Motion on Abatements for States
in Possession of the Enemy
[Philadelphia] March 4, 1783
Whereas in the opinion of Congress it is essential to those principles of justice and liberality which ought to govern the intercourse between these states that in the final adjustment of accounts for the supplies or contributions of the states respectively towards the common expences in the course of the war equitable allowances should be made in favour of those states parts of which have been at different periods in possession of the enemy—And Whereas the strict application of the rule prescribed by the 8th. article of the confederation as declared by the resolution of the 17th. of February1 would operate greatly to the prejudice of such states, and to the calamities of war add an undue proportion of the public burthen
Resolved That Congress will in the application of the said rule make such abatements in favour of the said states, as from a full consideration of circumstances, shall appear to them just and equitable for the time the said parts of the said states may have been in possession of the enemy.2
AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives. A similar motion had been made by H on February 17, 1783.
1. The congressional resolution of February 17 required each state to make an evaluation of its lands and to ascertain the number of its inhabitants. The results were to be used as a basis for apportioning the sums required by the Confederation. For a discussion of the resolution, see H to George Clinton, February 24[-27], 1783.
2. A motion was made by Abraham Clark to postpone consideration of the motion. After Clark’s motion was defeated, Congress voted and rejected H’s motion (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 162–63). “The motion of Mr. Hamilton on the Journal relative to the abatement of the quotas of distressed States was rejected,” James Madison recorded, “partly because the principle was disapproved by some, and partly because it was thought improper to be separated from other objects to be recommended to the States. The latter motive produced the motion for postponing which was lost” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).