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Bystem of these States, esposes the common cause to a precarious issue, and leaves us at the mercy of events over which we have no influence — a conduct extremely unwise in any nation, and at all times; and to a change of which, we are impelled at this juncture, by reasons of peculiar and irresistible weight; and that it is the natural tendency of the weakness and disorders in our national measures, to spread diffidence and distrust among thd people; and prepare their minds to receive the impressions the enemy wish to make.
Resolved, That the general state of European affairs, as far as they have come to the knowledge of this Legislature, afforda, in their opinion, reasonable ground of confidence, and assures us, that with judicious, vigorous exertion on our part, we may rely on the final attainment of our object; but far from justifying indifference and security, calls upon us by every motive of honor, good faith, and patriotism, without delay, to unite in some system more effectual, for producing energy, harmony, and consistency of measures, than that which now exists; and more capable of putting the common cause out of thọ reach of oontingenoies.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Logislature, the radical source of most of our embarrassments is, the want of SUFFICIENT POWER in Congress, to effectuate that ready and perfect co-operation of the different States, on . which their immediate safety and future happiness depend - that experience has demonstrated the confederation to be defective in several essential points, particularly in not vesting the Federal Government either with a power of providing revenue for itself, or with ascertained and productive funds, secured by a sanction so solemn and general as would inspire the fullest confidence in them, and make them a substantial basis of credit—that these defects ought to be without loss of time repaired, the powers of Congress extended, a solid security established for the payment of debts already incurred; and competent means provided for future credit, and for supplying the current demands of the war,
Resolved, That it appears evidently to this Legislature, that the annual jncome of these States, admitting the best means were adopted for drawing out their resources, would fall far short of the annual expenditure; and that there would be a large deficiency to be supplied on the credit of the States, which, if it should be inconvenient for those powers to afford, on whoso friendship we justly rely, must be sought for from individuals, to engago whom to lend, satisfactory securities must be plodged for the punctual payment of interest, and the final redemption of the principal.
Resolved, That it appears to this Legislature, that the foregoing important ends can never be attained by partial deliberations of the States separately; but that it is essential to the common welfare, that there should be as soon as possible a conference of the whole on the subject; and that it would be advisable for this purpose to propose to Congress to recommend, and to each State to adopt the measure of assembling A GENERAL CONVENTION OF THE STATES, specially authorized to revise and amend the Confederation, reserving a right to the respective Legislatures to ratify their determinations,
HAMILTON TO GOVERNOR CLINTON.
PHILADELPHIA, May 14, 1783. The president of congress will of course have transmitted to your ex. cellency the plan lately adopted by congress for funding the public debt. This plan wus framed to accommodate it to the objections of some of the states; but this spirit of accommodation will only serve to render it less efficient, without making it more palatable. The opposition of the state of Rhode Island, for instance, is chiefly founded upon these two considerations: the merchants are opposed to any revenue from trade; and the state, depending almost wholly on commerce, wants to have credit for the amount of the duties.
Persuaded that the plan now proposed will have little more chance of success than a better one, and that if agreed to by all the states it will in a great measure fail in the execution, it received my negative.
My principal objections were–First, that it does not designate the funds (except the impost) on which the whole interest is to arise ; and by which (selecting the capital articles of visible property) the collection would have been easy, the funds productive, and necessarily increasing with the increase of the country. Secondly, that the duration of the funds is not coextensive with the debt, but limited to twenty-five years, though there is a moral certainty that in that period the principal will not, by the present provision, be fairly extinguished. Thirdly, that the nomination and appointment of the collectors of the revenue are to reside in each state, instead of, at least, the nomination being in the United States; the consequence of which will be, that those states which have little interest in the funds, by having a small share of the publio debt due to their own citizens, will take care to appoint such persons as are the least likely to collect the revenue.
