The Formation of a National Government

"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possess the right of self-government."

-Thomas Jefferson, 1790

The successful Revolution against England gave the American people an independent place in the family of nations. It gave them a changed social order in which heredity and privilege counted for little and human equality 'or much. It gave them a thousand memories of mutual hope and struggle. But most of all, it gave them the challenge to prove they possessed a genuine ability to hold their new place, to prove their capacity for self-government.

The success of the Revolution had furnished Americans with the opportunity to give legal form and expression to their political ideals as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and to remedy some of their grievances through state constitutions. As James Madison, fourth President of the United States, wrote, "Nothing has excited more admiration than the manner in which free governments have been established in America; for it was the first instance ... that free inhabitants have been seen deliberating on a form of government, and selecting such of their citizens as possessed their confidence to determine upon and give effect to it."

Today, Americans are so accustomed to living under written constitutions that they take them for granted. Yet the written constitution was developed in America and is among the earliest in history. "In all free states, the constitution is final," wrote John Adams, second President of the United States. Americans everywhere demanded "a standing law to live by." As early as May 10, 1776, Congress passed a resolution advising the colonies to form new governments "such as shall best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents." Some of them had already done so and, within a year after the Declaration of Independence, every state but three had drawn up a new constitution.

Writing these documents provided a splendid opportunity for the democratic elements to remedy their grievances and to realize their ambitions for sound government. And most of the resulting constitutions showed the impact of democratic ideas, though none made any drastic break with the past, built as they were by Americans on the solid foundation of colonial experience, English practice, and French political philosophy. Indeed, it was actually in the drafting of these state constitutions that the revolution was accomplished. Naturally, the first object of the framers was to secure those "unalienable rights," the violation of 'which had caused them to repudiate their connection with England. Consequently, each constitution began with a declaration or bill of rights, and Virginia's, which served as a model for all the others, included a declaration of principles such as popular sovereignty, rotation in office, freedom of elections, and an enumeration of the fundamental liberties -moderate bail and humane punishments, a militia instead of a standing army, speedy trials by the law of the land, trial by jury, freedom of the press, of conscience, of the right of a majority to reform or, alter the government, and prohibition of general warrants. Other states considerably enlarged this list to include freedom of speech, of assemblage, of petition, of bearing arms, the right to a writ of habeas corpus, inviolability of domicile, and equal operation of the laws. In addition, all the state constitutions paid allegiance to the theory of executive, legislative, and judiciary branches, each one to be checked and balanced by the others.

While the thirteen original colonies were being transformed into states and adjusting themselves to the conditions of independence, new commonwealths were developing in the vast expanse of land stretching west from the seaboard settlements. Lured by the finest hunting and the richest land yet found in the country, pioneers poured west of the Appalachian Mountains. By 1775, the far-flung outposts scattered along the waterways had tens of thousands of settlers. Separated by mountain ranges and hundreds of miles from the centers of political authority in the east, the inhabitants established their own governments, and the communities throve lustily. Settlers from all the tidewater states pressed through into the fertile river valleys, the hardwood forests, and over the rolling prairies. By 1790, the population of the trans-Appalachian region numbered well over 120,000.

With the end of the Revolution, the United States had inherited the old unsolved western question - the problem of "empire" - with its complications of land, fur trade, Indians, settlement, and government of dependencies. Before the war, several colonies had had extensive and often overlapping claims to land beyond the Appalachians. The prospect of these states acquiring this rich territorial prize seemed quite unfair to those without claims in the west. Maryland, the spokesman of the latter group, introduced a resolution that the western lands be considered common property to be parceled out by Congress into free and independent governments. This idea was not received enthusiastically. Nonetheless, in 1780, New York led the way by ceding her claims to the United States. She was soon followed by the other colonies and, by the end of the war, it was apparent that Congress would come into possession of all the lands north of the Ohio River and probably of all west of the Allegheny Mountains. This common possession of millions of acres was the most tangible evidence of nationality and unity that existed during these troubled years and gave a certain substance to the idea of national sovereignty. Yet it was at the same time a problem which pressed for solution.

This solution was achieved under the Articles of Confederation, a formal agreement which had loosely unified the colonies since 1781. Under the Articles, a system of limited self-government was applied to the new western lands and satisfactorily bridged the gap between wilderness and statehood. This system, set forth in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, has since been applied to all of the continental possessions and most of the insular possessions of the United States. The Ordinance of 1787 provided for the organization of the Northwest Territory initially as a single district, ruled by a governor and judges appointed by Congress. When this territory should contain five thousand male inhabitants of voting age, it was to be entitled to a legislature of two chambers, itself electing the lower house. In addition, it could at that time send a nonvoting delegate to Congress. No more than five nor less than three states were to be formed out of this territory, and whenever any one of them had sixty thousand free inhabitants, it was to be admitted to the Union "on an equal footing with the original states in all respects." Six "articles of compact between the original states and the people and states in the said territory" guaranteed civil rights and liberties, encouraged education, and guaranteed that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory."

