service, so as to incapable of military duty, or of obtaining a livelihood by labour. In this list shall be expressed the pay, age, and disability of each invalid, also the regiment, corps or ship to which he belonged, and a copy of the same shall be transmitted to the office of the secretary at war, within one year after each state shall pass a law for this purpose; and a like descriptive list of the invalids resident in the respective states, shall from year to year to annually transmitted to the office of the secretary at war.

2. No officer, soldier or seaman, shall be considered as an invalid, or entitled to pay, unless he can produce a certificate from the commanding officer or surgeon of the regiment, ship, corps or company in which he served, or from a physician or surgeon of a military hospital or other good and sufficient testimony, setting forth his disability, and that he was thus disabled while in the service of the United States.

3. That all commissioned officers within the aforesaid description, disabled in the service of the United States, so as to be wholly incapable of military duty or of obtaining a livelihood, be allowed a yearly pension equal to half of their pay respectively. And all commissioned officers as aforesaid, who shall not have been disabled in so great a degree, be allowed a yearly pension which shall correspond with the degree of their disability compared with that of an officer wholly disabled: That all non-commissioned officers and privates within the aforesaid description, disabled in the service of the United States so as to be wholly incapable of military or garrison duty, or of obtaining a livelihood by labour, be allowed a sum not exceeding five dollars per month: An all non-commissioned officers and privates as aforesaid, who shall not have been disabled in so great a degree, be allowed such a sum as shall correspond with the degree of their disability, compared with that of a non-commissioned officer or private wholly disabled.

4. That each state appoint one or more persons of suitable abilities, to examine all claimants, and to report whether the person producing a certificate, setting forth that he is an invalid, be such in fact, and if such, to what pay he is entitled; and thereupon, the persons appointed to make such enquiry, shall give to the invalid a certificate specifying to what pay he is entitled, and transmit a copy to the person who may be appointed by the state to receive and record the same.

5. That each state be authorised to pay to the commissioned officers, non-commisioned officers and privates, the sum or sums to which they shall be respectively entitled, agreeable to the before mentioned certificates; the said payments to be deducted from the respective quotas of the states for the year on which they shall be made, Provided that no officer who has accepted his commutation for half pay, shall be entered on the list of invalids, unless he shall have first returned his commutation.

6. That any state may form such invalids under the aforesaid description, as are citizens of the same, and are capable of garrison duty, into corps, to be employed in guarding military stores, aiding the police, or otherwise, as the state may direct.

7. That when invalids shall be formed into corps, there be quarterly returns, comprehending the pay, age, disability, regiment, ship or corps to which they severally belonged, made out and signed by their commanding officer and transmitted to such person or persons as the state shall direct, that their pay may be ordered according to said return.

8. That all invalids, as well those formed into corps, as those who are not, shall annually apply themselves to a magistrate of the county in which they reside or may be stationed, and take the following oath, viz. A.B. came before me, one of the justices for the county of..........in the state of..........and made oath, that he was examined by..........appointed by the said state (or commonwealth) for that purpose, obtained a certificate, or had his certificate examined and countersigned, and that he now lives in the.......... and in the county of.

9. That the affidavits, drawn according to the above form, and dated and attested by a magistrate, be sent by the said magistrate, to the person or persons appointed by the state, to receive and record the same, and that a counterpart of the affidavit, be preserved by the person taking it, to be exhibited to such persons as shall be appointed by the state to pay the invalids.

National Debt - part 1

By the United States, in Congress assembled, September 4th, 1782 : On the report of a grand committee, consisting of a member from each state, resolved, that one million two hundred thousand dollars be quotaed on the states, as absolutely and immediately necessary for payment of the interest of the public debt ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "intergovernmental fiscal relations."

By the United States in Congress Assembled.
September 4th, 1782

ON the report of a Grand Committee, consisting of a member from each state,

RESOLVED, That one million two hundred thousand dollars be quotaed on the States, as absolutely and immediately necessary for payment of the interest of the public debt; and that it be recommended to the Legislatures of the respective States, to lay such taxes as shall appear to them most proper and effectual for immediately raising their quota of the above sum.

RESOLVED, That the money so raised in each State, shall be applied towards paying the interest due on certificates issued from the loan-office of such State, and other liquidated debts of the United States contracted therein, before any part thereof shall be paid into the public treasury.

ORDERED, That the foregoing resolutions be referred to the Grand Committee, to assess and report the quota of each State.

September 10, 1782.

On the report of the Grand Committee,

RESOLVED,
THAT
 1,200,000 dollars, to be raised for the payment of the interest of the domestic debt of the United States, be apportioned to the several States, according to the following quotas, viz.

New-Hampshire: 48,000

Massachusetts: 192,000

Rhode-Island: 28,800

Connecticut: 133,200

New-York: 54,000

New-Jersey: 66,000

Pennsylvania: 180,000

Delaware: 16,800

Maryland: 132,000

Virginia: 174,000

North-Carolina: 88,800

South-Carolina: 72,000

Georgia: 14,400

1,200,000

National Debt - part 2

Impressed with a sense of the sacred trust committed to them, and with an anxious and affectionate concern for the interest, honor and safety of their constituents, the United States in Congress assembled, have on various occasions, pointed out the dangerous situation of this nation ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "debts, external."

IMPRESSED with a sense of the sacred trust committed to them, and with an anxious and affectionate concern for the interest, honor and safety of their constituents, The United States in Congress assembled, have on various occasions, pointed out the dangerous situation of this nation, for want of funds to discharge the engagements which have been constitutionally made for the common benefit of the union, and have urged the adoption of such measures, as inevitably flow from a breach of public faith, and a violation of the principles of justice. It is painful to compare a situation of present distress, with what might have been the direct reverse, had those measures been adopted. But as it is only by a serious examination of past errors, that experi- ence is gained, and better systems adopted in the management of public affairs, and that nothing may be concealed which may induce the several legislatures to investigate, and pursue in future their essential interests, we have ordered the board of treasury, to lay before them a state of the receipts and expen- ditures up to the 30th June last, and of the balances then due, together with an estimate of the accumu- lation of the public debt, by a failure in complying with the requisition of Congress, and particularly for want of an early and general adoption of the resolves of the 18th April 1783.

The states will observe, that in the present requisition, no less than 1,723,626 47-90 ought to be forthwith raised for the express purpose of paying the interest and certain installments of the principal of the foreign debt, which will become due in the present and in the course of the next year.

Under this heavy accumulation of the foreign debt, it becomes incumbent on the several states, un- til a general impost or some other system of revenue, adequate to the establishment of national credit and safety can be adopted, to exert themselves to fulfil that duty, which they owe to their own character and the welfare of the confederacy, by enacting laws more efficacious than those heretofore passed, for bringing into the general treasury their respective quotas of the present requisition.

To effect this great and desirable object, the wisdom of the respective legislatures will undoubtedly discover, that the following general principles are essentially necessary:

  • 1st. That the taxes intended for the purposes of the union should be permanent and distinct from those which are appropriated to the service of the state.
  • 2d. That they should (as far as is practicable) be simple in their nature, and easy in the collection.
  • 3d. That the sums levied on the individuals should be paid in like manner as the quotas are receivable from the several states, that is to say, that the proportion of specie pointed out by the requisition should keep pace with the payment of the discounts of interest.

An attention to these principles would undoubtedly promote in a great degree the collection of the revenue, and the arrangement of the federal finances.

That a brave and enlightened people who encountered every hardship and distress in opposing a sys- tem of government which they deemed adverse to their welfare and liberty, before they had even expe- rienced the mischiefs which they foresaw from its establishment, should (whilst the memory of their former principles and heroism is still fresh in their recollection) become inattentive to their own interest, their own happiness and their own honor, is a circumstance too disgraceful to admit of belief.

By the union of the several states they have rescued themselves from the tyranny of a powerful na- tion, and established constitutions on the free consent of the people, which are the admiration of the in- telligent and virtuous part of mankind, and the firm support of the civil and religious rights of all who live under the shadow of their influence. But these constitutions cannot long outlive the fate of the general union; and this union cannot exist without adequate funds to defray the expences of the go- vernment, and to discharge those engagements which have been entered into with the concurrence of the citizens of all these states, for their common benefit.

An appeal is now again made to the reason, the justice, and the interest of the several states. Whate- ver may be the fate of the measures submitted to their consideration, for giving strength and reputation to the union, the United States in Congress by virtue of the powers of the confederation, call upon the differ- ent members to pay into the general treasury at the time stipulated, the quotas laid on them respective- ly by the present requisition for the support of the general government.

The purposes for which the monies are to be appropriated are fairly stated, and the evils pointed out which will attend a non compliance. The delinquent states (if such there can possibly be) must take upon themselves the responsibility for all those calamities, which will most assuredly flow from a disre- gard to the political ties which unite them with the other members of the confederacy, and to those prin- ciples of justice and good faith, which can alone support the existence of a free government.

National Debt - part 3

By the United States in Congress assembled, September 27, 1785 : The report of the grand committee being amended to read as follows, resolved, that for the services of the present year, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, for the payment of one year's interest on the foreign and domestic debt, and as a provision to discharge the balance of the estimate of April twenty-seventh, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four ... it will be necessary that three millions of dollars ... be paid into the common treasury ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "appropriations and expenditures."

