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It is interesting to notice with what singular clearness James Wilson of Pennsylvania, a scholar from Edinburgh, laid down in the Constitutional Convention the doctrine which was, eighty years later, removed from debate by the Fourteenth Amendment (Note 171), the question under discussion being whether the State or the people should be represented in the Senate:
"A citizen of America is a citizen of the general government, and is a citizen of the particular State in which he
In forming the general government we must forego our local habits and attachments, lay aside our State connections, and act for the general good of the whole. The general government is not an assemblage of States, but of individuals.”
Profiting by the experience of our country, the United States of Brazil, which was established in 1890, after the overthrow of a monarchy, carefully provided, in a constitution closely copying the fundamentals of ours, for a “perpetual and indissoluble union between former provinces into the United States of Brazil.” And in 1900, when the various provinces of Australia were united as the Commonwealth of Australia, the Constitution, also closely following ours and adopting our terms, "State," "House of Representatives," and "Senate", provided for an “indissoluble Federal Commonwealth."
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence,
3 Under the Articles of Confederation the expenses of the common defence were to “be defrayed out of a common treasury” supplied “by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States.” The Nation itself had no power of self-defence in the raising of money and in some other important respects. It turned out in practice that some of the States signally failed in emergencies to make their contributions to the "cominon treuse
ury.” Indeed, only New York and Pennsylvania paid their full proportion of the costs of the Revolution. One State, which had suffered none from the ravages of war, contributed nothing. But (to illustrate the difference between a league of States and a Nation) when the United States entered the World War in 1917 the Congress promptly exerted its power under the Constitution and raised by the issue of Liberty Bonds, by income taxes, and by other means all the money that it needed for “the common defence.” The States as such were not concerned except in providing militia, a subject to be noticed later. So it had been in the War of 1812, in the Mexican War, in the Civil War, and in the War with Spain. The Articles of Confederation were wholly deficient in this most important of all respects, in the power of “common defence.”
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings4 of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.
Comment has been made that God is not mentioned in our Constitution. In the Declaration of Independence "firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” is expressed, and in the Articles of Confederation it is mentioned that "it has pleased the Great Governor of the world to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress to approve of and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and B perpetual union."
The Commonwealth of Australia put in the preamble of the Constitution which it submitted to the English Parliament for approval (1900) that “Whereas, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relyihg on the blessings of Almighty God, have agreed to unite," etc.
A very interesting discussion of the proposition that “this is a religious people” is contained in a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (1892) holding that the Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885 (prohibiting the bringing in of “foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor in the United States”), while applying to an alien brought in to perform "labor or service of any kind”, did not relate in purpose,
- although it did in language to a minister of the Gospel who had been employed to come from England to accept service in a New York church. In applying the rule of statutory interpretation, that the intent of the legislature must be followed, the court said that "no purpose of action against religion could be imputed to any legislation" when the language did not clearly state it, for the reason that from the commission given by Ferdinand and Isabella to Columbus down through all the charters to the colonies, as well as in the Declaration of Independence and in the constitutions of all the States, there is to be found a "profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well-being of the United States."
In a dark day of the Civil War, on July 2, 1864, shortly after the disastrous Red River expedition, but only eight days before General Sherman drove the army of General Hood within the defences of Atlanta (a step leading to the march to the sea which broke the Confederacy in two), the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution requesting the President to "appoint a day for humiliation and prayer by the people of the United States . . . to implore the compassion and forgiveness of the Almighty ... to implore Him as the Supreme Ruler of the World not to destroy us as a people, nor suffer us to be destroyed by the hostility or connivance of other nations.” Accordingly President Lincoln issued, three days before the investment of Hood's army, a proc
lamation appointing Thursday, August 2, 1864, as a day to be observed as the Houses had “so solemnly, so earnestly and so reverently recommended.”
“Although the Preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution,” said the Supreme Court (1905), "it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government in the United States or on any of its Departments."
Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.5
$« The whole system of the National Government,” said, President Monroe, speaking of the powers given by the Constitution to Congress, "may be said to rest essentially on the powers granted to this branch. They mark the limit within which, with few exceptions, all the branches must move in the discharge of their respective functions.”
In the Colonial Declaration of Rights of October 14, 1774, it was said to be indispensably necessary to good government that “the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other,"
It was in the reign of Edward III (1341) that the Parliament of England divided into two Houses,
The Congress which had existed under the Articles of Confederation consisted of only one House, which was made up of "delegates . . . appointed in such manner as the legislature of each State shall direct”, who might be replaced by others at any time within the year for which they were chosen. A Congress consisting of two Houses makes the first fundamental difference between the new Constitution and the Articles of Confederation. In the Constitutional Convention the first resolution adopted declared for a Congress of two Houses.
Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year 6
6 As already noted, the Congressmen under the former government were chosen for one year and were changeable in the meantime at the pleasure of the State.