Thomas Jefferson Papers
Note: this document has content that may require expanded/print view for best results (icons above right)

Report on Arrears of Interest on the National Debt, [5 April 1784]

Report on Arrears of Interest on the National Debt

[5 Apr. 1784]

The Grand Committee consisting of1 appointed to prepare and report to Congress the arrears of interest on the National debt,2 together with the interest2 and expences for the year 1784. from the first to the last day thereof inclusive, and a requisition of money on the States for discharging the same, have agreed to the following report.2

Resolved that there will be wanting for arrears of interest,2 and for the interest2 and services of the present year 1784, from the first to the last day thereof inclusive, the following sums expressed in Dollars, tenths, and hundredths of Dollars.,

The Civil department 107,525.33
The Military department 200,000.  
The Marine department 30,000.  
Purchases of Indian rights of soil
 and the incidental expences
60,000.  
Contingencies   60,000.   457.525.33
Debts contracted and still unpaid for
the services of 1782. and 1783.
1,000,000   1,000,000.  
Interest on the
 National debt
 as follows
Rate
of
Int.
Foreign debt 1782. Dec. 31. Three years
 interest on the Spanish
 loan of 150,000 Dollars
5.   22,500.   22,500.  
1783. Dec. 31. Spanish loan 7,500.  
 Private French loans
 of 4 Milln. livres
5.   37,037.3 44,537.  
1784. June 1. Dutch loan of
 1,800,000 florins
5. 35,000.  
Sep. 3. Public French
 loan of 24. Milln.
 livres
5. 222,000.  
Nov. 5. Dutch loan of 10. Milln. livres guaranteed by France 74,074.  
Dec. 31. Spanish loan 7,500.  
 Private French loans   37,037.4 375,611.  
 
Domestic Debt 1782. Dec. 31. Loan office debt 11,473,802.26 6. 1,184,176.  
Liquidated debt 701,404. 6.   21,042.  
Army debt 5,635,618. 6.  676,272.  
1,881,490.  
Deduct the requisition of Sep. 1. 1782 1,200,000.   681,490.  
1783. Dec. 31. Loan office debt  749,050.  
 Liquidated debt   42,084.  
 Unliquidated debt of5
  8. Milln. Doll.
  suppose ⅓ now liquidated
6.  160,000.  
 Army debt  338,136.    1,289,270.  
1784. Dec. 31. Loan office debt  749,050.  
 Liquidated debt   42,084.  
 Unliquidated debt,
 suppose the whole now
 liquidated
 480,000.  
 Army debt  338,136.   1,609,270.6

The Committee were apprized that the resolutions of Congress of Apr. the 18th. 1783. had recommended to the several states the raising an annual revenue by the establishment of certain imposts for the purpose of discharging the national debt, principal and interest. But it occurred to them that those recommendations were still before several of the legislatures;7 that however desireable a8 compliance therewith is, for the preservation of our faith, and establishment of a national Credit9 yet as time has already elapsed, and more must elapse before their final confirmation can be hoped, as, after it shall be obtained time will also be requisite to advance the plan to the term of actual collection, good faith requires that in the mean while other measures should be resorted to for the purpose of discharging the growing interest.10

In the statement of the interest due at the close of the year 1782. the Committee have supposed it’s amount lessened by 1,200,000 dollars required and apportioned by the resolutions of Congress of Sep. the 4th. and 10th. 1782. and appropriated to the sole purpose of paying the interest of the public debt. This requisition gave license to the states to apply so much as should be necessary of their respective quotas of it, to the payment of interest due on certificates issued from the loan offices of their own states, and other liquidated debts of the United states contracted therein. Hence they suppose it has happened that the actual payment of these quotas have been uncommunicated to the Office of finance for the United states. The Committee are of opinion that the states should be desired to communicate to the Superintendant of finance the payments they have made under this requisition, and where they have been incomplete, to hasten their completion as the means still relied on by Congress for the discharge of that part of the interest of the public debt.—And while on this subject they beg leave to add that from the representation to Congress by the Minister of France, referred to this committee, they learn that in some of the states a discrimination has taken place between the citizens of their own, and subjects or citizens of other countries, which was not authorized by the said resolution: they are of opinion that such states should be requested11 to revise and reform their proceedings herein; and to extend the benefits12 of this provision equally and impartially to all persons within it’s description.

Your Committee came then to consider in what way it would be best to call for the sums requisite for the services before stated, and they thought it their duty in the first place to enquire whether no surpluses might remain on former requisitions of Congress after the purposes were effected to which they were originally appropriated; under an assurance that it would be both the duty and sense of Congress to apply such surpluses, in every instance, towards lessening the next requisitions on the states. They found in fact that such a surplus would remain on the requisition of Oct. 30 1781. for eight millions of Dollars for the services of the ensuing year; and that this surplus would be great from the following circumstances. That requisition was estimated on supposition that the Continental army would be completed by the states to it’s full establishment, and that cloathing, subsistence and other necessaries for such an army must of course be provided. The states were far short of producing such an army. Hence the calls for money were proportionably abridged. It was estimated too on the further supposition that we might be disappointed in the endeavors we were then exerting to borrow money both at home and abroad, and of course that the whole must be supplied by taxes. Loans however were obtained and the surplus increased by this second cause. A third circumstance has further enlarged it. The payments on this requisition have been small and slow. Hence, instead of money, those who served and supplied the United states have received certificates only that money is due to them, and these debts have been transferred to the fund proposed to be raised by way of impost. So that tho’ the debts exist, they are removed from this to another fund. To know then the amount of this surplus, the Committee extended their enquiries to the sums actually received under this requisition, the purposes to which they have been applied, and the anticipations thereof still unsatisfied.13 They found that 1,486,511.71 only of the eight millions of Dollars had been received at the treasury at the close of the year 1783: that these had been applied to the services of the years 1782 and 1783: and that for other services of the same years debts were contracted to the amount of about one million of dollars more, which depend for their discharge on further receipts under this requisition.14 Your Committee then are of opinion that a surplus of 5,513,488.28 Dollars will remain of this requisition after answering all the demands which actually arose against it, which were not answered by other means, nor transferred to other funds and that this surplus ought to be applied so far as it will go, to the common purposes of the United states, so as to prevent new requisitions on them till the old shall have been exhausted, and to shew to those who may have paid their whole quota of any requisition that they will not be called on anew till all the other states shall in like manner have paid up their quotas.