By the UNITED STATES in CONGRESS assembled
SEPTEMBER 27, 1785

THE report of the grand committee being amended to read as follows

RESOLVED, That for the services of the present year, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, for the payment of one year's interest on the foreign and domestic debt, and as a provision to discharge the balance of the estimate of April twenty-seventh, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, above the sum called for by the resolve of Congress of that date, it will be necessary that THREE MILLION of DOLLARS, in addition to 649,880 dollars, hereafter provided for, be paid into the common treasury, on or before the first day of May next, to be appropriated to the following purposes.

Dollars.

  • Civil department..........122,331
  • Military department..........187,224.32
  • Purchases of Indian rights of soil, and the incidental expences.......... 5,000
  • Contingencies, the expences under which head shall on the 1st of Jan.
  • annually, be transmitted by the board of treasury, to the legislature
  • of each state,..........90,000
  • 404,555.32

FOREIGN DEBT.

10,000,000 livres loaned in Holland and guaranteed by France, one year's interest
..........thereon..........74,074
24,000,000 ditto public French loan, one year's interest thereon..........222,222,20
..........174,000 dollars Spanish loan, one year's interest thereon..........8,700
5,000,000 florins first Dutch loan, one year's interest thereon..........96,527.5
2,000,000 ditto second Dutch loan, one year's interest thereon at 4 per cent...........30,888.88
..........846,710 livres to the farmers general of France, one year's interest thereon..........7,840
..........440,252.58

DOMESTIC DEBT.

Liquidated.

10,517,380.6 dollars--one year's interest thereon..........631,042.6
Loan office debt.
3,778,900 dollars issued to the 1st Sept. 1777, equal to specie--one year's interest
..........thereon..........226,734
3,459.200 dollars issued between 1st Sept. 177, and 1st March 1778, which sum is
..........subject to liquidation by the scale, but the interest is payable on the
..........nominal sum,--one year's interest thereon..........207,540
5,146,330.8 dollars specie value of uncancelled loan office certificates issued after
..........the 1st of March 1778, one year's interest thereon..........308,780.6
..........743,054.6
4,823,724..........dollars estimated amount of certificates issued and to be issued to the
..........lines of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and
..........Georgia,--one years interest thereon..........289,423.4
1,141,551.5 dollars, balance of the estimate of the 27th of April 1784, above the
..........sum called for by the resolution of Congress of that date,..........1,141551.5
..........Total estimate,.......... 3,649580
..........Deduction,.......... 649,880
..........Balance to be called for,..........3,000,000

Deduct for part of the Dutch loan applied towards a discharge of the last year's estimate, and which the sums required from the states last year will replace; and for loans now in the hands of the Dutch commissioners, and hereby appropriated for the purposes of this estimate, 649,880 dollars, and there remains the balance of three millions of dollars, to be paid into the common treasury.

The committee find that, for reasons stated in the resolve of Congress, of the 27th of April, 1784, there yet remains a moiety of the requisition for eight millions of dollars, and the whole of the requisition for two millions of dollars, to be applied to the use of the United States, before any new requisition ought to be made--They are therefore of opinion, that the states be called upon to make actual payment of three quarters of the remaining moiety aforesaid, on or before the first day of May aforesaid.

The committee have not been able to obtain information how many states have complied with the resolution of February 17th, or that of April 18th, 1783, relative to a rule, for adjusting the quotas of the several states in federal requisitions.--They are therefore of opinion, that the several states which have ot decided on that subject, be again solicited to come to a decision thereon, and to send forward the same, as a measure necessary to enable Congress to effect a settlement of accounts with the several states, and to apportion to each a just quota of the public expences; but in the mean time, as the public faith renders it the duty of Congress to continue their annual demand for money, the committee are of opinion, that in the apportionment thereof, the quotas of the several states should be adjusted agreeably to the best information which Congress may from time to time have obtained on the subject. Upon this principle they recommend to Congress, that in the present requisition for three millions of dollars, the quotas of the several states be as follows, viz.

DOLLARS.

New-Hampshire,.......... 105,416
Massachusetts,.......... 448,854
Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations,.......... 64,636
Connecticut,..........264,182
New-York,.......... 256,486
New-Jersey,.......... 166,716
Pennsylvania,.......... 410,378
Delaware,.......... 44,886
Maryland,.......... 283,034
Virginia,.......... 512,974
North-Carolina,..........218,012
South-Carolina,..........192,366
Georgia,..........32,060
3,000,000

Which sums, when paid, shall be passed to the credit of the states respectively, on the terms prescribed by the resolution of Congress of the 6th day of October 1779, and together with the monies relied on to discharge the aforesaid deduction of 649,880 dollars, be applied in conformity with the several appropriations in the preceding part of this report, giving preference according to the order in which they are stated in the estimate.

As more than two-thirds of the sum called for is to be applied to the payment of interest on the domestic debt; the committee are of opinion, that the several legislatures may so model the collection of the sums called for, that one third of any sum being paid in actual money, the other two-thirds may be discharged by the interest due upon loan-office certificates and upon other certificates of the liquidated debts of the United States. And to ascertain the evidences of interest due upon loan-office certificates, the holders thereof respectively, shall be at liberty to carry them to the office from which they issued, and the holders of other certificates of liquidated debts of the United States, to carry the same to the loan-office of that state wherein they are inhabitants, or if foreigners, to any loan-office within the United States, and to have the interest due thereon, settled and certified to the last day of the year 1784.

Provided that the commissioner of the continental loan-office in any state, shall not on any pretence whatever, settle, or issue any certificate or certificates, for the interest due on any continental loan-office certificate or other certificate of liquidated debts aforesaid, unless as hereafter provided until the state for which he is continental loan-officer shall have passed a legislative act, complying with this requisition; nor shall he issue any certificate, or take any other measure whereby the interest may be paid by the state in any mode not pointed out by this requisition; nor shall the commissioner of the continental loan-office in any state shall have complied with this requisition, issue any certificate or take any other measure whereby a discrimination may be made by such state between the holders of loan-office certificates issued from his office, who are citizens of that state, and foreigners, or the citizens of any other state that shall have complied with this requisition: Excepting from this proviso, such state or states, as, by the books of the treasury shall appear to have paid their full quota of the requisition of the 30th October 1781, for eight millions of dollars upon the former and present apportionment of the same, so far as to admit the commissioner of the continental loan-office in such state or states, to issue certificates for interest in the same manner as the commissioners in the states passing legislative acts, as aforesaid: Provided always, that any continental loan officer shall issue certificates for interest as aforesaid, due on continental loan-office certificates issued from his office and belonging to foreigners, and also, to the citizens of such states as shall have passed a legislative act, complying with this requisition as aforesaid.

Provided nevertheless, that where any state hath made provision by law, for paying any part of the interest of the domestic debt of the United States contained in the estimate on which this requisition is founded, the continental loan-officer in such state, shall without delay, ascertain the sum which shall have been so paid pursuant to such law, on or before the first day of January next, and shall make report thereof to the board of treasury, and also, to the legislature of such state, who may deduct from their quota of this requisition, and be credited in part payment thereof, the sum so paid not exceeding two-thirds of such quota, every state being held to pay in specie one third part of the said quota, previously to the admission of such credit. And if any state shall have so paid in discharge of interest as aforesaid, a sum exceeding two-thirds of its quota of this requisition, such surplus shall be admitted as a charge against the United States in the settlement of the general account of such state; but if any interest after the said first day of January, shall be paid by any state contrary to the true intent of this requisition, such payment shall not be admitted as a charge against the United States. And if any commissioner of a continental loan-office shall disobey, or neglect to carry into execution any resolution or order of Congress, or otherwise neglect his duty in the said office, the board of treasury shall suspend him from his office, and the emoluments thereof, and immediately report the reasons thereof to Congress; and the board of treasury are hereby empowered to appoint in the room of the commissioner of the continental loan-office so suspended, a citizen of the state in which the office is kept, who shall have all the powers and emoluments of a commissioner of the continental loan-office until Congress shall finally determine respecting the suspension.

And every commissioner of the continental loan office, previously to settling and issuing certificates as aforesaid, for the interest due on certificates of liquidates debts, other than loan office certificates, shall administer an oath or affirmation, or require a certificate signed by one of the persons whom the state in which the commissioner resides shall, in the legislative act complying with this requisition appoint, that he had administered to the owner or possessor of every such certificate, an oath or affirmation, that the same is bona fide the property of the particular state in which the said commissioner resides, or of a citizen or citizens of the said state, or of some corporate body or charitable institution within the same, or of some person who is not a citizen of any of the United States; describing the certificate or certificates alluded to in every such oath or affirmation, in such manner as shall be necessary to identify the same, or as may be prescribed by the legislature of the said state.

And for preventing the depreciation of certificates to be issued as aforesaid, the legislature of each state is required to provide in the act complying with this requisition that if on the first day of January 1787, the said state's quota of the said certificates so to be issued shall not be in the hands of the state treasurer or other proper officer, the deficiency shall be collected and paid into the continental treasury in specie, which, when so paid, is hereby appropriated to the redemption of such surplus certificates.