Thus a new colonial policy based upon the principle of equality was inaugurated. The new policy repudiated the time-honored doctrine that colonies existed for the benefit of the mother country and were politically subordinate and socially inferior. This concept was replaced by the principle that colonies were but the extension of the nation and were entitled, not as a privilege but as a right, to all the benefits of equality. The enlightened provisions of the Ordinance laid the permanent foundations for the American territorial system and colonial policy, and enabled the United States to expand westward to the Pacific Ocean and to develop from thirteen to forty-eight states, with relatively little difficulty.

Unfortunately, however, in the solution of other problems the Articles of Confederation proved disappointing. Their notable shortcoming was their failure to provide a real national government for the thirteen states which had been tending strongly towards unification since their delegates first met in 1774 to protect their liberties against encroaching British power. Pressures arising from the struggle with England had done much to change their attitude of twenty years before when colonial assemblies had rejected the Albany Plan of Union. Then they bad refused to surrender even the smallest part of their autonomy to any other body, even one they themselves had elected. But, in the course of the Revolution, mutual aid proved efficacious, and the fear of relinquishing individual authority in some spheres had, to a large degree, lessened.

The Articles went into effect in 1781. Though they constituted an advance over the loose arrangement provided by the Continental Congress system, the governmental framework they established bad many weaknesses. There was quarreling over boundary lines. The courts handed down decisions which conflicted with one another. The legislatures of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania passed tariff laws which injured their smaller neighbors. Restrictions upon commerce between states created bitter feeling. New Jersey men, for example, could not cross the Hudson River to sell vegetables in New York markets without paying heavy entrance and clearance fees.

The national government should have bad the power to lay whatever tariffs were necessary and to regulate commerce -but it did not. It should have bad the authority to levy taxes for national purposes-but again it did not. It should have had sole control of international relations, but a number of states had begun their own negotiations with foreign nations. Nine states had organized their own armies, and several had little navies of their own. There was a curious hodepodge of coins minted by a dozen foreign nations and a bewildering variety of state and national paper bills, all fast depreciating in value.

Economic difficulties subsequent to the war also caused discontent, especially among the farmers. Farm produce tended to be a glut on the market, and general unrest centered chiefly among farmerdebtors who wanted strong remedies to insure against the foreclosure of mortgages on their property and to avoid imprisonment for debt. Courts were clogged with suits for debt. All through the summer of 1786, popular conventions and informal gatherings in several states demanded reform in the state administrations. Many yeomen, facing debtor's prison and loss of ancestral farms, resorted to violence.

In one state - Massachusetts - mobs of farmers, under the leadership of a former army captain, Daniel Shays, in the autumn of 1786, began forcibly to prevent the county courts from sitting and to prevent further judgments for debt, pending the next state election. They met with stout resistance from the state government, and for a few days there was danger that the state house in Boston would be besieged by an infuriated yeomanry. But the rebels, armed chiefly with staves and pitchforks, were repulsed by the militia and scattered into the hills. Only after the uprising was crushed did the legislature consider the justice of the grievances which had caused it and take steps to remedy them.

At this time, Washington wrote that the states were united only by a "rope of sand," and the prestige of the Congress had fallen to a low point. Disputes between Maryland and Virginia over navigation in the Potomac River led to a conference of representatives of five states at Annapolis in 1786. One of these delegates, Alexander Hamilton, convinced his colleagues that commerce was too much bound up with other questions and that the situation was too serious to be dealt with by so unrepresentative a body as themselves. He induced the gathering to call upon all the states to appoint representatives of the United States and to "devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union." The Continental Congress was at first indignant over this bold step, but its protests were cut short by the news that Virginia had elected George Washington a delegate, and during the next fall and winter, elections were held in all the states but Rhode Island.

It was a gathering of notables that assembled as the Federal Convention in the Philadelphia State House in May 1787. The state legislatures sent leaders with experience in colonial and state governments, in Congress, on the bench, and in the field. George Washington, regarded as the outstanding citizen in the entire country because of his military leadership during the Revolution and because of his integrity and reputation, was chosen as presiding officer. The sage Benjamin Franklin, now eighty-one and mellow with years, let the younger men do most of the talking, but his kindly humor and wide experience in diplomacy helped ease some of the difficulties among the other delegates. Prominent among the more active members were Gouverneur Morris, able and daring, who clearly saw the need for national government, and James Wilson, also of Pennsylvania, who labored indefatigably for the national idea. From Virginia came James Madison, a practical young statesman, a thorough student of politics and history and,. according to a colleague, "from a spirit of industry and application ... the best informed man on any point in debate." Massachusetts sent Rufus King and Elbridge Gerry, young men of ability and experience. Roger Sherman, shoemaker turned judge, Was one of the representatives from Connecticut. From New York came Alexander Hamilton, just turned thirty and already famous. One of the few great men of colonial America absent was Thomas Jefferson who was in France on a mission of state. Among the fifty-five delegates, youth predominated, for the average age was forty-two.

