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by New York to the latter ; that the jurisdiction would probably be equally resisted. and the same violences would follow as in Vermont. He was called to order by Mr. MADISON. The PRESIDENT and the plurality of Congress supported and enforced the call. No Congress till
MONDAY, 18th, and Tuesday 19th, November The Journals sufficiently explain the proceedings of those days.
WEDNESDAY, Notember 20. Congress went into consideration of the report of a committee, consisting of Mr. Carroll, Mr. M'Kean, and Mr. Howell, on two memorials from the legislature of Pennsylvania. The memorials imported a disposition to provide for the creditors of the United States, within the state of Pennsylvania, out of the revenues allotted for Congress, unless such provision could be made by Congress. The report, as an answer to the memorials, acknowledged the merit of the public creditors, professed the wishes of Congress to do them justice; referring, at the same time, to their recommendation of the impost of five per cent., which had not been acceded to by all the states ; to the requisition of one million two hundred thousand dollars, for the payment of one year's interest on the public debt; and to their acceptance of the territorial cession made by New York. "After some general conversation, in which the necessity of the impost, as the only fund on which loans could be expected, and the necessity of loans to supply the enormous deficiency of taxes, were urged, as also the fatal tendency of the plan intimated in the memorials, as well to the Union itself as to the system actually adopted by Congress, the report was committed.
A motion was made by Mr. RUTLEDGE, seconded by Mr. WILLIAMSON, to instruct the committee to report the best mode of liquidating the domestic debts, and of obtaining a valuation of the land within the several states, as the Article of Confederation directs. The first part of the instruction was negatived, provision having been previously made on that head. In place of it, the superintendent of finance was instructed to report the causes which impede that provision. The second part was withdrawn by the mover. A committee, however, was afterwards appointed, consi-ting of Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Nash, Mr. Duane, Mr. Osgood, and Mr. Madison, to report the best scheme for a valuation.
THURSDAY, November 21. A report was made by a committee, to whom had been referred several previous reports and propositions relative to the salaries of foreign ministers, delivering it as the opinion of the committee, that the salaries allowed to ministers plenipotentiary, to wit, two thousand five hundred pounds sterling, would not admit of reduction; but that the salary allowed to secretaries of legations, to wit, one thousand pounds sterling, ought to be reduced to five hundred pounds. This committee consisted of Mr. Duane, Mr. Izard, and Mr. Madison, the last of whoin disagreed to the opinion of his colleagues as to the reduction of the two thousand five hundred pounds allowed to ministers plenipotentiary.
Against a reduction, it was argued that not only justice, but the dignity of the United States, required a liberal allowance to foreign servants; that gentlemen who had experienced the expense of living in Europe did not think that a less sum would be sufficient for a decent style; and that, in the instance of Mr. Arthur Lee, the expenses claimed by him, and allowed by Congress, exceeded the fixed salary in question.
In favor of a reduction were urged the poverty of the United States, the sim plicity of republican governments, the inconsistency of splendid allowances to ministers whose chief duty lay in displaying the wants of their constituents, and Boliciting a supply of them; and, above all, the policy of reconciling the army to the ecr vomical arrangements imposed on them, by extending the reform to every other department.
The result of this discussion was a reference of the report to another committee, consisting of Mr. Williamson, Mr. Osgood, and Mr. Carroll.
A motion was made by Mr. HOWELL, seconded by Mr. ARNOLD, recommending to the several states to settle with and satisfy, at the charge of the United States, all such temporary corps as had been raised by them respectively, with the approbation of Congress. The repugnance which appeared in Congress to go into 80 extensive and important a measure, at this time, led the mover to withdraw it.
A motion was made by Mr. MADISON, seconded by Mr. JONES, “That the secretary of foreign affairs be authorized to communicate to foreign ministers, who may reside near Congress, all such articles of intelligence received by Congress as he shall judge fit; and that he have like authority with respect to acts and resolutions passed by Con. gress; reporting, nevertheless, the communications which, in all such cases, he shall have made."
It was objected, by some, that such a resolution was unnecessary, the secretary being already possessed of the authority ; it was contended by others that he ought, previously to such communication, to report his intention to do so; others, again, were of opinion that it was unnecessary to report at all.
The motion was suggested by casual information from the secretary that he had not communicated to the French minister the reappointment of Mr. Jefferson, no act of Congress having empowered or instructed him to do so.
The motion was committed to Mr. Williamson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Peters.