Provided nevertheless, that any state which shall have obtained a credit in the books of the treasury for the full compliance with the requisition of 4th September, 1782, for one million, two hundred thousand dollars, with the requisition of 27th April, 1784, for completing the payment of one half of the requisition of 30th October, 1781, for eight million dollars, and also with this requisition, shall at any time after such compliances, be admitted to pay into the treasury of the United States any sum, or sums in the said certificates to be issued for interest as aforesaid, and have credit for the same, to be deducted out of the quota of such state in the next succeeding requisition; provided that such sum or sums do not exceed one half of the said quota.

That the board of treasury cause to be made a bank-paper, and thereon to be struck the form of certificates, to evidence the interest due as aforesaid, and transmit to the several loan-officers, a sufficient number of the same. That the said board furnish the several loan officers, with such checks and instructions, as they from time to time shall judge necessary, to prevent counterfeited certificates of debts from obtaining a settlement of interest, and to detect counterfeit evidences of interest, and thereby to avoid receiving them in discharge of taxes; which certificates of interest being parted with by the holders of the principal, shall be deemed evidence that he has received satisfaction for the same, and therefore shall be receivable from the bearer in lieu of money in the proportion aforesaid, in any other state in the union, as well as in the state in which they were issued That the state receiving such certificates and paying the same into the public treasury, with a proportion of specie as aforesaid, shall have credit therefor; which payment shall be considered as a discharge of the interest due on the domestic debt, in the proportion that each state avails itself of the said certificates of interest. And where loan-office certificates issued after the first day of March 1778, shall be presented to the loan-officer, they shall be reduced to their specie value, conformably to the resolutions of Congress of June, 1780, and that specie value expressed on some part of the certificate, and the interest thereon settled and certified as in other cases.

As a motive for the chearful payment of the sum now called for, as well as of the arrearages on that of April 27, 1784, the committee are of opinion that the states be reminded, that Congress have passed an ordinance for the survey and sale of the western territory of the United States, and that the proceeds thereof will be applied as a sinking fund to extinguish the domestic debt. Future requisitions for interest on the domestic debt, will therefore be reduced in proportion as this fund may be rendered productive.

RESOLVED, That Congress agree to the said report.

National Debt - part 4

An address from the United States in Congress assembled to the legislatures of the several states : When the interests of a people are endangered, either through the defect of the government they have established, or the want of timely and vigorous, exertions to give efficacy to its operations, it becomes the duty ...

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AN ADDRESS from the UNITED STATES in CONGRESS ASSEMBLED to the LEGISLATURES of the several STATES.

WHEN the interests of a people are endangered, either through the defect of the government they have established, or the want of timely and vigorous, exertions to give efficacy to its operation, it becomes the duty of those to whom the sacred truth of watching over the welfare of the nation is delegated, to awaken it to a sense of its danger and to urge the adoption of such measures as may avert the calamities with which it is threatened.

Impressed with a sense of this high obligation, and an anxious and affectionate concern for the interest, honor and safety of their constituents, the United States in Congress assembled, have at various periods, and on various occasions, exercised this important trust, but on none more solemn and interesting than the present.

It is with the most painful anxiety that they are compelled to declare, that, having been denied the means of satisfying the engagements which they have constitutionally made for the common benefit of the union, it is now their duty solemnly to warn their constituents that the most fatal evils will speedily, and inevitably, flow from a breach of public faith, and a violation of the principles of justice, which are the solid basis of the honor and prosperity of nations.

The states were called upon the last year to pay into the general treasury the sum of three million of dollars, of which one million was to be discharged by specie, and two million by discounts of interest on the domestic debt. The objects for which the monies proposed to be raised were to be appropriated, were then distinctly pointed out; by this it appears that the sum of eight hundred and forty thousand dollars were absolutely and indispensibly necessary to defray the charges of the civil government and the interest of the foreign debt.

What have been the effects of this requisition? Notwithstanding the serious and interesting appeal of Congress to the justice and wisdom of the several states which soon followed it, and in which, after stating the public receipts and expenditures for the four preceding years, it is proved that the receipts of the last fourteen months were not adequate to the bare maintenance of the federal government, on the most economical establishment, and in time of profound peace. Only, ten states out of the thirteen have passed acts apparently complying with it, and by such as have complied not more than the sum of 100,000 dollars has been paid into the general treasury to the present date, in actual specie.

In examining the proceedings of the different states in consequence of the resolves of the 27th September, 1785, the following statement is the result.

In the act of New-Hampshire, the specie directed to be raised is to be assessed on the polls and rateable estates within that state, agreeable to the last proportion of taxes for the several towns and places, but as it does not appear by this act, at what rate the polls and real property are rated, or whether those funds are burthened with any other engagements, it is impossible to form a judgment of what may be expected from the provision made. If the funds are the same as have been relied on for paying that states quota of the requisition of the 27th and 28th of April, 1784, experience demonstrates that no dependence can be placed upon their efficacy.

By the act of Massachusetts, it appears that there is assessed on the different counties of that state, the sum of 300,439l. IS. 3d. lawful money, out of which the sum of 145,665l. equal to 485,550 dollars (the specie quota of that state) is to be paid into the general treasury, on or before the first of January next.

  • From the whole sum there is to be deducted, .......... L. S. d.
  • For the support of civil government .......... 25,784: 1: 3.
  • For the payment of interest on their state debt .......... 29,000: 0: 0.
  • For redeeming army notes, payable 1784, 1785 and 1786, .......... 100,000: 0: 0.
  • For replacing sums drawn out of the treasury for support of the members of assembly .......... 1,101:18: 0.

It does not appear by this act, that any preference in payment is to be given to the requisition of Congress, and as more than one moiety of the sum proposed to be raised is for state purposes, in which the support of the government, and the particular interest of their citizens are concerned, it may be inferred that the first monies collected will be appropriated for the objects last mentioned; of course the specie payments of the requisition will be procrastinated, and any deficiency in the general tax will fall on the sum which is appropriated for federal purposes.

From Rhode-Island no specie payment on the last requisition is to be expected, that state having set off, against the requisition, the balances due the contractors for ox-teams in the service of the United States for the year 1781, notwithstanding the balance which remained due on the requisition for 1784; this, together with the amount of their liquidated payments to invalids, in pursuance of the resolution of Congress of the 7th June, 1785, will very probably absorb the specie sum of the requisition of the 27th September, 1785: nor can a further payment of the balance due on that of 1784 be calculated on, as a paper currency in that state is made receivable in all taxes whatever.

Connecticut having passed no act in compliance with the last requisition, nothing can be expected from her.

By the act of New-York, though the treasurer of the state is directed to pay into the general treasury the full proportion of her quota on the last requisition, at the periods therein specified, no funds appear, by the said law, to be provided for effecting this object. By a law enacted in the last sessions of the legislature of that state, a paper currency is made receivable in all taxes whatever from the first of May last: from this circumstance, little dependence can be placed in receiving, in the course of the present year, her full specie quota.

Jersey having passed no act upon the last requisition nothing is to be expected from her.

Pennsylvania, by an act of the 8th March, 1786, directed their treasurer to pay to the order of the United States such a sum in specie, as, together with the sums paid on account of the requisitions of the 27th and 28th of April, 1784, and 27th of September, 1785, would make the sum of 557,{Omitted text, 3 characters} is to be observed, that the sum directed to be paid by discounts of interest, is 86,657 dollars more than the state has a right to avail itself of on the requisition of the 4th of September, 1782, 27th of April, 1784, and 27th of September, 1785, and that the amount directed to be paid is short (by the abovementioned overplus in indents of interest) of the actual sum of specie required of that state, by the requisitions of the 27th and 28th of April, 1784, and 27th of September, 1785.

The state of Delaware has passed an act in compliance with the last requisition, which will probably be productive of her quota.

The state of Maryland did, at their last session, pass an act providing for the payment of 94,350 dollars in specie, being the proportion of specie required of that state by the last requisition; but it does not appear that any provision has been made for the payment of the indents of interest, required by the said requisition.

Virginia passed an act of the 21st of January last, in full compliance with the last requisition, but the revenue laws, referred to in the said act, do not shew what monies may be relied on from them.

From North-Carolina nothing is to be expected on the last requisition, no act having passed in pursuance of it.

In the state of South-Carolina the last requisition is fully covered by the credit she has obtained in the treasury, for supplies in 1782 and 1783.

The state of Georgia, by an act of the 13th of February last, directed their treasurer to pay into the general treasury, the quotas assigned to that state, by the resolves of the 4th September, 1782, 27th and 28th of April, 1784, and 27th of September, 1785; but as the said act refers to a revenue law, of which a copy has not accompanied it, no certain opinion can be formed how far the compliance may be operative; but, as nothing has yet been paid on either of the aforesaid requisitions, little expectation can be entertained of payments under this act which seems to have created no new funds.

To the above statement, nothing need be added to manifest the exhausted state of the federal treasury, except that of the requisition of the 27th and 28th April, 1784; heavy balances are still due as appears from the following statement thereof to the 30th June last:

Of the requisition of the 4th of September 1782, considerable balances are also due, but as the states were permitted to apply their respective quotas, in the payment of interest due on the loan-office certificates, and other liquidated debts of the United States, contracted therein, and few of them have caused regular returns to be made, how far they have acted upon the said requisition, the balances cannot now be ascertained.

If it be asked, to what end is another requisition made, whilst such heavy balances remain still unsatisfied? the answer is, that the United States in Congress, are bound by every principle of good faith and justice, and a regard to national character, to exercise that authority which is vested in them, for obliging the different members of the union to contribute their respective quotas for the support of the general government; and to manifest to the world, that they are not inattentive to the high and honorable trust of watching over the welfare of a free people.

