Frank E. Robson


The Congress shall have power * * * to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." "* * * to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof." Only one possessed of prophetic vision would dare to state the extent of the power contained in these clauses of the constitution, to say nothing of the subjects or persons to which it may be applied. There can be little doubt that the framers of the constitution had not the remotest conception of the enormous growth and expansion of commerce among the states witnessed at the present day. The railroad, the telegraph and the telephone, those potent agencies in the development of commerce were not only unknown, but were beyond the wildest dreams of the greatest enthusiast. Corporations were practically unknown except for a few banks, municipalities and charitable or ecclesiastical bodies. A corporation with millions of capital operating railroads in one state, mines in another, ore docks in another, and blast furnaces in another, having a fleet of vessels traversing thousands of miles on inland seas and selling its products over the entire world, was unthought of and in the then state of the law, inconceivable. These men were cognizant, however, of the petty jealousies, enmities and conflicts existing between the several colonies, and realized undoubtedly to the fullest, the necessity for a strong union; the necessity of restraining these jealousies and enmities, as being weak points at which a foreign enemy might enter. It is curious to note that in the discussions contained in "The Federalist," the effects of the unrestrained rivalry of the colonies and the competitions of commerce are discussed not so much with reference to the relation between the citizens of the several colonies as traders, as from the standpoint of its being a cause of friction, of war, as an element of weakness of which a foreign power might in many ways take advantage.