Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ity.” The other is that the adoption of the Constitution and the inauguration of the new Government together composed a political revolution. The Articles of Confederation provided in express terms how the Government established in 1775, and confirmed in 1781, should be changed, and these provisions were disregarded in every particular. Thus the new order of things was a peaceful revolution enacted by the sovereign people.

Note.--Alexander Hamilton had been very influential in bringing about the Federal Convention of which he was also a member. Of all the members of that body, he believed in a strong government, but he cheerfully signed the Constitution on the ground that it was impossible to deliberate between anarchy on the one side, and the chance of good government on the other. The Convention over, Hamilton threw himself into the ratification struggle, and without him ratification would have failed in New York, and possibly in other States. He conceived the idea of a series of essays to explain to the public what the Constitution really was, and called to his side Jay and Madison to aid in its execution. These essays are collectively known as “The Federalist,” of which he wrote much the larger number. They were widely published and read, and had great influence. " The Federalist " was projected for a teinporary purpose, but it proved to be the best commentary on the Constitution ever written.

* See Cooley: Principles of Constitutional Law, p. 16.

CHAPTER XI.

THE CONSTITUTION GOES INTO OPERATION.

REFERENCES.

Bancroft, Vol. VI. (Formation of the Federal Constitution, 5); Hildreth, Vol. III.; Pitkin, Chap. XX.; McMaster, Vol. I., Chap. VI.; Hart, Chap. VII.; Fiske, Critical Period of American History.

Annals of Congress, Vol. I.; Benton, Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, Vol. I.; Lanman, History of Congress, 1789 to 1793, Chap. I.; V. S. Statutes at Large.

218. Second Resolution of the Convention. This related to putting the Constitution into operation, and was in these words :

“That it is the opinion of this Convention, that as soon as the Conventions of nine States shall have ratified this Constitution, the United States in Congress assembled should fix a day on which Electors should be appointed by the States which shall have ratified the same, and a day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the time and place for commencing proceedings under this Constitution. That after such publication, the electors should be appointed and the Senators and Representatives elected. That the Electors should meet on the day fixed for the election of the President, and should transmit their votes certified, signed, sealed, and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled ; that the Senators and Representatives should convene at the time and place assigned ; that the Senators should appoint a president of the Senate for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes for President, and that, after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President, should, without delay, proceed to execute this Constitution."

219. Action of Congress.-On July 2, 1788, the ratification of New Hampshire was received, and the President called the attention of Congress to the fact that this was the ninth ratification. Whereupon it was ordered : " That the ratifications of the Constitution of the United States, transmitted to Congress, be referred to a committee to examine the same, and report an act to Congress for putting the said Constitution into operation, in pursuance of the resolutions of the late Federal Convention.” On the 14th of the same month the committee reported, and September 13th, Congress adopted the following resolution :

“That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing electors in the several States, which, before the said day, shall have ratified the said Constitution ; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the Electors to assemble in their respective States and vote for a President; and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time, and the present seat of Congress the place, for commencing the proceedings under the said Constitution.” 1

Appointment of Presidential Electors. The new Constitution said each State should appoint the number of Electors to which it was entitled, in such manner as the Legislature thereof might direct.

Ten States proceeded on the day appointed, January 7, to discharge this duty. New York made no appointments, owing to a dispute between the two houses of the Legislature as to the manner in which it should be done; while Rhode Island and North Carolina had not ratified the Constitution, and so had no part in the first Presidential election.

221. First Meeting of the New Congress.-Even after the ratification of the Constitution by nine States,

1 رو

220.

1It happened that the first Wednesday in March, 1789, was the 4th of that month, which day has since marked the beginning of the successive administrations and Congresses, and since 1804 has been a part of the Constitution itself. (Amendment XII.) Congress was sitting in New York when the above action was taken, and it was there that the new Government was organized.

many people, some of them its ardent friends, had doubts whether it would ever go into operation. They were far from sure that there was enough popular interest to secure the appointment or election of Electors, Representatives, and Senators. That their fears were not without reason, is shown by the circumstances attending the organization of Congress. Thirteen members of the Lower House, representing four States, reported for duty March 4; adjournments were had from day to day until April 1, when thirty members, or a quorum, being present, an organization was effected. Eight Senators from four States attended March 4. The Senate also adjourned from day to day until April 6, when, twelve members being present, a temporary organization was effected by the election of John Langdon, of New Hampshire, President, for the sole purpose of opening and counting the votes for President of the United States. The same day, the two Houses met in the Senate Chamber to witness the counting of the votes. It was found that Washington had been elected President and John Adams Vice-President, and Mr. Langdon so announced.

222. Washington Inaugurated.-Messengers were at once sent to the President and Vice-President elect, conveying official information of their election. On April 21 Mr. Adams appeared in the Senate Chamber, took the chair, and made an address appropriate to the occasion. The 30th of the same month Washington took the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution, delivering an inaugural address, and entered upon the duties of his great office. Two branches of the Government, the Legislative and the Executive, were now in motion ; the third, the Judiciary, had to await the enacting of a judiciary law and the appointment of judges.

PART II.

THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.

CHAPTER XII.

THE NATIONAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS.

REFERENCES.

The principal authorities for the second part of this work are here given önce for all. They are practically the same throughout, and to repeat them at the head of every chapter would be both wearisome and unnecessary. Furthermore, they are well-known works, and the student using the indexes with which they are liberally furnished, will have little difficulty in finding the appropriate passages. Occasional titles will, however, be given as heretofore, and still others in foot-notes.

I. CONTEMPORARY AUTHORITICS.-Elliot's Debates, Vols. 1.-V. The first of these volumes contains The Journal of the Federal Con. vention, and the second one Mr. Madison's Diary of the Debates. Vols. II.-IV., which report the Debates of the State Conventions, may also be consulted with advantage. Madison's Diary is also found in The Madison Papers, Vol. III. However, the great contemporary exposition of the Constitution is The Federalist.

II. TEXT-WRITERS ON CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.-Story, Commen. laries on the Constitution of the U. S.; Kent, Commentaries on American Law, Part II.; Pomer y, Introduction to the Constitutional Law of the U. S.; Hare, Anierican Constitutional Law; Miller, Lectures on the Constitution of the U. S.; Von Holst, The Constitution of the U. S. of America; Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, and Principles of Constitutional Law. The first of the two works by Judge Cooley is practically a treatise on the Constitutional

« AnteriorContinuar »