Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). See Notes on Debates, 4 November 1782, ed. n.
After a verbal report of the Committee above mentioned,1 who acquainted Congress that in a conference with Mr. Livingston he professed a willingness to remain in office till the 1st. of Jany. to give time for the choice of a Successor, Mr. McKean proposed the Resolution, which stands on the Secret2 Journals; several alterations having been made however in the course of its consideration. With respect to the Preamble particularly, a change took place.3 As it was first moved it recited as the ground of the resignation the incompatibility of the office of foreign affairs with the Chancellorship of N. Y.4 To this recital it was objected by Mr Madison5 that such a publication of preference of6 the office of the Chan[c]ellor of a particular State,7 to the office of foreign Affairs under U. S. tended to degrade the latter, whereupon the Preamble on the Journal was substituted.8 In the course of this business the expediency of9 augmenting the Salary was suggested, but not much supported. Mr. Howel & Mr Clarke opposed it strenuously.10
The Report of the Committee on the case of Vermont mentioned on Thursday the 14 of Novr.11 was called for by Mr. McKean, & postponed on his motion to make way for a set of Resolutions declaring that as Vermont in contempt of the Authority of Congress & their Recommendations of 177912 exercised jurisdiction over sundry persons professing allegiance to the State of N. Y. banishing them and stripping them of their possessions, the former13 be required to make restitution &c. and that in case of refusal or neglect Congress will enforce the same. &c.14 A motion was made by Mr. Clark 2ded. by Mr. Howel to strike out the latter clause, in favor of which it was said that such a menace ought to be suspended untill Vermont should refuse to comply with the Requisition; especially said Mr. Howell as the present proceeding being at the instance of Phelps & other exiles was an exparte one.15
Against the motion for expunging the clause, it was observed that a requisition on Vermont without such a menace wd. have no effect, that if Congress interposed they ought to do it with a decisive tone; that as it only enforced16 restitution in cases where spoliations had been committed and therefore was conditional, the circumstance of its being exparte was of no weight, especially as Congress cd. not call on Vermt. to appear as a party after her repeated protestations agst. appearing.17
On this occasion Mr. Carroll informed Congress that he had entirely changed his opinion with regard to the policy requisite with regard to Vermt. being thoroughly persuaded that its leaders were perfidious men & that the interest of U. S. required their pretensions to be discountenanced;18 that in this opinion he was not a little confirmed by a late conversation with Genl. Whipple of N. Hamshire at Trenton19 in which this gentleman assured him that the Governing20 party in Vermont were perfidiously devoted to the British interest, & that he had reason to believe that a British Commision for a Govr. of that district had come over & was ready to be produced at a convenient season.21 Some of the members having gone out of Congress & it being uncertain whether there would be more than six States for the clause,22 an adjournment was moved for & voted.
The proceedings on this subject evinced still more the conciliating effect of the territorial cession of N. York, on several States23 & the effect of the scheme of an ultramontane State within Pennsa. on the latter State.24 The only States in Congress which stood by Vermont were Rhode Island which is supposed to be interested in lands in Vermt. and N. Jersey whose Delegates were under instructions on the subject.25
1. See Notes on Debates, 2 December 1782, and n. 5. The word “verbal” probably signifies that, to save time, Thomas McKean, the chairman of the committee, successfully moved, in accordance with the sixth rule of procedure, an immediate consideration of the report and then read it from the floor (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 477).
3. The original wording of the resolution and its preamble has not been found. As recorded in the printed journal, they read: “The Secretary for foreign affairs having assigned to Congress satisfactory reasons for relinquishing his office, and having requested permission to resign:
“Resolved, That Thursday, the 19 instant be assigned for electing another person to fill the office of Secretary for foreign affairs; and that Mr. Livingston be informed that Congress do approve of his proposal of continuing to perform the duties of the office, until a person shall be appointed to succeed him” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 759, and n. 2).
