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10 do justice to our subject, it is first necessary to bring
prominently before us the distinguished parts taken by
Jefferson and Madison in laying the foundations of our government, and in its practical administration.
They were the founders and fathers of it. One the author of the Declaration of Independence, which gave birth to us as a nation, and proclaimed to the world those great truths which lie at the foundation of all just governments -- truths which were not intended to define the individual rights of men in their personal or social relations to each other, so much as of communities of people in uniting together to establish sovereign states, or independent political organizations, for the government of themselves and their posterity. Such were the thirteen Colonies of Great Britain, when they met together on the 4th of July, 1776, and such the rights which they proclaimed to belong equally to all men in the construction of their own governments. To use the very language of the Declaration, it declared " That all men are created equal; that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights ; that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.” This was the masterly statement of our rights, drawn by the hand of Jefferson himself, which not only justified the Colonies in their act of separation, but guided them afterwards in the formation of their government.
On the 11th of June, 1776, a committee of one delegate from each state had been appointed to prepare Articles of Confederation between the states, which articles, on the 12th of July, 1776, were reported to Congress, and approved by that body on the 15th of November, 1777, and afterwards, at different times, ratified by each