Motion that Debates
on the Establishment of Funds Be Public
[Philadelphia] February 18, 1783
Whereas it is the desire of Congress that the motives of their deliberations and measures (as far as they can be disclosed consistently with the public safety) should be fully known to their constituents:
Therefore Resolved that when the establishment of funds for paying the principal & interest of the public debts shall be under the consideration of this house the doors thereof shall be open.1
AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives. In HCLW description begins Henry Cabot Lodge, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1904). description ends , I, 303, this is dated 1783.
1. On February 18, 1783, Congress again resolved itself into a committee of the whole to discuss the raising of general funds. According to Madison, H’s motion, seconded by James Wilson, was prompted by the Pennsylvania delegates who
“… said privately that they had brought themselves into a critical situation by dissuading their Constituents from separate provision for Creditors of U. S. within Pena. hoping that Congs. wd. adopt a general provision, & they wished their Constituents to see the prospect themselves & to witness the conduct of their Delegates. Perhaps the true reason was that, it was expected the presence of public creditors numerous & weighty in Philada. wd. have an influence & that it wd. be well for the public to come more fully to the knowledge of the public finances.” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.)
On the following day, February 19, H’s motion was defeated, only Pennsylvania voting for it (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).