Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). For a description of the manuscript of Notes on Debates, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 231–34.
Following his terminal entry of 21 June 1783, JM inserted a folio considerably larger in size than the pages on which he had recorded his notes on debates. On this folio, which he covered with a folded half-page and inscribed “June 19. 1783,” he copied Hugh Williamson’s motion, mentioned in the first paragraph of his notes for that day. Although JM did not designate the insertion as a footnote to the paragraph, he obviously meant the motion to be a supplement thereto. For this reason the editors have added JM’s copy of the motion as the second paragraph of his notes.
A motion was made by Mr. Williamson seconded by Mr. Bland, to recommend to the States to make it a part of the Confederation, that whenever a fourteenth State should be added to the Union, ten votes be required in cases now requiring nine. It was committed to Mr. Williamson, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Madison.1 The motion had reference to the foreseen erection of the western part of N. Carolina into a separate State.2
Motion of Mr. Williamson3 2ded. by Mr. Bland June 19. 1783 commited to Mr. Williamson, Mr. Hamilton & Mr. Madison
Whereas the safety and peace of the U.S. are greatly interested in the no. of States that may be reqd. to vote on Questions of a particular class: and whereas it is provided by the 9th. article of the Confederation that the U S in C. asd. shall never engage in a war nor grant letters of marque & reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any Treaties or Alliances nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums & expences necessary for the defence & welfare of the U.S. or any of them, nor emit bills nor borrow money on the Credit of the U.S., nor appropriate money nor agree upon the no. of Vessels of war to be built or purchased or the no. of land or Sea forces to be raised, nor appt. a Commander in chief of the army, or navy, unless nine States assent to the same. It is also provided by the eleventh art: that no Colony except Canada shall be admitted into the Union unless such admission be agreed to by nine States,4 but no provision is made for the no. of States that may be reqd. to agree in determining such questions when the prest. no. of States shall have been increased: and Whereas the determination of those great questions by 9. States alone when the origl. no. may be considerably increased wd. be a manifest departure from the Spirit of the Confederation & might prove dangerous to the Union. Therefore
Resd. that whenever a 14. State shd. be admitd. into the prest. Union the vote & agreetn. [agreement] of 10 Sts. shall become necessy. for determg all those quests. in the Congs. of U.S. wch. are now determd. by no less than 9.
Resd. that the asst. of 3 addl. States shall be necessy. in determg those questions for every 4 addl. Sts tht. may be admd. into the Union
Resd. that the sevl. Sts be advised to authorise their respective Delegs. to subscribe & ratify the above Resolves as part of the instrumt. of Union.5
Information was recd. by Congress from the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, that 80 Soldiers, who would probably be followed by the discharged Soldiers of Armand’s Legion were on the way from Lancaster to Philadelpa. in spite of the expostulations of their officers, declaring that they would proceed to the seat of Congress and demand justice, and intimating designs agst. the Bank.6 This information was committed to Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Peters, and Mr. Ellsworth for the purpose of conferring with the Executive of Pennsylvania and taking such measures as they should find necessary. The Committee after so conferring informed Congress, that it was the opinion of the Executive that the militia of Philadelpa. would probably not be willing to take arms before their resentments should be provoked by some actual outrage; that it would hazard the authority of Govt. to make the attempt, & that it would be necessary to let the soldiers come into the City, if the officers who had gone out to meet them, could not stop them7
At this information Mr. Izard Mr. Mercer & others being much displeased, signified that if the City would not support Congress, it was high time to remove to some other place. Mr Wilson remarked that no part of the U. States was better disposed towards Congs than Pennsylvania, where the prevailing sentiment was that Congress had done every thing that depended on them. After some conversation and directing Genl. St. Clair, who had gone out of Town, to be sent for, and it appearing that nothing further could be done at present, Congress adjourned.8 The Secy. at War had set out for Virginia yesterday.9 It was proposed to send for him, but declined as he had probably gone too great a distance, and Genl. St. Clair, it was supposed would answer.10
1. JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 403–4. On 5 August 1783 Congress reconstituted the committee by appointing Samuel Huntington (Conn.) and Stephen Higginson in the stead of Hamilton and JM (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 109).
2. The customary frontier grievances of the eight thousand or more white settlers in the mountain valleys of North Carolina were heightened in 1783 by an act of the state’s General Assembly opening a land office for the sale of public lands, including that in the Watauga-Holston area, upon which the westerners were squatters and from which the Indian titles had not wholly been cleared. This statute, by threatening the frontier folk with economic dominance by absentee landlords and increased ravages by the Cherokees, added force to the earlier efforts of leaders in the back country to create an independent republic. Among these leaders were Arthur Campbell of southwestern Virginia and John Sevier and John Donelson of western North Carolina. They eagerly sought wealth from land speculations as well as public office.
