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or a government to support you. You have conducted the great military contest with wisdom and fortitude, invariably regarding the rights of the civil power, through all disasters and changes. You have, by the love and confidence of your fellow citizens, enabled them to display their martial genius, and transmit their fame to posterity. You have persevered, till these United States, aid. ed by a magnanimous king and nation, have been enabled, under a just Providence, to close the war in freedom, safety, and independence; on which happy event we sincerely join you in congratulations.
"Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world: having taught a lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action, with the blessings of your fellow citizens; but the glory of your virtues will not terminate with your military command, it will continue to animate remotest ages.
"We feel with you our obligations to the army in general, and will particularly charge ourselves, with the interests of those confidential officers, who have attended your person to this affecting
"We join you, in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the oppor tunity afforded them, of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved, may be fostered with all his care; and that your days may be as happy as they have been illustrious; and that he will finally give you that reward, which this world cannot give."*
This was the closing military scene of the American revolution. This scene, with the declaration of independence, the surrender of general Burgoyne, and the capture of lord Cornwallis, in pursuance of a late order of congress, have been selected, to be commemorated by appropriate paintings, for national use. These have been executed by John Trumbull, a celebrated American artist, and placed in the capitol at the seat of the general gov
* Journals of Congress, vol. 9.
After the peace of 1783, congress take measures to restore public credit-Amount of the debt of the United States-States requested to vest congress with power to levy duties on imports, and to establish funds for the payment of the interest of the debt -Address to the states on the subject-All the states grant the impost, except New York-Congress propose to enter into commercial treaties with most of the powers of Europe-Establish certain principles respecting treaties-Appoint ministers to form commercial arrangements with foreign nations-Pitt's bill respecting commercial intercourse with the United States-Not approved by the new ministry and the navigating interest-Lord Sheffield's observations upon it-King and council authorized to regulate the commerce with the United States-Americans excluded from the West India trade-Disputes with Great Britain about the inexecution of the treaty of peace-Mr. Adams sent minister to England-His instructions-His reception at the court of London-Presents a memorial to the British ministersBritish complain of infractions of the treaty on the part of the United States-Congress recommend the repeal of all laws contrary to the treaty-Disputes with Spain renewed about limits and the navigation of the Mississippi-Gardoqui, minister from Spain arrives-Mr. Jay appointed to negociate with him-His instructions, and course of negociation with the Spanish minister-Cessions of lands by the statesTerritory of the United States formed into a district-Ordinance of congress for the government of the territory-Inefficiency of the general government-Depressed state of American commerce-Insurrection in Massachusetts-Alarms congressTroops ordered to be raised to assist Massachusetts-Meeting of commissioners from several states at Annapolis, to amend the articles of confederation-General convention recommended by these commissioners and by congress-Delegates to this convention appointed by all the states except Rhode Island.
ONE of the first objects which claimed the attention of congress, after the signature of the provisional articles of peace, was the restoration of public credit, and the establishment of funds for the payment of the debts incurred by the war. It was obvious, that duties on imports, must constitute no inconsiderable portion of these funds. Congress, however, had no power to levy these duties, without the assent of all the states.
The whole expense of the war, has been estimated at the sum of one hundred and thirty-five millions of dollars. In this is included the specie value of all the bills advanced from the treas ury of the United States, reduced according to a scale of depreciation, established by congress. The whole amount of the debt of the United States, as ascertained in 1783, was about forty-two millions of dollars; eight millions of which arose, from loans obtained in France and Holland, and the remainder was due to American citizens. The annual interest of this debt, was, two millions four hundred and fifteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-six dollars.
On the 12th of February, 1783, congress, with great unanimity, declared, "that the establishment of permanent and adequate funds on taxes or duties, which shall operate generally, and on the whole, in just proportion, throughout the United States, are indispensably necessary towards doing complete justice to the public creditors, for restoring public credit, and for providing for the future exigencies of the war."
It was much easier to agree, in this general resolution, than to provide the means for carrying it into effect. After much debate, congress, on the 18th of April, recommended to the states, as being "indispensably necessary, to the restoration of public credit, and to the punctual discharge of the public debts," to vest congress with power to levy certain specified duties on spirits, wines, teas, pepper, sugar, molasses, cocoa, and coffee, and a duty of five per cent. ad valorem, on all other imported goods. These duties were to be applied solely to the payment of the interest and principal of the public debt, and for that purpose, to continue twenty-five years the collectors to be chosen by the states, but removeable by congress.
The states were also required, to establish for the same time, and for the same object, substantial and effectual revenues of such nature, as they should judge convenient, for supplying their proportion of one million five hundred thousand dollars, annually,
exclusive of duties on imports; the proportion of each state to be fixed, according to the articles of confederation.*
This system was not to take effect, until acceded to by every state, and when adopted by all, to be a mutual compact among the states, and irrevocable by any one, without the consent of the whole, or of a majority of the United States in congress.
The taxes and expenses of the union, had never yet been apportioned among the states, according to the rule prescribed by the confederation. A satisfactory valuation of houses and lands had never yet been completed; and the difficulties in making such a valuation, seemed nearly insuperable. The proportions had been generally regulated by the supposed number of inhabitants. Congress now proposed to the consideration of the states, an alteration in the articles, providing, that the proportion should be governed by the number of white and other free citizens, including those bound to servitude for a term of years, and three fifths of all other persons.
To enforce the importance and necessity of adopting and carrying into effect, this system of finance, congress presented an address to the states. This was prepared by a committee consisting of Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Hamilton, who, then and afterwards, held a high rank among American statesmen.
After explaining the system itself, congress appealed to the gratitude and pride, as well as justice and plighted faith of the nation. They urged particularly, the propriety of the provision recommended for the payment of the national debt. "If other motives than that of justice," they said, "could be requisite, on this occasion, no nation could ever feel stronger; for, to whom are the debts to be paid?
* This sum of 1,500,000 dollars, was apportioned among the states, as follows:-
"To an ally, in the first place, who, to the exertion of his armies in support of our cause, has added the succors of his treasure; who, to his important loans, has added liberal donations; and whose loans themselves, carry the impression of his magnanimity and friendship.
"To individuals in a foreign country, in the next place, who were the first to give so precious a token of their confidence in our justice, and of their friendship for our cause, and who are members of a republic, which was second in espousing our rank among nations.
"Another class of creditors is, that illustrious and patriotic band of fellow citizens, whose blood and whose bravery have defended the liberties of their country, who have patiently borne, among other distresses, the privation of their stipends, whilst the distresses of their country disabled it from bestowing them; and who even now, ask for no more than such a portion of their dues, as will enable them to retire from the field of glory, into the bosom of peace and private citizenship, and for such effectual security for the residue of their claims, as their country is now unquestionably able to provide.
“The remaining class of creditors is composed partly of such of our fellow citizens as originally lent to the public the use of their funds, or have since manifested most confidence in their country, by receiving transfers from the lenders; and partly of those, whose property has been either advanced or assumed for the public service. To discriminate the merits of these several descriptions of creditors, would be a task equally unnecessary and invidious. If the voice of humanity plead more loudly in favor of some, than of others, the voice of policy, no less than justice, pleads in favor of all. A wise nation will never permit those, who relieve the wants of their country, or who rely most on its faith, its firmness, and its resources, when either of them is distrusted, to suffer by the event.
"Let it be remembered, finally, that it has ever been the pride and boast of America, that the rights, for which she contended,