Your Committee found also that there was a requisition of Congress of Oct. 16. 1782. for 2. millions of Dollars for the services of the year 1783, on which some small payments had been tendered, but that the Superintendant of finance had found it better to receive and credit them as part of the eight millions. They are accordingly comprehended in the sum before stated to have been paid in under that head.

Having thus stated the demands existing against the states, the Committee would have performed but half their duty had they passed over unnoticed their condition to pay them. Their abilities must be measured in weighing their burthens. Their creditors themselves will view them just relieved from the ravages of predatory armies, returning from an attendance on camps to the culture of their feilds, beginning to sow, but not yet having reaped, exhausted of necessaries and habitual comforts and therefore needing new supplies out of the first proceeds of their labour. Forbearance then, to a certain degree, will suggest itself to them. Those15 entrusted with the dispensation of justice between them16 will suppose both parties desirous that their mutual situations should be considered and accomodated. Your Committee are of opinion that if the whole balances of the two requisitions of eight and of two millions should be rigorously called into payment within the course of the present year, a compliance with such call would produce much distress; and that some term17 short of this should be fixed on, within the reach of the least as well as of the most able states. They propose therefore that the states be required to furnish within the course of the present year such part of their deficiences under the requisition of 8. millions, as, with their payments to the close of the last year, will make up three fourths18 of their original quota thereof: and that these payments be appropriated to the services of the present year 1784,19 in conformity with the statement in the first part of this report,20 giving generally, where accomodation cannot be effected among the several objects, a preference according to the order in which they are arranged in the said statement.

But while this proportion of former deficiencies is of necessity called for under the pressure of demands which will admit neither denial nor delay, the Committee must acknolege that even the punctual compliance expected from all the states will not effect completely21 all the purposes of their preceding statement.22

To accomplish these perfectly; to enable the federal administration to fulfill the whole23 of those just and desireable objects, they wish earnestly and warmly to encourage the abler states to go as far beyond this proportion as their happier situation will admit, under an assurance that their further contributions will be applied towards reducing the interest and principal of the public debt,24 and will be placed to their credit in the next requisitions, with interest thereon from the time of payment.25

Individual states have at times thought it hard that while, in their own opinion, they were in advance for the United states on accounts existing and unsettled between them, they should yet be called on to furnish actual contributions of money. The Committee observe in answer to this, first, that almost every state thinks itself in advance: and secondly that it has been the constant wish of Congress that these accounts should be settled, and the contributions of each be known and credited. They have accordingly put it in the power of the states26 to effect these settlements: and as a further encouragement to hasten this desireable work, the Committee are of opinion Congress should declare that so soon as these accounts shall be all settled, and it shall appear in favor of what states balances arise, such states shall have credit for the same in the requisitions next ensuing.

But it will be necessary also to remind the states that no materials have yet been furnished to enable Congress to adjust the ultimate ratio in which the expenditures of the late war shall be apportioned on the states. The Confederation directs that this shall be regulated by the value of the lands in the several states with the buildings and improvements thereon. Experiments made however since the date of that instrument for the purposes of ordinary taxation had induced doubts as to the practicability of this rule of apportionment.27 Yet Congress thought it their duty to give it fair trial, and recommended to the several states on the 17th. of Feb. 1783. to furnish an account of their lands buildings and number of inhabitants, whereon they might proceed to estimate their respective quotas. But apprehending that the incompetence of the rule would immediately shew itself, and desirous that no time should be unnecessarily lost, they followed it with another recommendation of the 18th. of Apr. 1783. to substitute in lieu of that article in the Confederation another which should make the number of inhabitants, under certain modifications the measure of contribution for each state. Both these propositions are still under reference to the several legislatures; the latter accompanied by the earnest wishes and preference of Congress, under full conviction that it will be found in event as equal, more satisfactory, and more easy28 of execution: the former only pressed if the other should be rejected. The Committee is informed that the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pensylvania and S. Carolina have acceded to the alteration proposed; but have no evidence that the other states have as yet decided thereon. As it is necessary that the one or the other measure should be immediately resorted to, they are of opinion it should be recommended to the legislatures which have not yet decided between them, to come to decision at their next meeting.

In order to present to the eye a general view of the several existing requisitions and of the payments made under them, the Committee has subjoined them in the form of a table, wherein the 1st column enumerates the states: the 2d. the apportionment of the 1,200,000 D. the 3d. that of the 8. Millions: the 4th. that of the 2. Millions, the 5th the sums paid by the several states in part of their respective quotas to the last day of the year 1783. and the 6th. the sums now required to make up three fourths29 of their respective quotas of the 8. Millions, expressed in Dolls. 10ths. and 100ths. of Dolls.

