STATE LAWS IMPAIRING THE OBLIGATION OF CONTRACTS PROVE
THE NEED OF AN OVERRULING UNION.
BEFORE MAY 1787.
A BRILLIANT artist has painted Fortune as a beautiful woman enthroned on a globe, which for the moment is at rest, but is ready to roll at the slightest touch. A country whose people are marked by inventive genius, industry, and skill, whose immense domain is exuberantly fertile, whose abounding products the rest of the world cannot dispense with, may hold her fast, and seat her immovably on a pedestal of four square sides.
The thirteen American states had a larger experience of the baleful consequences of paper money than all the world besides. As each of them had a legislation of its own, the laws were as variant as they were inconvenient and unjust. The shilling had differing rates from its sterling value to an eighth of a dollar. The confusion in computing the worth of the currency of one state in that of another was hopelessly increased by the laws, which discriminated between different kinds of paper issued by the same state; so that a volume could hardly hold the tables of the reciprocal rates of exchange. Moreover, any man loaning money or making a contract in his own state or in another, was liable at any time to loss by some fitful act of separate legislation. The necessity of providing effectually for the security of private rights and the steady dispensation of justice, more, perhaps, than anything else, brought about the new constitution.*
* Gilpin, 804; Elliot, 162.