The Convention had been authorized merely to draft amendments to the Articles of Confederation but, as Madison later wrote, the delegates "with a manly confidence in their country" simply threw the Articles aside and went ahead with the consideration of a wholly new form of government. In their work, the delegates recognized that the predominant need was to reconcile two different powers -the power of local control which was already being exercised by the thirteen semiindependent states and the power of a central government. They adopted the principle that the functions and powers of the national government, being new, general, and inclusive, had to be carefully defined and stated, while all other functions and powers were to be understood as belonging to the states. They recognized, however, the necessity of giving the national government real power and thus generally accepted the fact that the national government be empowered - among other things -to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, and make peace. These functions, of necessity, called for the machinery of a national government.

The eighteenth-century statesmen who met in Philadelphia were adherents of Montesquieu's concept of the balance of power in politics. This principle was naturally supported by colonial experience and strengthened by the writings of Locke with which most of the delegates were familiar. These influences led to the understanding that three distinct branches of government be established, each equal and coordinate with the others. The legislative, executive, and judicial powers were to be so adjusted and interlocked as to permit harmonious operation. At the same time they were to be so well balanced that no one interest could ever gain control. It was natural also for the delegates to assume that the legislative branch, like the colonial legislatures and the British Parliament, should consist of two houses.

On these broad, general views there was homogeneity. But sharp differences arose within the assemblage as to the method of achieving the desired ends. Representatives of the small states, New Jersey, for instance, objected to changes that would reduce their influence in the federal government by basing representation upon population instead of upon statehood, as under the Articles of Confederation. On the other hand, representatives of the large states like Virginia argued vehemently for proportionate representation. Over this question, the debate threatened to go on endlessly until finally the Connecticut delegate came forward with very able arguments in support of a plan for representation in proportion to the population of the states in one house of Congress and equal representation in the other.

The alignment of large against small states then dissolved. Almost every succeeding question, however, raised new alignments to be resolved only by new compromises. Certain members wished no branch of the federal government to be elected directly by the people; others thought it must be given as broad a basis as possible. Some delegates wished to exclude the growing west from the opportunity of statehood; others championed the equality principle established in the Ordinance of 1787. There was no serious difference of opinion on such national economic questions as paper money, tender laws, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts. But there was a need for balancing the distinct sectional economic interests; for settling heated arguments as to the powers, term, and selection of the executive; and for solving the problems concerning the tenure of judges and the kind of courts to be established.

Conscientiously and with determination, through a hot Philadelphia summer, the Convention labored to iron out problems. It finally achieved a satisfactory draft which incorporated in a brief document the organization of the most complex government yet devised by man -a government supreme within its sphere, but within a sphere that is defined and limited. As the Tenth Amendment made clear in 1791, 11 the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"; and the supremacy of federal laws is limited to such as "shall be made in pursuance of the Constitution." The states are coequally supreme within their sphere; in no legal sense are they subordinate institutions, and both the federal and state governments rest on the same broad foundation of popular sovereignty. In subsequent years, the scope of federal power has been widely extended by amendment, implication, judicial interpretation, and the necessities of national crises. The same, however, is true of the states. Even in the twentieth century, the American citizen comes far more frequently into contact with his state than with his national government. For to the states belong, not by virtue of the federal constitution but of their own sovereign power, the control of municipal and local government, the police power, factory and labor legislation, the chartering of corporations, the statutory development and judicial administration of civil and criminal law, the control of education, and the general supervision of the people's health, safety, and welfare.

In conferring powers, the Convention freely and fully gave the federal government the power to lay taxes, to borrow money, to lay uniform duties, imposts, and excises. It was given authority to coin money, fix weights and measures, grant patents and copyrights, and establish post offices and post roads. It was empowered to raise and maintain an army and navy and could regulate interstate commerce. It was given the whole management of Indian relations, of international relations, and of war It could pass laws for naturalizing foreigners and, controlling the public lands, it could admit new states on a basis of absolute equality with the old. The power to pass all necessary and proper laws for executing these defined powers rendered the federal government sufficiently elastic to meet the needs of later generations and of a greatly expanded body politic.

