« PreviousContinue »
HE study here undertaken was suggested by a con
versation two years ago, on the problems arising
from the recent acquisition of our Insular Possessions, in which it was emphasized that there is one clause of the Constitution of the United States—the clause by which Congress is given power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States"—to which the Supreme Court has never attached a definite and certain meaning. Believing that the authors of the Constitution, in framing that instrument, almost simultaneously with the enactment, by the American Congress, of an ordinance for the administration of the Northwest Territory as a dependency of the American Union, must have intended the only clause on this subject to express the true principles of the administration of dependencies, as they believed them to be, I attempted to ascertain the
I correctness of this belief.
The inquiry necessitated a careful examination of the issues of the American Revolution, and, as a knowledge of the theory and practice of the administration of the American Colonies is essential to the understancirg of these issues, my investigation extended back to the inception of the American Colonies in 1584. As a resulf of the inquiry, I found my belief fully corroborated--the clause in question in fact containing a statement of the principles of the administration of dependencies in a Federal Empire. I then examined the American, British, and European theory and practice from the adoption of the Constitution until the present time, to discover to
what extent the principles embodied in the clause had been recognized and followed, and what the result had been. The whole inquiry thus became a study of the evolution of the Federal Empire-a form of political organism which, though commonly believed to be of modern origin, was in fact more clearly understood by our Revolutionary leaders than by any other statesmen before or since their time, and which was recognized by them as being not only necessary and proper, but also beneficent in its operation, and hence desirable, for America as well as for other States.
A. H. S.