VIRGINIA STATESMEN LEAD TOWARD A BETTER UNION.
OF many causes promoting union, four above others exercised a steady and commanding influence. The new republic as one nation must have power to regulate its foreign commerce; to colonize its large domain; to provide an adequate revenue; and to establish justice in domestic trade by prohibiting the separate states from impairing the obligation of contracts. Each of these four causes was of vital importance; but the necessity for regulating commerce gave the immediate impulse to a more perfect constitution. Happily, the British order in council of the second of July 1783 restricted to British subjects and ships the carrying of American produce from American ports to any British West India island, and the carrying of the produce of those islands to any port in America. “This proclamation,” wrote John Adams to Secretary Livingston, “is issued in full confidence that the United States cannot agree to act as one nation. They will soon see the necessity of measures to counteract their enemies. If there is not sufficient authority to draw together the minds, affections, and forces of the states in their common foreign concerns, we shall be the sport of transatlantic politicians, who hate liberty and every country that enjoys it.”*
Letters of Adams and one of like tenor from Franklin having been fully considered, congrese, on the twenty-ninth of September 1783, agreed that the United States could become respectable only by more energy in government; but, as usual,
* Diplomatic Correspondence, vii., 81, 100.