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A motion was made by Mr. CLARK, seconded by Mr. BLAND, to complete so much of the report as related to an impost on trade, and send it to the states immediately, apart from the residue.

In support of this motion, it was urged that the impost was distinct in its nature, was more likely to be adopted, and ought not, therefore, to be delayed or hazarded by a connection with the other parts of the report. On the other side, it was contended that it was the duty of Congress to provide a system adequate to the public exigencies; and that such a system would be more likely to be adopted by the states than any partial or detached provision, as it would comprise objects agreeable, as well as disagreeable, to each of the states, and as all of them would feel a greater readiness to make mutual concessions, and to disregard local considerations, in proportion to the magnitude of the object held out to them.

The motion was disagreed to, New Jersey being in favor of it, and several other states divided.

SATURDAY, March 22. A letter was received from General Washington, enclosing his address to the convention of officers, with the result of their consultations. The dissipation of the cloud which seemed to have been gathering afforded great pleasure, on the whole, to Congress; but it was observable that the part which the general had found it necessary, and thought it his duty, to take, would give birth to events much more serious, if they should not be obviated by the establishment of such funds as the general, as well as the army, had declared to be necessary.'?

The report of the committee on Mr. Dyer's motion, in favor of a commutation for the half-pay, was agreed to. The preamble was objected to, but admitted at the entreaty of Mr. DYER, who supposed the considerations recited in it would tend to reconcile the state of Connecticut to the measure.

An order passed for granting thirty-five licenses for vessels belonging to Nantucket, to secure the whaling vessels against the penalty for double papers. This order was in consequence of a deputation to Congress representing the exposed situation of that island, the importance of the whale fishery to the United States, the danger of its being usurped by other nations, and the concurrence of the enemy in neutralizing such a number of vessels as would carry on the fisheries to an extent necessary for the support of the inhabitants.

The committee, to whion was referred the letter from the secretary of foreign affairs, with the foreign despatches, &c., reported,

1. That our ministers be thanked for their zeal and services in negotiating the preliminary articles.

2. That they be instructed to make a communication of the separate article to the Court of France, in such way as would best get over the concealment.

3. That the secretary of foreign affairs inform them that it is the wish of Congress that the preliminary articles had been communicated to the court of France before they had been executed.

Mr. DYER said he was opposed to the whole report ; that he fully approved of every step taken by our ministers, as well towards Great Britain as towards France; that the separate article did not concern the interests of France, and therefore could not involve the good faith of the United States.

Mr. LEE agreed fully with Mr. Dyer; said that the spacial report of facts ought to have been made necessary for enabling Congress to form a just opinion of the conduct of the ministers; and moved, that the report might be recommitted. Mr. WOLCOTT seconded the motion, which was evidently made for the sole purpose of delay. It was opposed by Mr. CLARK, Mr. WILŠON, and Mr. GORHAM, the first and last of whom had, however, no objection to postponing; by Mr. MERCER, who repeated his abhorrence of the confidence shown by our ministers to those of Great Britain; caid, that it was about to realize the case of those who kicked down the ladder by which they had been elevated, and of the viper which was ready to destroy the family of the man in whose bosoin it had been restored to life. He observed that it was urwise to prefer Great Britain to Spain as our neighbors in West Florida.

Mr. HIGGINSON supported the sentiments of Mr. Lee; said that the Count de Vergennes had released our ministers; and that he agreed with those who thought the instruction of June the 15th could relate only to questions directly between Great Britain and the United States. VOL. v. 10


Mr. HOLTUN thought there was no sufficient evidence for praise or blame; and what both ought to be suspended until the true reasons should be stated by the min. isters. He supposed that the separate article had been made an ultimatum of the preliminaries of Great Britain; and that there might also be secret articles between Great Britain and France. If the latter were displeased, he conceived that she would officially notify it. Mr. RUTLEDGE was against recommitt ng, but for postponing. The motion for recommitting was disagreed to; but several states being for postponing, the vote was no index as to the main question.

It hid been talked of, among sundry members, as very singular that the British minister should have confided to Mr. Adams an intended expedition from New York against West Florida ; as very reprehensible in the latter to become the depositary of secrets hostile to the friends of his country, and that every motive of honor and pruderce made it the duty of Congre-s to impart the matter to the Spaniards. To this effect, a motion was made by Mr. MERCER, seconded by Mr. MADISON. But it being near the usual hour of adjournment, the house being agitated by the debates on the separate article, and a large proportion of members predetermined against every measure which seemed in any manner to blame the ministers, and the eastern delegates, in general, extremely jealous of the honor of Mr. Adams, an adjournment was pressed and carried without any vote on the motion.

