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Commonwealth.

Massachusetts

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Resolves as the opinion of this Legislature, that it will not

only be just

& reasonable, but.

:highly expedient that the Government of the United States should assume & provide for the payment of

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Then defy which the agonal States contracted

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several жароно Because those debts were

the late war,

contracted for the same purpose, with the debts, for which the securities of the United States were are given, to w

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This

defence;

measure

harmony among

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wit,

broad basis for lasting good will and
: States, If the numerous individuals
equal regard
to the different

them; as it will shew an

descriptions of public creditors, who have made advances for the

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me general purpose, & are entitled to equal notice :____

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the conduct of the general government, then under that of
seperate States, without

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jealousies which must be unavoidable consequence of partial State regulations, will be prevented;

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And beside

ensue,

many

other

important consequences

which would.

this measure will tend most effectually to secure to the United States the due collection of all their revenues, to equalize the burthens of the several States, & to prevent the too operation of large

direct taxation.

frequent

And it is further Resolved, that his excellency the Governor

be requested

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as soon as

them notice, that

they are

may

to

to

be, to write to the Senators Representative this Commonwealth in the Congress of the United States giving are instructed by this legislature apply Congress to assume the public debt of this State & make provision payment of the same as part of the debt of the Union, and at the same time to commuricate to the Representatives of the people of this Commonwealth in Congress the sentiments of this Count on the foregoing subject.

the

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT'S INSTRUCTIONS TO THE STATE'S SENATORS

ON ASSUMPTION

From the Massachusetts Archives; Resolves of 1790, ch. 13

The Wayward Sisters

STATUS

WHEN the new government started its legal existence on March 4, 1789, North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified. Their legal status became anomalous. Were they foreign nations or were they still states of a Union, otherwise defunct, under the Articles of Confederation; were they enclaves or were they political mavericks? Would it be possible for the new government merely to ignore them, irritations but not infections, left to the healing operation of time; or should they be considered rebels to be coerced into obedience or absorbed by other states? Could they continue to exist apart from the rest of the original thirteen states? Rhode Island had been recalcitrant from the beginning of the movement for reform in the national government. She had negatived a continental impost, had declined to send delegates to the Convention of 1787, and later refused even to call a convention to consider the question of ratification. She was an outcast. The conditions in and toward North Carolina were much more favorable. Her convention had not refused to ratify, but had postponed the operation until she should see how the new Union, which would organize maugre her conduct, regarded the amendments she considered necessary. Moreover, reaction had set in almost immediately that made it fairly evident that, given time, and perhaps a bit of soothing or a bit of prodding, she would return to the fold. The soothing might take the form of desired but innocuous amendments; the prodding, enactments or threats involving economic pressure.

NORTH CAROLINA CAMPAIGN FOR ANOTHER CONVENTION AN ELECTION to the legislature followed within a month of the adjournment of the convention, and the calling of another convention was a main issue in the struggle. The Federalists pointed out the

STATUS OF NONRATIFYING STATES

469

need of correcting the mistake of the convention as early as possible. In a newsletter "Citizen of North Carolina" stated:

If we can derive pride from the consideration, our independence is increased. We are now not only independent of all other nations in the world, but entirely independent of the other states, except for our share of the debt hitherto incurred, which we now are utterly unable to pay. We may form alliances at our leisure with Great Britain, France, Spain, Turkey, the Dey of Algiers, or Rhode Island. . . . All the states ought certainly to start upon equal terms. But it is to be hoped they [the other states] would judge with liberality; and that if we early should agree by means of another convention, we might immediately be admitted on equal terms with the other states. We have reasons to fear, however, that the earliest step of this kind that could be taken, might be too late for us to have a share in the first formation of laws. What an opportunity we have lost! Should North Carolina have no votes in the first Congress, the first system of laws, which will be the most important of any for many years, may be formed much more injuriously for the southern states than otherwise might have been the case, and the supporters of amendments may be deprived of powerful assistance. Whether or not we can possibly be early enough for this no man can say. But let us go into the union as soon as we can.1 The hostile attitude of the southern Indians was also a factor for ratification, especially in the western part of the state, soon to be ceded to the United States. There was a likelihood of complications due to defensive or offensive measures by separate governments, and even the fear that the nation might refuse to assist in the protection of inhabitants in territory not under its organization.

The Antifederalists were accused of invidious motives behind the professed one of desiring amendments: continuance of stay laws and paper money (both forbidden by the new Constitution); avoidance of the state's share in the war debt, and of the payment of British debts as required by the treaty of peace. The state convention before adjourning recommended to the legislature "effectual measures for the redemption of the paper currency, as speedily as may be, consistent with the situation and circumstances of the people of this State." " It also suggested that any imposts laid by Congress should be duplicated by the state and the returns appropriated to the use of Congress. This, it was hoped, would free the state from being joined with Rhode Island on the currency question, and also from the accusation of shirking its share of the general debt. were skeptical of the sincerity of these requests. Iredell on November 17, 1788: "I should have told of depreciation is much talked of, and that Wilie Jones has promised to bring it forward; and it is said that T. Person concurs in this, and even says, that he intends the paper-money not to be any longer a tender; but, with this condition, that £70,000 more be emitted. I

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The Federalists Maclaine wrote you, that a scale

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have as small an opinion of one of these gentlemen as I have of the other; and therefore would not trust either of them." 4 sured Iredell on September 8: "Persons and Mr. Jones are both holding out the doctrine of opposition for five or six years at least. Mr. Jones says we must have that time at least, before the Judiciary are let in on us; he is continually haranguing the people on the terrors of the Judicial power, and the certainty of their ruin if they are obliged now to pay their debts; we are almost led to believe there is something more than a mere mistake in point of principle in his conduct." 5 Even as late as May 24, 1789, Williamson had the same opinion, telling Madison: "I verily believe that the desire of eluding all Taxes and defrauding the Nation leaving the Burden on other Shoulders is the great Object of our Antifeds." In October 1789 Ambrose Jocelin in a letter to Jeremiah Wadsworth considered that paper money and the obligations and contracts connected with it. "was a motive with many, perhaps the most.

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Jocelin referred also to the influence of the idea of "absolute sovereignty" of the state. Antifederalists were especially numerous in some of the counties bordering on Virginia, and in the Old Dominion the leadership of Patrick Henry had made the southern counties there a similar stronghold. Henry in his letter to Richard Henry Lee on November 15, 1788, after hinting at the possibility of secession by the true Whigs (see p. 193), added: "I mean not to take any part in Deliberations held out of this State, unless in Carolina from which I am not very distant & to whose politics I wish to be attentive. If Congress do not give us substantial Amendmts. I will turn my Eyes to that Country a Connection with which may become necessary to me as an Individual." Williamson, in his above letter to Madison, reported from Edenton: "It is generally understood here that unless the People bordering on Virga. in the Northern and Western Parts of the State shall agree to confederate we must of necessity adhere to the other States and divide this State leaving the guilty who care nothing for Congress to shift for themselves." Evidently there was a feeling on both sides of the possibility of failure of the plan for a complete new Union.

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Federalist leaders within the state in their public utterances were likely to speak rather quietly. Citizens of Tarboro, where Antifederalist leaders were burned in effigy, addressed Governor Samuel Johnston, who had been the president of the ratification convention, on August 30, 1788:

We... beg leave to

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express our sincere approbation of the zeal you have displayed to connect the state of North Carolina to the general union,

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