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finally resulted in the formation of the present Constitution of the United States. Washington had contemplated a scheme for uniting the Potomac with the Ohio, and through his influence, the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland were induced to send commissioners to Alexandria in March, 1785, to deliberate upon the subject. During their stay at Mount Vernon they devised another commission to establish a general tariff on imports, and to mature other commercial regulations. This convention was held at Annapolis, in September, 1786, but only five states were represented—Virginia, Delaware, Penn- sylvania, New Jersey and New York.* The chief ob
ject of the convention was to consult on the best means of remedying the defects of the Federal government. The delegates met on the eleventh, and by a unanimous vote, chose John Dickinson chairman. After a full interchange of sentiments, they agreed that a committee should be appointed to prepare a draft of a report to be made to the legislatures of the several states then represented. On the fourteenth of September, the following report was submitted :To the honorable the legislatures of Virginia, Delaware,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, the commissioners from the said states respectively, assembled at Annapolis, humbly beg leave to report
That, pursuant to their several appointments, they met at Annapolis, in the state of Maryland, on the eleventh day of September instant, and having proceeded to a communication of their powers, they found that the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, had, in sub
* The names of the members of the Convention were as follows:- New York, Alexander Homilton, Egbert Benson; New Jersey, Abraham Clark, William C. Houston, James Schureman; Pennsylvania, Tench Coxe; Delaware, George Read, John Dickinson, Richard Basset; Virginia, Edmund Randolph, James Madison, jr., St. George Tucker.
stance, and nearly in the same terms, authorized their respective commissioners “to meet such commissioners as were or might be appointed by the other states in the Union, at such time and place as should be agreed upon by the said commissioners, to take into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States, to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial intercourse and regulations might be necessary to their common interest and permanent harmony, and to report to the several states such an act relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them, would enable the United States, in Congress assembled, effectually to provide for the same.”
That the state of Delaware had given similar powers to their commissioners, with this difference only, that the act to be framed in virtue of these powers, is required to be reported “to the United States, in Congress assembled, to be agreed to by them, and confirmed by the legislature of every state."
That the state of New Jersey had enlarged the object of their appointment, empowering their commissioners "to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations, and other important matters, might be necessary to the common interest and permanent harmony of the several states ;” and to report such an act on the subject, as, when ratified by them, " would enable the United States, in Congress assembled, effectually to provide for the exigencies of the Union."
That appointments of commissioners have also been made by the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, none of whom, however, have attended : bu: that no information has been received by your commissioners of any appointment having been made by the states of Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, or Georgia.
That the express terms of the powers to your commissioners supposing a deputation from all the states, and having for object the trade and commerce of the United States, your commissioners did not conceive it advisable to proceed on the business of their mission under the circumstances of so partial and defective a representation.
Deeply impressed, however, with the magnitude and importance of the object confided to them on this occa. sion, your commissioners cannot forbear to indulge an expression of their earnest and unanimous wish, that speedy measures may be taken to effect a general meeting of the states, in a future convention, for the same and such other purposes as the situation of public affairs may be found to require.
If, in expressing this wish, or in intimating any other sentiment, your commissioners should seem to exceed the strict bounds of their appointment, they entertain a full confidence, that a conduct dictated by an anxiety for the welfare of the United States, will not fail to receive an indulgent construction,
In this persuasion, your commissioners submit an opinion, that the idea of extending the powers of their deputies to other objects than those of commerce, which has been adopted by the state of New Jersey, was an improvement on the original plan, and will deserve to be incorporated into that of a future convention. They are the more naturally led to this conclusión, as, in the course of their reflections on the subject, they have been induced to think that the power of regulating trade is of such comprehensive extent, and will enter so far into the general system of the federal government, that to give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits, may require a correspondent adjustment of other parts of the federal system.
That there are important defects in the system of the
federal government, is acknowledged by the acts of all those states which have concurred in the present meeting ; that the defects, upon a closer examination, may be found greater and more numerous than even these acts imply, is at least so far probable, from the embarrassments which characterize the present state of our national affairs, foreign and domestic, as may reasonably be supposed to merit a deliberate and candid discussion, in some mode which will unite the sentiments and councils of all the states. In the choice of the mode, your commissioners are of opinion that a convention of deputies from the different states, for the special and sole purpose of entering into this investigation, and digesting a plan for supplying such defects as may be discovered to exist, will be entitled to a preference, from considerations which will occur without being particularized.
Your commissioners decline an enumeration of those national circumstances on which their opinion respecting the propriety of a future convention, with more enlarged powers, is founded; as it would be a useless intrusion of facts and observations, most of which have been frequently the subject of public discussion, and none of which can have escaped the penetration of those to whom they would, in this instance, be addressed. They are, however, of a nature so serious, as, in the view of your commissioners, to render the situation of the United States delicate and critical, calling for an exertion of the united virtue and wisdom of all the members of the confederacy.
Under this impression, your commissioners, with the most respectful deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous conviction, that it may essentially tend to advance the interests of the Union, if the states, by whom they have been respectively delegated, would themselves concur, and use their endeavors to procure the concur
rence of the other states, in the appointment of commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia, on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary, to render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union ; and to report such an act for that purpose, to the United States, in Congress assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterward confirmed by the legislature of every state, will effectually provide for the same.
Though your commissioners could not, with propriety, address these observations and sentiments to any but the states they have the honor to represent, they have nevertheless concluded, from motives of respect, to, transmit copies of this report to the United States, in Congress assembled, and to the executives of the other states.
By order of the Commissioners. Dated at Annapolis, September 14th, 1786.
This report was adopted, and transmitted to Congress. On the twenty-first of February, the committee of that body, consisting of Messrs. Dane, Varnum, S. M. Mitchell, Smith, Cadwallader, Irvine, N. Mitchell, Forrest, Grayson, Blount, Bull, and Few, to whom the report of the commissioners was referred, reported thereon, and offered the following resolutions, viz.
Congress having had under consideration the letter of John Dickinson, Esq., chairman of the commissioners who assembled at Annapolis, during the last year; also the proceedings of the said commissioners, and entirely coinciding with them, as to the inefficiency of the federal government, and the necessity of devising such further provisions as shall render the same adequate to the exigencies of the Union, do strongly recommend to the dif