The states will observe that in the present requisition, no less than 1,723,626 dollars, 47-90ths ought to be forthwith raised in specie, for the express purpose of paying the interest and certain instalments of principal of the foreign debt, which will become due in the present, and in the course of the next year: So vast is the accumulation of the debt which has been brought on the people for want of an early and general adoption of the resolves of Congress of the 18th April 1783!

The general impost therein recommended, was expressly appropriated for the purpose of discharging the principal and interest of the national debt; the probable amount of it was at that time calculated at near a million of dollars annually. Supposing this calculation to be greater than this revenue is likely to produce in a regular state of commerce, yet when the extraordinary importations which were poured into the states for the first two years after the peace, are taken into consideration, it may safely be averred that, by the end of the year 1787, a net revenue would have accrued from the execution of that plan, of near four million of dollars, if had it commenced its operation in the early part of the year 1784.

It may in this place, be proper to state, what have been the sums necessary to be raised in specie, for the interest and principal of the foreign debt, to the end of the year 1787, and to compare the aggregate with the probable amount of that revenue to the same period.

By the schedule of the principal and interest due on the foreign loans, which was transmitted to the several states with the act of Congress of the 15th of February last, it appears that the aggregate of principal and interest due on the French and Dutch loans to the end of the year 1787 is
.......... dollars .......... 1,710,044
On the Spanish loan of 174,000 dollars, seven years interest, .......... 60,900
Foreign officers and individuals in France, say, .......... 44,000
To foreign individuals, for principal and interest of debts contracted abroad, about .......... 100,000
.......... 1,914,944

Deduct this sum from what would have been the probable amount of the impost to the end of the year

1787, and it appears that about two million of dollars, of surplus revenue, might under a proper arrangement, have been applied towards the reduction of the capital of the domestic debt.

When to these circumstances are added, the influx of specie from the revival of credit, and the happy effects it would have had on the present unfavorable balance of commerce, and consequently on the collection of taxes throughout all the states, it is scarcely possible to foresee the extent and number of the advantages which would have flowed from the operation of this system.

It is a painful task, either in nations or individuals, to call to mind circumstances of advantage which have escaped their controul, and to compare a situation of present distress, with what (under the auspices of heaven) would have been the direct reverse, had they availed themselves of advantages once within their power to command.

But it is by an honest and serious examination of past errors, that experience only is gained, and better systems adopted in the management of public or private affairs. It becomes therefore the duty of the guardians of a free and enlightened people, however painful the task, to execute this high trust, and to conceal nothing that may induce the nation to investigate, {Omitted text, 3 characters}

It is not to be expected, that in a government composed of thirteen independent deliberative powers, and owing its origin to an extreme jealousy of public liberty, the judgment of the several members of the confederacy, should at the same time, embrace the wisdom and necessity of every measure which may be recommended by the general government, particularly in the case of an untried system of revenue, the most difficult of all objects, to carry into execution.

The several legislatures have at length passed acts for granting to the United States in Congress, the power of levying a general impost, to be appropriated agreeably to their recommendations of the 18th of April, 1783: in two states the laws which have been enacted for this purpose require some alteration to give a general operation to the collection of this revenue, and for the wisdom and patriotism for which these states have been long distinguished, the United States in Congress, cannot entertain the idea that they will refuse to give efficacy to a measure so essential to the establishment of the national credit and safety.

Under the heavy accumulation of the foreign debt, it becomes, however, peculiarly incumbent on the different states to exert themselves to fulfil that duty, which they owe to their own character and the welfare of the confederacy, by enacting laws more efficacious for bringing into the general treasury their respective quotas of the present requisition, than has hitherto been the case.

To effect this great and desirable object, the wisdom of the respective legislatures will undoubtedly discover, that the following general principles are essentially necessary:

1st. That the taxes intended for the purposes of the union should be permanent and distinct from those which are appropriated to the service of the state.

2d. That they should (as far as is practicable) be simple in their nature, and depend more for their execution, on the mode of the tax than on the diligence of the officers entrusted with the collection.

3d. That the sums raised by the individuals should be paid in like manner as the quotas are receivable from the several states, that is to say, that the proportion of specie pointed out by the requisition should keep pace with the payment of the discounts of interest.

An attention to these principles would undoubtedly promote in a great degree the collection of the revenue, and the arrangement of the federal finances.

That a brave and enlightened people who encountered every hardship and distress in opposing a system of government which they deemed adverse to their welfare and liberty, before they had even experienced the mischiefs which they foresaw from its establishment, should (whilst the memory of their former principles and heroism is still fresh in their recollection) become the voluntary suicides of their own interest, their own happiness and their own honor, is a circumstance too disgraceful to admit of belief.

By the union of the several states they have rescued themselves from the tyranny of a powerful nation, and established constitutions on the free consent of the people, which are the admiration of the intelligent and virtuous part of mankind, and the firm support of the civil and religious rights of all who live under the shadow of their influence. But these constitutions cannot long outlive the fate of the general union; and this union cannot exist without adequate funds to defray the expences of the government, and to discharge those engagements which have been entered into with the concurrence of the citizens of all these states, for their common benefit.

An appeal is now again made to the reason, the justice, and the interest of the several states. Whatever may be the fate of the measures submitted to their consideration, for giving strength and reputation to the union, the United States in Congress by virtue of the powers of the confederation, call upon the different members to pay into the general treasury at the time stipulated, the quotas laid on them respectively by the present requisition for the support of the general government.

The purposes for which the monies are to be appropriated are fairly stated, and the evils pointed out which will attend a non compliance. The delinquent states (if such there can possibly be) must take upon themselves the responsibility for all those calamities, which will most assuredly flow from a disregard to the political ties which unite them with the other members of the confederacy, and to those principles of justice and good faith, which can alone support the existence of a free government.

Piracy - part 1

Office for Foreign Affairs, 29th September, 1785 : The secretary of the United States, for the Department of Foreign Affairs, in obedience to the order of Congress, reports the draft of an ordinance for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas.

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OFFICE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 29th SEPTEMBER, 1785.

The SECRETARY of the United States, for the Department of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, in Obedience to the Order of Congress, reports the Draft of an Ordinance for the Trial of PIRACIES and FELONIES committed on the High Seas.

YOURsecretary observes, that prior to the reign of Henry the eighth of England, piracies, treasons, felonies, c. committed on the high seas, were tried before the admiral, according to the course of the civil law.

That in the 28th year of his reign, an act was passed, declaring that they should in future be tried as such places in the realm as should be assigned by the king's commission, and in like manner as if committed on the land--which commission should be issued as often as need might require, directed to the admiral or his lieutenant, and three or four other substantial persons to be named by the lord chancellor:--Their proceedings were to be according to the common law.

The provisions in this act were rendered more extensive and effectual by one passed in the 11th and 12th of William the 3d, which was also amended by 18th George the 2nd, by which and other subsequent statutes many useful things on this subject were enacted, but which the present powers of Congress are not supposed to reach.

Your secretary also observes that the power given to Congress by the confederation, is not to declare what is or shall be felony or piracy, nor to declare what shall be the punishment of either, but merely to appoint courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas --Whence it seems to follow that the wise end in view, viz. the rendering both the trial and punishment of those offences similar in all the states, cannot be accomplished by an ordinance of Congress, in virtue of that article in the confederation.

But as piracy is war against all mankind, which is the highest violation of the laws of nations; as the execution of those laws demands the care of the sovereign who is responsible for the observance of them in his dominions, and as the conduct of the United States towards all their enemies in open war against them, (whether nations or individuals) is to be regulated by their federal government, your secretary thinks that Congress would not exceed their powers by ordaining the punishment to be inflicted throughout the United States in cases of piracy. This reasoning however does not in the opinion of your secretary, apply to cases of felony, as distinguished from piracy; and therefore the design of this reference with respect to them, can only be so far attained by an ordinance of Congress, as that they shall be tried (though not punished ) in like manner in all the states.

It appears singular to your secretary, that the confederation should confine the authority of Congress to piracies and felonies, and not extend it to treasons, which can not be regularly comprehended under either of those denominations. The revolution has done away so much of the former law respecting treasons, and such new relations between citizen and sovereign have taken place, that it is very difficult, if practicable, to say what is the exact extent and meaning of treason in the United States. There is an allegiance resulting from compact which is due from the citizens of each state to the sovereign of it, and there is also an allegiance less understood, which is due from the citizens of all the states to their federal sovereign. The nature of both these sovereignties differ so exceedingly from monarchy, with respect to offences of [lesoe?] majestatis; that laws and penalties proper to support the latter, would be impolitic and injurious to the former.

Your secretary is aware that this is a deviation from the line of the reference, but as the importance of introducing precision, uniformity and system in this essential branch of the law, merits attention, he hopes this short digression from his proper subject will be excused.

AN ORDINANCE FOR THE TRIAL OF PIRACIES AND FELONIES
COMMITTED ON THE HIGH SEAS

.

WHEREAS by the ninth article of confederation and perpetual union between the United States, it is declared that they shall, when assembled in Congress, have the sole and exclusive right and power of appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas.

