Page:American Historical Review, Volume 12.djvu/551

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Sovereignty in the American Revolution

nations, the states gave other proofs that they allowed Congress to exercise no function which they did not themselves have greater right to exercise. True, Congress organized a Continental navy, but nine of the thirteen states also fitted out navies of their own[1] and they were able to tax their citizens for supporting the establishment, while Congress could only beg the states to support its navy. Nor were the state fleets very helpful to the Continental fleet, for as Mr. Paullin says[2], "The commander of a state vessel or the master of a privateer, for aught either could see, subtended as large an angle in maritime affairs, as an officer of Congress, which body was to them nebulous, uncertain, and irresolute." As to privateering some of the states established state privateering, while some adopted the Continental system or adapted state laws to it.[3]

In the organizing of armies the story is the same. Congress could only urge the patriotic to volunteer and then bemoan its unfilled ranks. It must turn to the states for a support which was never more than half-heartedly given and see with chagrin the state armies filled by drafts and by tempting bounties outbidding what Congress could offer and in defiance of the urgent appeals of Congress to stop this ruinous rivalry.[4] The sufferings of the Continental troops at Valley Forge were not due to the poverty of America, but to the fact that the states would not exert themselves in taxing for the army's support.[5] Not only were armies organized by states, but they were used for state ends, and Virginia in the case of the expedition of George Rogers Clark actually carried on war without the knowledge of Congress, at her own expense, and for her own aggrandizement.[6] Much of the early war in the South was carried on without the aid or advice of Congress.

If Indian affairs were regulated by Congress, so were they by the states. Congress established post-routes, but so did little Rhode Island;[7] and finally we must remember that whatever acts of sovereign nature Congress recommended, it was the states that enforced these acts—laying an embargo, sanctioning the seizure of provisions for the army, collecting and pledging the only revenues, raising the

  1. Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, 152. Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts.
  2. Ibid., 153.
  3. Ibid., 321.
  4. Journals of Congress, VI. 944–946. Hening, Statutes, X. 17, 18.
  5. Yet Congress was constantly urging, in vain and without power to compel this most necessary obedience. Journals, III. 458; IV, 339; and many other instances in the journals. See index, under Bounties, etc.
  6. Hening, Statutes, IX. 552.
  7. Colonial Records of Rhode Island, VII. 352.