ocial compact, discussed by numerous European writers, —some treating such contract or compact as having been in fact made, some as wholly imaginary and some as implied,— was familiar to the framers of our Federal Constitution.
But the conception that a sovereign State could make such surrender, absolutely, of certain sovereign rights, in order to form civil society or government, was, at the time of the formation and adoption of our Federal Constitution, wholly new.
Pelatiah Webster, in 1783, first expressed the idea that a Federal Government could be formed that should act, not on the States, but directly on individuals.
(To him Dr. Bledsoe refers in note on page 52 of the work under review, but inadvertently gives the credit of the idea mentioned to Noah Webster.) The former, it is true, conceived the idea of the possibility of a divided sovereignty; but even by him, the idea that the States could surrender, absolutely, certain sovereign rights—as individuals might surrender c<