Wherefore be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, and it is hereby ordained by the authority of the same, that whenever, and so often as any person or persons, charged with having committed piracy or felony, on the high seas, shall either be apprehended in, or brought from sea or foreign parts to any one of the said states, the governor, lieutenant governor, or other magistrate or magistrates then exercising the executive power of such state, shall forthwith, at the expence of the United States, send such person or persons for trial to such other of the said states, where the witnesses and proofs of such piracy or felony may more easily and expeditiously be had. But in all cases where the said person or persons may as well, or more conveniently, be tried there, is in another state, and in all cases where a person or persons so charged, shall there be brought from another state for trial, the said executive magistrate or magistrates shall within thirty days after the commitment of such person or persons, issue a commission, to continue in force for forty days, and no longer, under the great seal of the state, to the judge of the court of admiralty thereof, and to three or [four?] such other learned and discreet men, as the said executive power may think proper, constituting them judges to hear, determine, and judge all piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, by any person or persons then being within that state, or who may come or be brought to it before the expiration of that commission, in the manner and form specified in this ordinance, which shall be recited at length in the said commission.

As it is further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the majority of the said judges, of which the judge of the admiralty shall always be one, do constitute a quorum; and that every question proper for their discussion, shall be decided by the major voice of them all if present, or of the quorum aforesaid if all should not be present.

It shall be and is hereby declared to be the duty of the said judges respectively, to take the following oath before they proceed to execute the said commission, viz. I. A. B. one the judges appointed by commission under the great seal of this states, bearing date the..........day of..........issued in pursuance of the ordinance of Congress therein recited for hearing, determining, and judging all piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, by any person or persons now within this state, or who may come or be brought to it before the expiration of the said commission; DO swear on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that I will faithfully, diligently, and impartially do my duty as one of the said judges, according to justice, law, and right, and to the best of my skill and understanding. So help me God.

The said judges shall then appoint a clerk to their court, and administer to him the following oath, viz.

I A. B. appointed clerk to the court about to set for hearing, determining, and judging all felonies and piracies committed on the high seas, by any person or persons now within this state, or who may come or be brought to it before the expiration of the said commission, DO swear on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that I will faithfully, diligently, and impartially do my duty therein according to the best of my skill and judgment.

The said judges shall then decide in what county of the state, and at what place in such county, it will be most convenient for all parties, and most conducive to the furtherance of justice, that they should open and hold their court; and having so decided, they shall there remain and not remove the court to any other place. They shall forthwith proceed, by precept under their hands and seals, to command the sheriff of that county, to have before them at the place aforesaid, and at a certain day therein to be assigned, not less than twelve, nor more than twenty-four good and lawful men of his bailiwick, to form a grand jury, who on oath shall enquire, and true presentment make of all piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, by any person or persons within the said state, or who may come or be brought to it before the expiration of the said commission. This precept shall be issued within seven days after the date of the commission, and shall be returnable within eight days after its own date exclusively.

The said judges shall also at the same time that they issue the precept aforesaid, issue another to the same sheriff, to empannel and have before them twenty-four other good and lawful men of his bailiwick, out of whom as occasion may require, pettit juries to consist of twelve, shall be chosen by ballot, for the trial of such indictments as may be presented as aforesaid, and to which the party indicted shall plead not guilty. This last precept shall be returnable on the fourth day inclusive after the return of the other precept.

It shall be the duty of the attorney general of the said state, to prosecute the pirates and felons in question, in like manner as if their offences had been committed within the body of the county, in which the said judges shall sit.

The grand jury shall be sworn and charged in open court, and they shall demean themselves, and proceed in doing business in the manner and form directed by the common law, and by this ordinance; and the court shall have the like authority over them, and over the pettit juries summoned to attend them, and over witnesses, and over all ministerial officers of justice throughout the whole state, as a court of gaol delivery, or of oyer and terminer of right hath, in the particular county for which they may be commissioned.

And it is further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that so soon as an indictment against any person or persons for the offences aforesaid, or either of them, shall be presented to the said court, they shall, if not already done, cause the person or persons so indicted, to be apprehended, by issuing a precept for that purpose, to the sheriff and other ministerial officers, or either or any of them, of the county in which such person or persons may be supposed to be.

When the person or persons so indicted, shall be brought before the court, they shall be allowed counsel, a copy of the indictment shall be delivered to each of them, and one day allowed them to consider of the same. They shall be then separately arraigned, and called upon to plead. Against such as shall stand mute, or refuse to plead, judgment shall be entered in like manner as by consession. If he shall plead not guilty, a copy of the pannel shall be forthwith delivered to him, and he shall have at the least two days to prepare for his trial, and more if good cause for such indulgence be shewn to the court.

The witnesses shall be sworn and examined viva voce in presence of the court, the jury and the prisoner; and the whole trial shall be conducted according to the course of the common law. Written examination of the prisoner or prisoners duly taken before a proper magistrate, and signed by the party and the magistrate, shall be given in evidence, but ex parte affidavits shall in no case, nor on any pretence be admitted.

If any of the prisoners so indicted of piracy, shall be duly convicted thereof, the judgment against him shall be, that he be hanged by the neck until he be dead. And the sheriff of the county shall cause the said judgment to be executed, at such time and place, as the said judges shall order. It also shall be in the discretion of the judges, to order the body of the offender to be hung in chains, if the circumstances of the offence be so aggravated and attrocious, as in their opinion to render such example of severity useful and proper.

If any of the prisoners so indicted of felony, shall be duly convicted thereof, the judgment against him shall be the same, and it shall be executed in like manner, as if the said felony had been committed within the body of the said county.

It is also ordained by the authority aforesaid, that from time to time that the said court shall be first opened, they shall have power to adjourn only from day to day; but in case they shall have dispatched all the business before them, before the expiration of the forty days limited for the duration of their commission, they shall then adjourn sine die.

It is further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that reasonable compensation shall be made to the clerk of the court, and to the sheriff, for their respective services, to be ascertained by the court, who shall also admit and tax such accounts of such incidental expences, as may have been indispensibly necessary---such for example, as provisions for the prisoners, chains for such as they may have directed to be hanged in them, and the like. All these allowances and expences, certified by the judges, shall be paid in the first instance, out of the treasury of the state, and repaid out the treasury of the United States, to the order of the chief executive magistrate, on the accounts being transmitted to the commissioners of the treasury board, and passed in the usual form.

And whereas in providing for the administration of justice, care should be taken not to exclude mercy where circumstances may render the extension of it proper;

Therefore it is also ordained by the authority aforesaid, that it shall be in the power of the chief executive magistrate or magistrates of the state, for the time being, on the recommendation of the judges aforesaid, to respite the execution of any judgment against any pirate or felon convicted as aforesaid, until the pleasure of Congress shall be known, and for that purpose notice of the said respite, and the reasons, shall be without delay communicated to Congress.

It is also ordained by the authority aforesaid, that such person or persons as shall be indicted and tried before the said court, for either of the offences aforesaid, and shall be thereof acquitted, shall not be again questioned or tried for the same in that or any other of the United States. And in order that such person or persons may, if so again indicted, have the better opportunity of pleading and proving such previous acquittal in bar thereto, It is further ordained, that the proceedings in every such cause, shall be duly entered up of record, on parchment rolls, by the clerk of the court, with the advice and assistance of the attorney general, and shall be returned by the said courts, together with, and annexed to, their commission, to the chief executive magistrate or magistrates who issued the same; and who, on receipt thereof, shall cause the said commission and proceedings to be filed in the court of chancery of the said state; or if there should be no court of chancery established in the said state, then the same shall be filed with the keeper of the records of the superior court of judicature for the said state; and an exemplification of any of the said rolls or records, under the great seal of the state, shall be good evidence in any subsequent court to be appointed or held in any of the United States for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas.

And whereas the friendless and destitute situation in which such men often are, may put it out of their power to obtain such exemplifications, and whereas the term of forty days assigned for the duration of the commission, may not admit of sending for, and having it from a distant state, in season, --Therefore it is further ordained, that whenever a person indicted in the said court, for either of the offences aforesaid, shall plead a formal acquittal on a trial for the same supposed offences, in a similar court, in one of the other United States; it shall be the duty of the court to receive the plea, and immediately write a letter to the chief executive magistrate of that state, informing him thereof and requesting him, as the life of a man is in question, to make diligent search for the record of the cause alluded to, and at the expence of the United States, to send to them an exemplification thereof in due form. The prisoner shall then be recommitted to prison. If the exemplification demanded, shall arrive before the expiration of the forty days, and it shall clearly appear to the court, from comparing that record with the present indictment, that he had been indicted, tried and acquitted of the same offence, for which he stands indicted before them; they shall forthwith discharge him--But if the said chief executive magistrate or magistrates, shall answer, that there is no such record, and shall also enclose a certificate, of the proper keeper of such records, under his oath of office, that there is no such record, then judgment shall be entered against the said prisoner, as by consession.

But if no answer whatever shall be received from the said executive magistrate, before the expiration of the said forty days, then the executive power of the state, shall by a short commission, reciting the date of the former, continue it for forty days longer. And as it may so happen, that the cause in which such plea may be made, may be the only one before the court, and it would be a hardship to keep the court sitting from day to day, until the answer aforesaid should arrive, it shall be lawful for the said court on such a contingency, to adjourn for a week, ten days, or other term, that they may think expedient.