Appointment
of the
1,200.000 Dollars
Appointment
of the 8. M
Appointment
of the 2. M
Paid of the
8. M. before
Dec. 31. 1783.
Sums now required
To make ¾30 of
the 8 M.
New Hampshire 48,000. 373,598. 80,000. 3,000.   277,198.5 
Massachusetts 192,000. 1,307,596. 320,000. 217,676.66 733,020.33
Rhodeisland 28,000. 216,684. 48,000. 67,847.95 94,654.44
Connecticut 133,200. 747,196. 222,000. 131,577.83 428,849.25
New York 54,000. 373,598. 90,000. 39,064.1  241,134.4 
New Jersey 66,000. 485,679. 110,000. 102,004.95 262,254.3 
Pennsylvania 180,000. 1,120,794. 300,000. 346,632.98 493,962.51
Delaware 16,800. 112,085. 28,000. 84,063.75
Maryland 132,000. 933,996. 220.000. 89,302.11 611,194.88
Virginia 174,000. 1,307,594. 290.000. 115,103.53 865,591.54
N. Carolina 88,800. 622,677. 148.000. 467,007.75
S. Carolina 72,000. 373,598. 120.000. 344.301.57
Georgia 14,400. 24,905. 24,000. 18,678.75
1,200,000. 8,000,000. 2,000,000. 1,486.511.71 4,577,591.02

It remained lastly to consider whether no facilities might be given to the paiment of these sums by the several states. The Committee observed that of the purposes for which money is wanting, about a moiety31 can be answered by nothing but money itself, but that the other moiety,32 consisting of interest on our domestic debt, may be effected by procuring a discount of the demand in the hands of the holders; an operation which will be shorter and less impoverishing to the State.33 And however, in times of greater plenty, the accuracy of fiscal administration might require all transactions to be in actual money, at the treasury itself; yet till our constituents shall have had respite from their late difficulties, it behoves us to prefer their easement. The Committee are therefore of opinion that the several legislatures may be admitted so to model the collection of the sums now called for as that, the one half34 being paid in actual money, the other35 may be discharged by procuring discounts of interest with our domestic creditors; only taking care that the collection of money shall proceed at least in equal pace36 with the operations of discount. And to ascertain the evidence of discount which shall be receivable in lieu of money, the holders of loan office certificates shall be at liberty to carry them to the office from which they issued; and the holders of certificates of other liquidated debts of the United states, to carry the same to the loan office of that state wherein the debt was contracted, and to have the interest due thereon settled and certified to the last day of the year 1783;37 for which interest the loan officer shall give a certificate in such form, and under such cautions and instructions as the Superintendant of finance shall transmit to him, which certificates of interest, being parted with by the holder of the principal, shall be deemed evidence that he has received satisfaction for the same, and therefore shall be receivable from the bearer, within the same state, in lieu of money in the proportion before stated.38 And where loan office certificates, issued after the 1st. day of Mar. 1778. shall be presented to the loan officer, they shall be reduced to their specie value, according to the resolutions of Congress of June 28. 1780. that specie value expressed on some part of the certificate, and the interest thereon settled and certified as in other cases.39

MS (DNA: PCC, No. 144, p. 81–2, 83–90); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated but written before 22 Mch. 1784 when report was submitted. The report originally contained 10 pages, the second of which has a slip wafered to it (see note 6), but the last leaf of the report was separated from it, evidently when PCC No. 144 was bound, and instead of being placed properly at p. 91–2 was placed at p. 81–2 as if it were a separate report; the endorsement on that leaf, therefore, applies to the entire report and not merely to the subject of western claims that occupied the second part of the Grand Committee’s report of 22 Mch.: “Report of grand Comte delivered March 22. 1784 Monday 29 [i.e., Monday 29 Mch.] assigned for consideration” (see Vol. 2: 616–17, where the report on western claims is separately printed). The entire MS of the two reports, dealing with arrearages and with western claims, was at once printed in broadside form, perhaps before 29 Mch. and certainly before 5 Apr. Three copies of this broadside (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvii, 720, No. 429), bearing MS corrections showing amendments made in Congress, are to be found in DNA: PCC and in CtY; they are as follows: (1) a copy in PCC, No. 144, p. 93–5, bearing alterations in the hand of TJ, Charles Thomson, and others; accompanying it (at p. 91–2 and 95) are three slips containing MS amendments as indicated in the notes below; two of these are in TJ’s hand. (2) Another, PCC, No. 144, p. 101–3, containing alterations in the hands of Thomson and others, together with Thomson’s tabulation of a roll-call vote on Williamson’s motion of 5 Apr. to refer the report to the Superintendent of Finance (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 186, 196–7), and also bearing the following endorsement in Thomson’s hand: “Report Mr Jefferson Mr Foster Mr Howell Mr Sherman Mr Beatty Mr Montgomery Mr Tilton Mr Chase Mr Spaight Mr Read. Requisition on the states for the payment of Interest of National debt & for current expences—Order of Day.” (3) Another in CtY with amendments by Congress recorded in the hand of James Monroe. The first two of these broadsides were utilized by Thomson during the course of debates for the recording of amendments; both contain, either on their face or on accompanying slips, a full record of all amendments made to the report on arrearages of interest, and both were evidently employed throughout, copy (2) being used as early as 5 Apr. and as late as 27, 28, and 29 Apr. These broadsides, thus used by Thomson, are for the sake of clarity referred to in the notes below as CT 1 and CT 2 for the first and second respectively. The Monroe broadside was also evidently employed for a similar purpose during the course of debates. After both reports (arrearages of interest and western claims) had been adopted on 28 and 29 Apr., Thomson evidently sent CT 2 to the printer to be employed as copy and a second printing of the broadside from the same type was issued under the heading The United States in Congress Assembled. April 27, 1784; a copy, signed in MS by Thomson and with one minor correction in a clerk’s hand, is in DLC: Broadsides Collection (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvii, 721, No. 434). From this it is clear that the copies of the report that TJ and Mercer sent to Virginia during April were copies of the first printing (see TJ to Harrison, 9 Apr.; Mercer to the Executive Council, 10 Apr. 1784).

