That these powers were implied is proven by the exercise of them by the government established. Virginia ratified the treaty with France, and her diplomatic activity was so great that she established by law a clerkship of foreign correspondence. William Lee was sent to France by Governor Henry and was given power under the state seal to obtain arms or borrow money of "his most Christian Majesty." Franklin speaks of "three several states" negotiating with France for loans and naval and war supplies. He complains that they "seem to think it my duty . . . to support and enforce their particular demands." In fact the states seem to have regarded the minister sent by Congress to be their particular minister as well as that of other states. Embargoes were laid and ports thrown open to the world by the enactments of state legislatures, sometimes at the suggestion of Congress, but often not. Patrick Henry, who had talked of all America being "thrown into one mass" and who was not a Virginian but an American—when he was seeking to increase the power of Virginia in the First Continental Congress, by securing proportional representation—this same eloquent Henry actively negotiated with Spain in 1778 for a loan and for the approval of Spain to the erection of a fort on Virginia's border, promising in return "the gratitude of this free and independent country, the trade in any or all of its valuable productions, and the friendship of its warlike inhabitants." The whole correspondence is in the tone of one not doubting the independence and sovereignty of his state.
Besides these assumptions of sovereignty in dealing with other
- Poore, Constitutions, II. 1625–1626.
- See ibid., Pennsylvania, II. 1545, sect. 20; North Carolina, II. 1412, XIX.; Maryland, I. 825, XXXIII.; Delaware, I. 274, 275; Massachusetts, I. 965.
- See Doniol, Histoire de la Participation de la France, IV. 155.
- Hening, Statutes, IX. 467. To be filled by a person learned in the modern languages.
- Calendar of Virginia State Papers, I. 328–329. Mazzei also was sent to Italy with a like commission. Hunt, Madison, 30.
- Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, III. 192, 153. Maryland and Virginia are especially mentioned.
- Ibid., 192. Later the English government was curious to know whether Congress or the states individually had the right to negotiate. Diplomatic Correspondence, 1783–1789, I. 574.
- State Records of Connecticut, I. 12, 63, 71. Hening, Statutes, IX. 530.
- Virginia, February 16, 1776. Journals of Congress, VI. 1072.
- Clark MSS., vol. 58, p. 103, library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.