Remarks on the Collection of Funds
by Officers of the United States
[Philadelphia, January 28, 1783]
Mr. Hamilton, in reply to Mr. Elseworth1 dwelt long on the inefficacy of State funds.2 He supposed too that greater obstacles would arise to the execution of the plan than to that of a general revenue. As an additional reason for the latter to be collected by officers under the appointment of Congress, he signified that as the energy of the fœderal Govt. was evidently short of the degree necessary for pervading & uniting the States it was expedient to introduce the influence of officers deriving their emoluments from & consequently interested in supporting the power of Congress.3
“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Oliver Ellsworth had proposed that the national debt be discharged by congressional requisitions on permanent funds raised by the states.
2. The debate of January 27, 1783, on establishing adequate permanent funds for the United States was continued on the next day. Ellsworth had objected to a proposition made by James Madison that Congress establish “permanent & adequate funds to operate generally throughout the U. States” and that it be considered whether the funds should “be collected under the authority of Congress” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).
3. Madison wrote the following note concerning H’s last statement:
“This remark was imprudent & injurious to the cause wch. it was meant to serve. This influence was the very source of jealousy which rendered the States averse to a revenue under the collection as well as appropriation of Congress. All the members of Congress who concurred in any degree with the States in this jealousy smiled at the disclosure. Mr. [Theodorick] Bland [of Virginia] and still more Mr. [Arthur] L[ee of Virginia] who were of this number took notice in private conversation that Mr. Hamilton had let out the secret.” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.)