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By Robert V. Remini

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It obviously meant to imply that the legislature would attend to the needs of the executive and judiciary. What it did say about the other two branches was the manner in which the President would be elected (by a College of Electors chosen in each state) and the justices appointed. It awarded the chief executive veto and appointive powers, and the position of commander in chief of the armed forces. It also decreed the establishment of a Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress would from time to time establish.

The Congress also adopted a flag, on June 14, 1777, one consisting of thirteen red and white alternating stripes and thirteen white stars on a field of blue. As delegates from sovereign, independent states, the members were united in their determination to win freedom from the tyranny of Great Britain, but they had little enthusiasm for creating a controlling central government. Still, they needed some sort of central authority to attend to such matters as providing for military and financial needs in prosecuting the ongoing war.

On June 17 France and Britain clashed on the open sea and war was declared between them. That spring Count Charles d’Estaing, commanding twelve French warships and several regiments of troops, headed for America. Meanwhile, Howe took part of his army and headed south to capture Philadelphia, apparently with the approval of London. Washington hastened to thwart the British move but was outflanked at the battles of Brandywine Creek and Germantown. So while Howe spent the winter in the city enjoying a life of parties and dances, Washington took up a position at Valley Forge, twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia, where he and his men, numbering 12,000, endured a dreadful 44 a short history of the united states winter.

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