« EelmineJätka »
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States;
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;
For imposing taxes on us without our consent;
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;
For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences;
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering, fundamentally, the forms of our governments;
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice
and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
The foregoing Declaration was, by order of Congress, engrossed, and signed by the following members:
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
Resolved, That copies of the Declaration be sent to the several assemblies, conventions, and committees, or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the continental troops; that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, at the head of the army.
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.1
WE, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.
SECTION 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress 2 of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
1 Before the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies were subject to the king of Great Britain. From July 4, 1776, the United States of America were governed by a Continental or General Congress, until March 1, 1781, when the states adopted a constitution, called the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States." The Confederation had no president, no supreme court; and consisted of a single house of Congress, made up of delegates elected by the legislatures of the states. Under this constitution Congress continued to govern-in so far as a body with no practical authority can be said to govern- until March 4, 1789; but on May 14, 1787, a convention of delegates from all the states, except Rhode Island, met in Philadelphia" to form a more perfect union" (see the opening words of the Constitution above). The whole number of delegates that attended was fifty-five, but only thirty-nine signed the Constitution.
George Washington presided over the convention, and Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, James Madison, Rufus King, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, John Dickinson, Charles C. Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, J. Rutledge, and Gouverneur Morris, were among its distinguished members.
Madison, Hamilton, Washington, and Franklin took the leading part in the great work of drafting the new Constitution, and after its adoption by the convention, Madison and Hamilton used their influence, with great effect, to urge its ratification by the states, especially by New York (see their papers in the Federalist).
After a stormy session of nearly four months, during which the convention several times threatened to break up in hopeless dispute, the Constitution was at last adopted. (For the compromises on which it rested, see page 188, note 3.)
While the members of the convention were signing the Constitution (for its leading provisions, see page 190), the venerable Dr. Franklin, then aged eighty-one, rose and said: “I have often, in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at the sun [painted on the wall back of the president's chair], 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 Constitution was then submitted to the thirteen states. In 1788 eleven had ratified it (Rhode Island and North Carolina declining then, though they gave their assent before the close of 1790), and on March 4, 1789, the new Constitution went into operation, although, owing to delays, Washington was not inaugurated as the first President until April 30 of that year.
2 Congress assembles on the first Monday in December; the session closes, by custom, at midnight on the 3d of the following March. Each Congress exists two years.
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
SECTION 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.
No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers,1 which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.2 The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one representative: and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three; Massachusetts, eight; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, one; Connecticut, five; New York, six; New Jersey, four; Pennsylvania, eight; Delaware, one; Maryland, six; Virginia, ten; North Carolina, five; South Carolina, five; and Georgia, three.
When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
SECTION 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each senator shall have one vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year; of the second class, at the expiration of the fourth year; of the third class, at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one-third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice-President of the United States shall be president of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
1 At present (1890) one representative is sent to Congress for every 154,325 persons. 2" Persons" meaning slaves. This has been amended (by Amendments XIII. and XIV.), and is no longer in force.
8 The Speaker presides. Other officers are the clerk, sergeant-at-arms, door-keeper, etc.