Friday, November 22. A considerable time previous to this date, letter had been received by Congress from Mr. Henry Laurens, informing them of his discharge from captivity, and of his having authorized in the British ministry an expectation that Earl Cornwallis should in his turn be absolved from his parole. Shortly after, a letter from Dr. Franklin informed Congress that, at the pressing instance of Mr. Laurens, and in consideration of the offer of General Burgoyne for Mr. Laurens by Congress, as well as the apparent reasonableness of the thing, he had executed an instrument setting Cornwallis at liberty from his parole, until the pleasure of Congress should be known. These papers had been committed to Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Montgomery, and Mr. Madison, who reported in favor of the ratification of the measure, against the opinion, however, of Mr. Rutledge, the first member of the committee. The report, after some discussion, had been recommitted, and had lain in their hands until, being called for, it was thought proper by the committee to obtain the sense of Congress on the main question, whether the act should be ratified or annulled; in order that a report might be made 'correspondent thereto. With this view, a motion was this day made by Mr. MADISON, seconded by Mr. OSGOOD, that the committee be instructed to report a proper act for the ratification of the measure. In support of this motion, it was alleged that, whenever a public minister entered into engagements without authority from his sovereign, the alternative which presented itself was either to recall the 'minister, or to support his proceedings, or perhaps both; that Congress had, by their resolution of the 17th day of September, re used to accept the resignation of Mr. Laurens, and had insisted on his executing the office of a minister plenipotentiary ; and that, on the 20th day of September, they had rejected a motion for suspending the said resolution; that they had no option, therefore, but to fulfil the engagement entered into on the part of that minister; that it would be in the highest degree preposterous to retain him in so dignified and confidential a service, and at the same tiine stigmatize him by a disavowal of his conduct, and thereby disqualify him for a proper execution of the service; that it was improper to send him into negotiations with the enemy, under an impression of supposed obligations; that this reasoning was in a great degree applicable to the part which Dr. Franklin had taken in the measure ; that, finally, the Marquis de la Fayette, who, in consequence of the liberation of Cornwallis, had undertaken an exchange of several officers of his family, would also participate in the mortification; that it was overrating far the importance of Cornwallis, to sacrifice all these considerations to the policy or gratification of prolonging his captivity.
On the opposite side, it was said that the British government having treated Mr. Laurens as a traitor, not as a prisoner of war, having refused to exchange him for General Burgoyne, and having declared, by the British general at New York, that he had been freely discharged, neither Mr. Laurens nor Congress would be bound, either in honor or justice, to render an equivalent; and that policy absolutely required that so barbarous an instrument of war, and so odions an object to the people of the United States, should be kept as long as possible in the chains of captivity ; that as the latest advices rendered it probable that Mr. Laurens was on his return to America, the commission for peace would not be affected by any mark of disapprodation whics might fall on his conduct; that no injury could accrue to Dr. Franklin, because ne bad guarded his act by an express reservation for the confirmation or disallowance of Congress; that the case was the same with the Marquis de la Fayette ; that the declaration against partial exchanges, until a cartel on national principles should be established, would not admit even an exchange antecedent thereto.
These considerations were, no doubt, with some, the sole motives for their respective votes. There were others, however, who at least blended with them, on one side, a personal attachment to Mr. Laurens, and on the other, a dislike to his character, and a jealousy excited by his supposed predilection for Great Britain, by his intimacy with some of the new ministry, by his frequent passing to and from Great Britain, and by his memorial, whilst in the Tower, to the Parliament. The last consideration was the chief ground on which the motion had been made for suspending the resolution which requested his continuance in the commission for peace.
In this stage of the business, a motion was made by Mr. DUANE, seconded by Mr. RUTLEDGE, to postpone the consideration of it; which being lost
, a motion was made by Mr. WILLIAMSON to substitute a resolution declaring that, as the British government had treated Mr. Laurens with so unwarrantable a rigor, and even as a traitor, and Cornwallis had rendered himself so execrable by his barbarities, Congress could not ratify his exchange. An adjournment was called for, in order to prevent a vote with so thin and divided a house, 2 No Congress till
Monday, November 25. A letter from the lieutenant-governor of Rhode Island was read, containing evidence that some of the leaders in Vermont, and particularly Luke Nolton, who had been deputed in the year 1780 to Congress, as agent for that party opposed to its independence, but who had since changed sides, had been intriguing with the enemy in New York. The letter was committed. (See November the 27th.)