And it is also ordained by the authority aforesaid, that all accessaries to piracy, whether before or after the fact, shall be considered as principals; but that all accessaries to felonies committed on the high seas, shall be considered by the said said judges, as they are considered by the laws of the state in which the offenders shall be tried as aforesaid. And further, that all lands, goods and chattles, which may be forfeited on the convictions before mentioned, shall pass and belong to the state within which such convictions shall be had, excepting only such lands as may be in another state, for they shall belong to that other state.

Lastly, it is ordained, that the ordinance of the 5th April, 1781, entitled, an ordinance for establishing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, shall be, and hereby is repealed.

DRAFT OF A COMMISSION.
STATE OF..........ss.

TO ALL to whom these presents shall come, I..........governor, (lieutenant governor, president, c. as the case may be,) of the state (or commonwealth) of..........SEND GREETING: Whereas the United States of America in Congress assembled, did on the..........day of in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, make and publish an ordinance in the words following, viz. (here recite it verbatim) Now know ye, that by virtue of the authority to me by the said ordinance given, I have nominated, constituted and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute and appoint. A. B. esquire, the present judge of the court of admiralty in and for this state,C. D. of E. F. of..........and G. H. of..........and the majority of them, of whom the said..........shall always be one, judges to hear, judge, and determine all piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, by any person or persons now within this state, or who, before the expiration of this commission, shall come or be brought to the same. In the doing whereof, the said judges are hereby directed, to proceed in the manner specified and ordained in and by the said ordinance, and to exercise all the powers and authorities given to them by the same. This commission shall remain in force forty days from this day exclusive, and at the expiration thereof, the said judges are to return the same to me, or to the person who may then exercise the executive power of this state, together with the records and minutes of their proceedings annexed thereto, and certified by an indorsement under their hands and seals, or the hands and seals of a majority of them.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and caused the great seal of this state to be affixed. ALL which is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.

JOHN JAY.

Piracy - part 2

Office for Foreign Affairs, 20th October, 1785 : The secretary of the United States for the Department of Foreign Affairs, to whom was referred his letter of 13th instant, to His Excellency the President, and one from Chevalier Jones, to him of the 6th August last, with a copy of a letter, from Mr. Soulanges, to the judges and consuls at Nantes, informing that the Algerines had declared war against the United States : and also a motion of the Honorable Mr. Pinckney, of the 17th October instant, reports ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "foreign affairs."

OFFICE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 20th OCTOBER, 1785.

The SECRETARY of the United States, for the Department of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, to whom was referred his Letter of 13th instant, to his Excellency the PRESIDENT, and one from Chevalier Jones, to him of 6th August last, with a Copy of a Letter, from Mr. Soulanges, to the Judges and Consuls at Nantes, informing that the Algerines had declared war against the United States: And also a Motion of the Honorable Mr. Pinckney, of 17th October instant---Reports,

THAT this declaration of war being unprovoked, and made solely with design to acquire plunder, it would not, in the opinion of your secretary, become the United States, to answer it by overtures for peace, or offers of tribute.

That duplicates of the dispatches relative to treaties with the Barbary States, carried by captain Lamb, who it seems had not arrived when doctor Franklin left France, should be forthwith sent to our ministers, with instructions to proceed with the other states, but to take no notice of Algiers.

That both the honor and interest of the United States demand, that decided and vigorous measures be taken for protecting the American trade, and meeting these predatory enemies in a proper manner.

That it should be recommended to the American merchants who traffic to Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean, and to the Madeiras and Canaries, to employ none but vessels well armed and maned; and as the expence of complying with this recommendation, would exceed the usual profits of their voyages, your secretary thinks it should be

RESOLVED, That every American built ship, capable of carrying twenty guns or more, which any American merchant may desire to send to those parts for trade, shall be supplied by the United States with military stores, and with money to pay the men necessary to man her---And that an ordinance directing the manner in which this resolution shall be executed, be immediately prepared.

That in the opinion of your secretary, five forty gun ships should be forthwith built and put under the direction of a brave experienced commodore, for the purpose of cruising in those seas, during the seasons proper for it.

That the board of admiralty should be organized and put in condition to execute its functions; and that in his opinion, one good commissioner would be more useful and responsible than any greater number.

That a requisition should be made to the states for the supplies necessary for the purposes aforesaid.

That a minister or envoy should be sent to Portugal, and instructed among other things, to negotiate for such an alliance, as may provide for a co-operation of forces and mutual defence against the common enemy, and restrain both nations from making a separate peace. That to favor this design, and on condition of their acceding to such proposals, it would be well to agree that no Portugal productions should be imported in the United States, nor any American productions imported into Portugal ports, except in the vessels of Portugal, or the United States. Such a restriction would make it the interest, and consequently the wish of other commercial nations, rather to see the war terminated than continued. Were it not for the stipulations with France, Sweden, c. whereby they are to be treated like the most favored nations, your secretary thinks that it would be politic, to prohibit all nations at peace with Algiers, from bringing any thing to this country, which was not produced in their own; and also from carrying any thing from hence, except on their own account, and directly to their own ports. As arguments may be drawn from these stipulations against such a prohibition, it might occasion discontent and complaint; but he nevertheless thinks it merits enquiry, whether the condition of war against Algiers, would not be a good consideration to ground it upon; and whether, as the prohibition would end with the war, it ought to be considered as a violation of those stipulations.

Your secretary takes the liberty of observing, that he has calculated the aforegoing report, on a presumption that the United States extend their views and wishes to naval strength and maritime importance; and he thinks the time is come for the final and decided determination of this question, viz. Whether it would be more wise in the United States to withdraw their attention from the sea, and permit foreigners to fetch and carry for them, or to persevere in concerting and pursuing such measures as may conduce to render them a maritime power? It is only in the latter case, that this report will deserve any attention.

As to the motion referred to your secretary, he thinks the measure recommended in it would be expedient, except with respect to Algiers, to whom in his opinion, no overtures should now be made. ALL which is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.

JOHN JAY.

OFFICE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 13th OCTOBER, 1785.

SIR,

YOUR excellency will find herewith enclosed, a letter from chevalier Jones, of 6th August, and a copy of a letter (which is the same that is published in the Philadelphia paper of the 11th instant) from monsieur Soulanges, dated 14th July last, to the judges and consuls at Nantes, informing that the Algerines had declared war against the United States.

As their late peace with Spain has rendered their armaments unnecessary against that power, they probably chuse to turn them against us, to prevent their being useless, and in hopes of acquiring considerable booty. This peace, if the public accounts of it are true, gives those pirates just matter of triumph, and in this moment of their exultation, I am inclined to think that an advantageous treaty with them is not to be expected.

This war does not strike me as a great evil---The more we are treated ill abroad, the more we shall unite and consolidate at home. Besides, as it may become a nursery for seamen, and lay the foundation for a respectable navy, it may eventually prove more beneficial than otherwise. Portugal will doubtless unite with us in it, and that circumstance may dispose that kingdom to extend commercial favours to us farther, than they might consent to do, if uninfluenced by such inducements. For my part I think it may be demonstrated, that while we bend our attention to the sea, every naval war, however long, which does not do us essential injury, will do us essential good.

I have the honor to be with great respect and esteem,
..........Your excellency's most obedient and very humble servant,
JOHN JAY.

His Excellency the President of Congress.
L'ORIENT, August 6th, 1785.

SIR,

I CAME down here from Paris about a fortnight ago, on the business of the prize-mo-money belonging to the subjects of the United States, who served in the squadron I commanded in Europe.

The inclosed copy of a letter from monsieur Soulanges, the commander at Toulon, to the judges and consuls at Nantes, dated at Toulon the 14th of last month, announcing that the Algerines have declared war against the United States, was communicated to me the 31st ult. and I immediately sent it to Mr. Jefferson at Paris.

The information of monsieur Soulanges is believed here, although there is, as yet, no official account of the Algerine war arrived from court. It is of too serious a nature not to be sent immediately to Congress, and I therefore do not wait for the packet, but send this letter by a merchant ship, that will sail the first fair wind for Philadelphia.

This event may, I believe, surprize some of our fellow citizens: but, for my part, I am rather surprized that it did not take place sooner. It will produce a good effect, if it united the people of America in measures consistent with their national honor and interest, and rouses them from that ill-judged security which the intoxication of success has produced since the revolution.

The regency of Algier is a powerful state, that can put 200,000 troops into the field; and has a navy consisting (as I have been assured by the commandant here, and by many other gentlemen with whom I have conversed on the subject) of several ships of two batteries, and frigates of 44 guns and downwards. And there is no doubt, but that they will strengthen their navy, and employ its whole force against us; because they have just made peace with Spain.

My best wishes will always attend America, and my pride will be always gratified, when such measures are adopted as will make her respected as a great nation that deserved to be FREE.

I am, Sir, with great esteem and respect,
..........Your most obedient and most humble servant,
PAUL JONES.

The Honorable JOHN JAY, Esquire, Minister
..........of Foreign Affairs, c. New-York.


COPY of the Letter from M. de SOULANGES, to the Judges and Consuls at Nantz.

TOULON, 14th July, 1785.

