Virginia Delegates to Edmund Randolph
New York April 2d. 1787
I do myself the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellencies favor of the 15th. Ult. to the Delegation. Any additional information which may be acquired upon the subject of Mr. Van Berkels Memorial1 will be punctually transmitted.
I lament exceedingly the Situation into which our Trade is thrown under the late Laws. It will occasion a deminution of the Revenue which we are in no condition to bear. This circumstance evinces the impossibility of Managing the Trade of America by State arrangements, and necessity of Vesting the foederal Head, with full Authority over that, and every Interest of the like general nature. Until this is the case, State Schemes will be pursued with Surreptitious views against each other, which must eventually destroy a source of Revenue that might be immensely valuable to the whole Union; and every effort prohibitory of foreign Articles will also be vain.
The Resolutions upon the proposed Convention between the States of Virginia, Maryland and Pensylvania, have been laid before Congress, and referred to a Committee, who have reported favourably. The proposition is, however viewed with a Coolness which will retard the decision, nor can I venture an opinion as to the issue.2
Congress last week had under consideration the civil list establishment, and made some considerable reductions therein. Inclosed your Excellency will receive the resolutions upon that subject.3 This measure in some instances resulted rather from necessity than choice.
The House of Assembly of New York have passed an Act to Authorise the Delegates of that State in Congress, to accede to, ratify and confirm the Independence and Sovereignty of Vermont, and it is understood that it will pass the Senate and Council of revision. The enclosed papers contain the principles and arguments upon which the measure is founded—as soon as the Act is Compleat it shall be transmitted. It is suggested that there may arise a difficulty upon the point of a participation in the public burthens, heretofore incurred.4
By some late acts of Rhode Island it appears that the current of Madness in that State has not yet compleated its course. The Assembly have decided by a Majority of upwards of twenty, not to send Deputies to the Convention—and, by the same majority, they have declined to aid the State of Massachusetts in apprehending the Insurgents who have taken refuge amongst them.
The Board of Treasury still decline sending the Indents—this conduct is founded upon the information of the loan Officer that the funds for complying with the requisition are inadequate—the Act of Congress makes the Indents issuable upon condition that adequate funds shall first have been provided, and the Board alledge, that having no data on which to found an opinion of their own, they are obliged to conform to that of the Loan Officer.5 Perhaps upon an interview between the Executive and the loan Officer this difficulty might be removed. The Indents now to be issued would not, I beleive be receivable in the Tax now collecting, but that of 1787 will be coming on, and it is of some consequence that the people should have it in their power to get the Indents in time for it.
The Treaty with Sweden is enclosed. I have the Honor to be with due respect Your Excellencies Most Obedt. Servt.
RC (Vi). In Carrington’s hand. Docketed by Randolph. Enclosure (Vi): resolutions concerning the civil list. The two other enclosures have not been found: the papers relating to the Vermont independence bill and the copy of the commercial treaty between Sweden and the U.S.
1. Van Berckel was protesting alleged discrimination against Dutch commerce (JM to Randolph, 18 Feb. 1787 and nn. 5, 6; Virginia Delegates to Randolph, 25 Mar. 1787, n. 2).
2. Resolutions for a convention of delegates from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to discuss commercial regulations were passed by the Virginia legislature in November 1786 (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, pp. 27–28, 54). They were laid before Congress for approval on 26 Feb. 1787 and referred to a committee on 1 Mar. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 76–77). The committee reported favorably on 13 Mar., but its report was rejected on 8 May (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 114, 271–72). The opponents of the Virginia proposition “contended that all partial regulations of commerce were impolitic as they tended to procrastinate and impede the adoption of a general system” (Henry Lee to Randolph, 15 May 1787. Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 598).
3. Notes on Debates, 23 Mar. 1787; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 128–31.
4. See JM to Washington, 18 Mar. 1787 and n. 5. The Vermont independence bill did not actually pass a third reading by the Assembly until 11 Apr. and was subsequently defeated by the Senate. The missing enclosures were most likely issues of New York newspapers containing printed debates of the Assembly on the Vermont bill. See, for example, Alexander Hamilton’s speech in favor of the bill, printed in the N.Y. Daily Advertiser on 16 Mar. and the N. Y. Packet on 20 Mar. (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (19 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , IV, 115–18).
5. Virginia Delegates to Randolph, 26 Feb. 1787 and n. 1. The continental loan officer for Virginia was John Hopkins. On 16 Apr. Randolph wrote to the president of Congress enclosing the Virginia act for complying with the requisition of 1786 and requesting that the Board of Treasury be instructed to issue the indents alloted to Virginia on that requisition (Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1786–1788, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 74). The letter was referred to the Board of Treasury, who submitted a report on 10 July (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 320–27). In assigning reasons for again refusing to issue the indents, the board cited Hopkins’s opinion (contained in his letter of 16 Jan. 1787 to the Board of Treasury) that the Virginia act provided insufficient funds to meet the specie requirements of the requisition. The board also pointed out the state’s failure to meet these requirements in previous requisitions. Congress took no action on the report, but a copy was furnished to the Virginia delegates for transmittal to the governor (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 349 n. 3; Virginia Delegates to Beverley Randolph, 22 July 1787, Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 625–26).