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At the end of Hayes's term, Arthur supported a proposal to re-nominate General Grant for a third term, which, however, was not carried out; but Arthur himself was elected Vice-President of the Republic. We have already seen 'how he came to be President. At two o'clock on the morning of September 20, he took the oath of office, in his own house at New York, before a judge of the State Supreme Court; but two days later he repeated more formally and publicly the ceremony by which he entered upon the important position which he now holds.
HE motto of the United States of America is e plu
ribus unum,-one out of many,-and the phrase
sums up their history. The War of Independence found them separate and unconnected colonies; it left them a united and firmly-welded whole, that has successfully resisted the rudest shocks, and that is to-day more indissolubly one than ever.
It must not, however, be forgotten that the different States in the union have not surrendered their individuality or their separate existence. Each has a government of its own, equipped with legislative, executive, and judicial departments; each wields an extensive and at the same time intimate rule over its own citizens; each has its own peculiar laws and special enactments. Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and the rest, are not subdivisions of the same great State; they are themselves States, distinct though united. But for the common weal, and for matters whichi affect the whole of the States, a central or national government has been formed, and to it the States have imparted some of
It is this national government, which, though wielding a delegated authority, is supreme within its own limits, that represents in all foreign relations, and in the eyes of the world, the dignity and power of the American Republic. The Constitution according to which this central government is carried on is the Constitution of the United States; not any, or all, of the special constitutions which regulate the private affairs of the individual States. It is not a partnership from which any of the partners may withdraw when he pleases; by the result of the civil war of 1861-65 it was shown to be an utterly indissoluble bond, permitting no secession, and not even admitting the possibility of secession.
The Constitution of the United States differs from our own in being a written document; but it breathes the same spirit of enlightened freedom. It consists of seven original articles, dated September 17, 1787; and fifteen additional and amending articles, of which the last three, springing from the result of the civil war, are framed so as to abolish and prevent slavery.
Thirteen colonies took up arms in 1775 to defend their liberties against the encroachments of Britain. These were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Delegates from each met at Philadelphia to take measures for the common safety; and these, forming themselves into the Continental Congress, issued the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, and in November 1777 passed Articles of Confederation, which were ratified by all the States. These Articles continued for several years to be the charter of the powers of the Congress; they enabled that body to pass laws,
but they gave it no power to enforce them. The inconvenience and futility of this arrangement, however, compelled a change. A revision of the Articles was undertaken, but a much more thorough course was found necessary. An entirely new Constitution was drawn up, ratified by eleven States in 1787, and by the remaining pair within two years. This was the document we have described above.
The Constitution deals with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the administration. The legislative power, so far as delegated by the States to the central government, it vests in a Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The former is much the larger assembly, and represents the people; the latter represents the States directly.
Bills may be introduced in either House, except those for raising revenue, which must originate in the House of Representatives, just as money bills must originate in the House of Commons in Britain. After passing both Houses of Congress, a bill requires the signature of the President before it becomes law. But if the President object to the bill, he may send it back to Congress; and unless it is there carried again by a majority of two-thirds in each House, it drops by force of this the President's veto. In the case of securing a two-thirds majority, the bill becomes law over the President's veto. If the President do not send back the bill to Congress within ten days, it becomes law whether he sign it or not. This power of overriding a veto places the ultimate power in the hands of Congress, for it enables it to dictate to the President; while its power of increasing at pleasure the number of judges gives it an effectual mode, and one that has been used already, of controlling the judicial department.
The powers of Congress are expressly narrated in the first article of the Constitution. It is empowered to levy taxes, to borrow money, to coin money, and to regulate commerce with foreign nations and between the States. It is entrusted with the common defence and general welfare of the United States. It may establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform bankruptcy laws throughout all the States. It has to attend to the post office, and to secure patents and copyrights. It may constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court; and punishes crimes on the high seas, and all offences against the law of nations. It declares war, grants letters of marque, and makes rules concerning captures on land and water. To it is committed the care of regulating and supporting the army, navy, and militia ; but no appropriation of money for the support of an army can be for a longer term than two years. It exercises also exclusive jurisdiction over a district, ten miles square, which is the seat of government; and over all places occupied by national works, such as arsenals, dockyards, etc. And, finally, it is empowered to make such laws as are necessary to enforce the foregoing powers. The limitation of grants for the army to a period of two years is, like our own custom of passing the Mutiny Act year by year, a device to prevent an army being maintained and used for treasonable or illegal purposes by the executive. The Constitution also expressly forbids Congress to do certain things, as, for example, to grant any titles of nobility; and the separate States are also prohibited from doing anything on their own account which would infringe on the domain of the central government. They are thus not allowed to coin money, or make treaties, or engage in war except in such urgent danger as will brook no delay.