James Madison Papers

Notes on Debates, 7 March 1783

Notes on Debates

MS (LC: Madison Papers). For a description of the manuscript of Notes and 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.

Editorial Note

Except for its first sentence and the footnote, JM’s entry for this day is limited to a reproduction of the Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 March 1783 (q.v.), drawn from the printed version of that report distributed the next day to each delegate in Congress. Three copies of this broadside are in NA: PCC, No. 26, fols. 411–13. For the purpose of recording the outcome of the prolonged debates on the report, Charles Thomson or members of his clerical staff marginated each of these copies differently and marked within their text.

To have a convenient means of referring to the particular subject at issue during these debates, JM numbered the paragraphs sequentially from “(1)” to “(12)” in the report copied in his notes for 7 March. See text of notes and nn. 2 and 3, below; also, for example, JM Notes, 21 Mar.; 27 Mar. 1783, and nn. 1, 2. This numbering, the variation mentioned in footnotes 3, 6, 9, 13, and 18 of the Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 March 1783, and many unimportant differences of abbreviations, capitalization, and punctuation make each of the four versions contrast in minor respects with the other three, even though they almost never differ in their factual contents.

Printed copies of the rept. abovementioned were delivered to each member as follows, viz.1


1For the “rept. abovementioned,” see Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar.; JM Notes, 6 Mar. 1783. In his notes for the present day, immediately following the close of his copy of the report, JM placed an asterisk and drew a line in ink across the page of the manuscript to signify that the remainder of his notes for 7 March was in the nature of a footnote to the report as a whole.

2The blank should be filled with Madison’s name. As already mentioned, his “draught” of the plan for restoring public credit closes with a paragraph beginning: “That none of the preceding resolutions shall take effect untill all of them shall be acceded to by every State, after which unanimous accession, however, they shall be considered as forming a mutual compact among all the States, and shall be irrevocable.” Although JM thereby intended “to render the plan indivisible,” he either was persuaded or obliged by the other members of “the Come.,” upon laying “the draught” before them, to shift this recommendation so as to make it apply only to the first six paragraphs of the report (Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar., and hdn., and nn. 1, 2, 11, 13; JM to Jefferson, 22 Apr. 1783, and n. 9).

By following the arrangement of JM’s manuscript as closely as possible, the reproduction of his report in the present volume makes this “mutual compact” paragraph appear to be the eighth rather than the seventh. JM evidently considered the sixth and what appears to be, from the beginning indentation, the seventh paragraph as only one paragraph. He naturally so assumed for, as he stated in the final sentence of his footnote, the sixth paragraph was lengthened, before Congress sent it “to the press,” by an insert in Charles Thomson’s hand.

3If, as mentioned in n. 2, the sixth and seventh paragraphs of JM’s manuscript of the report are counted as one paragraph, what seems to be its eleventh paragraph will become the tenth and correspond in number with the tenth paragraph of the printed report from which JM copied in these notes for 7 March (Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar. 1783, and n. 16; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 921–22).

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* In the draught as laid before the Come. by  the (7) paragraph was placed last of all, so as to render the plan indivisible.2 In the (10) paragraph the word “reasonable” before the word “expences,” was not inserted; but to the paragraph were added “provided that this allowance shall not be extended to any expences which shall be declared by nine votes in Congress to be manifestly unreasonable.”3 In other respects the original draught was unaltered; except that a former resolution of Congress in the words of the (6) paragraph was incorporated by the Secy. before it went to the press.

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