In constructing this frame of government, practically every feature showed the influence of the unwritten constitution of the British Empire; but also there is hardly a clause which cannot be traced to the constitution of one of the thirteen American states or to colonial practice. The principle of separation of powers, familiar in most colonial governments, had already been given a fair trial in most state constitutions and had been proven sound. And so the Convention set up a governmental system in which there was a separate legislative, executive, and judiciary branch - each checked by the others. Congressional enactments did not become law until approved by the President. And the President was to submit the most important of his appointments and all of his treaties to the Senate for confirmation. He, in turn, might be impeached and removed by Congress. The judiciary was to hear all cases arising under the laws and the Constitution. The courts were, therefore, in effect, empowered to interpret both the fundamental and the statute law. But the judiciary, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, might also be impeached by Congress.

Foreseeing the possible future necessity for changing or adding to the new document, the Convention included an article which delineated specifically methods for its amendment. However, to protect the Constitution from indiscriminate alteration, Article Five-used successfully only twenty-one times -was designed. It states that either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states, meeting in convention, may propose amendments to the Constitution. The proposals become law by one of two methods -either by ratification by the legislatures of threefourths of the states, or by convention in three-fourths of these states. The Congress proposes which method shall be used.

Finally, the Convention faced the most important problem of all: how should the powers given to the new government be enforced? Under the old Articles of Confederation, the national government had possessed - on paper - large, though by no means adequate, powers. But in practice these powers had come to naught, for the states paid no attention to them. What was to save the new government from meeting precisely the same obstacle? At the outset, most delegates furnished but one answer-the use of force, But it was quickly seen that the application of force upon the states would destroy the Union. As the discussion progressed, ;t was decided that the government should not act upon the states but upon the people within the states. It was to legislate for and upon all the individual residents of the country. As the keystone of the Constitution, the Convention adopted a brief but highly significant device:

"Congress shall have power . . . to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the . . . powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States. (Article I , Section viii.)

"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." (Article Vi. )

Thus the laws of the United States became enforceable in its own national courts, through its own judges and marshals. They were also enforceable in the state courts, through the state judges and state law officers.

At the end of sixteen weeks of deliberation -on September 17, 1787 -the finished Constitution was signed "by unanimous consent of the states present." The delegates were obviously impressed by the solemnity of the moment, and Washington sat in grave meditation. But Franklin relieved the tension by a characteristic sally. Pointing to the half sun painted in brilliant gold on the back of Washington's chair, he remarked that artists had always found it difficult to distinguish between a rising and a setting sun.

"I have often and often," he remarked, "in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President, without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now, at length, I have the happiness to know that it is a rising, and not a setting sun."

The Convention was over; the members "adjourned to the City Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other." Yet a crucial part of the struggle for a more perfect union was still to be faced. For the consent of popularly elected state conventions was still required before the document could become effective.

The Convention had decided that the Constitution would take effect as soon as it was approved by conventions in nine of the thirteen states. By the end of 1787, three had ratified it. But would six others? To many plain folk the document seemed full of dangers, for would not the strong central government that it set up tyrannize over them, oppress them with heavy taxes, and drag them into wars? These questions brought into existence two parties, the Federalists and the Antifederalists - those favoring a strong government and those who preferred a loose association of separate states. The controversy raged in the press, the legislature, and the state conventions. Impassioned arguments were poured forth on both sides. The ablest of these were the Federalist Papers, now a classic political work, written in behalf of the new Constitution by Hamilton, Madison, and John Jay. As a result of a particularly sharp contest in Massachusetts where agrarian discontent was still rife, a Bill of Rights was appended to the Constitution in the form of amendments. Other states soon recognized the importance of making such additions to the Constitution, and the Rights, which had previously been included in all the state constitutions, were incorporated into the supreme law of the land - forming the first ten amendments of the original constitutional document. These amendments have guaranteed to citizens of the United States -among other rights - freedom of religion, speech, the press, and assembly; a militia instead of a standing army; the right to trial by jury; speedy trials by the law of the land, and prohibition of general warrants. As a result of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the wavering states soon came to the support of the Constitution, which was finally adopted June 21, 1788. The Congress of the Confederation arranged for the first presidential election, declared the new government would begin on March 4, 1789, and quietly expired.

One name was on every man's lips for the new chief of state, and Washington was unanimously chosen President. On April 30, 1789, he took the oath pledging faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and to the best of his ability to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It was a lusty republic that set out upon its career. The economic problems caused by the war were on their way to solution and the country was growing steadily. Immigration from Europe came in volume; good farms were to be had for small sums; labor was in strong demand. The rich valley stretches of upper New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia soon became great wheat-growing areas. Although many items were still home-made, manufactures too were growing. Massachusetts and Rhode Island were laying the foundations of important textile industries; Connecticut was beginning to turn out tinware and clocks; New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were producing paper, glass, and iron. Shipping had grown to such an extent that on the seas the United States was second only ' to England. Before 1790, American ships were traveling to China to sell furs and bring back teas, spices, and silks.

