« ZurückWeiter »
federation, the alliance of the States is now complete, and, in future, Congress are to be governed by those rules. If the powers granted to the representative body of the States by these articles, are inadequate to the purposes of carrying on a vigorous war,-and of this all the States, from experience, are able to judge—would it not be wise, while common danger presses us together, and the States see and feel the necessity of enlarging the powers of Congress, for the purposes of war, that the defects of the articles, in this respect, be timely considered and remedied? Danger may spring from delay; good will result from a timely application of a remedy. The present temper of the States is friendly to the establishment of a lasting union—the moment should be improved ; if suffered to pass away it may never return; and, after gloriously and successfully contending against the usurpations of Britain, we may fall a prey to our own follies and disputes. I am aware of the danger of granting great powers, and of the reluctance of the States to yield them, and attribute the present disposition to give Congress more competent powers, to a conviction, from experience, that it is for the common good to do so. In the course of business, the defects of the Confederation will, no doubt, appear, and Congress will point them out to the States, and propose the necessary alterations for their concurrence. One, and of the first importance, hath already become a question, that is, the power of compelling the States to comply with the requisitions for men and money, agreeably to their respective quotas. The States appear to have yielded to Congress the right of ascertaining the sum necessary for the public expense, and oblige themselves to furnish their proportions agreeably to the mode prescribed; they also yield the right of fixing the quotas of men for the common defence, which shall be binding; but no mode is stated how a disobedient or delinquent State is to be compelled to furnish the one or the other, and for want of this controlling power in Congress over the States, when refractory, war cannot be prosecuted with vigor, and the safety of the whole is endangered, besides the hardship and injustice to those that comply, and the prolongation of the war by such delinquencies. If, in surrendering the right of fixing the proportions, the power of compelling obedience is implied, how, or by what mode, ought the refractory to be punished; by shutting the ports—by marching an armed force into the State—by deprivation of privileges, or in what other mode? These are nice and delicate questions, but are necessarily involved in the inquiry, and I mention them with freedom, in hopes you will as freely give me your sentiments upon them. I feel myself more particularly impelled to do this, not only from you, but a few others, of my acquaintance, of whose abilities and judgments I wish to avail myself upon this and similar occasions, because, by a resolution of our Legislature of the twenty-fourth of December, 1779, the point of enforcing obedience to requisitions seems to have been agitated and censured. It would give me concern should it be thought of me that I am desirous of enlarging the powers of Congress unnecessarily, as I declare to God, my only aim is the general good, and which, in time of war, does appear to me to be involved in the exer
cise of this, or some controlling power adequate to drawing out, in due proportion, the abilities and resources of the States, without which power in Congress, and a more punctual compliance on the part of the States than has been manifested for some time past, the war cannot be prosecuted to advantage; and while some States, exposed to danger, strain every nerve, others, removed from danger and at ease, are remiss and negligent; whereas all should make the proper exertions, and furnish their proportions, whether immediately or remotely affected, and which can alone give energy to military operations. Perhaps a knowledge that this power was lodged in Congress, might be the means to prevent its ever being exercised, and the more readily induce obedience; indeed, if Congress was unquestionably possessed of the power, nothing should induce the display of it but obstinate disobedience, and the urgency of the general welfare.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philadelphia, April 3rd, 1781. DEAR SIR,
The letter from the Delegation, by the last post, informed you of the arrival of the stores here, which were to have been delivered in Virginia by one of the French ships. The infinite importance of them to the State, especially since the arrival of a reinforcement to Arnold, of which we are just apprized by the Marquis, has determined the Delegates to forward them by land, without loss of time. This will be attempted, in the first instance, in the channel of the Quartermaster's department, and, if it cannot be effected in that mode, without delay, we propose to engage private wagons for the purpose, on the credit of the State. Should the latter alternative be embraced, I find it will be necessary to stipulate instantaneous payment, from the Treasury, on the arrival of the wagons at Richmond, in specie or old continental currency to the real amount thereof. I mention this circumstance that you may be prepared for it. The expense of the transportation will be between five and six hundred pounds, Virginia money. The exchange between specie and the old paper, at present, is about one hundred and thirtyfive for one.
The Delegates having understood that the refugees taken by Captain Tilley, on his return to Newport from the Chesapeake, consisted chiefly of persons who formerly lived in Virginia, some of whom were traitors who deserved exemplary punishment, and others vindictive enemies to the State, thought proper to make the inclosed application to the French Minister. By conversation I have since had with him on the subject, I doubt whether it will be deemed consistent with their general rules of conduct, to give up, to be punished as malefactors, any of the captives made by their fleet, which does not serve, like their land army, as an auxiliary to the forces of the United States. If these persons had been taken by their land forces, which serve as auxiliaries under the Commander-in-Chief, it seems there would have been no difficulty in the case. However, the application will certainly prevent the exchange or release
to which it refers, if the Executive think it expedient to do so. On the least intimation, I am persuaded the apostates would be even sent over to France, and secured in the most effectual manner during the war. Perhaps this would not be amiss, as being not our prisoners, no use can be made of them in redeeming our citizens from captivity.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philadelphia, April 16, 1781. Dear Sir,
The inclosed paper is a copy of a report, from a committee, now lying on the table of Congress for consideration. The delicacy and importance of the subject makes me wish for your judgment on it, before it undergoes the final decision of Congress.
The necessity of arming Congress with coercive powers arises from the shameful deficiency of some of the States which are most capable of yielding their apportioned supplies, and the military exactions to which others, already exhausted by the enemy and our own troops, are in consequence exposed. Without such powers, too, in the General Government, the whole confederacy may be insulted, and the most salutary measures frustrated, by the most inconsiderable State in the Union. At a time when all the other States were submitting to the loss and inconvenience of an embargo on their exports, Delaware absolutely declined coming into the measure, and not only defeated the general object of it, but enriched herself at the expense of those who did their duty.