Dft: In DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1665–6 there is a four-page fragment of a rough draft of that part of the report covering the paragraphs beginning “Your committee came then to consider in what way it would be best to call for the sums requisite …” and continuing down to, but not including, the table of six columns showing apportionment of requisitions, payments made on these requisitions, and sums required “to make up three fourths of their respective quotas.” These two leaves, however, have been bound in reverse order and should properly come in the following sequence: verso of 1666, recto of 1666, verso of 1665, and recto of 1665. This Dft contains many deletions and interlineations, but most of these are variations in phraseology only and have not been indicated in the notes below; but see notes 20, 26, 27, 28. Another fragment that seems to have belonged to the rough draft is to be found in MHi and is described in note 33 below. In addition to these, there are various documents preceding the fair copy of the report as here printed that TJ employed in developing the report in the Grand Committee. These are: (1) A single leaf in TJ’s hand endorsed: “Estimate for 1784.” This embraced eight heads: “1. Civil establishment … 2. Military establishment … 3. Marine … 4. Indian department … 5. Indian purchases of territory & incidental expences … 6. Contingencies … 7. Deficiencies of the last appropriation … 8. Debt.” Of these, items 4 and 7 were struck out, items 2, 3, 5, and 6 contained the same totals as the report itself, and item 8, for which no total was given, was divided into “Principal” and “Interest.” Item 1, before TJ altered it, read as follows:

1. “Civil establishment (exclusive of department of Finance) as reported by Committee  60,615⅓
Department of Finance as last year (being not yet reformed by Committee)  25,890
17 Occasional commrs and clerks… and those of staff departments  27,500
114,005⅓.”

It will be noted that, whereas Morris had recommended a civil list of $184,300, TJ’s committee on 5 Mch. submitted a “view of the civil list as proposed to be reduced … but not made a part of the report,” in which the total came to $68,525⅓ (see under 5 Mch. 1784; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., Vi, 780). The corresponding figure in the present document was first written “60,615 ⅓” and then altered to “60,625 ⅓.” This would indicate that this document was drawn up before 5 Mch. and that TJ later increased the sum to $68,625 ⅓ as there given; however, after particularizing the three items of the civil establishment, TJ struck out the whole and wrote: “Civil establishment… 107,525 ⅓,” which is the figure given in the present report on arrearages. From this it follows that TJ began his report soon after receiving the letters of Joseph Carleton of 1 Feb. 1784, stating the military requirements at $219,578, and of Robert Morris of 25 Feb. 1784 setting the civil list total at $184,300. This document is in DLC: TJ Papers, 11: 1882. (2) A single leaf in TJ’s hand closely paralleling that printed in Vol. 6: 563 as a copy of an enclosure in Robert Morris’ letter to TJ of 25 Feb. 1784 and, like that, including observations by TJ. The five columns of figures there given are identical with those in this tabulation, which contains also two additional columns headed “balance due to make¾ of the 8.M” and “Apportionment of the 1,200,000.” These two columns correspond exactly with the final and first columns, respectively, as given in the present report on arrearages. Beneath the tabulation are comments by TJ similar to those given with the corresponding tabulation printed in Vol. 2: 564, save that the supposed deficiency of collection was calculated at $838,887 3¼5, making the total requisition $4,577,5911¾5 instead of $4,513,4881¾5. It is obvious that the tabulation given in Vol. 2: 564 preceded the present, for it gives current expences as $427,525⅓, whereas the present includes the following: “Services of the current year 1784. as agreed to by Committee … 457,525⅓.” The present document also has, on its second page, a tabulation of interest on the national debt for the years 1782–1785 inclusive; this corresponds in arrangement (though not in figures) with the report on arrearages as originally drawn (see note 6). The total for interest on the domestic and foreign debt for 1784 was $1,923,877 as compared with $1,984,881 in the present report, the calculation for 1785 being also $1,923,877. This document is in DLC: TJ Papers, 17: 2978. (3) Another single leaf in TJ’s hand corresponding closely to the tabulations of interest on the foregoing document No. 2, though its figures for interest on the loan office debt differ from those in the present report; it also projects interest costs through 1785. Opposite the item for the “Dutch loan of 10,000,000 livres guarantied by France,” TJ placed an asterisk and at foot of text wrote: “Qu. if this has not been paid, as the Financier omits it?” The entry for the Dutch loan for 1783 was later struck out. TJ similarly marked the entry for 1784 concerning “Public French loan of 24,000,000 livres” and at foot of text wrote: “by the Convention with France these paiments may be staved off till the first payment of capital becomes due if we chuse it.” This document is in DLC: TJ Papers, 11: 1907. (4) Another single leaf written by TJ that may be regarded as an early draft of part of the present report; it contains the wording of the resolution and the sums required under the various headings as given in the report as originally formed before the slip described in note 6 was wafered on. It is in DLC: TJ Papers, 11: 1884. (5) Another scrap of writing in TJ’s hand whose headings in some instances are puzzling. It reads as follows:

“Clear old scores 4.

List civil and military (excluding marine) 30.

Marine would be 10.

I think Virga. may raise 20/6

Anual loan 10/30

Cal from states [83] 10.

Loan asked 20/30

Pay army 15.

Subsist 1⅕.”

This document is in DLC: TJ Papers, 9: 1393. In addition to the foregoing, TJ must have had at hand a copy in Madison’s hand of the “Estimate of public debt of U.S. reported by Grand Committee” in 1783. This document is in DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1618; it is printed in Madison’s “Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress” under date of 8 Apr. 1783 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxv, 954–5).

