« ZurückWeiter »
plenipotentiary to the States General of the Dutch I78,. United Provinces. He was also empowered to negotiate a loan of money among the Hollanders; and in confidence of his success they directed, on the 3d of January, bills of exchange to be drawn upon him at fix months peb. sight. On the 3d of February they agreed—" That it 3be recommended to the several states, as indispensably necessary, that they vest a power in congress, to levy for the use of the united states, a duty of five per cent. ad valorem, at the time and place of importation, upon all goods and merchandises of foreign growth and manufactures, which may be imported into any of the said states from any foreign port, island or plantation, after the 1st day of May, 1781, except arms, ammunition, clothing, and other articles imported on account of the united states, or any of them; and except wool cards and cotton cards, and wire for making them; and also except salt during the war:—Also a like duty of five per cent. on all prizes and prize goods, condemned in the court of admiralty of any of these states as lawful prize :—That the money arising from the said duties be appropriated to the discharge of the principal and interest of the debts already contracted, or which may be contracted, on the faith of the united states, for supporting the present war :— That the said duties be continued until the said debts shall be fully and finally discharged." Some gentlemen object to the recommendation, or at least a compliance with it, and say—" Drawing money insensibly from the people by imposts may be a favorite scheme in monarchies and aristocracies; but in republican governments, such as are established in America, is inexpedient, if not dangerous. When money is drawn from the people in4 sensibly,
fk 1. sensibly, they are less attentive to abuses in the expenditure: but when they are called upon for taxes and feel the burden of them, they are more watchful to fee that they are properly applied, and to prevent the rulers from bribing the people with their own money, and subverting the public liberty by the means put into their hands for securing and defending it." It will be long before the several states can be prevailed upon to vest congress with the desired power.
Congress on the 6th of February, ordered that the drawing of the fourth and last class of the united states lottery should begin on the 2d of April. Through the amazing depreciation of the paper currency, the whole will turn out a simple piece of business, and disappoint the original hopes both of the fortunate adventurers and of congress.
Feb. They proceeded by ballot to the election of a superintendant of finance, to examine into the state of the public debts, expenditures, and revenue: to digest and report plans for improving and regulating the finances, and for establishing order and ceconomy in the expenditure of the public money: and to the exercise of many other powers necessary to complete the financier. Robert Morris efq; of Philadelphia was unanimously elected.
37. They passed a commendatory resolution respecting capt. John Paul Jones; and further resolved, that Dr. Franklin mould acquaint his most Christian majesty, that his majesty's offer of adorning capt. Jones with the cross of military merit was highly acceptable to congress. The small squadron which the captain commanded in 1779, was fitted out at the expence of his most Christian majesty, who honored him with a French commission.
Mons. de Sartine, the minister of the marine, requested1 Dr. Franklin to strengthen the squadron by ordering the Alliance to join it, which was immediately done.
On the 12th of February the Maryland delegates laid before congress an act of their state, empowering them to subscribe and ratify the articles of confederation. The ist of March was afterward fixed upon for their doing it. Maryland having no vacant western territory, contended with great justice, that the unappropriated western country should be the common property of the union, and pledged as a fund for finking the continental debt; and declined acceding to the confederation till some satisfaction mould be given upon that subject. But congress having recommended it to the states, claiming such country, to remove the only obstacle to a final ratification j and then earnestly requested the legislature of Maryland to empower their delegates, they accordingly did so on the 30th of last January. They concurred in the measure, as well from a desire to perpetuate and strengthen the union, as from a confidence in the justice and generosity of the larger states, and that superior to local interests, they would consent to such arrangements of the unappropriated lands, included in their respective charters, as good policy required, and the great exertions of their own state in the common cause had so highly deserved. When the ist of March was arrived, the NewM York delegates, by virtue of the powers with which their legislature had intrusted them, proceeded by an official act in congress to limit and restrict the boundaries of that state, and to relinquish all right, jurisdiction and claim, to all lands to the northward and westward of the fame, to be disposed of as the congress of the confe; Vol. IV. F derated
1781. derated states should direct. The Maryland delegates then proceeded to sign and ratify die articles of confederation. This important event has been communicated to the executives of the several states; and the American ministers in Europe have been ordered to notify it to the respective courts at which they reside.
Though a longer delay on the part of Maryland might have been productive of bad consequences, yet there are several members of congress, who are sensible of its having been highly beneficial upon many occasions. As seven states were a majority, whenever that number met it was considered as the representative body of the thirteen; and if four out of the seven * agreed, it passed for the voice of the United States, even in those cases, which by the confederation required the concurrence of nine states. The want of such concurrence, had the" confederation been perfected at a very early date, would have prevented the execution of much business of the highest importance.
16. Congress resolved—" That it be, and hereby is, recommended-to the several states, to amend their laws making the bills of credit emitted, under the authority of congress, a legal tender, so that such bills shall not be a tender in any other manner than at their current value compared with gold and silver." The same day they resolved—" That the states be immediately called upon to furnish for the public expences, and for Carrying on the war, their proportion of one million five hundred
* When congress confirmed the sentence of the court martial on general Lee, it was by a vote of four out of eleven present. See Vol. III. p. 222.
• thousand thousand dollars quarterly, the first quarterly payment '781* to be made on the ist day of June next." Neither of these resolves will be sufficiently productive.
This shall close with an extract from a letter of gen. Washington, written the beginning of April—" I give it decisively as rriy opinion, that without a foreign loan our present force, which is but the remnant of an army, cannot be kept together this campaign, much less will it be increased and in readiness for another. If France delays a timely and powerful aid in the critical posture of our affairs, it will avail us nothing should she attempt it hereafter. We are at this hour suspended in the balance: we cannot transport the provisions from the states in which they are assessed, to the army, because we cannot pay the teamsters, who will no longer work for certificates.—In a word, We are at the end of our tether, and now or never our deliverance must come."
Ron er dam. May 5, 1781.
AS soon as the rupture between Great Britain and
F a accordingly