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Notes on Debates, 17 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.

Mr. Madison with the permission1 of the Come. on Revenue, reported the following clause to be added to the 10 paragraph in the first report viz2


In support of this proposition it was argued that in a general provision for public debts and public tranquility,3 satisfactory measures ought to be taken on a point wch. many of the States had so much at heart,4 & which they wd. not separate from the other matters proposed by Congress:5 that the nature of the business was unfit for the decision of Congs. who brought with them the spirit of advocates rather than of Judges,6 and besides required more time than could be spared for it.

On the opposite side some contended that the accts. between U. S. & particular States sd. not be made in any manner to encumber those between the former and private persons.7 Others thought that Congs. could not delegate to Comrs. a power of allowing claims for which the Confedon. reqd. nine States.8 Others were unwilling to open so wide a door for claims on the Common Treasury.9

On the question Masts. divided Cont. ay. R. Id. no. N.Y. no N.J. no. Pa. no. Maryd. no. Va. ay. N.C. no S.C. no.10

1The italics signify that JM underlined this word.

2For the text of “the following clause,” see Amendment to Report on Public Credit, 17 Apr. 1783, and ed. n.

3The connection between maintaining “public tranquility” and providing for “public debts” had been frequently emphasized. See JM Notes, 13 Jan., and nn. 17, 21; 27 Jan., and n. 27; 28 Jan., and n. 34; 29 Jan.; 19 Feb., and n. 12; 20 Feb., and nn. 17, 18; 21 Feb., and n. 16; 26 Feb.; 17 Mar., and n. 12; 7 Apr.; JM to Randolph, 22 Jan., and n. 8; 13 Feb., and n. 6; 25 Feb.; 4 Mar., n. 5; 25 Mar.; 8 Apr. 1783, and n. 6.

4The “point” was to induce the Confederation to assume their “reasonable” war expenses, even though they had been incurred without authorization by Congress. Besides the references to this matter cited in Amendment to Report on Public Credit, 17 Apr. 1783, and nn. 1, 5, and 8, see JM Notes, 28 Jan., and n. 19; 8 Feb., and n. 3; 11 Feb., and n. 2; 19 Feb., and n. 6; 26 Feb., and nn. 37, 38, 40, 43; 8 Apr., n. 15; Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar., and n. 16; Amendment to Report on Restoring Public Credit, 28 Mar.; Harrison to Delegates, 7 Feb.; JM to Randolph, 25 Feb.; 11 Mar. 1783.

5The “other matters” included import duties, cession of western lands, evaluating the land of each state as a basis for allocating financial quotas, and military pensions. See, for example, JM Notes, 14 Jan., and n. 6; 29 Jan.; 30 Jan., and n. 2; 20 Feb., n. 14; 26 Feb., and nn. 38, 40, 43; 20 Mar., and n. 5; 27 Mar., and nn. 11, 14; 9 Apr., and n. 4; Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar.; JM to Randolph, 11 Mar.; 8 Apr. 1783, and n. 6.

6Heretofore, this argument had been chiefly advanced to oppose having each state evaluate its own land as a basis for a determination by Congress of equitable ratios in requisitioning the states for funds. See JM Notes, 9–10 Jan.; 14 Jan, and n. 7; 31 Jan., and n. 17; 11 Feb.; JM to Randolph, 25 Feb. 1783.

7Among “private persons” would be holders of continental currency, loan-office certificates, and receipts for supplies taken by military personnel, as well as unpaid soldiers, and Dutch bankers entitled to overdue interest on their loans to Congress. See, for example, 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, 473; 474, n. 8; Randolph to JM, 3 Jan., and n. 12; JM to Randolph, 22 Jan., n. 8; JM Notes, 13 Jan., and n. 5; 27 Jan., and nn. 11, 13; 29 Jan., and nn. 14, 15; 30 Jan., and nn. 2, 6; 4 Feb., n. 16; 26 Feb.; 11 Mar., n. 7; 8 Apr. 1783, and nn. 16, 17.

8JM Notes, 9–10 Jan. 1783, and n. 9. Article IX of the Articles of Confederation forbade Congress, “unless nine states assent,” to “ascertain the sums and expences necessary for the defence and welfare of the united states, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the united states, nor appropriate money” (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).

10Delaware and Georgia were unrepresented in Congress, and only one delegate was in attendance from New Hampshire.

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