This report on arrearages, first debated in Congress on 5 Apr. 1784, is printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 185–96 and, as amended, 297–309, 312–13, 315–17 (though with some errors in phraseology and figures). Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, “Letterpress Edition,” N.Y., 1892–1899 description ends iii, 434, includes the names of the Grand Committee as listed in the Journal of Congress of that date, but states that there is no record of the appointment of the committee. The Grand Committee was, however, appointed on 23 Jan. 1784 and consisted of “Mr Forster Mr Partridge Mr Howell Mr Sherman Mr Beatty Mr Montgomery Mr Tilton Mr Chase Mr Jefferson Mr Spaight Mr Read” it was charged with the task of considering the “report from Superint. finance of 22 Octr. 1783” and of reporting “a requisition on the states for the payment of Interest on the national Debt” (DNA: PCC, No. 186; see also TJ’s resolution of 23 Jan. 1784, Vol. 2: 510; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 48). When the Grand Committee reported on 22 Mch. 1784, TJ was its chairman and his name was at the head of the list; otherwise the names of the committee were the same and in the same order as on 23 Jan. (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 184). On 30 Jan. the “Letter 30 Jany. Minister of france & note relative to the payment of Int. to foreigners holders of loan office Certificates” were also referred to the Grand Committee (DNA: PCC, No. 186). TJ was at work on the report during February and March and, in addition to the economies in the civil list that he wished to effect as opposed to Morris’ views, the present report was regarded by TJ’s admirer, David Howell, as being a severe blow at the Superintendent of Finance in that part concerning “facilities.” For some time the loan officers had been issuing “indents” or certificates of interest due on loan office certificates and the states had begun to accept these “indents” in part payment of taxes, thus to an extent assuming a part of the federal debt. Morris strongly opposed this, but the present report recognized and legitimatized the practice by permitting each state to pay one-fourth of its requisition with such certificates (see Jensen, The New Nation, p. 391). TJ and the Grand Committee had recommended that one-half of the sum could be so paid, but during the bitter debates in Congress this figure was reduced to one-fourth. On 17 Mch. Gerry moved “to prohibit states from accepting securities issued by U.S. to public creditors” and this motion was referred to a committee composed of “Mr Jefferson Mr Williamson Mr Howell Mr Gerry and Mr Read” apparently the matter was allowed to slumber in committee (DNA: PCC, No. 186). But during the debates over the report on arrearages on 27 and 28 Apr. the issue must have been severely contested. When the struggle was over, David Howell reported that “the facilities introduced in payment of part of the requisition for this year … was perseveringly opposed by the Superintendent of Finance, and finally acceded to by some only of his supporters, and that with great reluctance, and after a most warm and doubtful contest. The charm of remitting all payment to Philada. is now broken, and I hope that Vortex will no longer swallow down the Treasures of other States” (Howell to Jabez Bowen, 21 May 1784, Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , vii, No. 614). There were six or seven opponents of this feature of the report, but the hard core of intransigency was represented by Spaight, Read, and Beresford (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 196–7, 213–15, 263–5, 297–309, 311–17). The fact that Luzerne wrote on 30 Jan. about discrimination against foreign holders of loan office certificates, that this letter was referred to the Grand Committee, that Marbois was very hostile to Robert Morris (he later wrote that Morris expected the French government to pay “all the illegitimate profits that he had taken to himself, and of which he is unhappily in possession”;Marbois to Rayneval, 24 Aug. 1784, Jensen, The New Nation, p. 370) and that TJ was very friendly with both Marbois and Luzerne, suggests the possibility that when Marbois was in Annapolis early in 1784 TJ may have laid the train for Luzerne’s protest. This, of course, is conjecture, but circumstances and the report itself render it not implausible. When the report on arrearages finally came up for debate on 5 Apr., the Morris defenders moved to have it referred to the Superintendent of Finance for his opinion and report. This motion by Williamson, seconded by Read, was decisively defeated, seven states voting against it and two being divided. TJ did not vote, and only Mercer of the Virginia delegation voted for the motion (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 186, 196–7; a tabulation of the vote in Thomson’s hand is on verso of CT 2). On 5 Apr. McHenry, seconded by Spaight, moved that all of the “first part of the report, from the word ‘Resolved,’ to the word and figures ‘total, 5,480,203.33,’ [as given in the printed broadside] inclusive; together with the paragraphs beginning with the words ‘In order to present to the eye,’ down to the words, ‘and certified as in other cases,’ inclusive, be referred to the Superintendant of finance to report” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 197–8), but this motion, too, was defeated decisively. On 28 Apr. Read, seconded by Stone, moved to refer to Morris the whole paragraph concerning “facilities,” but only Maryland and South Carolina voted in favor of the motion and it was defeated; the individual vote was 17 to 6 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 309, 311). Mercer made an attempt on 27 Apr. to reduce the payment of interest on the domestic and foreign debt to one year on the supposition that a call for “the whole arrearages of interest … wou’d only be attended with a failure of compliance on the part of the States—a consequence that coud not but be destructive of Public Credit” and that Congress should “conform their requisitions to the abilities of their Constituents to pay” (MS in DNA: PCC, No. 36, iv, 401–4; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 297–9). This motion, seconded by Spaight, would have reduced the total requisition from $5,480,203.33 to $2,986,52.33. Mercer’s motion also included the following: “in order to ascertain the precise sum due to the domestic creditors, the Superintendant of finance is hereby directed to cause all the loan-office certificates, and other public securities, to be revised and liquidated anew, and the interest thereon, to the last day of the year, 1783, to be added to the principal sums and securities issued agreeable thereto.” This motion, however, was defeated by a vote of eight to one, with two states divided; of the 26 individual votes cast, only Montgomery, Hardy, Mercer, Williamson, Spaight, and Read supported the motion. As indicated in the documents described above, there must have been an effort to persuade the Grand Committee to call for a requisition that would have included interest charges down through the year 1785, but this was not agreed to and even the charges for interest on the national debt for 1784 were struck from the report during the course of debate. This was done on motion of Sherman, seconded by Wadsworth, during the debates of 22 Apr. TJ voted for deleting these items. On 22 Apr. he also seconded Hand’s motion to insert the following item at the end of the requisition: “commutation to the army agreeable to the act of 22 March, 1783, 5,000,000, interest thereon, 300,000.” This motion, however, was lost (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 263–5).

