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resolution congress directed to be communicated to foreign nations. 2 Journ. 117, 25.
In May they resolved, “that every kind of authority under the crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government under the authority of the people of these colonies should be exerted. That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the united colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigency of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such a government, as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.” 2 Journ. 158, 66.
On the 24th of June they declared, by their resolutions, “ that allegiance was due to the several colonies, that adherence to the king was treason against the colony within which the act was committed;" and recommended that laws should be passed for punishing treason, and counterfeiting the continental bills of credit. 2 Journ. 217, 18.
In June, the people of Virginia, in full convention, adopted a constitution; declaring that all power is vested in and derived from the people, who have an indefeasible right to institute, reform, alter, or abolish government; that none separate from, or independent of that of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof; and that the government, under the British crown, is totally dissolved. i Rev. Code Va. 1, 7. This constitution remained unaltered till 1830. Vide 1 Journ. Cong. 260.
On the 2d of July, 1776, the people of New Jersey, in convention, declared the authority of the crown to be at an end; the government dissolved in all the colonies; and adopted a constitution, to become void on a reconciliation with Great Britain, Patt. Laws. App. 5; Book of Con. 154, 5, which is yet unchanged. In June 19th, deputies from the cities and counties of Pennsylvania, approved the resolutions of congress passed in May; resolved that a convention be called to form a government on the authority of the people only; and declared, on the 24th, their willingness to concur in a vote of the congress, declaring the united colonies free and independent states: provided, the forming the government, and regulating the internal police of the colony, be always reserved to the people of the colony. Con. of Penn. 35, 39, 43. The convention assembled on the 15th of July the constitution was adopted in September, 1776, and continued in force till 1790.
As there never was any other political connection between the colonies, than such as resulted from their common origin, by separate charters from the crown, in virtue of the royal prerogative, and the general supremacy of parliament, which extended to all the dominions of Great Britain; it was a necessary consequence of the extinction of both the prerogative and legislative powers of the mother country, that there could remain no restraint on the legislation of the colonies, save what the people thereof should impose. No extraneous power could act, within their respective limits, without their
consent: from the moment that the authority of Great Britain ceased to operate, that of each colony became absolute and sovereign; and no government could exist thereout, which could prescribe laws within it. Such was the unanimous expression of the universal sense of the people, in primary assemblies, in conventions of counties and states, legislatures and congress, from 1774: four colonies had become states by the adoption of constitutions of government by the inherent power of the people; the formation of a fifth was in progress on the same principles, which were solemnly promulgated by the original declaration of the rights of the several colonies, and the people thereof. In June, 1776, there was not a colony in which any authority under Great Britain was exercised, except in warfare: and when congress resolved that allegiance was due to the several colonies; that treason was punishable in the colony wherein the act was committed; and that the regulation of trade was subject to the laws of the respective legislatures; it was tantamount to a declaration, that they were then independent, and had, in fact, “ assumed their equal station among the powers of the earth.” Congress had recommended that all the colonies should do so, by the establishment of a government on the authority of the people only; four states had exercised, a fifth had entered upon the exercise of this authority; and a convention of the people thereof was assembled, before the declaration of independence, by congress, was engrossed or signed by any member. Vide i Dall. Laws, App. 54.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION OF THE COLONIES AND STATES BEFORE
THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1776. From these proceedings, the political results were plain and selfevident; each colony, by the uncontrollable exercise of all the powers of self-government, had in fact become an independent state; five were so, by their declarations of independence in the most solemn manner. No sovereignty did, or could exist over them, unless that of Great Britain should be restored by a reconciliation; which not happening, their declaration of independence, in their separate conventions, became absolute; and these states were independent according to the universal opinion of the country, which is most clearly expressed in the language of this Court. 4 Cr. 212, M'Ilvaine v. Cox. “ This opinion is predicated upon a principle, which is believed to be undeniable, that the several states which composed this Union, so far at least as regarded their municipal regulations, became entitled, from the time when they declared themselves independent, to all the rights and powers of sovereign states, and that they did not derive them from concessions by the British king. The treaty of peace contains a recognition of their independence, not a grant of it. From hence it results, that the laws of the several state governments were the laws of sovereign states; and as such were obligatory upon the people of such states, from the time they were enacted. We do not mean to intimate an opinion, that even a law of a state, whose form of government had been organized prior to the 4th of July, 1776,
and which passed prior to that period, would not have been obligatory. The present case renders it unnecessary to be more precise in stating the principle, for although the constitution of New Jersey was formed previous to the general declaration of independence, the laws passed, on the subject now under consideration, were posterior to it.” (They were for the punishment of treason against the state.)