Williamson and other men prominent in the government of North Carolina viewed its western lands much as JM did those of Virginia. To govern and defend them was a task too large for a state with an empty treasury, while to convey their title to Congress would result in reducing the state’s annual financial quota. From these discontents, which were deepened by North Carolina’s proviso in its short-lived offer of cession in April 1784 requiring Congress to confirm the speculators’ land titles, arose later that year the abortive state of Franklin or Frankland, named for Benjamin Franklin and centered at Jonesborough and Greeneville, now in Tennessee (George Henry Alden, “The State of Franklin,” American Historical Review, VIII [1902–3], 271–89; Samuel Cole Williams, History of the Lost State of Franklin [Johnson City, Tenn., 1924], pp. 5–33; Thomas P. Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, pp. 191, 290 ff.).
3. See ed. n.
4. Except for abbreviating words and altering capitalization and punctuation, Williamson copied all the relevant portion of the sixth paragraph of Article IX and paraphrased the brief Article XI (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 220, 221).
5. Although the provision in the motion for enlarging the Confederation was of liberal tenor, the motion also increased the degree of acquiescence required to enact ordinances dealing with important issues, thereby making less likely that ultra-liberal delegates from new “frontier” states could work their will.
The report of the reconstituted committee, submitted on 15 September 1783, altered Williamson’s second and third proposed resolutions to read: “Whenever a fifteenth state is admitted the assent of eleven states shall become necessary; whenever a sixteenth State is admitted the assent of twelve states shall become necessary and thus onward, in such manner that the assent of at least three fourths of all the states in the union, shall ever be necessary” in deciding questions which in 1783 required the assent of at least nine states. Congress took no action on this report except to have it “entered and read” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 570–71). Vermont, of course, became the fourteenth state, but its admission on 4 March 1791 accorded with Article IV, section 3, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of the United States rather than with an amended Articles of Confederation.
6. For Armand’s Legion, see Pendleton to JM, 16 June 1783, n. 12; for the Bank of North America, Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 175, n. 16; IV, 19; 20, n. 7; 23, n. 3; 104, n. 1; 405, n. 11; VI, 494, n. 7. The “80 Soldiers” were of the Third Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Colonel Richard Butler (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds., Pennsylvania Archives (9 ser.; 138 vols.; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949). description ends , 1st ser., X, 69). For Butler, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 281, n. 4. On 19 June the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, meeting in the State House, transmitted to the state’s delegates in Congress, which was also housed in that building, two letters of 17 June from Lancaster, one written by Butler and the other by Colonel William Henry, “containing information of the march, temper, and intentions, of part of the troops stationed at Lancaster” (Colonial Records of Pa., XIII, 603). Butler emphasized his belief that the mutiny had been instigated from Philadelphia “& that the flame is supported by inimical or unconsiderate people.” In his letter, Henry mentioned the rumors, current in Lancaster, that the mutineers intended “to rob the Bank, Treasury, &c. &c.” and that they probably would be joined by the troops of Armand’s Legion, then stationed in York (NA: PCC, No. 38, fols. 37–38, 123; Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, I , 14–17).
7. James Ewing, vice president of Pennsylvania, rather than President John Dickinson, presided at the meetings of the Executive Council on 19 and 20 June. JM’s account of the outcome of the conference, based upon an oral report of the Hamilton committee, contrasts with that given in the following excerpt from a footnote to the minutes of the Executive Council for 19 June: “the Committee and Council concurred in opinion that from the good order observed in their march, the tranquil temper of the troops already here, and the measures pursued by government to make them all easy and contented, the language of invitation, and good humour became more advisable than any immediate exertion of authority” (Colonial Records of Pa., XIII, 603 n.; Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 400, n. 1).
In his letter of 17 June, Butler informed President Dickinson that Captain James Christie would overtake the mutineers on their march toward Philadelphia and seek once again to have them abandon their plan. On 19 June Hamilton, on behalf of the committee, requested Major William Jackson, assistant secretary at war, to meet the marchers before they reached Philadelphia “and endeavor by every prudent method to engage them to return to the post they have left” (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 397; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 415–16). Neither of these efforts succeeded. See JM Notes, 20 June 1783, and n. 1.
8. General Arthur St. Clair, commander of the continental troops of Pennsylvania, was probably at his residence in Pottsgrove, Philadelphia County (William H. Smith, St. Clair Papers, I, 556, n. 2).
9. Benjamin Lincoln, secretary at war, reached Richmond on the morning of 27 June. His baggage included a letter from JM to Joseph Jones, probably dated 17 June (Jones to JM, 28 June; Randolph to JM, 28 June 1783).
10. On 19 June Congress also adopted the report of a committee (Hamilton, chairman, JM, and Bland), appointed eight days earlier, recommending that the state executives should be sent copies of Washington’s correspondence, dated between 2 and 7 June, with his officers who had protested on their own and their troops’ behalf against being furloughed or discharged before receiving at least part of their long overdue pay (NA: PCC, No. 152, XI, 295–305; JM Notes, 26 May 1783, and n. 2; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 472–75; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 392, n. 1, 402–3).