5. JM originally left a blank space after “Mr” and probably filled it with his name many years later.
6. JM interlineated “of” above a deleted “given to.”
7. This word was interlineated by JM.
8. Although JM no doubt would have been concerned, as always, to uphold the dignity of Congress, he may not have realized in this instance how much more powerful the chancellor of New York was in the government of that state than were the three chancellors of the High Court of Chancery in the government of Virginia (Ben: Perley Poore, comp., The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States [2d ed., 2 parts; Washington, 1878], Part II, pp. 1332–33, 1336–37; Pendleton to JM, 28 October 1782, n. 6). After completing his remarks, JM probably moved to amend the wording of the preamble to read as quoted in n. 3.
9. Immediately following “of,” JM deleted “suggesting an.”
12. Before “1779,” “24 September” should be inserted (ibid., n. 2). McKean’s motion and “set of Resolutions” are in the printed journal of 5 December (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 765–66). See Notes on Debates, 5 December 1782, and n. 8.
13. After writing “they should,” JM deleted “y” and “should,” and interlineated “former.”
14. McKean was referring to the petition submitted to Congress on behalf of “the Distressed Sufferers,” mentioned in Notes on Debates, 14 November, n. 1. For the proposal to coerce Vermont, see Notes on Debates, 5 December 1782, and n. 6.
15. See Notes on Debates, 14 November 1782, nn. 3, 4. That is, Congress was being asked to make demands upon the “government of Vermont” before hearing its defense against the charges. Charles Phelps (1716–1789) of Marlborough in southeastern Vermont had been a leader in resisting the de facto authorities of Vermont and in complaining about their “oppression” to Congress and Governor George Clinton of New York. The government of Vermont extended him a full pardon in 1784. For Phelps’s unsuccessful efforts to uphold the jurisdiction of New York in Vermont, see Hiland Hall, History of Vermont, pp. 392–97, 412–13, 437; Collections of the Vermont Historical Society, II (Montpelier, 1871), 270–74, 286, 295–303, 309, 422–23.
Prominent among the “other exiles” were Henry Evans (1734–1792) and William Shattuck (d. ca. 1788). In recognition of their loyalty, the legislature of New York in 1786 granted them and about one hundred other Vermonters of similar views the eight-mile-square township in which Bainbridge, Chenango County, is now situated (ibid., II, 437–39; Lineage Book of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, CLVIII , 263).
16. Immediately following this word, JM deleted “such.”
17. Without changing the period after “weight” to a comma, JM abbreviated, interlineated, and wrote in a much smaller hand so as to have room to insert the remainder of the sentence in the small space available before the beginning of the next paragraph. For evidence that Vermont repeatedly had refused to submit its “claim of independence” to the decision of Congress, even though Vermont had frequently sent agents to attend upon Congress, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XVII, 448–51; XVIII, 868; XXI, 875–76, 882–83; XXII, 157, 164–68; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 113, n. 3; III, 225, n. 11; IV, 132–34; 135, nn. 4, 5, 8.
18. For Daniel Carroll’s support earlier in 1782 of the efforts of Vermont to gain admittance to the Confederation, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 40, n. 6; 130; 131, n. 2; 178; 179, nn. 7, 8. Carroll was a member of the committee which reported upon the allegedly treasonable correspondence of Luke Knoulton and Samuel Wells with British officials in New York City and Canada (Notes on Debates, 25 November, and nn. 1, 3, and 4; Notes on Debates, 27 November 1782, and n. 17). See also n. 23, below.
20. JM interlineated this word above a deleted “prevailing.”
21. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 418; 420, n. 17. For a resolution adopted by Congress on 3 December 1782 concerning alleged “treasonable practices” in Vermont, see Notes on Debates, 27 November 1782, n. 20.
22. That is, the provision of McKean’s resolutions recommending that Congress should compel Vermont to restore the property confiscated by her from “sundry persons” if she refused to do so peaceably in compliance with Congress’ request. See Notes on Debates, 5 December 1782.
23. JM interlineated the phrase “on several States.” For the apparent effect of New York’s cession of her western-land claims to Congress, see JM to Randolph, 29 October, and n. 13; 5 November, and nn. 3, 5; 19 November, n. 8; Notes on Debates, 14 November 1782.