But to declare independence, to fight and win the war against British Imperialism, and to build a new nation, required union and the result was a Confederation, a “firm league of friendship” under the name of the United States. The declared purpose of the Confederation was to provide for the common defence of the States the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare. The war against the British ended and the Treaty of 1783 acknowledged the independence, freedom and sovereignty of the thirteen Colonies. But the Confederation became a league of disgruntled independents, which revealed the powerlessness of the Congress created under the Articles of Confederation. It lacked the authority to weld the States into a unity, to mitigate their commercial rivalries, to establish a sound currency, to remove the causes of domestic disorders, and to foster American interests abroad. Washington, Hamilton, Madison and many others, who had laboured to bring together the States in bonds of union, were convinced that the government of the Confederation must either be revised or superseded entirely by a new system. Washington wrote, “I do not conceive that we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole nation in as energetic a manner as the authority of the State Governments extends over the several States.
” They all experienced the feeling that all America should be one, a feeling which cements the bonds of oneness, giving birth to a nation. “We are now a new nation,” said Rush, “the more a man aims at serving America, the more be serves his colony. We have been too free with the word independence; we are dependent on each other, not totally independent States when I entered that door I considered myself a citizen of America.” Here are the germs of a union which now carries the nomenclature of a federal government. The delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, who were sent by the States for the purpose of preparing a revision of the Articles of Confederation, went beyond their instructions and drafted a new constitution without knowing that they were devising an entirely novel and ingenious scheme of government, and that it would become a distinctive and influential contribution of America to the art of government. And here is the illustrious example of right leadership at the right moment. The Founding Fathers sought to remove the two principal defects of the Articles of the Confederation: (1) to remove the predominance of the parts over the whole and to reconcile two different powers, the power of the States and the power of the central government; and (2) to remove the dependence of the government at the centre upon the governments of the States that acted as intermediaries between it and the individual.
They adopted the principle that the functions and powers of the national government being new, general and inclusive, had to be carefully defined and stated, while all other functions and powers were to belong to the States. To make the powers of the central government real, they accepted the fact that it be empowered, among other things, to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, to make peace, and to levy taxes. The central government was endowed with a Congress, to make laws on subjects assigned to its jurisdiction; an executive with adequate means of enforcement; and a judiciary with authority to preserve equilibrium between the whole and parts and to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution. Above all, the national government was to derive its support and mandate from the people as voters and to carry its services directly to them as individuals.