« AnteriorContinuar »
be binding on the state until all the other states in the Union should ratify the same.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina, proposed alterations, addi. tions, or amendments, which, upon their being considered by the Congress, were all rejected. The delegate froin Georgia, when called on, stated, that he had not received any instructions from his constituents respecting the Articles of Confederation ; but that, his state having shown so much readiness to ratify them, even in an imperfect form, and it being so much for their interest that the Confederation should be ratified, he had no doubt of their agreeing to the Articles as they stood. Delaware and North Carolina baving no delegates present in Congress, no report was received from them; but North Carolina had signified her imanimous accession, by a letter from Governor Caswell, of the 26th of April, 1778. On the 9th of July of that year, the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, having been engrossed on a roll of purchinent, w:is examined, the blanks filled up, and it was signed, on the part and in behalf of their respective states, by the delegates of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina, agreeably to the powers vested in them. The delegates of the states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, informed Congress that they had not yet received powers to ratify and sign. North Carolina and Georgia were not at that time represented in Congress. A committee was appointed to prepare a circular letter to such states as had not authorized their delegates to ratify the Confederation, which was brought in and adopted, as follows:
Sir: Congress, intent upon the present and future security of these United States, nas never ceased to consider a confideracy as the great principle of union, which can alone establish the liberty of America, and esclude forever the hopes of its enemies. Influenced by considerations so powertul, and duly weighing the difficulties which oppose the expectation of any plan being formed that can exactly meet the wishes and obtain the approbation of so many states, diftering essentially in various points, Congress have, atler mature deliberation, agreed to adopt, without amendments, the Contederation transmitted to the several states for their approbation. The states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Con. hecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, have ratified the same, and it remains only for your `slate, with those of — to conclude the glorious compact, which, by uniting the wealth, strength, and councils of the whole, may bid defiance to external violence and internal dissensions, whilst it secures the public credit both at home and abroad. Congress is willing to hope that the patriotism and good sense of your state will be influenced by motives so impor. tant; and they request, sir, that you will be pleased to lay this letter before the legisla. ture of in order that, if they judge ii proper, their delegates may be instructed lo ratify the Confederation with all convenient despatch; trusting to future deliberations to make such alterations and amendments' as experience may show to he expedient and just.
I have the honor to be, &c. On the 21st of July, 1778, the delegates of North Carolina, being then empowered, signed the ratification; those of Georgia, being also authorized, signed it on the 24th of the same inonth. 'The delegates of New Jersey, in virtue of full powers, affixed their signatures on the 26th of November following. On the 5th of May, 1779, Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Vandyke signed the Articles of Confederation in behalf of the state of Delaware, Mr. M'Kean having previously signed them in February, at which time he produced a power to that effect. Maryland did not ratify until the year 1781. She had instructed her delegates, on the 15th of December, 1778, not to agree to the Confederation, until matters respecting the western lands should be settled on principles of equity and sound
policy; but, on the 30th of January, 1781, finding that the enemies of the country took advantage of the circumstance to disseminate opinions of an ultimate dissolution of the Union, the legislature of the state passed an act to empower their delegates to subscribe and ratify the Articles, which was accordingly done by Mr. Hanson and Mr. Carroll, on the 1st of March of that year, which completed the ratifications of the act; and Congress assembled on the 2d of March under the new powers.
OFFICIAL LETTER ACCOMPANYING ACT OF CONFED
IN CONGRESS, YORKTOWN, November 17, 1777. Congress having agreed upon a plan of confederacy for securing the freedom, sovereignty, and independence of the United States, authentic copies are now transmitted for the consideration of the respective legis. latures.
This business, equally intricate and important, has, in its progress, been attended with uncommon embarrassment and delay, which the most anxious solicitude and persevering diligence could not prevent. To form a permanent union, accoinmodated to the opinion and wishes of the delegates of so many states, differing in habits, produce, commerce, and internal police, was found to be a work which nothing but time and reflection, conspiring with a disposition to conciliate, could mature and accomplish.
Hardly is it to be expected that any plan, in the variety of provisions essential to our union, should exactly correspond with the maxims and political views of every particular state. Let it be remarked, that, after ihe most careful inquiry, and the fullest information, this is proposed as the best which could be adapted to the circumstances of all, and as that alone which affords any tolerable prospect of general ratification.
Permit us, then, earnestly to recoinmend these Articles to the immediate and dispassionate attention of the legislatures of the respective states. Let them be candidly reviewed under a sense of the difficulty of combining in one general system the various sentiments and interests of a continent divided into so many sovereign and independent communities; under a conviction of the absolute necessity of uniting all our councils, and all our strength, to muintain and defend our common liberties ; let them be examined with a liberality becoming brethren and fellow-citizens surrounded by the same imminent dangers, contending for the same illustrious prize, and deeply interested in being forever bound and connected together by ties the most intimate and indissoluble; and, finally, let them be adjusted with the temper and magnanimity of wise and patriotic legislators, who, while they are concerned for the prosperity of their own more inuediate circle, are capable of rising superior to local attachinents, when they may be incompatible with the safety, happiness, and glory, of the general confederacy.
We have reason to regret the time which has elapsed in preparing this plan for consideration : with additional solicitude we look forward to that which must be necessarily spent before it can be ratified. Every motive 'oudly calls upon us to hasten its conclusion).
More than any other consideration, it will confound our foreign enemies, defeat the flagitious practices of the disaffected, strengthen and confirm our friends, support our public credit, restore the value of our money, enable us to maintain our fleets and armies, and add weight and respect to our councils at home and to our treaties abroad.