The main impulse of American energy, however, was westward. New Englanders and Pennsylvanians were moving into Ohio; Virginians and Carolinians were heading for Kentucky and Tennessee. Up the long slopes of the Alleghenies climbed the white-topped wagons of the emigrant trains. Into Kentucky wound the buckskin-clad hunters and the pioneers with carts of furniture, seeds, simple farm implements, and domestic animals. In many a rough clearing, the frontier farmer and his neighbors raised a log cabin, its timbers chinked with clay, its roof covered with oak staves. Year by year, more rafts and boats, laden with grain, salt meat, and potash, floated down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Year by year, the western towns grew more important. Wild animals, disease, and other perils and hardships bad to be faced, but still ten thousand rivulets of settlement spilled into the wilderness. The keynote of an earlier day-"Westward the course of empire takes its way"-was still the watchword.

This was the condition of the country when Washington took office. The new Constitution, at the time merely a blueprint of things to come, possessed neither tradition nor the backing of organized public opinion. The two parties, formed during the period of ratification, continued antagonistic. The Federalists were the party of strong central government, of rising business, and commercial interests. The Antifederalists were champions of state rights and agrarianism. The new government had to create its own machinery. There were no taxes coming in. Until a judiciary could be established, there was no means of law enforcement. The army was small. The navy had ceased to exist.

The wise leadership of Washington was essential to the nation at this time. The qualities that had made him the first soldier in the Revolution also made him the first statesman in the newly organized country. He had the power of planning for a distant end and a capacity for taking infinite pains. He inspired respect and trust; he had directness rather than adroitness; fortitude rather than flexibility-, and great dignity and reserve as well as shyness, humility, and stoical self-control.

The organization of the government was no small task. Congress quickly created departments of State and of the Treasury. Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State and Alexander Hamilton, his aide during the Revolution, as Secretary of the Treasury. Simultaneously the Congress established the federal judiciary, setting up not only a Supreme Court, with one Chief Justice (John Jay was named to the post) and five associate justices, but also three circuit courts and thirteen district courts. In the first administration, both a Secretary of War and an Attorney-General were also appointed. Since Washington generally preferred to make decisions only after consulting those men whose judgment he trusted, the American cabinet (consisting of the heads of all the departments that Congress might create) came into existence, although it was not officially recognized by law until 1907.

Just as revolutionary America had produced two commanding figures of worldwide renown -Washington and Franklin - so did the youthful republic raise to fame two brilliantly able men, Hamilton and Jefferson, whose reputations were to spread beyond the seas. It was not their sterling personal gifts, great though they were, which entitle these men to a place in history. Rather it was their representation of two powerful and indispensable, though to some extent antagonistic, forces in American life. Hamilton tended toward closer union and a stronger national government; Jefferson leaned toward a broader, freer democracy.

The keynote of Hamilton's public career was his love of efficiency, order, and organization. Indeed, the evidences of weakness and inefficiency he saw from 1775 to 1789 explain his dominant impulse to serve the young nation. Hamilton had bold plans and definite policies where others had cautious notions and vague principles. In response to the call of the House of Representatives for a plan for the "adequate support of public credit," Hamilton laid down and supported principles not only of public economy as such, but of effective government. America must have credit for industrial development, commercial activity, and the operations of government. It also must have the complete faith and support of the people. Many men wished to repudiate the national debt or pay only a part of it. Hamilton, however, insisted upon full payment of the debt of the union government and also upon a plan by which the federal government took over the unpaid debts of the states incurred in aid of the Revolution. He devised a Bank of the United States, with the right to establish branches in different parts of the country. He sponsored a national mint. He argued in favor of tariffs based upon the protection principle in order to foster the development of national industries. These measures had an instant effect -placing the credit of the federal government on a firm foundation and giving it all the revenues it needed. They encouraged commerce and industry, thus creating a solid phalanx of businessmen who stood fast behind the national government and were ready to resist any attempt to weaken it.

Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, was a man of thought rather than action. As Hamilton's talents were executive, Jefferson's were meditative and philosophical, and among contemporary political thinkers and writers, he was without a peer. Politically, he was frequently at odds with Hamilton. When he went abroad as Minister to France, he realized the value of a strong central government in foreign relations, but he did not want it strong in many other respects, fearing it would fetter men. Born an aristocrat, but by inclination and conviction an equalitarian democrat, he fought always for freedom -from the British Crown, from church control, from a landed aristocracy, from inequalities of wealth.

