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Resolutions on Private Debts Owed to British Merchants, Resolution C, [23 June 1784]

[23 June 1784]

Resolution C

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the delegates representing this State in Congress, be instructed to lay before that body, the subject matter of the preceding report and resolution, and to request from them a remonstrance to the British court complaining of the aforesaid infraction of the treaty of peace, and desiring a proper reparation for the injuries consequent thereupon; that the said delegates be instructed to inform Congress, that the General Assembly have no inclination to interfere with the power of making treaties with foreign nations, which the confederation hath wisely vested in Congress; but it is conceived that a just regard to the national honor and interest of the citizens of this Commonwealth, obliges the Assembly to withold their co-operation in the complete fulfilment of the said treaty, until the success of the aforesaid remonstrance is known, or Congress shall signify their sentiments touching the premises.1

Printed copy (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 , May 1784, p. 74).

1As the House resumed discussion of the previously tabled motions, a delegate moved to strike the italicized portions of Resolution C. This apparently was JM’s move, as the words to be substituted were his from Resolution B: “and that in case of refusal or unreasonable delay of due reparation, the said delegates be instructed to urge that the sanction of Congress be given to the just policy of retaining so much of the debts due from the citizens of this Commonwealth, to British subjects, as will fully repair the losses sustained by the infraction of the treaty aforesaid,—and that, to enable the said delegates to proceed herein, with greater precision and effect, the executive be requested to take immediate measures for obtaining and transmitting to them all just claims of the citizens of this Commonwealth, under the treaty aforesaid.”

JM’s substitution was rejected by a 33 to 50 vote. As finally approved, the resolutions declared that until Great Britain had paid reparations on Virginia claims nothing would be done regarding debt recovery, although it was conceded that Congress might regard the repeal of certain wartime stay laws as “indispensably necessary.” In the latter case, repayment would proceed “in such time and manner as shall consist with the exhausted situation of this Commonwealth” (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 , May 1784, p. 74). The door for recovery of the debt was left only slightly ajar. JM would again face the problem at the next session, when Henry was no longer in the House.

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