Settlement of the State Claims
[21 January 1793]
FitzSimons reported the bill authorizing “a Loan in the certificates or notes of such States as shall have balances due to them upon a final settlement of accounts with the United States” (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, 1789–1824 (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 830). In the Committee of the Whole, Mercer moved (by amendment) to prohibit “certificates which have been transferred within a certain period from being subscribed to the loan,” in order to prevent holders from being defrauded when the value of certificates rose as a result of the bill’s provisions. Barnwell opposed the amendment, saying “the government had no right to abridge the right of transferring” property.
Mr. Madison replied to Mr. Barnwell; he observed, that the gentleman argued from proper principles, if they had been applied to a different case. The present proposition of providing for these balances is a voluntary business, which this government is under no obligation to engage in; but having engaged in it, the measures it may adopt on the occasion, have no necessary reference to, or connection with the general regulations under which the paper now exists—the government may make just what arrangements it thinks proper. The provision now contemplated, he remarked, was however to be justified on its own merits; the uses and the consequences resulting from it, were designed to be salutary; and with respect to persons remote from the seat of government, who are equally entitled to protection in every sense with those who reside there, they would evidently be benefited by the regulation.1
Gazette of the U.S., 2 Feb. 1793.
1. After further debate the committee defeated the amendment. Mercer revived it in the House on 24 Jan. (National Gazette, 30 Jan. 1793). JM was in the minority when the House defeated that and another amendment. Then on 25 Jan. he voted with the majority to approve an amendment postponing subscriptions to the loan. The House tied on the question that the bill be engrossed and read a third time; JM opposed it but the Speaker’s casting vote saved the bill (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, 1789–1824 (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 842–44).