Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/146

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142
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE CONFLICT OF ADMINISTRATIONS
By President FRANK L. McVEY

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA

IN a letter to the governors of the states, at the close of the revolutionary war, Washington fervently prayed for four things, which he humbly conceived as not only essential, but actually vital, to the existence of the United States as an independent power. These four things were: an indissoluble union of the states under one federal head; a sacred regard for public justice; the adoption of a proper peace establishment; and the prevalence of a civic and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interests of the community.

None of the revolutionary fathers could see difficulties other than those of a sea-coast commerce policed by many petty sovereigns. The problem of cooperation between the federal authority and the states would, in their opinion, arise only when brought to the surface by a state jealous of its prerogatives, never through the action of the federal authority. A hundred and twenty-five years have passed, and not only has the unexpected happened, but persons and corporations engaged in commerce seek the extension of federal power at the expense of state authority, if need be, in order that commerce may go on unhampered and free from restrictions of a territorial character.

Men rang the bells in steeples and gave utterance to their jubilation in loud hurrahs when King George's fleet left New York harbor. They had forgotten that a nation did not exist; that effective cooperation had ceased when Washington disbanded his army in 1783; that the union which was then dissolved existed only as a tradition, while the states were thirteen independent sovereigns, jealous of each other and open to the abuses of foreign intrigue. Thus at the beginning of the twentieth century in America has arisen a new type of problem in the conflict of administrations, solvable only by a process of cooperation.

Writing to Duane, Hamilton declared "the fundamental defect is a want of power in congress. Three causes contribute to this misfortune. In the people a jealous excess of the spirit of liberty, in congress a diffidence of their own authority, and a want of sufficient means at their disposal." "The clear duty of congress," declared Hamilton, "was to usurp powers in order to preserve the republic, but its courage stopped