THE CURTAIN RISES
"Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise it will last; but in this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes."--FRANKLIN.
ANY study of the growth of bureaucracy in our federal system should begin with a brief narration of the simple beginnings of the Republic, and the great basic ideals of American government, of which the Constitution was but one expression.
Nothing was more unpromising than the beginning of the Republic. After a painful travail of four months, a Constitutional Convention had submitted to the American people for their approval a Constitution for the new government. The undoubted fact that none of the Framers was wholly satisfied with the result of their labors, and that it was with extreme reluctance that many of them recommended the Constitution to the people by their signatures, was not encouraging.
Still less encouraging was the unwillingness of the American people to accept the Constitution, for it was only after a bitter struggle of more than a year in the several Colonies, and in some of them by methods that were ruthless, that at last the requisite ratification of nine states was secured. Little support could be expected from the impotent existing government, for it had long since perished in everything but in name. The conditions in the Colonies were those of social anarchy. Credit was gone, and lawlessness was rampant.
Only one star shone in that dark night of disaster, and that was the shining light of Washington's influence, in whom alone the American people had any united confidence. To him they turned in their hour of despair, even as his little army rallied to his standard when he galloped down the Freehold road in the Battle of Monmouth. Even the great soul of Washingtondespaired that there could be any successful outcome to a seemingly impossible situation.