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4. IN THE CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATION.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 1785.
Congress took into consideration the report of a committee, consisting of Mr. Monroe, Mr. Spaight, Mr. Houstoun, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. King, on a motion of Mr. Monroe, for vesting the United States in Con. gress assembled with the power of regulating trade; and, the same being read,
Ordered, That it be referred to a committee of the whole.
The P.esident resumed the chair; and Mr. Holten reported that the committee of the whole have had under consideration the subject re. ferred to them, but, not having come to a conclusion, desire leave to sit again to-morrow.
Resolved, That leave be granted. [The following is the report referred to. It was afterwards farther considered; but Congress did not come to any final determination with respect to the consti. tutional alteration which it proposed. It was deemed most advisable, at the time, that any proposition for perfecting the act of confederation should originale with the State legislatures.]
The committee, consisting of Mr. Monroe, Mr. Spaight, Mr. Houstoun, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. King, to whom was referred the motion of Mr. Monroe, submit the following report :
That the first paragraph of the ninth of the Articles of Confederation be altered, so as to read thus, viz:
“ The United States in Congress assembled shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth article—of sending and receiving em. bassadors-entering into treaties and alliances—of regulating the trade of the States, as well with foreign nations as with each other, and of laying such impost and duties upon imports and exports as may be ne. cessary for the purpose; provided, that the citizens of the States shall in no case be subjected to pay higher imposts and duties than those im. posed on the subjects of foreign powers ; provided, also, that the legis. lative power of the several States shall not be restrained from prohibiting the importation or exportatiðn of any species of goods or commoditics whatsoever; provided, also, that all such duties as may be imposed shall be collected under the authority, and accrue to the use, of the State in which the same shall be payable; and provided, lastly, that every act of Congress for the above purpose shall have the assent of
nine States in Congress assembled—of establishing rules for deciding in all cases what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated-of granting letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace—appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures; providea that no member of Congress shall be appointed judge of any of the said courts."
That the following letter be addressed to the legislature of the several States, showing the principles on which the above alteration is proposed :
The United States having formed treaties of commerce with the most Christian king the King of Sweden, and the states-general of the United Netherlands; and having appointed ministers with full authority to enter into treaties with other powers, upon such principles of reciprocity as may promote their peace, harmony, and respective interests,-it be. comes necessary that such internal arrangements should be made as may strictly comport with the faith of those treaties, and insure success to their future negotiatioñs. But, in the pursuit of the means necessary for the attainment of these ends, considerable difficulties arise. If tne legislature of each State adopts its own measures, many and very eminent disadvantages must, in their opinion, necessarily result therefrom. They apprehend it will be difficult for thirteen different legislatures, acting separately and distinctly, to agree in the same interpretation of a treaty, to take the same ineasures for carrying it into effect, and to con. duct their several operations upon such principles as to satisfy those powers, and at the same time preserve the harmony and interests of the Union, or to concur in those measures which may be necessary to coun. teract the policy of those powers with whom they shall not be able to form commercial treaties, and who avoid it merely from an opinion of their imbecility and indecision. And if the several States levy different duties upon their particular produce exported to the ports of those powers, or upon the produce and manufactures of those powers imported into each State, either in vessels navigated by and belonging to the citizens of these States or the subjects of those powers, it will, they appre. hend, induce on their part similar discriminations in the duties upon the commercial intercourse with each State, and thereby defeat the object of those treaties, and promote the designs of those who wish to profit from their embarrassment. Unless the United States in Congress as. sembled are authorized to make those arrangements which become ne
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cessary under their treaties, and are enabled to carry them into effect, they cannot complain of a violation of them on the part of other powers. And unless they act in concert in the system of policy which may be necessary to frustrate the designs of those powers who lay injurious restraints on their trade, they must necessarily become the victims of their own indiscretion.
The common principle upon which a friendly commercial intercourse is conducted between independent nations, is that of reciprocal advantages; and if this is not obtained, it becomes the duty of the losing party to make such farther regulations, consistently with the faith of treaties, as will remedy the evil, and secure its interests. If, then, the commercial regulations of any foreign power contravene the interests of any particu. lar State if they refuse admittance to its produce into its ports upon the same terms that the State admits its manufactures here,-what course will it take to remedy the evil? If it makes similar regulations to counteract those of that power, by reciprocating the disadvantages which it feels, by impost or otherwise, will it produce the desired effect? What operation will it have upon the neighboring States ? Will they enter into similar regulations, and make it a common cause ? On the contrary, will they not, in pursuit of the same local policy, avail themselves of this circumstance to turn it to their particular advantage ? Thus, then, we behold the several States taking separate measures in pursuit of their particular interests in opposition to the regulations of foreign powers, and separately aiding those powers to defeat the regulations of each other; for, unless the States act together, there is no plan of policy into which they can separately enter, which they will not be separately interested to defeat, and of course all their measures must prove vain and abortive.
