James Madison Papers

Amendment to Report on Restoring Public Credit, [17 April] 1783

Amendment to Report on Restoring Public Credit

MS (NA: PCC, No. 26, fol. 419). In JM’s hand. Docketed by him, “Report of Committee to which was recommitted the 10. clause in the Report relative to the establishmt. of funds &c April 11. 1783 Read Entd. April 17. 1783. On the question to admit the clause to which this is proposed as an addition, into the report on finance States called Virg, ay all the rest no.”

Editorial Note

Prior to 17 April 1783 this suggested amendment is not mentioned in Charles Thomson’s committee book, in the journal of Congress, in JM’s notes on debates, or, except for the docket quoted above, in any other contemporary source known to the editors. For this reason it seems more appropriate to use the date on which the proposal was debated than that on which it was read to Congress and apparently tabled for six days.

To avoid duplication, JM’s copy of the amendment, which he included in his notes on debates for 17 April, will be omitted. Disregarding minor differences in abbreviations, capitalization, and punctuation, seven footnotes of the present item record the contrasts in phraseology between the two versions.

[17 April 1783]

The Come. to whom was recomd. the 10th. clause of the Report on Revenue &c,1 report the following addition thereto: “And to the end that convenient provision may be made for determining in all such cases, how far the expences may have been reasonable, as well with respect to the object thereof as to the means for accomplishing it, thirteen Commissrs. namely one out of each State, shall be appointed by Congress any seven or more2 of whom (having first taken an oath for the faithful & impartial exercise of their appointment)3 who shall concur in the same opinion, shall be empowered to determine finally, on the reasonableness of all claims for expences incurred by particular States as aforesaid. And that4 such determinations may be expedited as much as possible, instructions shall be given to the Commissrs. for adjusting accounts between the U. S. and individual States,5 to examine all such claims and report to Congress such of them as shall be supported by satisfactory proofs, distinguishing in their reports the objects and measures as to6 which the expences shall have been incurred; provided that no balances which may7 become due to any State in consequence of this regulation or of the Resolutions of the   day of  8 shall be deducted out of the preceding revenues; but shall be discharged out of9 separate requisitions to be made on the States for that purpose.10

1In his notes for 17 April (q.v.), JM stated that he was reporting “with the permission of the Come on Revenue.” Almost certainly he was delivering a minority report. The committee, consisting of Nathaniel Gorham, chairman, Alexander Hamilton, JM, Thomas FitzSimons, and John Rutledge, had been appointed on 21 February (JM Notes, 21 Feb. 1783, and n. 28). These men were all present in Congress when a vote on another issue was recorded on 17 April (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 255). Assuming that they were also present when the unrecorded vote was taken on JM’s proposed amendment, and bearing in mind that only “Cont.” and “Virga” voted “ay,” Gorham, Hamilton, and FitzSimons must have voted “no,” because the number of delegates present to represent their respective states was two each. Although Rutledge’s vote is indeterminable, for he was one of three delegates present from South Carolina, his previous states’-rights pronouncements on the subject of public credit strongly suggest that he also opposed the amendment (JM Notes, 9–10 Jan., and n. 8; 14 Jan.; 29 Jan.; 11 Feb. 1783, and n. 10).

The eleventh paragraph of the original report of the committee on 6 March had become “the 10th” as a result of amendments adopted by Congress subsequent to that date (Report on Restoring Public Credit, 6 Mar. 1783, and n. 16). The “10th. clause” or paragraph had been recommitted (“recomd”) on 27 March, along with James Wilson’s proposal that before being merged with the Confederation debt, any state’s expenses not authorized by Congress should “be limited to such as had been incurred in a necessary defence; and of which the object in each case sd. be approved by Congress” (JM Notes, 27 Mar. 1783, and nn. 10, 12, 14–16, 18, 19).

2In JM’s Notes for 17 April, “or more” is omitted.

3JM replaced this word with “trust” in his notes for 17 April.

4This word is preceded by “in order” in JM’s notes for 17 April.

5From “instructions” to “States,” the corresponding passage in JM’s notes for 17 April reads, “the Commissrs. now in appointment for adjusting accts. between the U. S. and individual States, shall be instructed.” By an ordinance of 20 February 1782, Congress had provided for the appointment of these commissioners (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 84–86; 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 , IV, 55; 56, n. 6; 71; 72, nn. 1–3; 332; 333, n. 2; V, 322; 323, n. 5; JM Notes, 5–6 Feb.; 10 Feb. 1783, and n. 14).

6JM wrote “in” instead of “as to” in his notes for 17 April.

7In JM’s notes for 17 April, the passage from “may” through “of” is changed to “be found due under.”

8The resolution of 1 April 1783 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 223–24; JM Notes, 1 Apr. 1783, and n. 11).

9Instead of “out of,” JM wrote “by” in his notes for 17 April.

10For the debate on JM’s proposal, see JM Notes, 17 Apr. 1783.

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