First Motion on Evaluation of State Lands for Carrying into Effect Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation
[Philadelphia, February 6, 1783]1
Resolved, That in order to enable Congress to form an eventual plan towards carrying into execution the 8th. article of confederation the several States be required to pass laws for forming or dividing their respective states into such districts as they judge most convenient for procuring an accurate valuation of the lands and of the buildings and improvements thereon, & to appoint Commissioners in each district to return to them the quantity of land in such district, the quantity surveyed, the quantity in actual occupation, the general quality of the land, the number and kind of buildings, the average rate at which lands under improvement and lands unimproved are usually sold in such district; and also an account of the males between 16 & 60, distinguishing the whites from the blacks, within such district, and that the executive of each state transmit such returns to Congress on or before the 1st of January 1784.2
AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
1. The motion is undated. It is printed in a note in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 114, under date of February 6, 1783.
2. The constant but unsuccessful attempt of Congress to secure funds led to a demand that the states be ordered to comply with Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation which stipulated that Confederation expenses should be apportioned among the states on the basis of land values (see “Remarks on the Valuation of Lands,” January 8, 1783). On January 13, 1783, a grand committee, of which H was a member, was appointed to report on the most effectual way of estimating the land values in the various states. In a debate on the subject on January 31, H said that he “… wished the valuation to be taken up in order that its impracticability & futility might become manifest” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress). On February 6, the committee recommended that the states pass laws providing for an evaluation of their lands and that the valuations be transmitted to Congress by January 1, 1784, so that requisitions “as shall be agreeable to the Articles of Confederation” might be made upon the states (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 113).
H’s motion differed from the committee report in that it recommended the valuations be used not as the basis for imposition of an immediate requisition but to enable Congress to form an eventual plan.
For the changes in the report before its adoption on February 17, 1783, see H to George Clinton, February 24, 1783.