The policy of each nation, in its commercial intercourse with other powers, is to obtain, if possible, the principal share of the carriage of the materials of either party; and this can only be effected by laying higher duties upon imports and exports in foreign vessels, navigated by the subjects of foreign powers, than in those which belong to and are navigated by those of its own dominions. This principle prevails, in a greater or less degree, in the regulations of the oldest and wisest com. mercial nations, with respect to each other, and will, of course, be extended to these States. Unless, therefore, they possess a reciprocal power, its operation must produce the most mischievous effects. Unable to counteract the restrictions of those powers by similar restrictions here, or to support the interests of their citizens by discriminations in their favor, their system will prevail. Possessing no advantages in the
ports of his own country, and subjected to much higher duties and re. strictions in those of other powers, it will necessarily become the interest of the American merchant to ship his produce in foreign bottoms : of course their prospects of national consequence must decline, their mer. chants become only the agents and retailers of those foreign powers, their extensive forests be hewn down and laid waste to add to their strength and national resources, and the American flag be rarely seen upon the face of the seas.
But if they act as a nation, the prospect is more favorable to them. The particular interests of every State will then be brought forward, and receive a federal support. Happily for them, no measures can be taken to promote the interests of either which will not equally promote that of the whole. If their commerce is laid under injurious restrictions in foreign ports, by going hand in hand in confidence together, by wise and equitable regulations, they will the more easily sustain the inconvenience or remedy the evil. If they wish to cement the Union by the strongest ties of interest and affection; if they wish to promote its strength and grandeur, founded upon that of each individual State,every consideration of local as well as of federal policy urge them to adopt the following recommendation.*
The situation of the commercial affairs of the Union requires that the several legislatures should come to the earliest decision on the subject, which they now submit to their consideration. They have weighed it with that profound attention which is due to so important an object, and are fully convinced of its expedience. A further delay must be produce tive of inconvenience. The interests which will vest in every part of the Union must soon take root and have their influence. The produce raised upon the banks of those great rivers and lakes which have their sources high up in the interior parts of the continent will empty itself into the Atlantic in different directions; and, of course, as the States rearing to the westward attain maturity, and get admission into the Confederation, will their government become more complicated. Whether this will be a source of strength and wealth to the Union, must, therefore, in a great degree, depend upon the measures which may be now adopted.
A temporary power would not, in their opinion, enable the United States to establish the interests, nor attain the salutary object, which they propose : the expectation that it will revert to the States, and re. main with them for the future, would lessen its weight with foreign
*Alluding to the alteration proposed. See p. 142.
powers; and, while the interests of each State and of the Federal Gov. ernment continue to be the same, the same evils will always require the same correction, and of course the necessary powers should always be lodged in the same hands. They have therefore thought proper to propose an efficient and perpetual remedy.
[The subject was afterwards brought forward in the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, by Mr. Madison, whose proposed resolution and the proceedings thereon follow these proceedings in Congress.}
5. IN THE CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATION.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1786. Congress assembled. Present: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina.
The committee, consisting of Mr. King, Mr. Pinckney, Mr. Kean, Mr. Monroe, and Mr. Pettit, to whom were referred several reports and documents concerning the system of general revenue, recommended by Congress on the 18th of April, 1783, report :
“ That, in pursuance of the above reference, they have carefully ex. amined the acts of the several States, relative to the general system of revenue recommended by Congress on the 18th of April, 1783, and find that the States of Delaware and North Caroliną have passed acts in full conformity with the several parts thereof; the former of which States has inserted a proviso in their act, restraining the operation thereof until each of the other States shall have made a like and equally extensive grant; that the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina, have each passed acts com. plying with that part of the system which recommends a general im. post, but have come to no decision on the other part, which proposes the establishment of funds, supplementary to and in aid of the general im post; that the State of Pennsylvania has passed an act complying with the recommendation of the general impost, and in the same act has de. clared that their proportion or quota of the supplementary funds shall be raised and levied on the persons and estates of the inhabitants of that State, in such manner as the legislature thereof shall from time to time direct; with this proviso, that if any of the annual proportion of the supplementary funds shall be otherwise raised and paid to the United States, then such annual levy or tax shall be discontinued. The com. mittee conceive that this clause is rather an engagement that Pennsyl. vania will provide adequate supplenientary funds, than an actual esta.