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into effect that part only which related to import duties.” With this request, the states, except New York, promptly complied. This state also had passed an act on the subject, but denied to the federal government the power to collect the duties. It reserved to itself not only this right, but the right of paying the duties in its own bills of credit which it had emitted, and which were liable to depreciation. The governor, George Clinton, was requested to call a special meeting of the legislature to reconsider the subject. The governor replied, that he had power to convene the legislature only on extraordinary occasions; and as this subject had already been before them, the occasion was not one that would authorize the calling of a special session : consequently the plan was defeated.

Another material defect of the confederation, was the want of power to regulate foreign and domestic commerce. Indispensable to the accomplishment of this object, is the power to establish a uniform system of duties. Each state having reserved the right to regulate its own trade, imposed upon foreign productions, as well as upon those from its sister states, such duties as its own exclusive interests seemed to dictate. Hence, a rate of duties which was favorable to the citizens of one state, was deemed by those of other states highly prejudicial to them. The jealousies, rivalries, and mutual resentments to which this system gave rise, caused apprehensions of serious collision between some of the states.

Foreign nations, availing themselves of the advantages to be derived from the discordant legislation of the states, passed such laws as they judged most likely to destroy our commerce and to extend their own. The rigorous policy of Great Britain operated more unfavorably than that of any other nation. The trade with the British West India colonies was prohibited; and, by enforcing her navigation acts, which secured special privileges to British shipping, our navigation was almost annihilated. Foreign goods and vessels were freely admitted into the states, while ours were heavily burthened with duties in foreign ports. American trade being thus subject to the control of foreign legislation, the prices of imported goods were enhanced, and those of our exports were reduced at the will of foreigners; and the little money still in the hands of our citizens was rapidly passing into the pockets of British merchants and manufacturers.

To counteract the effects of this system of Great Britain upon our trade, it was deemed necessary to oppose her commerce with similar restrictions. It was believed that restraints upon her trade would induce her to relax the rigor of her policy. But the absence of all power in the federal government to regulate commerce, and the difficulty of prevailing upon thirteen independent rival states to concur in any effective measure of this kind, rendered the object hopeless. Congress recommended to the states, (1784,) to authorize the general government, for the term of fifteen years, to prohibit the importation or exportation of goods, in vessels belonging to, or navigated by, the subjects of any power with whom the United States had not formed commercial treaties; and to prohibit the subjects of any foreign nation, unless authorized by treaty, from importing into the United States any goods not the produce or manufacture of the nation whose subjects they were. But the requisite power could not be obtained.

Endeavors were also made to obtain relief by forming commercial treaties with foreign powers; and commissioners were appointed for that purpose. Principles upon which treaties were to be formed, drawn up by Mr. Jefferson, were adopted; and John Adams, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Jefferson, (the latter in the place of Mr. Jay, who was about to return to the United States,) were authorized to negotiate treaties conformable to those principles. With none of the principal powers of Europe, however, was any such treaty effected. In February, 1785, John Adams, then in Europe, was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, to settle our commercial relations with that country upon terms more advantageous to the United States, as well as to adjust certain other difficulties that had arisen between the two countries. But the mission in respect to both objects was unsuccessful. Great Britain having already every advantage she could desire, and aware that the United States, under the confederation, could neither form a treaty that would be binding upon individual states, nor countervail her restrictive policy, declined entering into a treaty by which she would be sure to yield something without an equivalent.

The difficulties to which allusion has just been made, were the nonfulfillment and alleged infractions of the treaty of peace. The United States complained that the western military posts were still occupied by the British, contrary to an express provision of the treaty; and that the retiring British army had carried away slaves belonging to the United States. Great Britain, on the other hand, alleged that some of the states had interposed obstacles to the collection of British debts, in violation of a treaty stipulation; and that certain other articles of the treaty had not been observed. Congress, to remove all just ground of complaint on the part of Great Britain, recommended to the states the repeal of all laws repugnant to the treaty of peace, which was accordingly done by all the states in which such laws existed. Mr. Adams continued in England until October, 1787, when, the British court still declining to enter into a commercial treaty, or even to appoint a minister to the United States, he was, at his own request, recalled.

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Soon after the appointment of Mr. Adams, in 1785, Dr. Franklin, minister to France, after an absence of nine years, having obtained leave to return home, Mr. Jefferson was appointed in his place. In March, 1784, Mr. Jay, in anticipation of his return from Europe, was appointed secretary of foreign affairs, the office having been vacated by the resignation of Mr. Livingston.

About this time a dispute arose with Spain concerning boundaries and the navigation of the Mississippi. The Floridas having been ceded to Spain by Great Britain, the former claimed a more northern boundary to her territory, and the right to exclude Americans from the navigation of the Mississippi. In the summer of 1785, a negotiation was commenced between Mr. Jay, secretary of foreign affairs, and the Spanish minister, Don Diego Gardoqui, recently arrived. Without having reached a conclusion before the formation of the constitution, the negotiation was suspended, to be renewed under the new government.

The condition of the country had become almost desperate, and was evidently approaching, if it had not already reached, a crisis. The immense debt contracted by congress and the states individually, during the war, was pressing heavily upon the people; and their embarrassment was greatly increased by private indebtedness. Relief was attempted in some states by the issue of paper money; in others, personal property, at an apprized value, was made a tender in payment of debts.

