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one nation refuses to pay debts which she justly owes to another nation, the government of the injured nation sometimes grant commissions to its subjects, authorizing them to seize the vessels of the offending nation and indemnify themselves out of the proceeds. This may be done without a declaration of war.

The commissions authorizing such a method of redress are called "letters of marque and reprisal."

As such a short method of collecting debts always renders a nation more or less liable to a war, the power of granting letters of marque and reprisal, ought to be vested only in the general government. Therefore the constitution declares that "no state shall grant letters of marque and reprisal." Were it otherwise one state might, at pleasure, involve the whole union in a war.


No state can coin money or emit bills of credit, or make anything a lawful tender in payment of debts, but gold and silver coin.

For several years previous to the adoption of the

When the subjects of one nation receive injuries from the subjects of another nation, what remedy is sometimes pursued?

What are such commissions called?

Can a state grant letters of marque and reprisal ?

What is said of the power of a state respecting money?

constitution the country had suffered much from bills of credit. In 1775, the continental congress authorized the issue of "bills of credit" to the amount of three millions of dollars. But no paper money of any description will pass at par with gold and silver, unless it can command the gold and silver at any mo


These bills of credit were based entirely on the faith of the confederation. The prospect of their redemption was very remote. Such being the case, no human power could save them from great and rapid depreciation. They did depreciate, and congress attempted to remedy the evil by declaring that "whoever should refuse to receive this paper, in exchange for any property, as gold and silver, should be deemed an enemy to the liberties of these United States."

Such a desperate remedy indicated a desperate disease, and the bills of course depreciated more rapidly than ever. New issues continued to be made till the whole amounted to three hundred and fifty millions of dollars.

The bills continued to decrease more and more till 1780, when they were worth nothing, and died in the hands of the holders.

What bills did the continental congress authorize to be issued? What kind of paper money can pass at par with gold and silver? What law did congress pass to prevent the depreciation of paper money?

What was the effect of this law?

What amount of those bills were issued?

What finally became of those bills of credit?

No state can pass any bill of attainder or ex post facto law; nor grant any title of nobility.


A contract is a mutual agreement between two persons or parties. Almost all the business transactions between man and man are performed by entering into contracts, either express or implied. When the parties have entered into a contract voluntarily, and in good faith, both are bound by it. If any third party could nullify or impair the contract the right of one or both parties would be destroyed.

Merchants of one state contract with the merchants of other states, so that all the states are connected with each other in mercantile affairs. If the one state had the power to enact a law impairing contracts, it might, perhaps, injure persons in every state in the union. Hence the constitution prohibits any state from "passing any law impairing the obligation of contracts."

No state can grant any title of nobility, nor keep troops, or ships of war, in time of peace, without the consent of congress.

Can a state pass any bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or grant any title of nobility?

What is a contract?

Can a state pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts? Why?

Can a state keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, without the consent of congress?

We have said that the government of the United States is divided into three departments, the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; and that the legislative department was vested in the two houses of congress, limited by the veto of the president.

Into what three departments is the government of the United States divided?

In what is the legislative department vested?


In all monarchical governments, the executive power is vested in the king. In the United States it is vested in a president.

The executive power is the power which executes the laws. It must be vested in some person or persons who can act promptly, unitedly and efficiently. These advantages can be best secured by intrusting this department to one man. If this power was intrusted to two or more persons, they might disagree, and dangerous and ruinous delays might be the result.

In Great Britain and other monarchical countries the king reigns not only during his life, but the crown is hereditary in his family.

In the United States, as we have said, the president is elected every four years, by the people, and can continue in office only four years, unless he is reelected. The people, therefore, every four years have an opportunity of placing the Executive power

In monarchical governments where is the executive power vested? In the United States where is it vested?

What is the executive power?

Is it well that the executive power is vested in one man?

In monarchical countries how long does the king reign?

Is the crown hereditary?

How does the president of the United States come into power? How long does he continue in office?

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