Restricted The meaning of "Perpetual" in The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

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trice

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Just in case anyone wonders what the meaning of "perpetual" might be in US law, here is what the accepted meaning of the word would have been in 1777 when The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were written:
1559340044042.png


So at the time of the writing of The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the possible meanings of the word perpetual would be:
  1. Never ceasing; eternal with respect to futurity.
  2. Continual; uninterrupted; perennial.
The delegates who developed and wrote the Articles in 1777 were educated men and the document was based on an original draft submitted by Benjamin Franklin. When they said "and the Union shall be perpetual", they would mean "never ceasing" / "eternal" / "continual" / "uninterrupted" /"perennial".

The definition is from Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, the 1773 edition (his last). His first edition came out in 1755. The 1773 edition was regarded as the gold standard of English dictionaries until the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary (compiled from 1884 on and finally published in 12 volumes in 1928).

Also, in case anyone asks, I could not find an American dictionary published until 1806 when Noah Webster produced A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language and began work in 1807 on his An American Dictionary of the English Language which was finally published in 1828.
 
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WJC

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Could you show me where the word perpetual shows up in the US Constitution...? I couldn't find it.
You are correct. As the OP suggests, the word perpetual' is found in the Articles of Confederation. The concept was carried over when the government was modified by our Constitution in making "a more perfect Union".
 
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Viper21

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You are correct. As the OP suggests, the word perpetual' is found in the Articles of Confederation. The concept was carried over when the government was modified by our Constitution in making "a more perfect Union".
You left out, in your opinion.

Seems to me, a LOT of thought went into the US Constitution. Words matter. The words chosen were carefully considered.

Personally, I find it interesting they intentionally left out the word, perpetual. Plenty of other folks felt the same way, as this was not decided practically, until spring 1865, & legally until 1869. This assumes Texas v. White as the "authority" on the legality.

Either way, most folks realize our Union is perpetual today. That wasn't necessarily the case in 1860.
 
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WJC

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Either way, most folks realize our Union is perpetual today. That wasn't necessarily the case in 1860.
Thanks for your response.
Obviously. There would have been no conflict over secession. We'd have to find something else to occupy our time.
 

trice

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Could you show me where the word perpetual shows up in the US Constitution...? I couldn't find it. Seems it was the law of the land in 1860.
The Union that is the United States was formed by The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. That Perpetual Union is still with us. The Constitution says it is being adopted in order "in Order to form a more perfect Union", but it is known and acknowledged to be that same Union and always has been. The understanding of the meaning in 1777 (when the document was written) is what I have quoted here.
 

trice

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You left out, in your opinion.

Seems to me, a LOT of thought went into the US Constitution. Words matter. The words chosen were carefully considered.

Personally, I find it interesting they intentionally left out the word, perpetual. Plenty of other folks felt the same way, as this was not decided practically, until spring 1865, & legally until 1869. This assumes Texas v. White as the "authority" on the legality.

Either way, most folks realize our Union is perpetual today. That wasn't necessarily the case in 1860.
The point of the thread is to look at what the Founding Fathers thought "perpetual" meant when they wrote and ratified The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The clear and common usage of the term in 1777-1781 was "never ceasing" / "eternal" / "continual" / "uninterrupted" /"perennial".
 
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trice

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Leaving out the word 'perpetual' made the Constitution more perfect. That is why the 10th Amendment was installed, to make a more perfect Union with the states.
The point of the thread is to look at what the Founding Fathers thought "perpetual" meant when they wrote and ratified The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The clear and common usage of the term in 1777-1781 was "never ceasing" / "eternal" / "continual" / "uninterrupted" /"perennial".
 

Viper21

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The Union that is the United States was formed by The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. That Perpetual Union is still with us. The Constitution says it is being adopted in order "in Order to form a more perfect Union", but it is known and acknowledged to be that same Union and always has been. The understanding of the meaning in 1777 (when the document was written) is what I have quoted here.
The US Constitution supersedes the Articles of Confederation. The Articles haven't been in force since the Constitution took effect in 1789.
 

O' Be Joyful

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The US Constitution supersedes the Articles of Confederation. The Articles haven't been in force since the Constitution took effect in 1789.

My understanding is, that it superseded the Articles as a Force of law, i.e., as in "The Law of 'The Land', not all of its meaning and definitions were lost, as Tim is casually alluding too.