Hamilton's great aim was to give the country a more efficient organization, Jefferson's to give individual men a wider liberty, believing that "every man and every body of men on earth possess the right of self-government." Hamilton feared anarchy and thought in terms of order; Jefferson feared tyranny and thought in terms of liberty. The United States needed both influences. It required both a stronger national government and also the unfettering of men. It was the country's good fortune that it had both men and could in time fuse and, to a great extent, reconcile their special contributions.

Their differing points of view, made manifest shortly after Jefferson took office as Secretary of State, led to a new and profoundly important interpretation of the Constitution. For when Hamilton brought forth his bill establishing a national bank, Jefferson objected, speaking for all believers in state rights as opposed to national rights, and for those who feared great corporations. The Constitution, he declared, expressly enumerates all the powers belonging to the federal government and reserves all other powers to the states. Nowhere was it empowered to set up a bank. Hamilton contended that all the powers of the national government could not be set down in words because of the intolerable detail this would necessitate. A vast body of powers had to be implied by general clauses, he stated, and one of these authorized Congress to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" for carrying out other powers specifically granted. The Constitution declared the national government should have the power to lay and collect taxes, pay debts, borrow money. A national bank would materially assist in carrying out these functions efficiently, and Congress was therefore entitled to set up the bank under its "Implied powers." Washington and the Congress accepted Hamilton's measure and established a precedent.

Though its first tasks were to strengthen the domestic economy and make the union secure, the young country could not ignore political occurrences abroad. The cornerstone of Washington's foreign policy was the preservation of peace-peace to give the country time to recover from the wounds it had received during the war and to permit the slow work of national integration to continue. But events in Europe threatened the achievement of this goal. Many Americans were watching the French Revolution with the keenest interest and sympathy. And in April 1793, news came that made this conflict an issue in American politics. France had declared war on Great Britain and Spain. Citizen Genèt was coming to the United States as Minister of the French Republic.

America was still formally an ally of France, and war would enable Americans to discharge both their debt of gratitude to her and their feeling of resentment against Britain. But though most of the executive department of the United States wished the French well, it was more anxious to keep America out of war. And so Washington now proclaimed to the belligerents of Europe the neutrality of the United States, and when Genèt arrived, he was greeted with stern formality. Angered by this treatment, he attempted to disobey an order forbidding him to use American ports as bases of operations for French privateers, and after a time a request for his recall by the French government was granted.

In this period-from 1793 to 1795- came the crystallization of the two poles of American public opinion. For the French Revolution seemed to some a clean-cut contest between monarchy and republicanism, oppression and liberty, autocracy and democracy; to others, a new eruption of strife between anarchy and order, atheism and religion, poverty and property. The former joined the Republican Party, ancestor of today's Democratic Party, the latter Joined the Federalists, from whom the present-day Republican Party is descended.

As a result of the Genèt incident, American ardor for France cooled somewhat. At the same time, relations with Great Britain were far from satisfactory. British troops still occupied forts in the west; property carried off by British soldiers during the Revolution had not been restored or paid for; and the British navy was playing havoc with American commerce. To settle these matters, Washington sent to London as American envoy extraordinary, John Jay, an experienced diplomat, who was at the same time Chief justice of the Supreme Court. Acting with moderation, Jay negotiated a treaty whereby he secured the withdrawal of the British from western forts and some slight trading concessions. Nothing was said, however, about returning property, about the seizure of American ships in the future, or about "impressment" - the forcing of American sailors into British naval service.

Jay's treaty caused general dissatisfaction, but as the end of Washington's second administration approached, it was evident that marked achievements had been made in other fields -the government was organized, national credit was established, maritime commerce fostered, the northwest territory recovered, and peace preserved.

Washington retired in 1797, firmly declining to serve for more than eight years as the nation's head. John Adams, able and highminded, stern and obstinate, was elected as the new President. Even before he entered the presidency, Adams had quarreled with Hamilton who had contributed so much to the previous administrations. Thus Adams was handicapped by having a divided party behind him and a divided cabinet at his side. To make matters worse, the international skies were again heavily clouded. For France, angered by Jay's recent treaty with Britain, refused to accept Adams' minister. When Adams sent three other commissioners to Paris, they were met with fresh contumely, and American indignation arose to an excited pitch. Troops were enlisted, the navy was strengthened and, in 1798, after a series of sea battles with the French in which American ships were uniformly victorious, war seemed inescapable. In this crisis, Adams thrust aside the guidance of Hamilton, who wanted war, and sent a new minister to France. Napoleon, who had just come to power, received him cordially and the danger of conflict disappeared.