1Blank in MS and in printed copy; names of the committee are as given above.

2In DNA: PCC, No. 144, p. 95 there is a slip in TJ’s hand reading: “in the title after ‘debt’ insert ‘to the end of the year 1783.’ After ‘interest’ insert ‘on the foreign debt.’ 1st line of the resolution after ‘interest’ insert ‘on the national debt to the end of the year 1783.’ ib. after the 2d. ‘interest’ insert ‘of the foreign debt.’” As thus amended and as finally adopted, the resolution read: “Resolved that there will be wanting for arrears of interest on the national debt to the end of the year 1783, and for the interest of the foreign debt and services of the present year 1784, from the first to the last day thereof inclusive, the following sums” &c This amendment, of course, was made after that recorded in note 6 below (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 301). The amendment is recorded by interlineation on CT 2; the slip in TJ’s hand is, of course, the amendment accompanying CT 1.

3This line deleted by amendment in Congress on 27 Apr. and the following substituted: “To the farmers general of france 846,710.5 … 7,840 [i.e., in interest column].” The total for interest on foreign debt for 1783 was changed from 44,537 to 15,340 (CT 1; see also JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 301).

4This item altered by amendment to correspond with change indicated in note 3, with identical changes in figures involved, the sum of $375,611 being reduced accordingly to $346,414.

5Amended in Congress on 27 Apr. to read “Unliquidated debt estimated at 8. million dollars” (CT 1; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi,302).

6All interest items for 1784 are crossed off in CT 1 and CT 2, and are not in amended report as debated in Congress on 27 Apr. (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 302). In the last source, the total of all items is given as $3,812,539.33, the total requisition as finally approved; the total in the printed broadside before deletion of the 1784 items is $5,480,203.33. As indicated above, there is a slip covering two-thirds of page 2 of the report and comprising all of the interest charges on the national debt. Both the page as originally written and the attached leaf contain the same items (with, of course, differing sub-totals), but they vary only in the fact that the latter divides all arrearages of interest into foreign and domestic categories arranged chronologically within each category, whereas theformer has these same items arranged chronologically under the years 1782, 1783, and 1784. This rearrangement and the wafered leaf must have been made in the last stages of the discussion in the Grand Committee and just before the report was submitted to Congress, for the report is a carefully prepared fair copy and the printed broadside follows the arrangement of the wafered leaf. The change was doubtless made because it had become apparent that some such compromise as that indicated above would have to be made whereby the requisition would be reduced by deleting the interest charges on the domestic debt for 1784.

7In PCC, No. 144, p. 91–2 there is a slip in TJ’s hand recording amendments as indicated below in notes 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34 and 36. It accompanies CT 1 and the references to lines and columns refer to that printed text. The first amendment recorded on this slip (though it appears at the top of p. 92, the page numbers being reversed through error) reads: “l[ines]. 43.–45. d[elete].” These lines comprise the words “by the establishment of certain imposts … before several of the legislatures” which are marked for deletion in CT 1 and CT 2. In CT 1 the following substitute passage is written in the margin in Thomson’s hand: “for the purpose of discharging the principal and interest of the national debt by the establishment of certain imposts and providing such supplementary funds for a given term of years to be raised in such way as they might judge most convenient; but it occurred to them that those recommendations were still under suspense with several of the legislatures, some of them having as yet acceded to the impost only and others decided neither on the impost nor supplementary funds.” This amendment, recorded also on CT 2, evidently was made on 27 Apr. (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 302).

8The word “full” is interlined in Thomson’s hand in CT 1 and CT 2.

9The word “Credit” is overwritten in MS in Thomson’s hand; the word underneath appears to be “debt,” which TJ may have written inadvertently. Here and elsewhere (such as in the alterations from TJ’s characteristic “paiment” to “payment”) Thomson appears to have been preparing TJ’s MS report for use by the printer as copy in setting up the broadside.

10This paragraph in MS is in crowded lines at top and in margin of page 3 of text, and obviously was inserted after the paragraph beginning “In the statement of the interest due,” &c., had been written.

11This word was deleted by amendment in Congress and “required” substituted; recorded by deletion and interlineation in Thomson’s hand in both CT 1 and CT 2.

12The words “both past and future” were inserted at this point by amendment in Congress; recorded by a caret and the words in margin in Thomson’s hand in both CT 1 and CT 2.

13At this point in CT 1 there is a caret and, in the margin in Thomson’s hand: “see Amendment.” There is no such indication of an amendment in the text as adopted 27 Apr. or in the final broadside printing or in CT 2 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 304). It is possible that an amendment was offered but failed of adoption.

14In CT 2 at this point there is a symbol keyed to a corresponding symbol in margin followed by this additional passage in Thomson’s hand, adopted as an amendment in Congress: “a statement of the expenditures of which sums should be made out and forwarded to the legislatures of the several states.” The amendment is recorded by Thomson in CT 2; no record of it appears in CT 1, though there is a caret and, in the margin, the following note by Thomson: “see the Amendment.”

15This word deleted and “Congress” substituted by amendment in Congress; recorded by Thomson in both CT 1 and CT 2.

