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300

REPORT ON THE FINANCES.

[CHAP. IV.

motion for that purpose was rejected by a very large majority.

Their attention was now turned to the subject of their finances. A committee, consisting of Messrs. Gorham, Hamilton, Madison, Fitzsimmons, and Rutledge, who had been appointed "to consider the means of restoring and supporting public credit, and of obtaining from the States substantial funds for funding the whole debt of the United States," brought in their report on the eighteenth of March; after which various amendments to the report were proposed, and lost, until, on the first day of April, Mr. Hamilton moved a reconsideration of a motion “to propose an alteration in the articles of Confederation by which the rule for determining the quotas of the States in contributing a common revenue, should be not according to the values of their respective lands, but according to the number of their free inhabitants, and three-fifths of all other persons;" which motion prevailed, and the proposed change was adopted by every State, except Massachusetts (which was divided) and Rhode Island.

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On the eighteenth of April, the report was adopted. According to this report, Congress recommended to the States to invest that body with the power of levying duties on imported goods-to be specific on wines, spirits, sugar, tea, and coffee; and five per cent. ad valorem on all other commodities-to be applied exclusively to discharge the debts contracted for supporting the war, to continue for twenty-five years, and to be collected by officers appointed by the States.

That the States should be further recommended to provide efficient revenues, and to appropriate them to the discharge of the like debts, to the amount of their respective proportions of one million five hundred thousand dollars: and the quotas which each State should

1783.]

ADDRESS TO THE STATES.

301

pay, until the rule established by the Confederation could be executed, were then stated."

These resolutions were not, however, to be carried into effect until every State had acceded to them.

It was further recommended to the States to make or complete cessions of western lands, according to former recommendations of Congress.

This act received the votes of all the members except four, which were one from Massachusetts, two from Rhode Island, and Mr. Hamilton from New York.2

On the twenty-sixth of April, a committee, consisting of Messrs. Madison, Ellsworth and Hamilton, reported an address to the States from the Congress, which they had been ordered to prepare to accompany their plan for providing the means of supporting the public credit.

This address begins with saying that now, when the war is terminated, it is the duty of Congress to provide for the debts which that war had created, and to look

! The quotas of the several States were as follows :

New Hampshire... $52,708
Massachusetts...... 224,427
Rhode Island...... 32,318
Connecticut

132,091

New York.......................... 128,243
New Jersey......... 83,358
Pennsylvania....... 205,189

Delaware...... $22,443
Maryland...
............................. 141,517
Virginia............ 256,487
North Carolina..... 109,006
South Carolina..... 96,183
Georgia...

16,030

Total...... $1,500,000

2 In a letter to the Governor of New York, Hamilton states his reasons for voting against the act, which he thought did not go far enough to sustain public credit. But he advised New York to give the power proposed by the act.

3 This address is mentioned by Mr. Pitkin as if it was drawn by Mr. Ellsworth, and by Mr. Hildreth as if Hamilton had been its author. Mr. Madison was chairman of the committee, and might therefore not only be supposed to have written the address, but the fact is expressly stated by Mr. John C. Hamilton in the biography of his father.

302

FINANCES OF THE UNITED STATES. [CHAP. IV.

forward to the means of obviating dangers which may interrupt the harmony and tranquillity of the Confederacy.

The amount of the debts of the United States they stated to be forty-two millions of dollars, the annual interest on which is two millions four hundred and fifteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-six dollars. Funds at least to this amount must be certainly provided. They give their reasons why they have recommended a different mode of raising revenue from that provided by the articles of Confederation; and they especially urge the advantages of a tax on imports. From a regard to the objections that have been made to this mode of raising revenue, they say that Congress had proposed to limit its duration to twenty-five years. The revenue expected to be derived from this source is estimated at something more than nine hundred thousand dollars, and the residue of the interest on the debt is to be provided by the States in such modes as they may judge most convenient. The two modes have been comprehended in one enactment of Congress, as they both are equally necessary to a complete provision for the public debts.

For the future discharge of the principal of the debt they rely on the natural increase of the revenue from commerce; on requisitions to be made, as circumstances may dictate; and on sales of vacant territory. The reasons given for changing the rule by which their common burdens are to be distributed among the States, from the value of the lands in each State, to the numbers of their people, are, that the latter rule is more easy, less expensive, and affords less occasion to complain of injustice.

The committee dwells on the strong claims of the public creditors, which are arranged under four heads: first, to an ally, who, to his loans, and the succor from his

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1783.]

APPEAL TO RHODE ISLAND.

303

arms, had added liberal donations; second, to foreign individuals, who were the first to give this token of their confidence in the justice of the United States, and who are members of the republic which was second in recognising these States; third, is that "illustrious and patriotic band" which constitute the army, to whose bravery the country owes so much, and who even now ask only for a portion of what is due them; and, fourth, those of the citizens who have lent their funds to the public, or have received transfers from others.

A strong appeal is made to the justice, honor, and gratitude of the nation, who are reminded of what had been "the pride and boast of America," that the rights for which she contended were the rights of human nature; that the citizens of the United States were responsible for the greatest trust ever confided to a political society, as by the exercise of justice, good faith, honor, and gratitude, the cause of liberty would acquire a dignity and lustre never before enjoyed.

Among the papers appended to the address was a letter to the Governor of Rhode Island on the refusal of that State to consent to a duty of five per cent. on imports for the benefit of the Confederation. This paper, which was drawn by Alexander Hamilton with his accustomed ability, answered all the objections which Rhode Island had urged against the proposed impost, the principal of which was one founded on the common fallacy, that Rhode Island being a commercial and largely an importing State, would pay more than its proportion.

The estimate of the amount of dutiable articles consumed assumes what now appears to be a very meagre consumption, after making ample allowance for the

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MUTINY IN PENNSYLVANIA.

[CHAP. IV.

great increase of population which has since taken place.

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On the thirtieth of May, Congress, reciting those clauses in the preliminary treaty which stipulated that the confiscated property should be restored, that there should be no future confiscations, and no legal impediments to the recovery of bona fide debts, required of the States to remove all obstructions to the faithful execution of the before-mentioned provisions; and that it be recommended to the States to take into serious consideration the fifth article, which provides for the restitution of confiscated property.

The discontents of the army again broke out in mutiny, and the mutineers were again from the State of Pennsylvania.

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There having been some delay in the payment of a small sum ordered to be advanced to them, eighty men of some new levies at Lancaster set off for Philadelphia; and, on their march, were joined by others, to the number of three hundred, who surrounded the house in which Congress was sitting, and presented their claims in a threatening and insulting tone; on which Congress passed a resolution that the Executive of Pennsylvania be informed of the insult to the authority of the United States, and that measures should immediately be taken for supporting the public authority: that the committee

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