The consideration of the motion for ratifying the discharge of Cornwallis was resumed. Mi. WILLIAMSON renewed his motion, which failed. Mr. M'KEAN suggested the expedient of ratifying the discharge, on condition that a general cartel should be acceded to. This was relished at first by several members, but a developinent of its inefficacy, and inconsistency with national dignity, stifled it.
A motion was made by Mr. RUTLEDGE, seconded by Mr. RAMSAY, that the discharge should be ratified in case Mr. Laurens should undertake the office of commissioner for peace. This proposition was generally considered as of a very extraordinary nature, and, after a brief discussion, withdrawn.
In the course of these several propositions, most of the arguments stated on Friday last were repeated. Colonel HAMİLTON, who warmly and urgently espoused the ratification, as an additional argument, mentioned that some intimations had been given by Colonel Laurens, of the army, with the privity of General Washington, to Cornwallis, previous to his capitulation, that he might be exchanged for his father, then in the Tower.
The report of the committee, on Mr. MADISON'S motion, on the 21st instant, relative to the secretary of foreign affairs, passed without opposition.
TUESDAY, November 26. No Congress, but à grand committee * composed of a member from each state.
The states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, having redeemed more than their quota of the emissions prior to the 18th of March, 1780, had called on Congress to be credited for the surplus, on which the superintendent of finance reported, that they ought to be credited at the rate of one dollar specie for forty of the said emission, according to the act of March aforesaid. This report, being judged by Cougress unjust, as the money had been called in by those states at a greater depreciation, was disagreed to. Whereupon, a motion was made by Mr. OSGOOD, that the states who had redeemed a surplus, should be credited for the same according to its current value at the time of redemption.
This motion, with a letter afterwards received from the state of Massachusetts on the same subject, was referred to the grand committee in question.
• The proceedings of grand committees, though often rendered particularly important by tn. freedom and fulness of discussion, make no part of the Journal, excepi in the reported result.
The committee were unanimous that justice required an allowance to the states who should sink a surplus, to be apportioned on the different states. The different expedients were —
That Congress should renew their call on the states to execute the act of the 18th of March, 1780, and leave it to the states to levy the money by negotiations among themselves. This was Mr. HAMILTON'S idea. The objections against it were, that either nothing would be done in the case, or the deficient states would be at the mercy of the hoarding states; although the former were, perhaps, prevented from doing their part by invasions, and the prosperity of the latter enabled them to absorb an undue proportion.
By Mr. MADISON it was proposed that Congress should declare that, whenever it should appear that the whole of the bills emitted prior to the 18th of March, 1780, shall have been collected into the treasuries of the several states, Congress would proceed to give such credit for any surplus above the quotas assigned as equity might require, and debit the deficient states accordingly. In favor of this expedient, it was supposed that it would give a general encouragement to the states to draw the money outstanding among individuals into the public treasuries, and render a future equitable arrangement by Congress easy. The objections were, that it gave no satisfacuon immediately to the complaining states, and would prolong the internal embar rassments which have hindered the states from a due compliance with the requisitions of Congress.
It was lastly proposed, by Mr. FITZSIMMONS, that the coinmissioners appointed to traverse the United States, for the purpose of settling accounts, should be empow. ered to take up all the outstanding old money, and issue certificates to be apportioned on the states as part of the public debt; the same rule to determine the credit for redemptions by the states. This proposition was, on the whole, generally thought by the committee least objectionable, and was referred to a sub-committee, composed of Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Fitzsimmons, and Mr. Hamilton, to be matured and laid before the grand committee. One consideration suggested by Mr. HAMILTON in its favor was, that it would multiply the advocates for federal funds for discharging the public debts, and tend to cement the Union.3
WEDNESDAY, November 27. The report of the committee on the letter from the lieutenant-governor of Rhode Island (see November 25) was made, and taken into consideration.
It was moved by Mr. M'KEAN, to insert, in the first clause on the journal, after directing the apprehension by General Washington, “ in order that the persons may be brought to trial.” The reason urged for the motion was, that it might appear that the interposition was not meant to supersede civil process further than the necessity of the ease required. Against the motion it was urged, that it would lead to discussions extremely perplexing and dilatory, and that it would be more proper after the apprehension should have taken place. The motion was lost, six states only being for it. (See p. 31.)
