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States, owing no allegiance to each other, nor to any other government whatever. They were thirteen separate, independent nations, each possessing all the power of self-government and absolute sovereignty. This Continental Congress thus became in fact a Congress of Nations.

But the Declaration of Independence was only a formal declaration to the world of that which had already in effect been done separately by each of the colonies. For previous to the declaration, four of the colonies had adopted constitutions, and become independent states; and a fifth colony were forming a constitution. The remaining colonies had ceased to recognize or obey the authority of Great Britain.

Thus it appears, that the political connexion between Great Britain and each of the thirteen colonies had, in reality, been completely severed before the 4th of July, 1776.


We have seen that sovereignty is the natural gift of the Creator to man; that men when they become members of civil society, yield up a part of their natural rights, still retaining their sovereignty as to the exercise of the remainder; that the sovereign power in a nation is the united will of the people; that the people of each nation owe allegiance to the sovereignty of their own nation and to no other; that a

What had taken place previous to the declaration?

nation or body of men may appoint any person, or persons to act in their stead, and that all acts so done in pursuance of that trust are as binding upon the people as if done by the united voice of the whole nation assembled together; that part of the sovereignty of the American colonies was vested in the king and parliament of Great Britain, and a part of it retained in their Provincial Assemblies; that there was no political connexion between the several colonies; that when each of the colonies assumed to itself that part of the sovereign power formerly vested in the king and parliament, it became a free and independent state; and that the Continental Congress became, therefore, a Congress of Nations.


In the infancy of the colonies, the fear of Indian depredations often called the people together in conventions. From these small beginnings, as we have seen, finally arose the Continental Congress, and the Articles of Confederation sprung from the Continental Congress; and our present glorious Constitution sprung from the Articles of Confederation. Our Constitution is, therefore, the result of a long course of gradual improvements suggested by the necessity of the case.

In the infancy of the colonies what called the people together in conventions?

What is our constitution the result of?

The Continental Congress above mentioned, continued through the Revolutionary war. Great inconvenience was experienced on account of the want of power to enforce obedience to measures necessary for the safety and defence of the country. Dissatisfaction also arose by reason of each state having but one vote, as thereby a small state had as much influence in the congress as a large one. They were separate independent nations, and as long as they remained so, could not well meet on any other principle, consistently, than perfect equality in all respects.

To remedy these evils, a committee was appointed immediately after the declaration of independence, to prepare Articles of Confederation, to be entered into between the several colonies. The report of this committee was adopted by congress on the 15th of November, 1777.

But these articles possessed no binding force till they were approved and adopted by each of the states separately. Eleven of the states adopted the articles in 1778, one, in 1779, and the thirteenth and last, in 1781.

This new

All the states having ratified the Articles of Confederation, a new nation was thus formed under the name of the United States of America. government went into operation on the March, 1781.

23rd of

What difficulties did the continental congress experience?
Why were the large states dissatisfied?

What was done to remedy these evils?

When did the articles of confederation become binding?

When did the articles of confederation go into operation?

All the powers not conferred by the states on this general government, remained in the states, so that each state was still sovereign as to all its local in


Although far greater powers was granted to the confederation, than had been conferred upon the previous congress, yet its power was still too limited to answer all the purposes of a National Government. The bond of union was too feeble. It was a mere league or alliance of sovereign states, and not a consolidated government. The congress of the confederation acted under the power and authority of state legislatures only. They could not act directly upon the people, but could reach them only by requisitions to be enforced by the state laws. Such a government must ever have been weak and inefficient, and subject to dangerous delays, and numberless other inconveniences, arising out of its peculiar position.

The people having experienced many of these evils, and having foreseen many others, resolved to make a still farther improvement, by adopting a Constitution which would give a stronger and more consolidated form of government.

What become of the powers not conferred on the general government?

What were the objections to the articles of confederation?


Hitherto the several states had acted only as separate nations allied together. It was now proposed that the people of each and all of the states should unite themselves together under one National Gov


Therefore, the people of the several states, by virtue of the sovereign powers given to them by their Creator, chose representatives, who met and prepared a Constitution.

This constitution was submitted to the legislatures of the several states, and the legislatures called conventions of the people in each of the several states for the adoption of it.

By the Seventh Article of the Constitution, the ratification of the conventions of nine states, established it between the states, so ratifying, and constituted them a nation.

The preamble of the constitution declares that "We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union," &c.,-" Do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." Now the adoption of the constitution was

How had the several states acted hitherto ?

What was now proposed?

By whom was the constitution prepared?
To whom was it submitted?

By whom was it adopted?

How many states were to ratify the constitution before it could

go into operation?

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