James Madison Papers

Notes for Debate on Commercial Regulations by Congress, [ante 31 October] 1786

Notes for Debate on
Commercial Regulations by Congress

[ante 31 October 1786]1

⟨J. M. In Virga. Legislature previous to Convention of 1787⟩

Genl. [Regns. neces]sary, whether the object be to

  • 1. Counteract fore[ign?] [p]lans
  • 2. encourage Ships & seamen
  • 3. ______ manufactures
  • 4. Revenue
  • 5. frugality—[articles of luxury most easily run from State to State]2
  • 6. Embargo’s in war—Case of Delaware in late war—

  • necessary to prevent contention amg States
    • 1. Case of French provinces, Neckar says 23,000 patrols employd. agst. internal contraband
    • 2. Case of Massts. & Cont.
    • 3. Case of N. Y. & N. J.
    • 4. Pa. & Delaware
    • 5. Va. & Maryd. late regulation
    • 6. Irish propositions
  • Necessary to—Justice & true Policy
    • 1. Cont. & N. Hamps:
    • 2. N. J.
    • 3. N. C.
    • 4. Western Country.
  • Necessary—as a system convenient & intelligible to foreigners trading to U. S.
  • Necessary as within reason of federal constitution, the regulation of trade being as imprable3 by States as—peace, war, Ambrs.—&c.
  • Treaties of Commerce ineffectual without it
  • Safe with regd. to the liberties of the States.
    • 1. Congs. may be trusted with trade as well as war &c.
    • 2. power of Treaties involve the danger if any—
    • 3. Controul of States over Congs.
    • 4. example of Amphyctionic league. Achean do. Switzerld. Holland, Germany—
    • 5. peculiar situation of U. S. increase the repellent power of the States
  • Essential to preserve fedl. Constitution
    • 1. declension of fedl. Govt.
    • 2. inadequacy to end, must lead States to substitute, some other policy. no institution remaining long when it ceases to be useful, &c.
    • 3. policy of G. B. to weaken Union
  • Consequences of dissolution of Confederacy. 1. appeal to Sword in every petty squabble—2. Standing armies beginning with weak & jealous States. 3. perpetual taxes—4 sport of foreign politics—5. blast glory of Revolution.

Ms (DLC). In JM’s hand. On the verso are JM’s Notes for Speech Opposing Paper Money, ca. 1 Nov. 1786. JM apparently made these notes from his Notes for Debate on Commercial Regulations by Congress, 30 Nov.–1 Dec. 1785 (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VIII, 431–32), copying about the first two-thirds with some alterations and expansion. JM appears to have added the words in angle brackets at a much later time.

1Exactly when or why JM copied these notes is not clear. He may have copied them at the time of the debates over the regulation of commerce in the October 1785 session of the Virginia legislature. Or he may have written them out at the same time as his Notes for Speech Opposing Paper Money, ca. 1 Nov. 1786, on the verso, in the hope of having an opportunity to reintroduce the topic in the October 1786 session of the legislature. Perhaps he copied them in the winter of 1786–1787 for reference while in Congress or the Federal Convention. The evidence is inconclusive.

2JM placed a bracket before “articles,” but omitted the end bracket.

3JM wrote this contraction with a tilde above it, probably intending it to represent “impracticable.”

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