Monday, March 24. On the day preceding this, intelligence arrived, which was this day laid before Congress, that the preliminaries for a general peace had been signed on the 20th of January. This intelligence was brought by a French cutter from Cadiz, despatched by Count d'Estaing to notify the event to all vessels at sea, and engaged, by the zeal of the Marquis de la Fayette, to convey it to Congress. This confirmation of peace produced the greater joy, as the preceding delay, the cautions of Mr. Laurens's letter of the 24th of December, and the general suspicions of Lord Shelburne's sincerity, had rendered an immediate and general peace extremely problematical in the minds of many.18

A letter was received from General Carleton through General Washington, enclosing a copy of the preliminary articles between Great Britain and the United States, with the separate article annexed.

ME CARROLL, after taking notice of the embarrassment under which Congress was placed by the injunction of secrecy as to the separate article, after it had prob. ably been disclosed in Europe, and, it now appeared, was known at New York, called the attention of Congress again to that subject.

Mr. WOLCOTT still contended that it would be premature to take any step rel. ative to it, until further communications should be received froin our ministers.

Mr. GILMAN, being of the same opinion, moved that the business be postponed. Mr. LEE seconded the motion.

Mr. WILSON conceived it indispensably necessary that something should be done ; that Congress deceived themselves if they supposed that the separate article was any secret at New York after it had been announced to them from Sir Guy Carleton. He professed a bigh respect for the character of the ministers, which had received fresh honor from the remarkable steadiness and great abilities displayed in the negotiations; but that their conduct with respect to the separate article could not be justitied. Ile did not consider it as any violation of the instruction of June 15, 1781, the Count de Vergennes having happily released them from the obligation of it. But he considered it, with the signing of the preliminaries secretly, as a violation of the spirit of the treaty of alliance, as well as of the unanimous professions to the court of France, unanimous instructions to our ministers, and unanimous declarations to the world, that nothing should be discussed towards peace but in confidence, and in concert with our ally. He made great allowance for the ministers; saw how they were affected, and the reasons of it; but could not subscribe to the opinion that Congress ought to pass over the separate article in the manner that had been urged; Congress ought, he said, to disapprove of it, in the softest terms that could be devised, and, at all events, not to take part in its concealinent.

Mr. BLAND treated the separate article with levity and ridicule, as in no respect concerning France, but Spain, with whom we had nothing to do.

Mr. CARROLL thought that, unless something expressive of our disapprobation of the article, and of its concealment, was done, it would be an indelible stair on our character.

Mr. CLARK contended that it was still improper to take any step, either for com. municating officially, or for taking off the injunction of secrecy; that the articie concerned Spain, and not France; but that if it should be communicated to th: latter, sh. would hold herself bound to communicate it to the former; that hence an embarrissment might ensue; that it was, probably, this consideration which led the ministers to the concealment, and he thought they had acted right. He described the awkwardness attending a communication of it under present circunstances; remarking, finally, that nothing had been done contrary to the treaty, and that we were in possession of sufficient materials * to justify the suspicions which had been manifested.

Mr. RUTLEDGE was strenuous for postponing the subject; said that Congress had no occasion to meddle with it; that the ministers had done right; that they had maintined the honor of the United States after Congress had given it up; that the maneuvre practised by them was common in all courts, and was justifiable against. Spain, who alone was affect d by it; that instructions ought to be disregarded whenever the public good required it; and that he himself would never be bound by them when he thought them improper.

Mr. MERCER combated the dangerous tendency of the doctrine maintained by Mr. Rutledge with regard to instructions; and observed that, the delegates of Virginia having been unanimously instructed not to conclude or discuss any treaty of peace but in confidence and in concert with his Most Christian Majesty, he conceiv-d himself as much bound, as he was of himself inclined, to disapprove every other mode of proceeding; and that he should call for the yeas and nays on the question for his justification to his constituents.

Mr. BLAND turtly said that he, of course, was instructed as well as his colleague, and should himself require the yeas and nays to justify an opposite conduct; that the instructions from his constituents went no farther than to prohibit any treaty without the concurrence of our ally;t which prohibition had not been violated in the case before Congress.