With respect to the main question, it was agreed on all sides, that it was indispensable to the safety of the United States that a traitorous intercourse between the inhabitants of Vermont and the enemy should be suppressed. There were, however, two modes proposed for the purpose, viz.: the direct and immediate interposition of the military force, according to the report; and, secondly, a reference in the first instance to the acting authority in Vermont, to be followed, in case of refusal or neglect of justice on the offenders, by an exertion of compulsive ineasures against the whole body.
In favor of the first mode it was said, that it would be the only effectual one, and the only one consistent with the part Congress had observed with regard to Vermout ; since a reference to the authority of Vermont, which had itself been suspected and accused, would certainly be followed at the best by a mere mock trial; and would, moreover, be a stronger recognition of its independence than Congress had made or meant to make.
In favor of the second mode it was alleged, that the body of the people in Vermont were well attached to the revolution; that a sudden march of inilitary force into the country might alarm them; that if their rulers abetted the traitors, it would disgrace them in the eyes of their own people, and that Congress would be justified, in that event, to “split Vern ont up among the other states." This expression, as well as the
arguments on this side, in general, came from Mr. HOWELL, of Rhode Island, whose object was to render the proceedings of Congress as favorable as possible to the independence of Vermont.
In order to compromise the matter, Mr. ARNOLD moved that the commanderin-chief should be directed to make a previous communication of his intentions, and the evidence on which they were founded, to the persons exercising authority within the district in question.
It was suggested by Mr. MADISON, as a better expedient, that he should be authorized to make the communication, if he should deem it conducive to the more certain apprehension of the suspected persons.
The delegates from New York said they would agree, that, after the apprehension should have been effected, the commander might give notice thereof to the persons exercising authority in Vermont.
It was finally cornpromised as it stands on the Journal. In the course of the debate, Mr. CLARK informed Congress that the delegates of New Jersey could not vote for any act which might oppose force to the authority of Vermont, the legislature of that state having so construed the resolutions of the 7th and 20th of August as to be incompatible therewith, and accordingly instructed their delegates.
The communication directed to the states on this occasion, through the commander-in-chief, was objected to by several members as an improper innovation. The object of it was to prevent the risk of discovery, if sent before the plans which might be taken by General Washington were sufficiently advanced, of which he was the proper judge.4
THURSDAY, November 28. No Congress.
[Mr. Livingston, secretary of foreign affairs, called upon me, and mentioned his intention to resign in a short time his office; observing, that as he ultimately was decided to prefer his place of chancellor in New York to the other, and the two had become incompatible by the increase of business in the former, he thought it expedient not to return to Philadelphia, after a visit to New York, which was required by this increase. In the course of conversation, he took notice that the expense of his appointment under Congress had exceeded his salary about three thousand dollars per annum. He asked me whether it was probable Mr. Jefferson would accept the vacancy, or whether he would accept Mr. Jay's place in Spain, and leave the vacancy to the latter. I told him, I thought Mr. Jefferson would not accept it himself, and doubted whether he would concur in the latter arrangement; as well as whether Congress would be willing to part with Mr. Jay's services in the negotiations of peace; but promised to sound Mr. Jefferson on these points by the first opportunity.] No Congress until
Monday, December 2. The secretary of foreign affairs resigned his office, assigning as a reason the increase of business in his office of chancellor of New York, whereby it was become impossible for him to execute the duties of both ; informing Congress, at the same time, as a rule for providing for his successor, that his expenses exceeded his salary upwards of three thousand dollars per annum. The letter of resignation was committed to Mr. M'Kean and Mr. Osgood.
TUESDAY, December 3. After a verbal report of the committee above mentioned, who acquainted Congress that, in conference with Mr. Livingston, he professed a willingness to remain in office till the 1st of January, to give time for the choice of a successor, Mr. MÄKEAN proposed the resolution which stands on the secret Journals; several alterations having been made, however, in the course of its consideration. With respect to the preamble, particularly, a change took place. As it was first moved, it recited, as the ground of the resignation, the incompatibility of the office of foreign affairs with the chancellorship of New York. To this recital it was objected, by Mr. MADISON, that such a publication of preference of the office of chancellor of a particular state to the office of foreign affairs under the United States, tended to degrade the latter. Whereupon, the preamble on the Journal was substituted. In the course of this business, the expediency of augmenting the salary was suggested, but not much sup. ported. Mr. HOWELL and Mr. CLARK opposed it strenuously. VOL. V