GENTLEMEN,

COMMODORE de Ligondes, who arrived from Algiers in the frigate Minerva, which he commands, has informed me, on anchoring in this road, that that regency has armed eight vessels, both chebecs and barbes, from 18 to 34 cannon, designed to cruise from Cape St. Vincent to the Azores, to capture the Americans, against whom they have declared war.--I give you immediate advice of this, gentlemen, as well on account of the concern you may have as to these vessels, as also that you may give information thereof to the American captains.

The Algerines have another division of 4 vessels, but too small to give uneasiness in our seas.
(Signed)
SOULANGES.

Faithfully translated from the original by JOHN PINTARD.

MOTION OF MR. PINCKNEY.

THAT the board of treasury be directed to procure with all possible expedition, a suitable vessel of about..........tons burthen, and have the same completely equipped for the purpose of going as a flag to the emperor of Morocco, and the regencies of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers; and that the secretary for foreign affairs be directed, to report the draught of such instructions as it may be necessary to furnish the person with, carrying such flag, to inform the said powers, of Congress's desire to enter into treaties with them, and of the steps they had previously taken to ensure their friendship, and requesting that there might be a suspension of hostilities on their part, until the arrival of the person charged with the negotiation of the said treaties.

Rememberance

In Congress. December 11, 1776 : Whereas, the just war into which the United States of America have been forced by Great-Britain, is likely to be still continued by the same violence and injustice which have hitherto animated the enemies of American freedom ... the Congress hereby resolve, that it be recommended to all the states, as soon as possible to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "war" and "moral conditions."

IN CONGRESS
DECEMBER 11, 1776.

WHEREAS
the just War into which the United States of America have been forced by Great-Britain, is likely to be still continued by the same Violence and Injustice which have hitherto animated the Enemies of American freedom: And, whereas it becomes all public Bodies, as well as private Persons, to reverence the Providence of GOD, and look up to him as the supreme Disposer of all Events, and the Arbiter of the Fate of Nations: Therefore the CONGRESS hereby RESOLVE,

That it be recommended to all the States, as soon as possible to appoint a Day of solemn Fasting and Humiliation, to implore of Almighty GOD the Forgiveness of the many Sins prevailing among all Ranks, and to beg the Countenance and Assistance of his Providence in the Prosecution of this just and necessary War. The Congress do also in the most earnest manner recommend to all the Members of the United States, and particularly to the Officers civil and military under them, the Exercise of Repentance and Reformation; and further, do require of the said Officers of the military Department, the strict Observation of the Articles of War in general, and particularly that of said articles which forbids profane Swearing, and all other Immoralities; of which all such Officers are desired to take Notice. It is left to each State to issue Proclamations fixing the Day that appear most proper for their several Bounds.

Extract from the Minutes,
CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.

Hartford: Re-Printed by EBEN. WATSON.

Holidays

Proclamation : Whereas, in just punishment of our manifold transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all events to visit these United States with a calamitous war ... Resolved, that it be recommended to the several states to appoint the first Thursday in May next to be a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer to Almighty God ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "proclamation."

PROCLAMATION.

WHEREAS, in just Punishment of our manifold Transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all Events to visit these United States with a calamitous War, through which his Divine Providence hath hitherto in a wonderful Manner conducted us, so that we might acknowledge that the Race is not to the Swift, nor the Battle to the Strong: AND WHEREAS, notwithstanding the Chastisements received and Benefits bestowed, too few have been sufficiently awakened to a Sense of their Guilt, or warmed with Gratitude, or taught to amend their Lives and turn from their Sins, that so he might turn his Wrath: AND WHEREAS, from a Consciousness of what we have merited at his Hands, and an Apprehension that the Malevolence of our disappointed Enemies, like the Incredulity of Pharaoh, may be used as the Scourge of Omnipotence to vindicate his slighted Majesty, there is Reason to fear that he may permit much of our Land to become the Prey of the Spoiler, our Borders to be ravaged, and our Habitations destroyed:

RESOLVED,
THAT it be recommended to the several States to appoint the First Thursday in May next to be a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to Almighty God, that he will be pleased to avert those impending Calamities which we have but too well deserved: That he will grant us his Grace to repent of our Sins, and amend our Lives according to his Holy Word: That he will continue that wonderful Protection which hath led us through the Paths of Danger and Distress: That he will be a Husband to the Widow, and a Father to the fatherless Children, who weep over the Barbarities of a Savage Enemy: That he will grant us Patience in Suffering, and Fortitude in Adversity: That he will inspire us with Humility, Moderation, and Gratitude in prosperous Circumstances: That he will give Wisdom to our Councils, Firmness to our Resolutions, and Victory to our Arms: That he will bless the Labours of the Husbandman, and pour forth Abundance, so that we may enjoy the Fruits of the Earth in due Season: That he will cause Union, Harmony, and mutual Confidence to prevail throughout these States: That he will bestow on our great Ally all those Blessings which may enable him to be gloriously instrumental in protecting the Rights of Mankind, and promoting the Happiness of his Subjects: That he will bountifully continue his paternal Care to the Commander in Chief, and the Officers and Soldiers of the United States: That he will grant the Blessings of Peace to all contending Nations, Freedom to those who are in Bondage, and Comfort to the Afflicted: That he will diffuse Useful Knowledge, extend the Influence of True Religion, and give us that Peace of Mind which the World cannot give: That he will be our Shield in the Day of Battle, our Comforter in the Hour of Death, and our kind Parent and merciful Judge through Time and through Eternity.

Done in CONGRESS,this Twentieth Day of March, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Nine, and in the Third Year of our Independence.

JOHN JAY, President.
Attest. CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary.

PHILADELPHIA: PRINTED BY HALL AND SELLERS.

Thanksgiving

State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 : Ordered, that the following proclamation for a general thanksgiving on the twenty-eighth day of November instant, received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed ...

To view the original document within the Documents of the Continental Congress collection, search on "proclamation."

STATE OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
IN COMMITTEE of SAFETY,
EXETER, November 1, 1782.

ORDERED
THAT the following Proclamation for a general THANKSGIVING on the twenty-eighth day of November [instant?], received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed, and sent to the several worshipping Assemblies in this State, to whom it is recommended religiously to observe said day, and to abstain from all servile labour thereon.
M. WEARE, President.

By the United States in Congress assembled.

PROCLAMATION.

IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.

JOHN HANSON, President.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.

PRINTED AT EXETER.

Lesson Procedure

Lesson One: Drafting the Constitution

This lesson, a supplement to a study of the Constitutional Convention, focuses on The Committee of Detail's draft of the Constitution submitted on 6 August 1787. The delegates debated its contents for a month before referring the document to the Committee of Style. The Committee's report, presented to the Convention on 12 September, became the Constitution of the United States.

Preliminary Activity

  1. Examine the powers of the central government under the Articles of Confederation [Student Background on the Articles of Confederation].
  2. Review the Resolution of the Continental Congress, 21 February 1787, which called for a convention to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.

Discussion

Frame the discussion of the Committee of Detail's report in the context of the debates and compromises of the Federal Convention.

  1. Working within groups, read the Report of the Committee of Detail and compare it with the final version of the Constitution.
  2. Chart the major differences in the two documents.
  3. Discuss the significance of the wording of the preamble. Consider questions such as:
    Why is the Preamble of the Constitution drafted by the Committee of Detail worded, "We the people of the States..."?
    What conclusions could you draw from this wording?
    How significant was the change in wording in the Constitution?
  4. Examine Article IX of the Report of the Committee of Detail. Consider questions such as:
    How do the Committee of Detail's draft and the adopted Constitution differ regarding the executive branch?
    What may account for these changes?

Culminating Activity

Debate the efficacy of having the president elected for one term of seven years as opposed to the present constitutional limitation of two four year terms established by the Twenty-Second Amendment.

Extension Activities

1. Thomas Jefferson on the Constitution

Read excerpts from Thomas Jefferson's letter to James Madison from Paris, 20 December 1787, regarding the failure to limit the term of the executive. Examine elections of the president in U.S. history as a means of evaluating Jefferson's concerns regarding "rotation in office."

2. Correspondence of Delegates at the Philadelphia Convention

Read the personal correspondence of delegates to gain a better understanding of hopes, aspirations, and fears of members of the Federal Convention.

  • Numerous letters from Elbridge Gerry to his wife Ann are included in Supplement to Max Farrand's The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 edited by James H. Hutson (Yale University Press, 1987).
  • Other letters are included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Volume 3, edited by Max Farrand (Yale University Press, 1966).
    Refer to George Washington's letters to Thomas Jefferson (30 May 1787), to the Marquis de Lafayette (6 June 1787), and to Alexander Hamilton (10 July 1787); and
    James Madison's letters to Thomas Jefferson (18 July 1787) and to his father (28 July 1787); and
    Robert Morris's letter to his sons (25 June 1787).

3. The Veto Power

Examine Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution of the United States regarding the presidential veto.

  • What bills may a president veto?
  • What is required to override a presidential veto?
  • Investigate what is meant by the "Pocket Veto."

Refer to Public Law: 104-130 (S.4), Sec.2 Line Item Veto Authority, the line item veto approved by Congress in committee on 28 March 1996 and signed by the President on 9 April 1996.

  • To what extent does the line item veto enhance the power of the presidency?
  • Why did Congress agree to the line item veto?
  • Write a position paper expressing your views on the line item veto.

