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final resort on appeal in all disputes between the states, its authority to be exercised by the establishment of a special court or board of arbitration whose decision was decisive of the question at issue. The Articles were in many ways dissimilar to the state constitutions; in fact, there is no evidence that their framers intended to follow the examples of the states. There was no effort to establish a government with distinct branches; all the authority granted was in the hands of Congress, which was, however, authorized to appoint an executive com mittee to sit when Congress itself was not in session.
This simple arrangement, a confederation of sov. ereign states, performing certain functions through a body of delegates, proved in the course of a short time so inadequate that it is easy to pass these Articles by with an amused smile at their utter unfitness for the work at hand. As a matter of fact, they were in many respects models of what articles of confederation ought to be, an advance on previous instruments of like kind in the world's history. Their inadequacy arose from the fact that a mere confederacy of sovereign states was not adapted to the social, political, and industrial needs of the time.
In one important particular the Articles were of profound significance: with remarkable care they separated the particular or local powers from those of general character; and let us notice that on the wisdom and the accuracy with which this division is made must depend the permanence of any plan of imperial organization. Under no conditions, of course, would the states surrender all political authority to any central government; but by the Articles of Confederation they granted nearly every power that was really of a general or national character. Two powers that the central authority much needed were withheld: the power to raise money and the power to regulate commerce—the very ones about which there had been so much discussion before the war. "Let the king ask for money,” the colonists had said to Parliament, “and we will pay it.” This plan of imperial organization was to prove a very lame one when applied on this side of the Atlantic; Congress was to try this plan, to call for money, plead for it, implore attention, and remain penniless. But few years were needed to show the necessity for general control of commerce if the Confederation were to be more than a name, or if the states were not to change from rivals into open enemies. In spite of all this, as far as the mere division of powers was concerned, the Articles were not far from perfection, and in any plan for a broader and better system this allotment of authority would be of the utmost service.
Of course the Congress of the Confederation, made up of delegates from states, could not pass effective laws or enforce its orders. It could ask for money but not compel payment; it could enter into treaties but not enforce their stipulations; it could provide for raising of armies but not fill the ranks; it could bor
row money but take no proper measures for repayment; it could advise and recommend but not command. In other words, with some of the outward seemings of a government, and with many of its responsibilities, it was not a government.
The Articles, as we have seen, provided for no executive department. They did provide for the appointment of a member of Congress to preside over its sessions; but in fear of kingly authority, it was stipulated that no one person should serve as president more than one year in any term of three years. They also provided for the appointment of civil officers for managing the general affairs of the United States under the direction of Congress. And yet the course of the war had already proved how unfit for general administrative duties were the whole body of delegates or committees of members, and as a result a movement for the establishment of executive departments began even before the Articles went into effect.
The office of postmaster-general, an inheritance from the colonial days, existed from the beginning of the war.
In the early part of 1781 the offices of secretary for foreign affairs, superintendent of finance, secretary at war, and secretary of marine were created. To the second position Robert Morris,
* Guggenheimer, “ The Development of the Executive Departments, 1775-1789," in Jameson, Essays in the Const. Hist. of the U.S.
'Fournals of Congress, January 10 and February 7, 1781.
of Pennsylvania, whose knowledge of business and finance had already been of great service to the country, was appointed. After considerable delay, caused by the customary factional controversies between the cliques of Congress, General Benjamin Lincoln was made secretary at war. He did not take the office until January, 1782. Nothing of consequence was done with the department of marine, probably because of the old difficulty of selecting anybody that would suit the wrangling factions, and the whole department was turned over to the superintendent of finance, who already had more than any one could do in managing the distracted finances of the Confederation. Robert R. Livingston, of New York, was made foreign secretary, but retained his position only till June, 1783. He was succeeded the next year by John Jay, who showed skill in handling the intricate diplomatic questions of the time, and perhaps even more wisdom in impressing on Congress the importance of his position. By insisting on the dignity of his office and by making use of its privileges, he brought it into prominence and helped to give it a real value and significance. Inadequate as the Articles were, constitutional organs were gradually growing. Administrative failures and experiments were showing the way to a more effective and satisfactory system.
* Jameson, Essays in the Const. Hist. of the U.S., 161-165.
POVERTY AND PERIL
THE adoption of the Articles gave no assistance in
It had managed to hobble along in the past, now begging alms of France, now ordering the printer to issue more paper, again obtaining some assistance by requisitions from the states. But if the Confederation was to maintain even the semblance of credit abroad or of dignity at home, it must have money. In February, 1781, even before the Articles had been adopted by Maryland, the states were asked to vest in Congress the power to levy a five-per-cent. import duty; the income thus arising was to be used for paying the debts and interest on the debts contracted or that might be contracted on the faith of the United States for supporting the war. To this request most of the states gave their consent promptly, but Rhode Island, on whose acquiescence much depended, after some hesitation refused to allow such an encroachment on her cherished liberties. The impost, she declared, would bear ' Journals of Congress, February 3, 1781.