Page:Nature and Character of our Federal Government.djvu/41
OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
be known from their acts, inconsistent with the perfect sovereignty and independence of the States. These were always admitted in terms, and were never denied in practice. So far as external relations were concerned, congress seems to have exercised every power of a supreme government. They assumed the right to "declare war and to make peace; to authorize captures; to institute appellate prize courts; to direct and control all national, military and naval operations; to form alliances and make treaties; to contract debts and issue bills of credit on national account." These powers were not "exclusive," however, as our author supposes. On the contrary, troops were raised, vessels of war were commissioned, and various military operations were conducted by the colonies, on their own separate means and authority. Ticonderoga was taken by the troops of Connecticut before the declaration of independence; Massachusetts and Connecticut fitted out armed vessels to cruise against those of England, in October, 1775; South Carolina soon followed their example. In 1776, New Hampshire authorized her executive to issue letters of marque and reprisal.
These instances are selected out of many, as sufficient to show that in the conduct of war congress possessed no "exclusive" power, and that the colonies (or States) retained, and actually asserted, their own sovereign right and power as to that matter. And not as to that matter alone, for New Hampshire established post offices. The words of our author may, indeed, import that the power of congress over the [ *32 ] *subject of war was "exclusive" only as to such military and naval operations as he considers national, that is, such as were undertaken by the joint power of all the colonies; and, if so, he is correct. But the comma after the word "national" suggests a different interpretation. At all events, the facts which I have mentioned prove that congress exercised no power which was considered as abridging the absolute sovereignty and independence of the States.
Many of those powers which, for greater convenience, were entrusted exclusively to congress, could not be effectually exerted except by the aid of the State authorities. The troops required by congress were raised by the States, and the commissions of their officers were countersigned by the governors of