Mr. LEE was for postponing and burying in oblivion the whole transaction. He said that delicacy to France required this ; since, if any thing should be done implying censure on our ministers, it must and ought to be done in such a way as to fall ultimately on France, whose unfaithful conduct had produced and justified that of our ministers. In all national intercourse, he said, a reciprocity was to be understood ; and, as France had not communicated her views and proceedings to the American plenipotentiaries, the latter were not bound to cominunicate theirs. All instructions he conceived to be conditional in favor of the public good; and he cited the case mentioned by Sir William Temple, in which the Dutch ministers concluded, of themselves, an act which required the previous sanction of all the members of the republic.

Mr. HAMILTON said that, whilst he despised the man who would enslave himself to the policy even of our friends, he could not but lament the overweening readine-s which appeared in many to suspect every thing on that side, and to throw themselves into the bosom of our enemies. He urged the necessity of vindicating our public honor by renouncing that concealment to which it was the wish of so many to make us parties.

Mr. WILSON, in answer to Mr. Lee, observed that the case mentioned by Sir William Temple was utterly inapplicable to the case in question; adding that the conduct of France had not, on the principle of reciprocity, justified our ministers in sign ng the provisional preliminaries without her knowledge, no such step having been taken on her part. But whilst he found it to be his duty thus to note the faults of these gentlemen, he, with much greater pleasure, gave them praise for their firmness in refusing to treat with the British negotiator until he had produced a proper commission, in contending for the fisheries, and in adhering to our western claims. Congress adjourned without any question.

TUESDAY, March 25 No Congress.

* Allading, probably, to the intercepted letter from M. de Marbois.
+ This construction of the instructions was palpably wrong.

WEDNESDAY, March 26. Communication was made, through the secretary of foreign affairs, by the minister of France, as to the late negotiation, from letters received by him from the Count de Vergennes, dated in December last, and brought by the packet Washington. This communication showed, though delicately, that France was displeased with our ministers for signing the preliminary articles separately; that she had labored, by recommending mutual concessions, to compromise disputes between Sprin and the United States, and that she was apprehensive that Great Britain would hereafter, as they already had endeavored to, sow discords between them. It signified that the "intimacy between our ministers and those of Great Britain” furnished a handle for

this purpose:

Besides the public communication to Congress, other parts of letters from the Count de Vergennes were privately communicated to the president of Congress and to sundry members, expressing more particularly the dissatisfaction of the court of France at the conduct of our ministers, and urging the necessity of establishing permanent revenues for paying our debts and supporting a national character. The substance of these private communications, as taken on the 23d instant, by the president, is as follows:

FINANCE. “ That the Count de Vergennes was alarmed at the extravagant demands of Dr. Franklin in behalf of the United States; that he was surprised, at the same time, that the inhabitants paid so little attention to doing something for themselves. If they could not be brought to give adequate funds for their defence during a dangerous war, it was not likely that so desirable an end could be accomplished when their fears were allayed by a general peace; that this reasoning affected the credit of the United States, and no one could be found who would risk their money under such circumstances; that the king would be glad to know what funds were provided for the security and payment of the ten millions borrowed by him in Holland; that the Count de Vergennes hardly dared to report in favor of the United States to the king and council, as money was so scarce that it would be with the greatest difficulty that even a small part of the requisition could be complied with. The causes of this scarcity were a five years' war, which had increased the expenses of government to an enormous amount- the exportation of large sums of specie to America for the support and pay of both French and English armies – the loans to America — the stoppage of bullion in South America, which prevented its flowing in the usual channels.” *

A letter of a later date added, “That he had received the chevalier's letter of October, and rejoiced to find that Congress had provided funds for their debts, which gave him great encouragement, and he had prevailed on the comptroller-general to join him in a report to his majesty and council for six millions of livres for the United States to support the war; but assures the Chevalier de Luzerne that he must never again consent to a further application."

