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§1. Having given, in the preceding chapter, a sketch of the union under the confederation, we shall next show the nature of the union under the present constitution, commencing with a brief comparison of the leading features of the two systems of government.

 

§2. The former union was a mere confederacy. A _confederacy_ is a league, a federal compact. The word _federal_ is from the Latin _fadus_, a league, or alliance. Hence a confederacy is a combination or union of two or more parties, whether persons or states, for their mutual benefit and assistance. And let it be here particularly noted, that this union was a union of states, _as states_. The articles of confederation were framed by congress, whose members were appointed by the state legislatures, and, when framed, were submitted to the state legislatures for ratification.

§3. On the other hand, the union under the constitution is a union, not of the states, as such, but of the _people of the states_. Thus it is expressed in the preamble to the constitution: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, ... do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." And the constitution was submitted for ratification, not to the state legislatures, but to conventions whose members were elected by the people for that purpose.

§4. The states under the confederation were independent, not only of each other, but of the general government. True, they agreed, for their common defense and mutual welfare, to do certain things; and certain other things they agreed not to do, but delegated to congress the power to do them; but, as we have seen, congress had not the power to compel the states to obey its requisitions. By the constitution, the states have given up a greater portion of their sovereignty to the general government, which has power, in certain cases, to control the state governments, and to enforce its laws upon them and upon individuals.

§5. Again, under the confederation, as in confederacies generally, the states were equal. They were entitled to an equal number of delegates in the congress, in which they voted by states, each state having one vote; that is, if a majority of the delegates of a state voted in favor of or against a proposed measure, the vote of the state was so counted; and a proposition having in its favor a majority of the states, was carried. Every state was entitled to seven delegates; but there must be at least two delegates present and voting, in order to give a state vote; and if an equal number of the delegates of a state voted for and against a proposition, the state was said to be divided, and to have no vote.

§6. Under the constitution there are two branches of congress, in one of which the number of representatives of each state is in proportion to its population; in the other, (the senate,) the states are equally represented, on the principle of the confederation, though by two senators only. But the vote in both is taken, not by states as under the confederation, but _per capita_, that is, by the head or poll, the vote of each member counting one.

§7. The articles of confederation were framed by congress, the members of which were appointed by the state legislatures; and the articles, when framed, were submitted for ratification to the state legislatures. The constitution was framed by a convention of delegates from the states appointed for that purpose; and was ratified, not by the state legislatures, but by state conventions whose members were elected by the people of the several states.

§8. The former union, as has been remarked, was a mere Confederacy, composed of independent states, and united simply for purposes of defense and their mutual safety. In most respects they had no more political connection than so many different nations. The people of a state were not, properly speaking, citizens of the United States, but only citizens of the state in which they lived. But by the constitution, the people of the states were incorporated into a nation; and a citizen of a state is also a citizen of the United States. The government of the confederation, although sometimes called the national government, was not really such, nor was it generally so regarded, as appears from the proceedings of the convention that framed the constitution.

§9. Among the earliest proceedings of the convention was the offering of a resolution, declaring that "a national government ought to be formed, consisting of legislative, judiciary, and executive." This resolution was strongly opposed by a large portion of the delegates, because it proposed to establish a _national_ government. They were in favor of continuing the confederation with a slight enlargement of the powers of congress, so as to give that body the power to lay and collect taxes, and to regulate commerce. But the friends of a national government prevailed; and we have now a complete government, consisting of the three departments, legislative, executive, and judicial.

§10. Under the confederation, there was no executive to execute the ordinances of congress; nor a national judiciary, the state courts being used for all judicial purposes. There was only a legislature; and that consisted of a single body, called the congress, appointed by the state legislatures, and having scarcely power enough to entitle it to the name of legislature.

§11. But, although the present government, with these three departments of power, and controlling, in matters of general concern, the action of the state governments and of individuals, is properly a national government; yet it is not wholly such, but partly national and partly federal; some of the federal features of the confederation having been retained in the constitution, as will appear on a further examination of this instrument. Hence the union is still called, with propriety, the _federal union_, and the government the _federal government_.