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[42] vital and incurable defects.1 Our country attained under it neither dignity, consideration, security, nor even solvency. The central or national authority, left dependent on the concurrent action of the several States for the very means of existence, was exhibited often in the attitude of a genteel beggar, rather than of a sovereign. Congress attempted to impose a very moderate tariff for the payment of interest on the general or foreign debt, contracted in support of the Revolutionary armies, but was baffled by the Legislature of Rhode Island-then a State of relatively extensive foreign commerce — which interposed its paralyzing veto. Political impotence, commercial embarrassment, and general distress, finally overbore or temporarily silenced sectional jealousies and State pride, to such an extent that a Convention of delegates from a quorum of the States, called together rather to amend than to supersede the Articles of Confederation, was legally assembled at Philadelphia in 1787, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton,James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and Charles C. Pinckney, being among its most eminent members. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were absent as Embassadors in Europe. Samuel Adams, George Clinton, and Patrick Henry stood aloof, watching the movement with jealous apprehension.


It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the Union--a point, no doubt deeply engraven on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one which, it may be imagined, has no adversaries. * * * But the fact is that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole. This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance its open avowal. For nothing can be more evident to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. --The Federalist, N. Y. edition of 1802, vol. i., p. 5.

“The melancholy story of the Federation showed the stern necessity of a compulsory power in the General Government to execute the duties confided to it; and the history of the present government itself has, on more than one occasion, manifested that the power of the Union is barely adequate to compel the execution of its laws, when resisted even by a single State.” --Oliver Wolcott, vol. II., p. 323.

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