=A7 281. LET it not, however, be supposed, that a constitution, which is now looked upon with such general favour and affection by the people, had no difficulties to encounter at its birth. The history of those times is full of melancholy instruction on this subject, at once to admonish us of past dangers, and to awaken us to a lively sense of the necessity of future vigilance. The constitution was adopted unanimously by Georgia, New-Jersey, and Delaware. It was supported by large majorities in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and South-Carolina It was carried in the other states by small majorities, and especially in Massachusetts, New-York, and Virginia by little more than a preponderating vote.1 Indeed, it is believed, that in each of these states, at the first assembling of the conventions, there was a decided majority opposed to the constitution. The ability of the debates, the impending evils, and the absolute necessity of the case seem to have reconciledsome persons to the adoption of it, whose opinions had been strenuously the other way.2 "In our endeavours," said Washington, "to establish a new general government, the contest nationally considered, seems not to have been so much for glory, as for existence. It was for a long time doubtful, whether we were to survive, as an indepen-



dent republic, or decline from our federal dignity into insignificant and withered fragments of empire."1

=A7 282. It is not difficult to trace some of the more important causes, which led to so formidable an opposition, and made the constitution at that time a theme, not merely of panegyric, but of severe invective, as fraught with the most alarming dangers to public liberty, and at once unequal, unjust, and oppressive.

=A7 283. Almost contemporaneously with the first proposition for a confederation, jealousies began to be entertained in respect to the nature and extent of the authority, which should be exercised by the national government. The large states would naturally feel, that in proportion as congress should exercise sovereign powers, their own local importance and sovereignty would be diminished injuriously to their general influence on other states from their strength, population, and character. On the other hand, by an opposite course of reasoning, the small states had arrived nearly at the same result. Their dread seems to have been, lest they should be swallowed up by the power of the large states in the general government, through common combinations of interest or ambition.2

=A7 284. There was, besides, a very prevalent opinion, that the interests o= f the several states were not the same; and there had been no sufficient experience during their colonial dependence and intercommunication to settle such a question by any general reasoning, or any practical results. During the period, therefore, in which the confederation was under discussion in congress, much excitement and much jealousy as exhibited on this subject. The original draft, submit-



ted by Dr. Franklin, in July, 1775, contained a much more ample grant of powers, than that actually adopted; for congress were to be invested with power to make ordinances relating "to our general commerce, or general currency," to establish posts, &c. and to possess other important powers of a different character.1 The draft submitted by Mr. Dickenson, on the 12th of July, 1776, contains less ample powers; but still more broad, than the articles of confederation.2 In the subsequent discussions few amendments were adopted, which were not of a restrictive character; and the real difficulties of the task of overcoming the prejudices, and soothing the fears of the different states, are amply displayed in the secret journals now made public. In truth, the continent soon became divided into two great political parties, "the one of which contemplated America as a nation, and laboured incessantly to invest the federal head with powers competent to the preservation of the Union; the other attached itself to the state authorities; viewed all the powers of congress with jealousy; and assented reluctantly to measures, which would enable the head to act in any respect independently of the members."3 During the war, the necessities of the country confined the operations of both parties within comparatively narrow limits. But the return of peace, and the total imbecility of the general government, gave (as we have seen) increased activity and confidence to both.

=A7 285. The differences of opinion between these parties were too honest, too earnest, and too deep to be reconciled, or surrendered. They equally=20p= er -



vaded the public councils of the states, and the private intercourse of social life. They became more warm, not to say violent, as the contest became more close, and the exigency more appalling. They were inflamed by new causes, of which some were of a permanent, and some of a temporary character, The field of argument was wide; and experience had not, as yet, furnished the advocates on either side with such a variety of political tests, as were calculated to satisfy doubts, allay prejudices, or dissipate the rears and illusions of the imagination.

=A7 286. In this state of things the embarrassments of the country in its financial concerns, the general pecuniary distress among the people from the exhausting operations of the war, the total prostration of commerce, and the languishing unthriftiness of agriculture, gave new impulses to the already marked political divisions in the legislative councils. Efforts were made, on one side, to relieve the pressure of the public calamities by a resort to the issue of paper money, to tender laws, and instalment and other laws, having for their object the postponement of the payment of private debts, and a diminution of the public taxes. On the other side, public as well as private creditors became alarmed from the increased dangers to property, and the increased facility of perpetrating frauds to the destruction of all private faith and credit. And they insisted strenuously upon the establishment of a government, and system of laws, which should preserve the public faith, and redeem the country from that ruin, which always follows upon the violation of the principles of justice, and the moral obligation of contracts. "At length," we are told,1 "two great parties were formed in