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of the laws is interrupted by a mob. Furthermore, in the exercise of these powers, the question of the jurisdiction of the United States and of the several States does not arise. Persons obstructing the execution of the laws of the United States are amenable to the United States - be they State governors or railroad employees - and the President, for the defence of the Constitution, concerns himself with the individual and not with the State. An attempt was made in the Constitution, however, to

separate the functions of the United States and State jurisdic of the several States. To this end the States

were forbidden (Article 1, Section 10) to have any negotiations with foreign States, coin money, make anything except gold and silver a “tender in payment of debts," pass any law "impairing the obligation of contracts, etc. Congress (Section 9) is also forbidden to perform many acts, one or two of which we shall notice hereafter. Like all great political settlements, the Constitution was

largely the result of compromises. Three of

these compromises are of great importance and promises.

require some detailed description. At first it was proposed that the representation in both houses of Congress should be apportioned according to wealth. This was to avoid one of the great faults of the existing system which gave to the small States, Delaware, for instance, an equal voice with the large States like Virginia or Pennsylvania. Naturally, the delegates from the small States disliked this radical departure. The matter was settled by giving each State equal representation in the Senate, and providing for an apportionment of representation in the lower house according to population. But when it came to the question of apportioning taxation, the Southern members contended that as slave labour was less productive than free labour, taxes should not be apportioned according to population, but according to some other ratio. Finally, it was

The Com


The Adoption of the Constitution.


tion of commerce.

agreed to count slaves at three-fifths only of their number in the apportionment both of representation and direct taxation.

The other question also turned on slavery. The North was desirous that the new federal government should

The regulahave power to regulate commerce. The South hesitated to give this power to Congress lest it should be used to prohibit the slave-trade. In the end it was arranged by giving Congress power over commerce, except that the slave-trade might not be prohibited before 1808. It remains only to note that one of the final clauses (Article vi) declares that the Constitution and the laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof “shall be the supreme law of the land.” When read in connection with the preamble: “We the people of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution,” the supremacy of the United States over the States under the Constitution is apparent.

The Federal Convention had been authorized by Congress to amend the Articles of Confederation. They had exceeded this commission, and the Constitution, therefore, as it came from the Convention, was scarcely more than a plan for a new government proposed by a most respectable body of private gentlemen. It derived no binding force whatever from their action. They proposed that it should be submitted to the people of the several States by the legislatures thereof, and that, when nine States should have ratified it, it should be established between them. The constitutional position of the Constitution, if one may use the phrase, was so admirably described by Mr Madison that it will be well to read his words: “The Constitution as it came from the Convention,” he said in 1796, “was nothing more than the draft of a plan; nothing but a dead letter, until life and validity were breathed into it by the voice of the people speaking through the several State conventions which accepted and ratified it.”

Form of ratification.


The action of the Federal Convention was no sooner known

than two parties were formed, those favouring Ratification of the Consti the new form of government calling them

selves Federalists, their opponents being known as Anti-Federalists. This nomenclature was not always an accurate description of the contending parties. Patrick Henry, for example, opposed the adoption of the Constitution on the ground that the government to be organized under it would be a consolidated government and not a federal government at all. He was in favour of the establishment of a federal government. The issue, however, was really between the adoption of this constitution or anarchy, although to many persons at the time it seemed to be a contest between those favouring aristocracy and those favouring democracy. The Confederation could not last much longer. This being the case the people reluctantly assented to the Constitution, many of the State conventions proposing amendments. The papers teemed with articles for and against ratification. The ablest for the adoption of the plan were from the pens of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These were gathered into a more permanent form in a book entitled the Fæderalist which remains the best commentary on the Constitution. This is the more remarkable, as Hamilton, the principal writer of these essays, had little faith in the Constitution as it was adopted, but desired a much stronger form of government. On the other side the most instructive papers were Richard Henry Lee's Letters of the Federalist Farmer, and the speeches delivered by Patrick Henry in the Virginia Ratifying Convention- the latter may be found in Eliott's Debates or in Henry's Life of Patrick Henry'.

The ratification of the ninth State, New Hampshire, was made on June 21st, 1788. A few days later Virginia ratified,

the messengers conveying the respective tidings passing each other on the banks of the Potomac. Preparations were immediately made for the

The first ten Amendments.


The First Presidential Election.


organization of the new government. The first ten amendments, declared in force in 1791, made good most of the defects complained of by those opposed to ratification. It will be well, therefore, briefly to notice them here. The changes are all in the nature of limitations on the power of Congress. For example, Congress is now forbidden to make laws“ respecting an establishment of religion,” or abridging the freedom of the press. Another clause prohibits general warrants. Other amendments secure jury trial, prohibit excessive bail and cruel or unusual punishments. The most important perhaps are the ninth and tenth amendments to the effect that the “enumeration ... of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and reserving to the States or to the people "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States.”

There could be no question as to the first President, and Washington received the unanimous vote of all the electors. As to the Vice-Presidency, there

Washington was no such unanimity of opinion. John Adams of Massachusetts was the leading candidate. But he had lived long abroad and had given great offence by using the phrase “well-born" in a book written in defence of the State Constitutions. It was feared that he might have become enamoured of English institutions. The mode of election of President and Vice-President prescribed by the Constitution was found to be faulty. Electors were to be chosen in the several States who should, on a given day, vote by ballot for two persons, one of whom should not be an inhabitant of the same State as the elector. The person receiving the largest number of votes (provided it was a majority) should be President, the second on the list should be Vice-President. Hamilton, fearing lest Adams should receive more votes than Washington, intrigued with some of the electors to induce them to cast one of their

and Adams.

votes for some person other than Adams. Probably Hamilton had no sinister intentions in taking this action. But it came to the ears of Adams and gave him a distrust of Hamilton, which bore bitter fruit some ten years later. Notwithstanding its defects, this continued to be the method of choosing President and Vice-President until 1804 (see below, p. 157).

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