16This word deleted by amendment in Congress and “the public and its creditors” written in margin of CT 1 in an unidentified hand; recorded similarly in CT 2 in Thomson’s hand.

17Two preceding words deleted by amendment in Congress and “a Proportion” written in margin of CT 2 in Thomson’s hand; similarly recorded in CT 1 in unidentified hand.

18On recto of the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “Col. 2 1. 8. d[elete] ‘three fourths’ insert ‘one half.’” This amendment was offered by TJ on 12 Apr., and was seconded by Arthur Lee. Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, New Jersey and Massachusetts supported the motion; New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York were divided; and Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were against the amendment. The individual vote was 17 to 7 in favor of the motion, but the question was lost. Howell, seconded by Ellery, then moved to strike out “three fourths” and substitute “three fifths.” This, too, failed of adoption. Howell then moved to reconsider TJ’s motion; Foster, Howell, and Paine changed their votes, so that New Hampshire and New York switched from the negative to the affirmative side and Rhode Island became divided. Pennsylvania was thus the only state to vote against the motion, which was adopted (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 213–15). In CT 2 this amendment is recorded bydeletion of “three fourths” and by substitution of “one half” written in margin in TJ’s hand; similarly recorded in CT 1 in an unidentified hand.

19On recto of the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2] l[ine]. 9. d[elete] ‘to the services of the present year 1784.’” The amendment was adopted and the words are deleted in CT 1 and CT 2.

20At this point TJ wrote in Dft and then deleted: “but that the domestic interest accruing in the year 1784 shall be postponed giving to every purpose a preference.” The fact that this appears as a deleted item in TJ’s rough draft would seem to indicate that he endeavored unsuccessfully to accomplish in the Grand Committee what was later done by amendment on the floor of Congress. It is not possible, of course, to determine whether this deletion in the rough draft was made by TJ on his own volition in the course of composing the report or whether it was made as a result of discussion in the Grand Committee, though the subsequent fate of the 1784 interest on the domestic debt would suggest the latter.

21On verso of slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “Col.2.1.15. d[elete] ‘completely.’” See notes 24 and 25.

22On CT 1 a line is drawn through the words “the Committee must acknowlege … the purposes of their preceding statement” and in the margin in Thomson’s hand is the following: “see Amendment.” See notes 24 and 25.

23On verso of slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 16. d[elete]. ‘accomplish these perfectly to enable the federal administration to fulfil the whole’ & insert ‘advance still further in the accomplishment.’” The amendment was adopted and the passage altered by deletion and substitution on CT 1 and CT 2.

24On CT 1 a line is drawn through the words “towards reducing the interest and principal of the public debt” and the following words are written in the margin in an unidentified hand in substitution therefor: “to the discharge of the public Debt giving preference according to the preceding statement.” This amendment and those set forth in 21, 22, and 23 were evidently then reconsidered and all of the passage from “… demands which will admit neither denial nor delay” to this point struck out and the following substituted therefor: “and the punctual compliance of every State is expected, to enable the Federal administration with certainty to satisfy these demands, it is earnestly and warmly recommended to the abler states to go as far beyond this proportion in specie, as their happier situation will admit, under an assurance, that such further contributions will be applied towards discharging the public debt, agreeably to the preceding statement” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 306). See note 25.

25At this point Thomson inserted interlineally: “But all our exertions will probably fall short,” &c. and marked the passage with a symbol. On verso of the slip described in note 7 above there is the same symbol, followed by TJ’s amendment in these words: “Col. 2. 1. 21. add ‘But all our exertions will probably fall still short of their full object. In that case it is believed that the public creditors, seeing the load of interest accumulated during the war greater than can be discharged in the first year of peace, will be contented for the present to receive the earlier part of these arrears and to rely for the residue on the efforts of the ensuing year<s>.’” Following this, in an unidentified hand, are the names of “Mr Jefferson Mr Howel,” indicating that TJ made the motion and Howell seconded it and possibly that the motion included the other amendments written on the verso of the slip (i.e., those indicated in notes 21 and 23). Another amendment at this point, possibly preceding TJ’s in time as it does in the final text, was offered by Stone and seconded by Gerry. On CT 1 opposite the words “… from the time of payment” Thomson placed a symbol keyed to a slip of paper (PCC: No. 144, p. 95) headed “to be inserted after the word Payment 21st Line 2d Page [i.e., column],” and reading as follows: “And also that before any further demand is made upon the States under the requisition for two million of dollars or the requisition for Eight million of Dollars Congress will revise the Quotas of the several States mentioned in the said requisitions respectively and will make them agreeable to justice upon the best information Congress may have when such Demand is made.” The names “Mr Stone Mr Gerry” are endorsed on the face of this amendment.

After amendments indicated in notes 21, 22, 23, and 24 had been recorded in the manner described, it is evident that a single amendment was offered covering the passage embraced by all of these partial amendments, and Thomson, after deleting on CT 2 all of the passage reading “the committee must acknowledge … with interest thereon from the time of payment,” wrote in the margin “see other side.” On the verso of CT 2 appears the following comprehensive amendment for this much-disputed part of the report which represents the text as finally adopted: “[But while this proportion of former deficiencies is of necessity called for under the pressure of demands which will admit neither denial nor delay] and the punctual compliance of every state is expected to enable the fœderal Administration with certainty to satisfy these demands it is earnestly and warmly recommended to the abler states to go as far beyond this proportion in specie as their happier situation will admit under an assurance that such further contributions will be applied towards discharging the public debt agreeable to the preceding statement, and will be placed to their credit in the next requisitions, with interest thereon from the time of payment—and also that before any further demand is made upon the states under the requisition for two millions of dollars or the requisition for eight millions of dollars, Congress will revise the quotas of the several states mentioned in the said requisitions respectively and will make them agreeable to justice upon the best information Congress may have when such demand is made. But as all our exertions will probably fall short of their full object, In that case it is believed that the public creditors seeing the load of interest accumulated during the war greater than can be discharged in the first year of peace will be contented for the present to receive the earlier part of these arrears and to rely for the residue on the efforts of the ensuing year.”

