Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). Immediately preceding the entry for this date, JM wrote, “Saturday Decr. 14th. No Congress.” See Notes on Debates, 4 November 1782, ed. n.
The answer to the objections of Rho: Island, as to the Impost, penned by Mr. Howell1 passed without opposition, 8 States being present of which Rho: Isd. was one, a few trivial alterations only being made in the course of discussion.
Mr. Howell contrary to expectation was entirely silent as to his affair.2
1. JM should have written “Hamilton.” Both here and in the last sentence he originally entered only “H” and later added “owell,” in the second instance correctly.
On 12 December 1782 Congress received the official notification from William Bradford, speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, of the “unanimous resolution” of that body not to ratify the impost amendment (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 788–89). On the same day Congress referred the notification to a committee consisting of Alexander Hamilton, JM, and Thomas FitzSimons, whose report thereon, submitted on 16 December, was written by Hamilton, except for a few lines, noted below, in FitzSimons’ hand.
Most of the report attempted to refute so persuasively each of the three main justifications advanced by Bradford for the stand taken by the members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives (JM to Randolph, 17 December 1782, and n. 3) that they would appreciate “the most solid grounds of equal justice, policy and general utility” necessitating the impost and therefore “retract their dissent.” At the close of the report the committee recommended that Congress resolve: (1) to use all funds supplied by the states in excess of the “sum requisite for paying the interest of the whole amount of the national debt, which these states may owe at the termination of the present war,” to “form a sinking fund, to be inviolably appropriated to the payment of the principal of the said debt”; (2) to pledge “the faith of the United States” to “the observance of the foregoing resolution”; and (3) to furnish each state, “as soon as the public debt can be liquidated,” with an annual accounting of how the money provided by that state was used. The third recommendation was drafted by FitzSimons. Four of the “trivial alterations” are shown as cancellations in the report as printed in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 798–810. On the other hand, the journal does not mention the vote by which the report was adopted.