Alexander Hamilton and William Floyd
to George Clinton
[Philadelphia, March 5, 1783]1
Mr. Hamilton having transmitted Your Excellency the late proceedings of Congress for carrying the 8th. article of the confederation into execution, by which the legislature will see the part we acted in this affair.2 They will not be at aloss for our motives; and we hope will not disapprove them. Our opposition to the first plan3 proposed was founded principally on this consideration that it left the interested party judge in his own cause, might have produced great injustice and inequality, and would in all probability have excited great jealousies between the respective states. We dissented from the second plan chiefly because we did not perceive that it afforded sufficient data to make the valuations upon and because it applied the 8th. article of the confederation in such a manner as would have produced great injustice to the state of New York and others in similar circumstances by charging us with our proportion of the past contributions of the states according to our future ability when the valuation shall be made.
After this plan was resolved upon, we introduced a motion4 to call a second time upon the different states to vest Congress with a power of making equitable abatements agreeable to the resolution of the [20th Feby 1781.]5
This was committed, and an unfavourable report made, which together with the original motion6 was postponed.
We renewed the motions in a something different form, which has been negatived by a large majority. We have the honor to inclose the motion and the votes upon it.7 Different motives operated in the dismission. Many were opposed to the principle and others wished to postpone ’till this matter with many others could be taken up on a general plan.
We have the honor to be &c &c
Your Excellency’s letter by Mr. Shattuck8 has been read in Congress & with the papers accompanying it committed to the same Committee which has before them the remonstrance from [Chittenden].9 We need not assure you that we shall pay all the attention in our power to a matter so interesting to the state, which however we are obliged to see posponed to the consideration of funds for restoring the credit of the United States, which now occupies the first attention of Congress.
[We have the honour to be &c. &c.
His Excellency Governor Clinton]10
Df, in the writing of H, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
1. The draft is undated. The receiver’s copy, printed in the Public Papers of George Clinton description begins Public Papers of George Clinton (New York and Albany, 1900). description ends , VIII, 83–85, is dated March 5.
5. Bracketed words are not in H’s writing. The resolution referred to was actually that of February 20, 1782, rather than 1781 (See JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXII, 83–86).
6. The original motion was made on February 6, 1783 (“Motion on Evaluation of State Lands for Carrying into Effect Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation”). The motion of February 17 was referred to a committee consisting of Arthur Lee, Eliphalet Dyer, and Samuel Holten. According to the JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 138, note 1, the committee reported on February 26, and its report was acted upon on March 3. The Journals on March 3 do not, however, refer to this report. On March 4, as stated in the next paragraph of their letter, H and Floyd introduced a similar motion which was defeated.
8. William Shattuck was an adherent of New York State living in Vermont. His property had been seized by Vermont.
9. The bracketed word is not in the writing of H. See Clinton to H and Floyd, February 25, 1783. Clinton’s letter was referred to a committee consisting of Daniel Carroll, Nathaniel Gorham, Arthur Lee, John Taylor Gilman, and Oliver Wolcott, Sr. The committee was renewed on April 28, and on May 26 it reported that Congress should first determine whether Vermont should be admitted into the Confederation and then consider the action to be taken on Clinton’s letter and the affidavits accompanying it (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 164, note 1; 367).
This remonstrance was from Governor Thomas Chittenden of Vermont (Walton, Records of Vermont description begins E. P. Walton, ed., Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont (Montpelier, 1875). description ends , III, 254–62). On February 11, 1783, General George Washington sent to the President of Congress “Printed copies of A remonstrance of the Council of the State of Vermont, against the Resolutions of Congress of the 5th. of December last’” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XXVI, 119). Washington’s letter and the enclosure were referred to the committee, described in the preceding paragraph. On March 4 Clinton’s letter of February 25, 1783 was also referred to that committee (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 138).
10. The bracketed material is not in the writing of H.