26The words “put it in the power of the states” were struck out by amendment in Congress and are deleted in CT 1 and the following substitution written in margin in Thomson’s hand: “taken Measures and will continue their Endeavours.” Similarly recorded in CT 2. In Dft at this point TJ wrote and then deleted: “Your Committee thought it a most desireable object that all matters of account existing between the U.S. and the several states individually should be speedily settled. In order to encourage the states to hasten this work they are of opinion Congress should declare it as a general rule that whensoever any such account shall be finally liquidated and a balance acknowleged to be due from the U.S. that the individual state to whom it is due shall have credit for such balance in the requisition next ensuing the liquidation. But here the states should be reminded how little progress is made towards adjusting the ultimate ratio of their contributions to the expenditures of the late war.”

27Dft and MS originally read: “… doubts both as to the practicability of this rule of apportionment, and of it’s equality, if practicable.” The passage was then altered in MS by TJ to read as above.

28Dft and MS originally read: “… the most equal, the most satisfactory, and most easy of execution” and MS was then altered by TJ to read as above.

29On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 57. d[elete] ‘three fourths’ insert ‘one half.’” Amendment recorded by Thomson in CT 1 and CT 2. Dft does not contain the words “expressed in Dolls. 10ths. and 100ths. of Dolls.” indicating that Dft was completed before and MS after the drafting of his notes on the establishment of a money unit (see at end of Apr. 1784).

30On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 59 [i.e., 60]. d[elete] ¾ & insert ½.” Thomson made this alteration in CT 1 by overwriting, but not in CT 2; in the latter, however, he rewrote the entire column and gave it the proper caption: “Sums now required to make one ½ of 8. M.” This revised column in CT 1 was copied from TJ’s recalculated column of figures written on the slip described in note 7 above, reading as follows:

“New Hampshire 183,799   
Massachusets 406,121.34
Rhode island 40,491.05
Connecticut 242,020.17
New York 147,734.9 
New Jersey 140,834.55
Pennsylvania 213,764.02
Delaware 56,042.5 
Maryland 377,695.89
Virginia 538,693.47
N. Carolina 311,338.5 
S. Carolina
Georgia 12,452.5
2,670,987.89
¼ = 667,746.97
¾ = 2,003,240.91.”

Each of the figures in the column has a check mark placed beside it.

31On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 76 d[elete] ‘a moiety’ & insert ‘three fourths.’” Similar change recorded by Thomson in CT 1 and CT 2.

32On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 77. d[elete] ‘moiety’ & insert ‘fourth.’” Similar change recorded by Thomson in CT 1 and CT 2.

33In MHi in a vellum-bound volume bearing the title “Law treaties” there is a fragment in TJ’s hand reading: “and that so soon as any state shall [ ] a moiety of the sum now called for [ ] shall be receivable towards satisfying [ ].” It seems certain that this fragment must be part of a missing page from Dft and that it refers to the present paragraph relating to “facilities.”

34On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 84. d[elete] ‘the one half’ insert ‘three fourths.’” On CT 1 and CT 2 similar corrections were made so that the final text read: “three fourths of any sums being paid,” &c

35On CT 2 Thomson inserted a caret at this point and wrote “fourth” in the margin.

36On the slip described in note 7 above, TJ wrote: “[Col. 2.] 1. 86 d[elete] ‘equal pace’ insert ‘threefold proportion.’” This was the text finally approved, but in CT 2 Thomson drew a line underneath the passage “only taking care … operations of discount,” as if an amendment had been offered to alter the whole (see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 312).

37Altered in CT 1 and CT 2 to “1782” by overwriting (see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi,312).

38This passage was amended by motion of McHenry, seconded by Spaight, to read: “and from the state when obtained from the bearer, in lieu of money in the proportion before stated, which payment in certificates by the state into the public treasury, in the proportion that each state avails itself of the facilities shall be considered as a discharge of so much of the interest due upon the domestic debt, so that the three-fourths or greater proportion if any state should not avail itself of the facilities in the degree hereby admitted, paid in money at the same time shall be applied, giving preference according to the above statement, to the discharge of the expences of internal government and the interest due upon the foreign debt” (recorded by Thomson in margin of CT 2).

39On the roll call vote on the paragraph concerning “facilities” as amended, nine states voted favorably; only Spaight of North Carolina and Read and Beresford of South Carolina voted against its adoption (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 313–14).

At this point on CT 2 Thomson wrote: “Resolved that Congress agree to the same.” The report of the Grand Committee on the subject of claims to western lands followed this point in MS (though the page is now misplaced at p. 81–2 as indicated above) and was printed in the same order in the broadside. On CT 2 Thomson noted the amendments to this report that were set forth above (see Vol. 6: 616–17), with the following additional changes that appeared in the final text: (1) On CT 2 the opening paragraph was altered by Thomson to read as follows: “April 29, 1784. Congress took into Consideration the report of the grand committee to whom was referred the report of a committee on the subject of western territory, and thereupon came to the following Resolution.” (2) In the final phrase of the second paragraph (Vol. 6: 616) which reads “… not yet been finally complied with,” Thomson on CT 2 struck out “finally” and interlined “fully.” This was the reading as adopted by Congress on 29 Apr. 1784 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvi, 315–17) and as printed in the final broadside text.

Index Entries