I PRESENT to the citizens of the United States an account of the proceedings which established the political institutions, from which have originated, and by which are maintained, their freedom and their prosperity. I purpose to show how, by a movement at first almost imperceptible, but increasing in the progress of time, until it assumed the attitude of independence, the Colonies of America became a Confederation, and finally a republic of States. I intend to exhibit the results of the deliberations of every convention or congress of the colonies and States, from that which assembled at Boston within the first half century of their settlement, to that which, in 1787, finally established the basis of our government. My object is not so much to give a detailed history of each particular step of our national progress, as to familiarize the people with the original principles of the government under which they now live. I endeavor to do this by offering to the public such a statement of the origin of our Constitution, and of the confederations, conventions, judicial decisions, and other papers which relate to its adoption and practical operation, as will convey a clear idea of the elements of which our national polity is composed. And it.need not be said, that the more widely and accurately the essential principles and the proper functions of the political institutions of a State become known to its members, the more enlightened will be the legislation emanating from those who make their laws, and the more just will be the administration of their laws, and consequently the more will their general welfare and prosperity be promoted.

In the hope that this volume will, in some degree, assist in the attainment of such results, and that its operation upon the minds of those who peruse it, may be productive of some benefit to the interests of our country, I venture to submit this work to the American people.


WASHINGTON, D. C., Dec. 1, 1860.

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4. REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS who met at Annapolis,

Sept. 11, 1786, recommending that all the States should

appoint delegates to a general Convention, authorized to

devise provisions adequate to the exigencies of the Union 341

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