In home affairs, Adams was not popular with the American people, and the year 1800 found the country ripe for a change. Under Washington and Adams, the Federalists had capably established the government and made it strong. But failing to recognize that the American government must be responsive to the will of the people, they had followed policies which did much to alienate large masses of the people. Jefferson, a born popular leader, had steadily gathered behind him a great mass of small farmers, shopkeepers, and other workers, and they asserted themselves with tremendous power in the election of 1800. "The tough sides of our Argosie have been thoroughly tried," wrote Jefferson to a friend. "We shall put her on her republican tack, and she will now show by the beauty of her motion the skill of her builders."

Indeed Jefferson enjoyed extraordinary ascendency because of his appeal to America's idealism, simplicity, youth, and hopeful outlook. And the manner in which he assumed the presidency in 1801 emphasized the fact that democracy had come into power. Jefferson, carelessly garbed as usual, walked from his simple boardinghouse up the hill to the Capitol together with a few friends. Entering the Senate chamber, he shook hands with Vice President Burr, his rival in the recent election, and took the oath of office administered by John Marshall, recently appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His inaugural address promised "a wise and frugal government" which should preserve order among the inhabitants but "shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement."

Jefferson's mere presence in the White House encouraged democratic procedures. To him the plainest citizen was as worthy of respect as the highest officer. He taught his subordinates to regard themselves merely as trustees for the people. He encouraged agriculture and westward expansion. He encouraged a liberal naturalization law, believing in America as a haven for the oppressed. By the end of 1809, his farsighted Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, had reduced the national debt to less than sixty millions. As a wave of Jeffersonian feeling swept the nation, state after state abolished property qualifications for the ballot and passed more humane laws for debtors and criminals.

One of Jefferson's steps doubled the area of the nation. Spain had long held the country west of the Mississippi, with the port of New Orleans near its mouth. But soon after Jefferson came into office, Napoleon forced a weak Spanish government to cede the great tract called Louisiana back to France. The moment he did so Americans trembled with apprehension and indignation, for New Orleans was a port indispensable for the shipment of American products grown in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. Napoleon's plans for a huge colonial empire just west of the United States menaced the trading rights and the safety of all the interior settlements.

Jefferson asserted that if France took possession of Louisiana, "from that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation" and that the first cannon shot fired in a European war would be the signal for the march of an Anglo American army against New Orleans. Napoleon was impressed by the certainty that the United States and England would strike. He knew that another war with Great Britain was impending after the brief Peace of Amiens and that, when it began, he would surely lose Louisiana. He therefore resolved to fill his treasury, to put Louisiana beyond the reach of the British, and to bid for American friendship by selling the region to the United States. For $15,000,000 this vast area passed into the possession of the republic. Jefferson "stretched the Constitution till it cracked" in buying it, for no clause authorized the purchase of foreign territory, and he acted without Congressional consent. As a result, the United States, in 1803, obtained more than a million square miles and with it the port of New Orleans, a picturesque city built on a crescent of the Mississippi, with a dark cypress forest as background. The country had gained a sweep of rich plains that within eighty years was to become one of the world's greatest granaries. It also had control of the whole central river system of the continent. Puffing vessels within a few years filled all the western streams, taking emigrants to settle on the land and bringing furs, grain, cured meats, and a hundred other products back to market.

As the end of his first term approached, Jefferson continued to enjoy widespread popularity. Louisiana was manifestly a great prize, the country was prosperous, and the President had tried hard to please all sections. His re-election was certain, and in his next term, which began in 1805, Jefferson made his second extraordinary use of federal authority in attempting to maintain American neutrality during the colossal struggle between Great Britain and France. Both forces had set up blockades and thereby struck heavy blows at American commerce. The British acted to cut off the rich carrying-trade of American vessels with products of the French West Indies and by proclamation declared blockaded the coast of Europe from Brest to the Elbe River. The French ordered the seizure of any American ship which submitted to British search or touched at a British port. The war soon reached a point where no American craft could trade with the broad region controlled by France without being liable to seizure by the British, and none could trade with Britain without danger from France. Under these conditions commerce was crippled.

Still another grievance aroused American feeling against Great Britain. To win the war, the British were building up their navy to a point where it had more than seven hundred warships, manned by nearly 150,000 sailors and marines. This wall kept Britain safe, protected her commerce, and preserved her communications with her colonies. Yet the men of her fleet were so ill-paid, ill-fed, and ill-handled that it was impossible to obtain crews by free enlistment. Many sailors deserted and found refuge on the pleasanter and safer American vessels. In these circumstances, British officers regarded as essential the right of searching American ships and taking off British subjects. When every sailor who spoke English had been a British subject, impressment seldom involved error. But now after the establishment of the United States as an independent nation, the case was different. It was humiliating for American vessels to lay to under the guns of a British cruiser, while a lieutenant and a party of marines lined up the crew and examined them. Moreover, many British officers were charged with being arrogant and unfair, and they impressed bona fide American citizens by the scores and hundreds -ultimately, it was alleged, by the thousands.

