James Madison Papers
Documents filtered by: Contains page reference="JSMN-01-06-02-pb-0432"
sorted by: editorial placement
Permanent link for this document:
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-06-02-0148

Notes on Debates, [4?] April 1783

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 (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 231–34.

Editorial Note

JM prefaced the present notes by writing, “Wednesday apl. 3. Thursday Apl. 4. Friday apr. 5. Saturday apr. 6. See Journals.” He thereby confused either the days or the dates, for 3 April in 1783 was a Thursday and the fourth, fifth, and sixth were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. Between 3 and 6 April, Congress convened only on 4 April (NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 60; No. 186, fols. 171–72; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 227–30).

The notes below are confined to the contents of, rather than the debate on the report of the grand committee, and to the appointment of a committee to propose “the proper arrangements to be taken in consequence of peace.” Congress named this latter committee on 4 April. The report of the grand committee, which was adopted on 7 April, is in NA: PCC, No. 26, fols. 399–401. See also NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 172; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 230–31; JM Notes, 7 April 1783. Although Charles Thomson’s committee book, the docket of the manuscript report of the grand committee, and the journal omit mention of the report being submitted to Congress on 4 April, they at [p. 432] least record nothing which bars the conclusion that the report was first presented on that day (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 227–29). If this conclusion is correct, all the present notes refer only to the session of 4 April 1783.

The Grand Come. appointed to consider the proportions for the blank in the Report on Revenue &c.1 reported the following grounded on the number of Inhabitants in each State; observing that N.H. R.I. Cont. & Mard. had produced authentic documents of their numbers;2 & that in fixing the numbers of other States, they had been governed by such information as they could obtain. They also reduced the interest of aggregate debt. 2,500,000 Drs.3

No. of Inhabts.4 proportions
of 10005
proportions
of 1½ Miln6
N.H. 82,200 35 52,500
Mas: 350,000 148 222,000
R.I. 50,400 21 31,500
Cont. 206,000 87 130,500
N.Y. 200,000 85 127,500
N.J. 130,000 55 82,500
Pena. 320,000 136 204,000
Del: 35,000 15 22,500
Marg. 220,700 94 141,000
Virga. 400,000 169 253,000
N.C. 170,000 72 108,000
S.C. 170,000 72 108,000
Georga.   25,000   11   16,500
2,359,300 1000 1,500,000
Annual Intst. of debt7 after deducting 1000.…8 Drs. expected from Impost on Trade.

A Come. consisting of Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison &9 was appointd to report the proper arrangements to be taken in consequence of peace. [p. 433] The object was to provide a system for foreign affairs, for Indian affairs, for military & naval peace establishments; and also to carry into execution the regulation of weights & measures & other articles of the Confederation not attended to during the war. To the same Come. was referred a resolution of the Executive Council of Pa. requesting the Delegates of that State to urge Congs. to establish a general peace with the Indians.10

1JM Notes, 1 Apr. 1783, and n. 12. The “blank” to which JM referred was in the fifth paragraph of the Report on Restoring Public Credit, submitted to Congress on 6 Mar. 1783 (q.v., and n. 8).

2Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 122; 123, n. 3; 356; 360, n. 28; Amendment to Report on Public Credit, 27 Mar., and n. 6; JM Notes, 27 Mar. 1783, and nn. 4, 27; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 257, 261, n. 3, 278. A census taken in New Hampshire in 1775 showed its population to be 81,539 whites and 661 Negroes (NA: PCC, No. 64, fols. 221–23). A similar tally, made in Rhode Island in 1774, enumerated 54,453 whites and 3,768 Negroes in that colony (Stella H. Sutherland, Population Distribution in Colonial America, pp. 20–21). In the same year 191,392 whites and 6,464 Negroes were counted in Connecticut (NA: PCC, No. 59, X, 217; Charles J. Hoadly et al., eds., Public Records of Connecticut, XIV, 491). In March 1782 the people in Maryland were reported to comprise 170,688 whites and 83,362 Negroes (NA: PCC, No. 75, fols. 310–11).

3This was the approximate sum estimated to be needed annually to pay the interest on the “liquidated” domestic and foreign debts totaling about $42,000,375, “as far as they can now be ascertained” (Address to States, 25 Apr. 1783, and n. 5). Of the $2,500,000, about $1,000,000 was expected to accrue from the recommended tariffs on foreign imports, thus leaving a “reduced” sum of $1,500,000 to be requisitioned from the states. This also was a much “reduced” requisition as compared with the $8,000,000 of 1782 and the $2,000,000 of 1783 (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 129, n. 13; 211, n. 10; 289; 291, n. 11; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 1090; XXIII, 666).

4Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 123, n. 3. In the manuscript of the report, as in JM’s notes, the population of South Carolina was shown originally as 170,000 and the total population of the thirteen states as 2,359,300. In the manuscript of the report, the “5” written over the “7” in “170,000” and the “2,339,300” entered below the former total reflect the outcome of the debate on 7 April (NA: PCC, No. 26, fol. 399; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 231; JM Notes, 7 Apr. 1783). JM obviously copied the committee’s draft of the report as it was submitted on 4 April rather than as it was revised during the debate three days later. For comments upon the population of Virginia, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 8; 351, nn. 21, 22; Randolph to JM, 7 Feb. 1783, n. 3.

5If JM had used 2,359.3 as his divisor, the “proportions of 1,000” would have been incorrect. Almost certainly he did not enter in his notes for 4 April the figures in the proportions column until 7 April, and then he copied those in the report by the committee. This committee, by reducing the population figure of South Carolina by 20,000, had a divisor of 2,339.3 rather than 2,359.3. Using 2,339.3, the figures in the second column of the committee’s report are correct with two minor exceptions. The figure for Connecticut should be 88.1 rather than 88.2 and that for New York 85.4 rather than 85.6. Although JM copied accurately in his notes the figures in the third column of the report, it is not clear how the committee arrived at several of them. In some instances it obviously raised to the next highest integer a proportion [p. 434] in which the decimal fraction exceeded six tenths, and eliminated any fraction below six tenths, but it seems arbitrarily to have dropped Massachusetts’ true proportion from 149.6 to 148, Connecticut’s from 88.2 to 87, Pennsylvania’s from 136.8 to 136, and Virginia’s from 171 to 169. The committee furthermore neglected to take into account its reduction of 20,000 in South Carolina’s population figure (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 231).

By 18 April 1783, when Congress adopted the plan for restoring public credit including the state-by-state requisition quotas, the overcharge of South Carolina had been altered by correctly deducting $11,817 from her quota. The quotas of Delaware and Georgia had also been reduced by $57 and $470, respectively. These three figures total $12,344. This sum had been distributed proportionately among the quotas of the other nine states so as to retain the full requisition of $1,500,000 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 259).

6The quota of each state in this column was derived by multiplying 1,500 thousands ($1,500,000) by the appropriate figure in the preceding column for that state. Virginia’s proportion, miscopied by JM, was $253,500.

7In reality, $1,500,000 was not the annual interest on the debt. See n. 3. JM’s figures actually total to $1,499,500, but see n. 6 for error of $500 in the figure for Virginia.

8JM meant $1,000,000. An earlier estimate of the annual income to be derived from collecting a 5 per cent impost had been $600,000, but that figure had assumed a continuance of hostilities (JM Notes, 29 Jan. 1783, n. 20). The foreign trade of the United States obviously should be larger in peacetime.

9Many years after he penned his notes, JM interlineated “See Journal” above “Madison &.” Although Congress on 4 April appointed Alexander Hamilton, chairman, and JM, Samuel Osgood, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Wilson as the other members of the committee, the journal does not record the personnel of the committee until 21 April 1783 (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 92; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 264).

10On 3 April President John Dickinson in Council expressed to the delegates in Congress from Pennsylvania his earnest desire, as “indispensably necessary” to the welfare of the state, that they use their “utmost exertions” to have Congress adopt speedily “the most effectual measures for making a peace with all the Indian nations” (NA: PCC, No. 69, fol. 435). The committee’s first report, submitted on 21 April 1783, cited Dickinson’s letter as a particular justification for recommending to Congress a general policy for dealing with all Indian tribes “preparatory to” a “final pacification” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 264).

Besides “regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the states,” and “fixing the standard of weights and measures throughout the united states,” Article IX of the Articles of Confederation also delegated to Congress the “sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective states” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 219). A proposal by Bridgen and Waller, merchants of London, to provide copper coins for the United States was enclosed by Benjamin Franklin in his dispatch of 24 December 1782 to Robert R. Livingston and apparently referred to the committee on 6 May 1783 (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 163; NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 93). Following a recommendation by Robert Morris, Congress on 21 February 1782 had approved “the establishment of a mint,” but the resolution was not made effective either in that year or in 1783 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 9, 87; Clarence L. Ver Steeg, Robert Morris, pp. 88–89, and nn. 24–26). The committee made no report to Congress on that subject or on weights and measures.

For the committee and the military “peace establishment,” see Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 131–32, 132, n. 2; 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, 311–13, 321–22; 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, 291, and n. 6, 291–96.

Index Entries