All, at the time agreed, by vote thru their separate state conventions. After such agreement it would take a constitutional convention by All states to negate that Vote.

obi
 
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Viper21

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My understanding is, that it superseded the Articles as a Force of law, i.e., as in "The Law of 'The Land', not all of its meaning and definitions were lost, as Tim is casually alluding too.

All, at the time agreed, by vote thru their separate state conventions. After such agreement it would take a constitutional convention by All states to negate that Vote.

obi
The US Constitution is, as you say, The Law of The Land. Not the Articles of Confederation. It doesn't matter what it's meaning, or definitions were, or what they intended. They were over ridden when the Constitution was ratified, & took effect. To form a more perfect Union....... instead of the previous perpetual Union.

The Constitution put in force, an entirely different government.
 

trice

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The US Constitution is, as you say, The Law of The Land. Not the Articles of Confederation. It doesn't matter what it's meaning, or definitions were, or what they intended. They were over ridden when the Constitution was ratified, & took effect. To form a more perfect Union....... instead of the previous perpetual Union.

The Constitution put in force, an entirely different government.
This seems far off topic. There are a lot of other threads where you can talk about the Constitution and what it inherited from the Articles (and yes, the Supreme Court does even in recent years sometimes deal with issues of the Articles). It also does not add anything to the understanding of the topic.
 
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WJC

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Some may find this opinion by a noted Southerner helpful:
The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it were intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for perpetual union, so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government (not a compact) which can only be dissolved by revolution, or by the consent of all the people in convention assembled.​
<J. William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee, Soldier and Man. (New York: Neale Publishing Company, 1906), pp. 120-121.>
 

huskerblitz

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Nothing...I mean nothing...is ever perpetual.

And given the massive power grab by a national government over state governments and the long, tedious debates during the writing as well as the ratification of the Constitution, I'm not surprised at all they opted not to use the word. Had they, I'm not entirely sure the Constitution would have made it out of Philadelphia.
 

Old_Glory

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You are correct. As the OP suggests, the word perpetual' is found in the Articles of Confederation. The concept was carried over when the government was modified by our Constitution in making "a more perfect Union".
You are using Chief Justice Chase's statement as proof, it is not proof. It was not carried over. That is completely made up and guesswork. Show me where it was brought over word for word. If it was brought over, then why were the words not used. Utter nonsense.
 
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Norm53

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Just in case anyone wonders what the meaning of "perpetual" might be in US law, here is what the accepted meaning of the word would have been in 1777 when The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were written:
View attachment 309970

So at the time of the writing of The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the possible meanings of the word perpetual would be:
  1. Never ceasing; eternal with respect to futurity.
  2. Continual; uninterrupted; perennial.
The delegates who developed and wrote the Articles in 1777 were educated men and the document was based on an original draft submitted by Benjamin Franklin. When they said "and the Union shall be perpetual", they would mean "never ceasing" / "eternal" / "continual" / "uninterrupted" /"perennial".

The definition is from Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, the 1773 edition (his last). His first edition came out in 1755. The 1773 edition was regarded as the gold standard of English dictionaries until the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary (compiled from 1884 on and finally published in 12 volumes in 1928).

Also, in case anyone asks, I could not find an American dictionary published until 1806 when Noah Webster produced A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language and began work in 1807 on his An American Dictionary of the English Language which was finally published in 1828.
There nothing here to debate.

A debate begins with an unambiguous declarative sentence, called a statement, which is either true or false. The debate is the presentation of facts and reasons to convince a judge (often an audience), that the statement is true (or false). (Sentences formed as questions, commands, exclamations, etc., are not debatable.)

Meanings are not statements; they are definitions of words. One cannot debate a definition; it is the choice of the person(s) who use them in statements, in this case, the signers of the Articles. The statement wherein the words "perpetual Union" appear is the following: "And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union."

The thread title is a disguised question: What is the meaning of the words "perpetual Union" in the Articles? (Remember, a question is not debatable.) The OP already answered the question by giving us 5 choices, all ambiguous: perpetual Union = never ceasing, etc. All the posters can do is vote on them.

PS. The Constitution is irrelevant here. The OP has restricted the "debate" to the Articles.
 
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