Alexander Hamilton Papers

Continental Congress Remarks on the Valuation of Lands, [8 January 1783]

Continental Congress
Remarks on the Valuation of Lands

[Philadelphia, January 8, 1783]

On the report1 for valuing the land conformably to the rule laid down in the fœderal articles, the delegates from Connecticut contended for postponing the subject during the war, alledging the impediments arising from the possession of N. Y., &c. by the enemy; but apprehending (as was supposed) that the flourishing state of Connecticut compared with the Southern States, would render a valuation at this crisis unfavorable to the former. Others, particularly Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Madison, were of opinion that the rule of the confederation2 was a chimerical one since if the intervention of the individual states were employed their interests would give a biass to their judgments, or that at least suspicions of such biass wd prevail; and without their intervention, it could not be executed but at an expense, delay & uncertainty which were inadmissible; that it would perhaps be therefore preferable to represent these difficulties to the States & recommend an exchange of this rule of dividing the public burdens for one more simple easy & equal.

“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

1James Madison recorded on November 20, 1782, that a committee was appointed to consider the best mode “of obtaining a valuation of the land within the several States, as the Article of Confederation directs” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress). The report of this committee, which is not given in the Journals of the Congress, was referred to a grand committee consisting of a member from each state. The debate printed above was in this committee.

The report of the committee, which required the states to evaluate their lands and submit to Congress the valuations, is printed in the Journals under date of February 17, 1783 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 133–37). See “Motion on Evaluation of State Lands for Carrying into Effect Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation,” February 6, 1783. For the different versions of the report considered by Congress, see H to George Clinton, February 24, 1783.

2The reference is to Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation which provided that expenses of the Confederation should be defrayed from funds supplied by the several states. The quota of each was to be based on the value of lands within the state.

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