VI. Report on State Claims to Western Territory
[22 Mch. 1784]
The report of a Committee on the subject of Western territory having been referred to the Grand committee they have had the same under their consideration and agreed to the following report.
Congress by their resolution of Sep. 6. 1780. having thought it adviseable ‘to press upon the states having claims to the Western country a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims,’ by that of the 10th. of Oct. in the same year having fixed1 conditions to which the Union should be bound on receiving such cessions: and having again proposed the same subject to those states in their address of April 1783. wherein, stating the national debt2 and expressing their reliance for it’s discharge3 on the prospect of vacant territory in aid of other resources4 they, for that purpose, as well as to obviate disagreeable controversies and confusions included in the same recommendation a renewal of those of Sep. the 6th. and of Oct. the 10th. 1780: which several recommendations have not yet been finally complied with.
Resolved, that the same subject be again presented to the attention of the said states, that they be urged to consider that the war being now brought to a happy termination by the personal services of our souldiers, the supplies of property by our citizens, and loans of money from them as well as from foreigners, these several creditors have a right to expect that funds shall be provided5 on which they may rely6 for indemnification; that Congress still consider vacant territory as a7 capital resource; that this too is the time when our Confederacy with all the territory included within it’s limits should assume it’s ultimate and permanent form; and that therefore the said states be earnestly pressed by immediate and liberal cessions to forward these necessary ends, and to remove those obstacles which disturb the harmony of the Union, which embarrass it’s councils and obstruct it’s operations.8
MS (DLC: PCC, No. 144, p. 81–2); entirely in TJ’s hand; endorsed in Thomson’s hand: “Report of grand Comee. delivered March 22. 1784. Monday 29 [i.e., 29 Mch.] assigned for Consideration”; contains some deletions and interlineations, all of which are indicated below.
This report was debated on 29 Apr. 1784. Spaight moved to delete that part of the first sentence of the report italicized in the following: “…having thought it adviseable to press upon the states having claims to the western country” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 315; the words “western country” probably were included in the motion to delete, but they are not so indicated in the Journals). This was defeated by a vote of eight states to three; TJ was the only one of the Virginia delegation to oppose it. See note 8 for another amendment.
1. TJ first wrote “having fixed the condition,” and then altered the phrase to read as above.
2. The following is deleted at this point: “and it’s annual interest, they recommended for the discharge of the interest the plan of an impost on commerce now under consideration with the states, with such subsidiary ‘funds as they might judge most convenient,’ and for the discharge of the principal.”
3. As originally phrased, this passage read: “expressing some reliance on other resources, but chiefly,” and then was altered to read as above.
4. Preceding five words interlined.
5. Preceding six words interlined in substitution for “call for a precise designation of the funds.”
6. This word interlined in substitution for “are to,” deleted.
7. This word interlined in substitution for “the,” deleted.
8. The concluding part of the report beginning “That Congress still consider vacant territory …” was amended by Congress to read as quoted above at the conclusion of the editorial note to the present group of documents; no mark on the MS, however, indicates that such an amendment was made (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 317).