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. Such being the political condition of the colonies and states, it becomes a question of easy solution whether congress intended to make a solemn promulgation of these principles to the world, by declaring the great result of the revolution to have been, or to be, the establishment and continued existence of thirteen independent nations and states, with the powers of government separate and sovereign in each; or of one nation, one state, with one national government. Whether this great and crowning act of the revolution was intended to perpetuate, or prostrate, the rights and powers of the colonies, the states, and the people thereof, and to substitute one government, in place of thirteen then in existence. To absolve the people of those states not only from their allegiance to the British crown, but from that allegiance which congress, ten days before, had resolved the people owed to the several colonies; to abolish as well the royal, as the colonial and state governments, within the boundaries of the United States; to suppress alike the British constitution, and those state constitutions, which, two months before, they had recommended to be formed, by the authority of the people of the several colonies alone; to proclaim to foreign nations in April, that the power to impose duties, impositions, and regulations on trade, was in the respective legislatures of the colonies;
yet, in July, to declare to the world that the power “to establish commerce," &c. existed in one state, in one government, acting over all the states in their unity of political power, as the representatives of one people, of the one state. Taken in this sense, there must have been two American revolutions; one to suppress the government of Great Britain, the other to suppress the governments of the states, each of which was by the right of revolution; for there is no more pretence of any authority by the people of the states, or in the credentials of the members of congress,
who appointed by colonial or state legislatures, to abolish state governments, and constitute a national one, invested with supreme legislative powers over all the states, than there was by the king and parliament to abolish their supreme legislative, or prerogative powers, by any act of the several colonies or states, or when they were assembled in congress by their deputies. The states, by their several representatives, effected the first revolution in an assembly of the states; the congress effected the second, by imposing on the statespeople, a new sovereign-themselves. Taken in the other sense, the declaration of congress, on the 4th July, 1776, announced one great revolution; on the great principles solemnly declared in 1774, and reiterated in every political movement by the people, whenever
they expressed their opinion, in large or small popular assemblages, or through their representatives at home, or those deputed by their local legislatures, to consult, deliberate, and resolve in a congress. Congress could declare the existing political condition of the colonies and states, as their delegates or deputies: but as congress was not a convention of the people, nor had that body any pretence of power to alter the existing state of things; to assume to themselves any legislative power; or take away any from the states; we must therefore read their great and solemn act, as one done by a delegated, rather than by an usurped authority. Its very front is stamped with an impression of intention, which cannot be mistaken.
“ In Congress, July 4, 1776.” (Vide ante, 44.) 6. The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of Ame
It declares self-evident truths; the right and power of the people, to alter and abolish existing government, and to institute new government, on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness: it sets forth the grievances of the colonies, and concludes thus: “We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war and in peace
friends." “We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.
And for the support of this declaration,” &c. &c. Ăn unanimous declaration of the thirteen states must necessarily mean an union of action between separate states, in declaring their separate rights. It was a self-evident truth, that the "one people” of each state, could alter, abolish old, and institute new government at their pleasure: but on every principle of the revolution, it was as self-evident a falsehood, to declare, that “one people” could do so for another; or that the people of any number of states, could, in any way, control the power of any single state. It would be equally untrue, that congress held or could exercise the power of the people in relation to government, either separately or collectively; all their votes, acts, and resolutions, were by states; not per capite, as a body representing or legislating for one people. They professed to declare only what did exist; not to alter or abolish any present, or to institute any new government. They declared these united colonies to be independent states, not one state, as the “state of Great
Britain;" that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; but did not declare, that the people of the several states were absolved from their allegiance to their state, or held them bound to allegiance to the United States, as a state.
THIRTEEN COLONIES BECAME THIRTEEN STATES, EACH SOVEREIGN
WITHIN ITS TERRITORIAL BOUNDARY. It remained still a self-evident truth, that by the absolution of all allegiance to the crown, and the dissolution of all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain; the thirteen United colonies, became thirteen United States, in consequence thereof; and that as free and independent states they had the powers declared, as the necessary result of each colony having then, or previously, become freed of all restraint, by the removal of all incumbrance on their independence. This was the meaning of their separate declaration of independence, as declared by this Court, in Coxe v. M'Ilvaine, “that the several states from the time when they declared themselves independent,” were entitled to all the rights and powers of sovereign states. It would be strange, indeed, if, by their afterwards uniting with the other states, in their unanimous declaration in congress assembled, they had lost their separate independence, were again dependent, and ceased to hold those rights and powers. This Court has expressed their opinion to the contrary, in Harcourt v. Gaillard, 12 Wh. 526, 7. “ There was no territory within the United States that was claimed in any other right, than that of some one of the confederated states.' “Each declared itself sovereign and independent, according to the limits of their territory.” Georgia insisted on that line (the 31st degree of north latitude, as the limit which she was entitled to, and which she had laid claim to, when she declared herself independent; or which the United States had asserted in her behalf, in the declaration of independence. “The treaty of peace” has been viewed only as a recognition of pre-existing rights, and on that principle, the soil and sovereignty within their (the states of South Carolina and Georgia,) acknowledged limits, were as much theirs at the declaration of independence, as at this hour. So, in the Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wh. 651; this Court say: "by the revolution, the duties, as well as the powers of government, devolved on the people of New Hampshire. It is admitted, that among the latter, was comprehended the transcendent power of parliament, as well as that of the executive department.”'
If the authority of this Court is respected, the declaration of independence is to the judicial mind what it is to the common eye; a proclamation to the world, by the separate states assembled in congress by their respective deputies, voting for, and signing the instrument by states; a publication of their existing political condition, each as an independent state, the people of each,“ one people;" the state on an equal footing with the other powers of the earth, united in a common struggle against oppression. The voice of the people, whenever, and however expressed, and their action by their appro