Lesson Two: The Bill of Rights

On 12 September 1787, during the final days of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia expressed the desire that the Constitution be prefaced by a Bill of Rights. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed a motion to form a committee to incorporate such a declaration of rights; however the motion was defeated. This lesson examines the First Congress's addition of a Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Preliminary Activity

Review the amendment process outlined in Article V of the Constitution.

Discussion

1. Examine the documents entitled Richmond, State of Virginia. In Convention... Consider such questions as:

  • What were the concerns expressed by the Virginia Ratifying Convention?
  • Why did a minority of the Convention desire to have amendments attached before agreeing upon ratification?
  • On what conditions did the Convention agree to ratify the Constitution?

2. Within groups, assume responsibility for examining several of the Virginia resolutions adopted Friday, 27 June 1788, so that all 20 articles are studied. Report to the class on the scope of the reviewed articles. Consider such questions as:

  • What is the purpose of government?
  • Why did Virginia feel that it was necessary to propose amendments to the Constitution?
  • What are the limitations these proposed articles would place on government?
  • How do these proposed amendments reflect on the experiences under the British system?
  • To what extent are the proposed amendments either stated or implied in the Constitution?

3. Discuss why the majority of Virginia's ratification convention felt it was necessary to include these articles.

4. Read the proposed amendments passed by the Congress of the United States meeting in New York on 4 March 1789. Consider such questions as:

  • How do the first two amendments differ from the remaining ten?
  • What may account for the failure of three-fourths of the states to ratify the first two of the proposed twelve amendments?

5. Compare Virginia's proposed amendments to the Bill of Rights which were ratified in 1791.

Culminating Activity

Debate the proposition: Resolved, the inclusion of a Bill of Rights in the Constitution was necessary and prudent.

Extension Activities

The Bill of Rights

  • Read Federalist 84 from The Federalist Papers edited by Clinton Rossiter, regarding the reasons why a Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution and evaluate Alexander Hamilton's assertion that a bill of rights is " ...not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution but would even be dangerous."
  • Read Brutus' letter, To the Citizens of the State of New York, 1 November 1787, in The Antifederalist Writings by the Opponents of the Constitution, Herbert J. Storing, ed., on the need for a Bill of Rights.
  • What are the arguments used to convince the people that specific guarantees of rights are necessary?
  • Review Thomas Jefferson's Letter to James Madison [extension activity for Lesson One] for Jefferson's concern regarding the failure to include a Bill of Rights.

Amendments proposed by the House of Representatives

Examine the seventeen amendments in the House of Representatives' Resolution and Articles of Amendment passed on 24 August 1789, from The Founders' Constitution: Major Themes, edited by Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner. How do these seventeen amendments differ from the twelve approved by the Senate on 14 September 1789?

Amending the Constitution

  • Review Article V of the Constitution and explain the two ways in which the Constitution may be amended.
  • Examine H.J.Res. 2H.J.Res. 73, and S.J.Res. 21 (104th Congress, 1st Session), proposed amendments to the Constitution with respect to the number of terms of office of Members of Congress. To track the legislative history for those bills, see the Bill Summary and Status Information for each bill.
  • Read editorials in newspapers and magazines which help provide a survey of public reaction to the proposed amendment.
  • Write a position paper expressing your views on limiting terms of member of Congress.

Lesson Three: Linking Past to Present

The Constitution of the United States vests in Congress the power to make laws, to collect taxes, and to allocate funds for government programs, both domestic and foreign. It is in Congress that the day-to-day work of our democracy finds its most clear expression at the national level. It is up to the men and women elected to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States to formulate policy and enact legislation on behalf of their constituents, as well as the entire country.

A study of three perennial issues -- veterans' benefits, the national debt, and terrorism -- shows the ways in which Congress responded to problems in 1785, and in recent years.

Preliminary Activity

  1. Review the purpose of government.
  2. Read Alexander Hamilton on "Good Government": The Federalist #1.
  3. Review how a bill becomes a law [A Note on Legislation]

Veterans' Benefits

Distribute copies of: "By the United States in Congress assembled. June 7, 1785. . .", (Continental Congress) P.L. 108-183, (H.R.2297) Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, and P.L. 108-454 (S.2486) Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004. Compare and contrast the legislative actions relative to veterans' benefits, and respond to questions such as:

  • How much did Congress propose to pay disabled veterans of the American War for Independence? What were other parts of the plan to take care of disabled veterans?
  • How does P.L. 180-183 reveal the concerns of today’s government in dealing with current veterans?
  • Why was the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 necessary? Which concerns are addressed in this legislation?

National Debt

The following documents can be used in succession (or working within pairs study one set of documents at a time), to investigate Congress' efforts to reign in the national debt during the time of the Continental Congress and in recent years:

Set 1

  1. "By the United States, in Congress assembled, September 4th, 1782"
  2. "Impressed with a sense of the sacred trust committed to them..."

Consider such questions as:

  • How much money was needed to pay the interest on the nation's debts in 1782? In 1783?
  • What is the tone of Document #2? What was "the dangerous situation of this nation" to which Congress referred in 1783?

Set 2

  1. "By the United States, in Congress assembled, September 27th, 1785"
  2. "An address from the United States in Congress assembled..."
  3. If needed, revisit Student Background on the Articles of Confederation {Preliminary Activity for Lesson One}

Consider such questions as:

  • How much money was needed to pay the interest on the nation's debts in 1785?
  • What does Document #2 tell you about the success of the resolves set forth in Document #1?
  • What is the "circumstance too disgraceful to admit of belief" to which Congress refers in Document #2?

Set 3

  1. "Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution..." (H.J.Resolution 1, 104th Congress). Select version 4, "Passed by the House."
  2. "H.J.RES.1--Detailed Legislative History"

Consider such questions as:

  • What are the essential elements of H.J.RES.1?
  • What was the final outcome of this bill?

Culminating question or essay topic for national debt discussion:

To what degree does the responsibility to address the national debt belong in Congress? What are the historical -- and Constitutional -- aspects of this ongoing issue?

Terrorism

In "Office for Foreign Affairs, 29 September, 1785" John Jay suggests to Congress that ". . . piracy is war against all mankind." Consider similar statements made in recent years about terrorist activities.

For modern responses to terrorism review this legislative action in the 107th Congress:

  1. P.L. 107-39 (S. J. Res. 22), A joint resolution expressing the sense of the Senate and House of Representatives regarding the terrorist attacks launched against the Unites States on September 11, 2001
  2. P. L. 107-56 (H.R. 3162), USA PATRIOT Act
  3. P. L. 107-296 (H.R. 5005), Homeland Security Act of 2002

To locate debate related to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, search on keywords "September 11" in the Congressional Record for the 107th Congress.

Review this legislation from the 108th Congress:

1. P. L. 108-458, (S. 2845) Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

Consider questions such as:

  • What incidents prompted Congress to act in this manner?
  • What specific steps did Congress take in response to terrorism?

2. Examine "Office for Foreign Affairs, 20th October, 1785 . . ." and respond to the following question:

What "good effects" does John Jay and Paul Jones think will come out of the fact that the Algerines had declared war against the United States in October 1785?

3. Review John Jay's reports to Congress from the Office for Foreign Affairs, 29 September and 20 October 1785. Consider his suggestions for prosecuting people caught committing piracies and felonies on the high seas and discuss such questions as:

  • What title would John Jay have if he held the same position in the American government today?
  • What punishment was recommended for persons convicted of these crimes?
  • Why does Jay not specify punishments for treason? What statement of his illuminates one of the confusing aspects of citizenship in the "new" United States?

Lesson Four: Early Congress Proclaims Holidays

One of the most lasting historical effects of Congressional decision-making is the establishment of national holidays. This lesson highlights early examples of Congress declaring special days of thanksgiving and remembrance.

Preliminary Activity

Distribute a copy of the original broadside "In Congress. December 11, 1776...". Read along as the teacher recites the first paragraph of the manuscript, and points out the early form of the letter "S". Work individually or in pairs to transcribe the second paragraph of the broadside. (The transcribed version of the broadside could be printed on the reverse of the copy of the manuscript to facilitate this task).

Consider such questions as:

  • What is the "just and necessary war" to which Congress refers?
  • When and where did the battles of that war begin?
  • When did the Americans declare their independence from Great Britain?
  • What are the recommendations Congress makes to the United States?
  • According to the tone of this document, how do you think the war was going at the time it was written?

Discussion

Working in pairs, study the two additional documents: "Proclamation: Whereas, in just punishment..." and "State of New Hampshire. In Committee..." and respond in small groups or as an entire class to questions such as:

  • When was the document produced?
  • Where was the proclamation disseminated?
  • What seemed to be the course of the War for Independence at the time?
  • Which country is the "ally" mentioned in the documents?
  • What dates did the Continental Congress suggest for holidays?

Culminating Activity

Brainstorm modern-day holidays which are reminiscent of those suggested in 1779 and 1782. Why do we commemorate special days?

Extension Activity

Documents:

  1. "In Congress. December 11, 1776..."
  2. "Proclamation: Whereas, in just punishment..."
  3. "State of New Hampshire. In Committee..."

Examine the degree of religiosity contained in all three documents, and discuss how and why such references differ from the language of modern legislation.

Lesson Evaluation

Evaluate student participation and products according to criteria specified by the teacher or generated in collaboration with the students.

Credits

Kirk Ankeney and David Vigilante

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