Motion in re Jurisdiction of Congress
over Permanent Site
MS (NA: PCC, No. 23, fol. 161). Undated and unsigned but in JM’s hand.
[22 September 1783]
That the district which may be ceded to & accepted by Congress for their permanent residence, ought to be entirely exempted from the authority of the State ceding the same; and the organization & administration of the powers of Govt. within the sd. district concerted between Congress & the inhabitants thereof.1
1. For background of this motion, see Harrison to Delegates, 12 July, n. 3; JM to Pendleton, 28 July, and nn. 1–3; 8 Sept., and n. 1; to Randolph, 28 July; to Jefferson, 20 Sept. 1783, and n. 4. The report of the committee, which included JM, was drafted by the chairman, James Duane. The report recommended that Congress “ought to enjoy an exclusive Jurisdiction over the District which may be ceded” and that the size of the district “ought not to exceed the contents of Six miles square nor to be less than three miles Square” (NA: PCC, No. 23, fol. 149). JM’s proposal, designed to render the first recommendation of the committee more specific and to assure that the “exclusive Jurisdiction” would not deny “the inhabitants” of the ceded district a share in organizing and administering their own government, appears to have been neither included in the committee’s report nor offered separately by JM in Congress.
On 22 September Congress decided to resolve itself three days later “into a committee of the whole” to take the report “into consideration” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 603, and n. 1). Although the committee of the whole met on 25 September, “made some progress” on the issue, and was granted “leave to sit again to-morrow,” no further mention of the report appears in the journal during the remainder of 1783. The subject seems to have remained quiescent until revived on 14 April 1784 by resolutions submitted from the legislature of Rhode Island (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXVI, 221–26).