Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Hartley, [29 January 1785]

To David Hartley

[29 Jan. 1785]

Mr. Jefferson’s compliments to Mr. Hartley and sends him a copy of the act of assembly of Massachusets giving Congress the powers asked by their resolutions of Apr. 30. 1784. which act is complete. The printed leaf from the journals of the Virginia assembly contains only the beginning of the resolutions. It was inclosed him by a friend just before he left America, with information that the legislature had passed the resolutions but that the last sheet actually printed happened to contain only part of the first. In the resolutions which precede this in the same page, Mr. Hartley will see proofs of the disposition which Mr. Jefferson mentioned to him as growing in America, that is, to strengthen the hands of Congress, and to arm them with coercions sufficient to force all the states to a union of effort.

RC (ViU); undated, but apparently the letter to Hartley on the “State of American affairs” recorded in SJL under 29 Jan. 1785; note at foot of text by Hartley: “Virginia resolutions 19 May 1784”; endorsed by Hartley.

In Resolutions of Apr. 30. 1784 aimed at retaliation against British commercial restrictions, the Confederation Congress asked the states to vest it for fifteen years with the power to forbid trade with ships owned or navigated by subjects of countries lacking a commercial treaty with the United States and to prohibit foreigners, unless authorized by treaty, to import products not grown or made in the dominions of the sovereign to whom they were subject (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, 321–2). The 1 July 1784 act of the Massachusetts General Court granting these powers to Congress is in Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], 13 vols. (Boston, 1890–98), 1784–85, p. 41. For the ultimate failure of the plan, see DHRC description begins Merrill Jensen, John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, and others, eds., The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Madison, Wis., 1976–, 10 vols. description ends , i, 66–7. The enclosed printed leaf was probably the page from the journal of the Virginia House of Delegates containing the first part of its 19 May 1784 resolution on this subject, which was enacted into law on 8 June 1784, as well as associated resolutions of the same date concerning compliance with the revenue plan Congress had submitted to the states on 18 Apr. 1783. One of the resolutions sanctioned the ratification of an amendment to the Articles of Confederation making population instead of land the basis for apportioning common expenses of the Union (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , May-June 1784, p. 14; Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends xi, 388–9, 401–2; 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 , xxiv, 257–61; Morris, Papers, description begins E. James Ferguson, John Catanzariti, Elizabeth M. Nuxoll, Mary A. Y. Gallagher, and others, eds., The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784, Pittsburgh, 1973–99, 9 vols. description ends vii, 523–4).

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