Motion on Abatements for States
in Possession of the Enemy
[Philadelphia] February 17, 1783
Whereas it is in the opinion of Congress essential to those principles of justice & liberality which ought to govern the intercourse between these states that equitable abatements shall be made in favour of such states, parts of which have been for different periods in the course of the war in possession of the enemy, in the application of the rule prescribed by the confederation and on which the foregoing resolutions have been founded1—and whereas Congress impressed with this conviction did on the 20th. day of February last2 recommend to the respective states to authorise and empower Congress in the final settlement of the proportions to be borne by each state of the general expences of the war from the commencement thereof until the first day of January 1782 except the monies loaned to the United States for the security and discharge of the principal and interest of which Congress rely on a compliance with their requisition of the 3d. day of Feby. 17813 to assume and adopt such principles as from the particular circumstances of the several states at different periods may appear just & equitable, without being wholly confined to the rule laid in the 8th. article of the confederation in cases where the same cannot be applied4 without manifest injustice. And Whereas some of the states have not yet complied with the said recommendation—
Therefore Resolved that the several states be earnestly requested without delay to pass laws conformable to the spirit of the aforesaid recommendation extending the period to the conclusion of the present war.5
AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
1. H is referring to resolutions on the evaluation of state lands to serve as a basis for congressional requisitions under Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation. See “First Motion on Evaluation of State Lands for Carrying into Effect Article 8 of the Articles of Confederation,” February 6, 1783 note 2. The resolutions, introduced by Eliphalet Dyer, a delegate from Connecticut, and adopted on February 17, provided that each state submit to Congress before March 1, 1784, an account of the quantity of land, number of buildings, and number of inhabitants within its borders. A committee of Congress was then to estimate the value of the lands and submit its estimates to the states for approval or rejection.
4. The words “be applied” are not in the writing of H.
5. H’s motion, according to the endorsement, was referred to Arthur Lee of Virginia, Eliphalet Dyer of Connecticut, and Samuel Holten of Massachusetts. On February 26, 1783, according to the Journals, it was “read and consideration postponed” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 152). H and William Floyd informed Governor George Clinton in a letter dated March 5, 1783, that the report of this committee was “unfavourable.” Another motion, different in wording but the same in content, was introduced by H on March 4.