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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2669

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

[Sidenote: The government established.]

The end of Washington's first administration in March, 1793, saw the government completely organized, and accepted throughout the Union. The distinction between friends and opponents of the Constitution had entirely disappeared. There was no longer any suggestion of substantial amendment. Two Congresses had gone through their work, and had accustomed the people to a national legislature. The President had made appointments, sent ambassadors, commanded the army, and vetoed bills, and yet there was no fear of a monarchy. The national courts were in regular and undisturbed session. The Union was complete, and two new States, Vermont and Kentucky, had been admitted.

This remarkable success was due in considerable part to the personal influence of a few men. Washington's great popularity and his disinterested use of his new powers had taken away a multitude of fears. The skill of Hamilton had built up a successful financial system. In Congress Madison had been efficient in working out the details of legislation. Washington, with his remarkable judgment of men, had selected an able staff of officials, representing all the sections of the country.

[Sidenote: Prosperity]

Yet, as Washington himself had said, "Influence is not government." One of the chief elements of the

Union's strength was that it pressed lightly upon the people. For the first time in the history of America there was an efficient system of import duties. They were almost the sole form of taxation, and, like all indirect taxes, their burden was not felt. Above all, the commercial benefits of the new Union were seen from North to South. Trade between the States was absolutely unhampered, and a brisk interchange of products went on. The country was prosperous; its shipping increased, and foreign trade was also growing steadily.

[Sidenote: Relations with the States.]

So far the Union had met no violent resistance either from insurgents or from the States. In the Virginia convention of 1788 Patrick Henry had said: "I never will give up that darling word 'requisitions;' my country may give it up, the majority may wrest it from me, but I never will give it up till my grave." Nevertheless, when the requisitions on the States were given up, the chief cause of dispute in the Union was removed. Up to this time the only distinctly sectional legislation had been the assumption of the State debts and the fixing of the national capital; and these two had been set off against each other. If peace continued, there was every prospect of a healthy growth of national spirit.



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