Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). For a description of the manuscript of Notes on Debates, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 231–34.
A motion was made by Mr. Wolcot and Mr. Dyer to refer the half pay to the States, little differing from the late motion of Mr. Gilman, except that it specified 5 years whole pay as the proper ground of composition with the Officers of the respective lines. On this proposition the arguments used for & agst. Mr. Gilman’s motion were recapitulated. It was negatived, Cont. alone answering in the affirmative and no division being called for.1
On the question to agree to the report for a commutation of 5 years whole pay, there being 7 ays only it was considered whether this was an appropriation or a new ascertainment of a sum of money necessary for the public service. Some were of opinion at first that it did not fall under that description viz of an appropriation. finally, the contrary opinion was deemed almost unanimously the safest, as well as the most accurate.2 Another question was whether 7 or 9 votes were to decide doubts whether 7 or 9 were requisite on any question. Some were of opinion that the Secretary3 ought to make an entry according to his own judgment and that that entry sd. stand unless altered by a positive instruction from Congs. To this it was objected that it wd. make the Secy. the Sovereign in many cases, since a reversal of his entry wd. be impossible, whatever that entry might be; that particularly he might enter 7 votes to be affirmative on a question where 94 were necessary, and if supported in it by a few States it wd. [be] irrevocable. It was said by others that the safest rule wd. be to require 9 votes to decide in all cases of doubt whether 9 or 7 were necessary. To this it was objected that one or two States and in any situation 6. States might by raising doubts, stop seven from acting in any case which they disapproved. Fortunately on the case in question there were 9 States of opinion that nine were requisite, so the difficulty was got over for the present.5
On a reconsideration of the question whether the duty on wine should be on the quantity or on the value, the mode reported by the Come was reinstated, and the whole report recommited to be included with the 5 PerCt. advalorem in an act of recommendation to the States.6
2. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New Jersey voted against the recommendation of the Osgood committee. Delaware and Georgia were unrepresented in Congress. Dyer and Wolcott were of opposing views on the issues, thus rendering Connecticut’s vote ineffective. Of the Virginia delegates, Mercer was absent, Lee voted “no,” and Jones, JM, and Bland, “ay” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 154–55). Article IX of the Articles of Confederation required the affirmative vote of nine or more states for Congress to “appropriate money” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 220). By “new ascertainment” JM meant a reassurance of an equivalent of the half pay for life promised to the officers by the resolution of Congress on 21 October 1780 (JM Notes, 25 Feb. 1783, n. 1). Bland introduced the motion, seconded by JM, which led to the decision that to adopt the committee’s “proposition” would require the affirmative vote of at least nine states. Of the thirty-two tallied votes, only Dyer’s and Mercer’s were “no” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 155–56).
3. Charles Thomson.
4. JM wrote “nine” above the figure.