NEGOTIATIONS. “ He complains of being treated with great indelicacy by the American commissioners, they Daving signed the treaty without any confidential communication; that had France treated America with the same indelicacy, she might have signed the treaty first, as every thing between France and England was settled, but the king chose to keep faith with his allies, and, therefore, always refused to do any thing definitively till all his allies were ready; that this conduet had delayed the definitive treaty, England having considered herself as greatly strengthened by America ; that Dr. Franklin waited on the Count de Vergennes, and acknowledged the indelicacy of their behavior, and had prevailed on him to bury it in oblivion ; that the English were endeavoring all in their power to sow seeds of discord between our commissioners and the court of Spain, representing our claims to the westward as extravagant and inadmissible ; that it became Congress to be attentive to this business, and to prevent the ill effects that it might be attended with; that the king had informed the court of Spain, that he heartily wished that the United States might enjoy a cordial coalition with his Catholic Majesty, yet he should leave the whole affair entirely to the two states, and not interfere otherwise than as by his counsel and advice, when asked ; that, although the United States had not been so well treated by Spain as might have been expected, yet that his majesty wished that America might reap the advantage of a beneficial treity with Spain; that as the peace was not yet certain, it became all the powers at war to be ready for a vigorous campaign, and hoped Congress would exert themselves to aid the common cause by some offensive operations against the enemy; but if the British should evacuate the United States, the king earnestly hoped Congress wonld take the most de. cided measures to prevent any intercourse with the British, and particularly in the way of mer. chandise or supplying them with provisions, which would prove of the most dangerous tendency

Another cause mentioned was the large balance of specie in favor of 'ne northern powers during the war.

to the campaign in the West Indies; tiiat the British now had hopes of opening an extensive trade with America, though the war should continue, which, if they should be disappointed ic might husten the definitive treaty, as it would raise a clamor among the people of Eligtand." 19

The chevalier added, — "That as he had misinformed his court with regard to Congress having funded their debts, on which presumption the six millions had been granted, he hoped Congress would enable him in his next despatches to give some satisfactory account to his court on this head."

THURSDAY, March 27 * Revenues taken up as reported March 7.

The fifth paragraph in the report on revenue having been judged not sufficiently explicit, and recommitted to be made more so, the following paragraph was received in its place, viz: “That it be further recommended to the several states, to establish, for a terın limited to twenty-five years, and to appropriate," &e., (to the word 2,000,000 of dollars annually,) which proportions shall be fixed and equalized, from time to time, according to such rule as is, or may be, prescribed by the Articles of Confederation; and in case the revenues so established and appropriated by any state shall at any time yield a sum exceeding its proportion, the excess shall be refunded to it; and in case the same shall be found to be detective, the immediate deficiency shall be made good as soon as possible, and a future deficiency guarded against by an en. largement of the revenues established ; provided that, until the rule of the confederation can be applied, the proportions of the 2,000,000 of dollars afores id shall be as follows, viz. :

This amendment was accepted ; a motion of Mr. Clark to restrain this apportioisment, in the first instance, to the term of two years, being first negatived. He contended that a valuation of land would probably never take place, and that it was uncertain whether the rule of numbers would be substituted, and, therefore, that the first apportionment might be continued throughout the twenty-five years, although it must be founded on the present relative wealth of the states, which would vary every year in favor of those which are the least populous.

This reasoning was not denied; but it was thought that such a limitation might leave an interval in which no apportionment would exist, whence confusion would proceed, and that an apprehension of it would destroy public credit.

A motion was made by Mr. BLAND, seconded by Mr. LEE, to go back to the first part of the report, and instead of the word “ levy" an impost of five per cent., to substitute the word “collect" an impost, &c. It was urged, in favor of this motion, that the first word imported a legislative idea, and the latter an executive only, and consequently the latter might be less obnoxious to the states. On the other side, it was said that the states would be governed more by things than by terms; that if the meaning of both was the same, an alteration was unnecessary; that if not, as seemed to be the case, an alteration would be improper. It was particularly apprehended that if the term “ collect” were to be used, the states might themselves fix the mode of collection; whereas it was indispensable that Congress should have that power, as well that it might be varied froin time to time, as circumstances or experience should dictate, as that a uniformity might be observed throughout the states. On the motion of Mr. Clark, the negative was voted by a large majority, there being four ayes only.

On the eighth paragraph, there was no argument or opposition.

The ninth paragraph being considered by several as inaccurate in point of phraseology, a motion was made by Mr. MADISON to postpone it, to take into consideration the following, to wit:

“ That, in order to remove all objections against a retrospective application of the constitutional rule to the tinil apportioninent on the several states of the moneys and supplies actually contributed in pursuince of requisitions of Congress, it be recommended to the stites to enable the United States in Congress assembled to make such equitable abatements and alterations as the particular circumstances of the states, from time to time during the war, may require, and as will divide the burden among them in proportion to their respective abilities at the periods at which they were made.”

On a question of striking out, the original paragraph was agreed to without opposition. On the question to insert the amendment of Mr. Madison, the votes of the

* This day n t ni 'ed in the Journal, us in some other instances

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