In short, this salutary measure can no longer be deferred. It seems essential to our very existence as a free people; and, without it, we may soon be constrained to bid adieu to independence, to liberty, and safety — blessings which, from the justice of our cause, and the favor of our Almighty Creator, visibly manifested in our protection, we have reason to expect, if, in an humble dependence on his divine providence, we strenuously exert the means which are placed in our power.
To conclude: If the legislature of any state shall not be assembled, Congress recommend to the executive authority to convene it without delay; and to each respective legislature it is recommended to invest its delegates with competent powers, ultimately, in the name and beh:ilf of the state, 10 subscribe Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union of the United States, and to attend Congress for that purpose on or before the 10th day of March next.
JEFFERSON'S NOTES OF DEBATE ON CONFEDERATION
On Friday, July 12, the committee appointed to draw the Articles of Confederation reported them, and on the 22d the house resolved themselves into a committee to take them into consideration. On the 30th and 31st of that month, and 1st of the ensuing, those articles were debated which determined the proportion, or quota, of money which each state should turnish to the common treasury, and the manner of voting in Congress. The first of these articles was expressed, in the original draft, in these words :
“ Art. XI. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be in. curred for the coinmon defence, or general welfare, and allowed by the United States assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several colonies in proportion to the number of inhabitants of every age, sex, and quality, except Indians not paying taxes, in each colony, -- a true account of which, distinguishing the white inhabitants, shall be triennially taken, and transmitted to the Assembly of the United States."
Mr. CHASE moved that the quotas should be fixed, not by the number of inhabitants of every condition, but by that of the 6 white inhabitants." He admitted that taxation should be always in proportion to property ; that this was, in theory, the true rule ; but that, from a variety of difficulties, it was a rule which could never be adopted in practice. The value of the property in every state could never be es
timated justly and equally. Some other measures for the: wealth of the state must therefore be devised, some standard referred to, which would be more simple. He considered the number of inhabitants as a tolerably good criterion of property, and that this might always be obtained. He therefore thought it the best mode which we could adopt, with one exception only: he observed that negroes are property, and, as such, cannot be distinguished from the lands or personalties held in those states where there are few slaves ; that the surplus of profit which a northern fariner is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, &c., whereas a southern farmer lays out the same surplus in slaves. There is no more reason, therefore, for taxing the Southern States on the farmer's head, and on his slave's head, than the Northern ones on their farmers' heads and the heads of their cattle; that the method proposed would, therefore, tax the Southern States according to their numbers and their wealth conjunctly, while the Northern would be taxed on numbers only; that negroes,
, in fact, should not be considered as members of the state, more than cattle, and that they have no more interest in it. Mr. JOHN ADAMS observed, that the numbers of
people are taken, by this article, as an index of the wealth of the state, and not as subjects of taxation ; that, as to this matter, it was of no consequence by what name you called your people, whether by that of freemen or of slaves; that, in some countries, the laboring poor are called freemen, in others they were called slaves; but that the difference as to the state was imaginary only.
What matters it whether a landlord, employing ten laborers on his farm, give them annually as much money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or give them those necessaries at short hand? The ten laborers add as much wealth to the state, increase its exports as much, in the one case as the other. Certainly five hundred freemen produce no more profits, no greater surplus for the payment of taxes, than five hundred slaves. Therefore the state in which are the laborers called freemen, should be taxed no more than that in which are those called slaves. Suppose, by an extraordinary operation of nature or of law, one half the laborers of a state could, in the course of one night, be transformed into slaves; would the state be made the poorer, or the less able to pay taxes ? That the condition of the laboring poor in most countries — that of
the fishermen, particularly, of the Northern States - is as abject as that of slaves. It is the number of laborers which produces the surplus for taxation ; and numbers, therefore, indiscriminately, are the fair index to wealth ; that it is the use of the word “ property" here, and its application to some of the people of the state, which produce the fallacy. How does the southern farmer procure slaves ? Either by importation, or by purchase from his neighbor. If he imporis a slave, he adds one to the number of laborers in his country, and, proportionably, to its profits, and ability to pay taxes. If he buys from his neighbor, it is only a transfer of a laborer from one farm to another, which does not change the annual produce of the state, and therefore should not change its tax; that if a northern farmer works ten laborers on his farm, he can, it is true, invest the surplus of ten men’s labor in cattle ; but so may the southern farmer, working ten slaves; that a state of one hundred thousand freemen can maintain no more cattle than one of one hundred thousand slaves. Therefore they have no more of that kind of property. That a slave may, indeed, from the custom of speech, be more properly called the wealth of his master, than the free laborer might be called the wealth of his employer; but as to the state, both were equally its wealth, and should therefore equally add to the quota of its tax.
Mr. HARRISON proposed, as a compromise, that two slaves should be counted as one freeman. He affirmed that slaves did not do as much work as freemen, and doubted if tio effected more than one ; that this was proved by the price of labor — the hire of a laborer in the southern colonies being from £8 to £12, while in the northern it was generally £27.
Mr. WILSON said that, if this amendment should take place, the southern colonies would have all the benefit of slaves, whilst the northern ones would bear the burden; that slaves increase the profits of a state, which the Southern States mean to take to themselves ; that they also increase the burden of defence, which would of course tall so much the heavier on the Northern ; that slaves occupy the places of freemen, and eat their food. Dismiss your slaves, and freemen will take their places. It is our duty to lay every discouragement on the importation of slaves; but this amendment would give the jus trium liberorum to him who