To bring Great Britain and France to a fairer attitude without war, Jefferson finally persuaded Congress to pass the Embargo Act, a law altogether forbidding foreign commerce. Its effects were disastrous. On the one hand, the shipping interests were almost ruined by the measure, and discontent rose high in New England and New York. Then the agricultural interests found that they too were suffering heavily, for prices tumbled when the southern and western farmers could not ship overseas their surplus grain, meat, and tobacco. In a single year American exports fell to one-fifth of their former volume. But the hope that the embargo would starve Great Britain into a change of policy failed. As the grumbling at home increased, Jefferson turned to a milder measure which conciliated the domestic shipping interests. Substituted for the embargo was a nonintercourse law which permitted commerce with all countries except Britain or France and their dependencies, and paved the way for negotiations by authorizing the President to suspend the operation of the law against either of these upon the withdrawal of its restrictions upon American trade. In 1810, Napoleon officially announced that he had abandoned his measures in spite of the fact that he continued to maintain them. But the United States believed him and thereafter limited its nonintercourse to Great Britain.

Jefferson finished his second presidential term and James Madison took office in 1809. Relations with Great Britain grew worse, and the two countries drifted rapidly toward war. The President laid before Congress a detailed report, showing 6,057 instances in which the British had impressed American citizens within three years. In addition, northwestern settlers had suffered from attacks by Indians which they believed had been encouraged by British agents in Canada. In 1812, war was declared on Britain.

The United States suffered from internal divisions of the gravest kind. While the south and west favored war, New York and New England in general opposed it. The declaration of war had been made with army preparations still far from complete. There were fewer than 7,000 regular soldiers distributed in widely scattered posts along the coast, near the Canadian border, and in the remote interior. These were to be supported by the undrilled, undisciplined militia of the several states.

Hostilities began with a triple movement for the invasion of Canada which, if properly timed and executed, would have brought united action against Montreal. But the entire campaign utterly miscarried and ended with the British occupation of Detroit. While action had gone ill on land, however, the navy had, in a measure, restored American confidence. The frigate, Constitution, Captain Isaac Hull in charge, met the British Guerrière southeast of Boston on August 19, and captured her after a fight of thirty minutes, Hull reducing the enemy ship to complete wreckage. Two months later, the American sloop Wasp met the British sloop Frolic and demolished her entirely. This telling work of the navy took the world by surprise. In addition American privateers swarming the Atlantic captured five hundred British vessels during the fall and winter of 1812-13.

The campaign of 1813 centered about Lake Erie in New York state. General William Henry Harrison had led an army of militia, volunteers, and regulars from Kentucky with the object of reconquering Detroit. On September 12, news reached him, while he was still in upper Ohio, that Commodore Oliver Perry had annihilated the enemy's ships on Lake Erie. Two days before, Perry had come upon British vessels and, after two and a half hours of heroic action, thrilled the country with his dispatch, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." Thereafter the take remained in American hands. Harrison was now on the offensive and, in less than a month, upper Canada fell into American control. At the end of the year, however, the English still held Lake Ontario, and the next year and a half saw a series of land and sea engagements which made the military situation a virtual stalemate.

The war was brought to a close by the Treaty of Ghent which was approved by the United States in February 1815. Day by day during the treaty negotiations, both England and the United States gave up more and more of their demands, with the curious result that in the final treaty neither side gained nor lost. It merely provided for the cessation of hostilities, the restoration of conquests, and a commission to settle boundary disputes. Not a word was said about impressment and neutrality rights, the causes for which the war had been so dearly fought. The dramatic victory which a bizarre but formidable army of frontiersmen, under the fiery fighter, Andrew Jackson, won at New Orleans over a strong British force gave the United States some real cause for exultation. Ironically, this took place on January 8, 1815, after the peace treaty had been signed but before it became known in America.

As in every war, losses were devastating. Particularly so to a young and growing country was the loss of 21,000 sailors and 30,000 soldiers killed or injured. Added to that was the destruction of 1,400 ships and enormous financial losses. However, historians agree that the War of 1812 had one important positive result - the strengthening of national unity and patriotism. The fact that men of different states again fought side by side and that a Virginian, Winfield Scott, was the ablest commander of northern troops, added to the sense of national unity. Western troops fought alongside their compatriots from the eastern seaboard, and from this time onward, the west, always national in sentiment, grew in importance in American life.

Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury from 1801 to 1813, asserted that before the conflict Americans were becoming too selfish and too prone to think in local terms. "The war," he said, "has renewed and reinstated the national feeling and character which the Revolution had given, and which were daily lessening. The people have now more general objects of attachment, with which their pride and political opinions are connected. They are more Americans; they feel and act more as a nation; and I hope that the permanency of the Union is thereby better secured."