The evils resulting from these defects will be, that in many instanoos the objects of the revenue will be improperly chosen, and will consist of a multitude of little articles, which will, on experiment, prove insufficient; that, for want of a vigorous collection in each state, the revenue will be unproductive in many, and will fall chicfly on those states which are governed by most liberal principles : that for want of an adequate security, the evidences of the publio debt will not be transferable for any thing like their value. That this not admitting an incorporation of the creditors in the nature of banks, will deprive the public of the benefit of an increased circulation, and of course will disable the people from paying the taxes for want of a sufficient medium. I shall be happy to be mistaken in my apprehensions, but the experiment must determine.
I hope our state will consent to the plan proposed; because it is her interest, at all events, to promote the payment of the publio debt in continental funds, independent of the general considerations of union and propriety. I am much mistaken, if the debts due from the United States
to the citizens of the state of New-York do not considerably exceed its proportion the necessary funds ; of course it bas an immediate interest that there should be a continental provision for them. But there are superior motives that ought to operate in every state - the obligations of national faith, honour, and reputation.
Individuals have been too long already sacrificed to the public convenience. It will be shocking, and, indeed, an eternal reproach to this country, if we begin the peaceable enjoymont of our independence by a violation of all the principles of honesty and true policy.
It is worthy of remark, that at least four-ffths of the domestic debt are due to the citizons of the states from Pennsylvania inclusively northward.
P. S. - It is particularly interesting that the state should have a representation here. Not only many matters are depending which require a full representation in congress, and there is now a thin one, but those matters are of a nature so particularly interesting to our state that we ought not to be without a voice in them. I wish two other gentlemen of the delegation muy appear as soon as possible; for it would be very injurious to me to remain much longer. Having no future viows in public life, I owe it to myself without delay to enter upon the care of my private concerns in earnest.
RESOLUTIONS FOR A GENERAL CONVENTION, 1783.
“WHEREAS, in the opinion of this congress, the confederation of the United States is defective in the following essential points.
“First, and generally, in confining the foederal government within too narrow limits ; withholding from it that efficacious authority and influence in all matters of general concern, which are indispensable to the harmony and welfare of the whole; embarrassing general provisions by unnecessary details and inconvenient exceptions incompatible with their nature, tending only to create jenlousies and disputes respecting the proper bounds of the authority of the United States, and of that of the particular states, and a mutual interference of the one with the other.
“Secondly-In confounding legislative and executive powers in a single body.; as that of determining on the number and quantity of force, land and naval, to be employed for the common defence, and of directing their operations when raised and equipped; with that of ascertaining and making requisitions for the necessary sums or quantities of money to be paid by the respective states into the common treasury, contrary to the most approved and well-founded maxims of free government, which require that the LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE, and JUDICIAL authorities should be deposited in distinct and separate hands.
• Thirdly-In the want of a FederaL JUDICATURE, having cognizance of all matters of general concern in the last resort, especially those in which foreign nations and their subjects are interested; from which defect, by the interference of the local regulations of particular states militating, directly or indirectly, against the powers vested in the union, the national
trettios will be liable to be infringed, the national faith to be violated, and the public tranquillity to be disturbed.
“ Fourthly - In vesting the United States, in congress assembled, with the power of general taxation, comprehended in that of ascertaining tho necessary sums of money to be raised for the common defence, and of appropriating and applying the same for defraying the public expenses ;' and yet rendering that power, 80 essential to the existence of the union, nugatory, by withholding from them all control over either the imposition or the collection of the taxes for raising the sums required, whence it happens that the inclinations, not the abilities, of the respective states are, in fact, the criterion of their contributions to the common expense, and the publio burden has fallen, and will continue to fall, with very unequal weight.
“Fifthly - In fizing a role for determining the proportion of each state towards the common expense, which, if practicable at all, must in the execution be attended with great expense, inequality, uncertainty, and difficulty.