Driven to desperation by customs, taxes, and excises in the state of Massachusetts, to meet the public engagements, and by prosecutions at law for private debts, a large number of the people in some parts of that state rose in opposition to the laws. In several counties, proceedings in the courts of justice were obstructed; and fears were entertained that the government would be overthrown. So formidable was the insurrection, that the federal government was applied to for aid in suppressing it. But by the vigorous measures of the state authorities, the rebellion was quelled without the aid of the general government. The insurgents numbered about two thousand. Their chief leader was Daniel Shays. Hence this occurrence is usually designated, “Shays' rebellion," or "Shays' insurrection.” Fourteen of the insurgents were convicted of treason, and sentenced to death; and a large number were convicted of sedition. But to such extent did they share the sympathies of the people, as to render their exccution unsafe. Moderate penalties only were imposed.

The pecuniary distress of the country was greatly aggravated by large importations of foreign goods, under circumstances which deprived the people of the means of paying for them, and which it was impossible to avoid. The market for agricultural products which the armies of the several belligerant nations had furnished during the war, no longer existed. Great Britain had not only subjected our products to ruinous duties in her ports, but prohibited our trade with her West India colonies, which had furnished the principal means of paying for British goods. The non-importation and non-consumption agreements, and the war, had created and encouraged domestic manufactures, which were now supplanted by foreign fabrics, admitted almost duty free. The imports from Great Britain, in 1784 and 1785, amounted in value to thirty millions of dollars, while the exports from the United States to that country were only nine millions ; and there was no power in the government to restrain this excessive importation, or to countervail the restrictions upou our commerce.

The impotence of the government began to appear soon after the articles of confederation had been adopted; and a convention to revise and amend them was recommended by several of the state legislatures. But this recommendation was not generally responded to. One of the causes which prevented an earlier revision of the articles, was state jealousy; or, as expressed by Washington, “the disinclination of the individual states to yield competent powers to congress for the federal governments, and their unrcasonable jealousy of that body and of one another." And as no alteration could be made without the assent of all the states, there was little encouragement to any efforts for a convention.

No relief being expected from an amendment of the confederation, the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia, in 1785, appointed commissioners to form a compact respecting the navigation of the rivers Potomac and Roanoke, and part of the Chesapeake bay. The commissioners met at Alexandria, in March; but for the want of adequate power to effect any important object, they agreed to recommend to their respective governments the appointment of new commissioners to make arrangements, subject to the assent of congress, for maintaining a naval force in the Chesapeake, and to fix a tarif of duties on imports which should be enforced by the laws of both states. The legislature of Virginia, when acting upon these propositions, passed a resolution requesting all the states to send deputies to the meeting, to coöperate on the subject of daties on imports

. And a few days after, viz. : on the 21st of January, 1786, another resolution was adopted, proposing a convention of commissioners from all the states, to take into consideration the state of trade, and the expediency of a uniform system of commercial regulations for their common interest and permanent harmony. The commissioners met at Annapolis, in September, the place and time proposed. Only Virginia, Pennsylvania

, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, were represented. Delegates were appointed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, but they did not attend. Pinding their powers too limited, and the number of states represented

too small to effect the objects contemplated, the convention framed a report to be made to their respective states, and also to be laid beforc congress, advising the calling of a general convention of deputies from all the states, to meet in Philadelphia, on the second Monday in May, 1787, for a more extensive revision of the articles of confederation.

Virginia was the first state that appointed delegates to the proposed convention, and was followed by several others before the report of the Annapolis convention was disposed of hy congress. A resolution was passed by that body in February, 1787, concurring in the recommendation for a convention. Delegates were appointed by all the states except Rhode Island.

It has been already stated, that the states of New York and Virginia had made cessions of their western lands to the general government. In 1783, congress requested that those states which had not already done So, should cede portions of their territory, as a fund to aid in payment of the public debt. Connecticut, in 1784, ceded her claim to all lands lying one hundred and twenty miles west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania—the portion reserved, being that which is known as the Connecticut or “ Western Reserve.” Massachusetts ceded in 1785. Having by these cessions come into possession of all the lands northwest of the Ohio, congress, in July, 1787, while the constitutional convention was in session, passed an ordinance establishing a form of government for the inhabitants of the territory.

As early as 1784, Mr. Jefferson, then a member of congress, submitted a plan of government for all the western territory, from the southern to the northern boundary of the United States, all of which was expected to be ceded by the states claiming the same. By this plan, seventeen states were to be formed from this territory.

One of its provisions was, “ that, after the year 1800, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, other than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The report, embraced in a series of resolutions, was adopted, except the proviso; which, not having seven states in its favor, was struck out. The four New England states, with New York and Pennsylvania, voted for it; Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina against it. North Carolina was divided; New Jersey had only one delegate present, and thereføre had no vote; and Delaware and Georgia were absent. This rejected provision was again proposed, the next year, by Mr. Rufus King, (then of Massachusetts,) with the additional provision, “that this regulation sball be an article of compact, and remain a fundamental principle of the constitutions between the thirteen original states, and each of the states described in the resolve." The proposition again failed.

The ordinance of 1787, embracing in part the plan submitted by Mr. Jefferson, in 1784, was reported by Nathan Dane, of Massachusetts.

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