III. Report on Powers to be Granted the Committee of the States
[30 Jan. 1784]
The Committee to whom was referred a report on the powers with which a Committee of the states should be vested during the recess of Congress and a motion on the same subject have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that the Committee of the states which shall be appointed pursuant to the 9th. article of Confederation and perpetual union to sit in the recess of Congress for transacting the business of the United states shall possess all the powers which may be exercised by seven states in Congress assembled: except those of Sending Ambassadors, ministers, envoys, residents or consuls:1
Establishing rules for deciding what captures on land or water shall be legal and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United states shall be divided or appropriated:
Establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in cases of capture:
Constituting courts for deciding disputes and differences arising between two or more states:
Fixing the standard of weight and measures for the United states:
Changing the rate of postage on the papers passing through the post offices established by Congress
Resolved that nine members shall be requisite to proceed to business.5
that no question except for adjourning from day to day shall be determined without the concurrence of seven6 votes:
that [the said President of Congress if a member of the said Committee and if not a member, or if absent at any time then]7 a chairman to be chosen by themselves8 shall preside; the President or chairman retaining a right to vote:9
that they shall keep an accurate journal12 of their proceedings to be laid before Congress:
MS (DLC: PCC); entirely in TJ’s hand except as noted below; endorsed by Thomson: “No. 33. Report Mr Jefferson Mr Osgood Mr Sherman On powers of a comee of the states in recess of Congress. Delivered 30 Jany. 1784. Entd. Read. May 27 postponed to 29 May. [and in a clerk’s hand:] Pass’d May 29 1784.”
It is not possible to tell positively whether the amendments indicated in the notes below were made on 26 Apr., 27 May, or 29 May. It is very likely, however, that only the deletion indicated in note 2 and the attempted addition set forth in note 4 were made on the first date. Except for the introductory paragraph and the deletion shown in note 2, the report as entered in the Journals under 26 Apr. 1784 agrees precisely with the MS report as drawn by TJ before any deletions or additions occurred (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xxvi, 288–9). As recorded in the Journals under 29 May, the report shows all of the amendments noted below except those set forth in notes 2 and 4.
1. This was amended by deletion and interlineation in the hand of Gerry to read: “… residents consuls or Agents to foreign Countries of Courts.”
2. This word deleted by being scored out. It was deleted before report was incorporated in Journals under 26 Apr., but marking is similar to that usually employed by Thomson; hence deletion must have been made after the committee handed in its report. This is the only respect (except for the omission of the introductory paragraph) in which MS as drawn by TJ differed from the body of report as recorded in Journals under 26 Apr.
3. This was amended by interlineation in the hand of Gerry to read: “… Ordinance or Act.”
4. Following this point in the Journals for 26 Apr. are the deleted paragraphs numbered ii-iv as quoted above in the editorial note; there was also an incomplete fifth paragraph in this deletion reading as follows: “V. That no question except for adjourning from day to day shall be determined in the said committee without the concurrence” (all of these paragraphs are entered in MS Domestic Journal in the hand of a clerk; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xxvi, 289–90). For reasons suggested above, the editors incline to the opinion that these numbered paragraphs were offered by TJ as an amendment to the committee report and in substitution for that part of the report beginning with the words “except those of Sending Ambassadors …” and ending with “… any Ordinance passed by Congress.” Both the form and the nature of these substitute paragraphs suggest that there must have been an accompanying MS from which the Journal entry was made, but no such MS amendment has been found in PCC and it is not a part of the MS report in PCC: No. 23, p. 169–70, which consists of a single leaf.
Also at this point there is a crossed circle on the MS indicating that another amendment was offered. This amendment, having a corresponding symbol, is in PCC: No. 23, p. 167. It is in the hand of Gerry and appears also in the Journals under 29 May. It reads as follows: “or appointing civil or military officers, unless to supply the places of such within the United States as the Committee may suspend for malconduct, or to fill up vacancies which may hereafter happen, by death, resignation, or otherways, within the said states; provided such appointments shall not continue <after the recess of Congress, unless confirmed by them at their next meeting,> more than one month after the assembling of Congress in November next, unless confirmed by them.”
5. This sentence deleted in MS, except for word “Resolved.”
6. Amended by deletion and interlineation in an unidentified hand to read “Nine.” TJ apparently overlooked the fact that the Articles of Confederation stipulated that “The committee of the states, or any nine of them” should exercise whatever powers should be delegated (Article x; italics supplied).
7. Words in square brackets (supplied) deleted.
8. Amended by deletion and interlineation in the hand of Gerry to read: “… chosen by the Committee.”
9. Preceding nine words deleted.
10. Preceding three words deleted.
11. Amended by interlineation in the hand of Gerry to read: “… officers of Congress when required.”
12. Amended by deletion and interlineation in the hand of Gerry to read: “that the Committee shall keep a journal.”
13. The following words interlined at this point in the hand of Gerry: “which shall be published Monthly, and transmitted to the Executives of the several States.”
14. Following this point several amendments were offered and are recorded in the Journals on 29 May. One of them, offered by David Howell, provided that a state might be represented on the Committee of the States by “any one of the delegates of such State or states, and the members of the delegation of any State may relieve each other, in such manner as may be agreed on by themselves, or directed by their State” (see Monroe to TJ, 1 June 1784 for a comment on this). Another, submitted by Hugh Williamson, restored that part of TJ’s report (Document ii) which gave the Committee the right to convoke Congress prior to the date stipulated in the event “any unexpected and very important business occurs.” Another, by Monroe, also restored that part of TJ’s report giving the Committee the right to receive communications from foreign ministers, but this was amended by the addition of the proviso that the Committee could transact no business with them unless authorized by “particular acts of Congress.” Another, offered by Gerry, may have been inspired in part by TJ’s proposed instruction to the Committee to prepare an ordinance on a money unit and coinage, for it authorized and instructed the Committee to prepare an ordinance “for making the necessary arrangements of the treasury, and for more particularly defining the powers of the Board of Treasury, and also to revise the institutions of the Office for Foreign Affairs.” To this was added, by amendment offered by Howell, the requirement that the War Office be included in the “revisions” necessary (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xxvii, 476–7).