“Sixthly - In authorizing congress 'to borrow money, or emit bills, on the credit of the United States,' without the power of establishing funds to secure the repayment of the money or the redemption of the bills emitted, from which must result one of these evils - either a want of sufficient credit in the first instance to borrow, or to circulate the bills emitted, whereby in great national exigencies the public safety may be endangered, or, in the second instance, frequent infractions of the public engagements, disappointments to lenders, repetitions of the calamities of depreciating paper, a continuance of the injustice and mischiefs of an unfunded debt, and, first or last, the annihilation of public credit. Indeed, in authorizing congress at all to emit an unfunded paper as the sign of value ; a resource, which, though useful in the infancy of this country, indispensable in the commencement of the revolution, ought not to continuo a formal part of the constitution, nor ever hereafter to be employed, being in its nature pregnant with abuses, and liable to be made the engine of imposition and fraud, holding out temptations equally pernicious to the integrity of govern. ment and to the morals of the people.
“Seventhly - In not making proper or competent provision for interior or exterior defence : for interior defence, by leaving it to the individual states to appoint all regimental officers of the land forces, to raise the men in their own way, to clothe, arm, and equip them, at the expense of the United States; from which circumstances have resulted, and will hereafter result, great confusion in the military department, continual disputes of rank, languid and disproportionate levies of men, an enormous increase of expense for want of system and uniformity in the manner of conducting them, and from the competitions of state bounties ; — by an ambiguity in the fourth clause of the sixth article, susceptible of a construction which would devolve upon the particular states in time of peace the care of their own defence both by sea and land, and would preclude the United States from raising a single regiment or building a single ship before a declara
tion of war, or an actual commencement of hostilities; a principle dangerous to the confederacy in different respects, by leaving the United Statos at all times unprepared for the dofence of their common rights, obliging them to begin to raise an army and to build and equip a navy at the moment they would have occasion to employ them, and by putting into the hands of a few states, who from their local situations are more immediately exposed, all the standing forces of the country, thereby not only leaving the care of the safety of the whole to a part, which will naturally be both unwilling and unable to make effectual provision at its particular expense, but also furnishing grounds of jealousy and distrust between the states, unjust in its operation to those states in whose bands they are, by throwing the exclusive burden of maintaining those forces upon them, while their neighbours immediately, and all the states ultimately, would share the benefits of their services ; for exterior defence, in authorizing congress “to build and equip a navy,' without providing any means of mapping it, either by requisitions of the states, by the power of registering and drafting the seamen in rotation, or by embargoes in cases of emergency, to induce them to accept employment on board the ships of war; the omission of all which leaves no other resource than voluntary enlistment; a resource which has been found ineffectual in every country, and for reasons of peculiar force, in this.
“ Eighthly – In not vesting in the United States A GENERAL SUPERINTENDENOE OF TRADE, equally necessary in the view of revenue and regulation : of revenue, because duties on commerce, when moderate, are among the most agreeable and productive species of it which cannot without great disadvantages be imposed by particular states, while others refrain from doing it, but must be imposed in concert, and by laws operating upon the same principles, at the same moment, in all the states ; otherwise those states which should not impose them would engross the commerce of such of their neighbours as did : of regulation, because by general prohibitions of particular articles, by a judicious arrangement of duties, sometimes by bounties on the manufacture or exportation of certain commodities, injurious branches of commerce might be discouraged, favourable branches encouraged, useful products and manufactures promoted; none of which advantages can be effectually attained by separate regulations without a general superintending power; because, also, it is essential to the due observance of the commercial stipulations of the Unitod States with foreign powers, an interference with which will be unavoidable if the different states have the exclusive regulation of their own trade, and of course the construction of the treaties enterod into.
“Ninthly - In defeating essential powers by provisoon and limitations inconsistent with their nature, as the power of making treaties with foreign nations, 'provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby tho legislative power of the respective states shall be restrained from imposing buch imposts and duties on foreigners as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the importation or exportation of any species of goods or commodities whatever;' a proviso susceptible of an interpretation which