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of right; and should the decision be postponed sine die, we hope the State will consider itself at liberty to take any course which its interest shall suggest. It happens very unluckily that Virginia will only have two Representatives present during the interesting business. Mr. Jones cannot be prevailed on to wait the event. Colonel Bland thinks the validity of charters unimportant to the title of Virginia, and that the title of the natives militates against the claims of the companies. Is not my situation an enviable one?
A further communication from the French Minister informs us, that the Court of France laments the weakness of our army; insinuates the idea of co-operation in expelling the enemy from the United States; apprehends attempts to seduce the States into separate negotiations, and hopes measures will be taken to frustrate such views. I believe, from this and other circumstances, that the Court of France begins to have serious suspicions of some latent danger. It is extremely probable, that as the enemy relax in their military exertions against this country, they will redouble the means of seduction and division, This consideration is an additional argument in favor of a full representation of the States. In a multitude of counsellors there is the best chance for honesty, if not of wisdom.
The subject of Vermont has not yet been called up. Their agents and those of the land-mongers are playing with great adroitness into each others' hands. Mr. Jones will explain this game to you. Colonel Bland is still schismatical on this point. I flatter myself, however, that he will so far respect the united
opinion of his brethren as to be silent. Mr. Lee entered fully into the policy of keeping the vote of Vermont out of Congress.
The refugees from New York have lately perpetrated one of the most daring and flagrant acts that has occurred in the course of the war. A captain of militia of New Jersey, who unfortunately fell a captive into their hands, was carried to New York, confined successively in different prisons, and treated with every mark of insult and cruelty; and finally brought over to the Jerseys, and in cold blood hanged. A label was left on his breast, charging him with having murdered one of their fraternity, and denouncing a like fate to others. The charge has been disproved by unexceptionable testimony. A number of respectable people of New Jersey have, by a memorial, called aloud on the Commander-in-Chief for retaliation; in consequence of which he has, in the most decisive terms, claimed of Sir Henry Clinton a delivery of the offenders up to justice, as the only means of averting the stroke of vengeance from the innocent head of a captive officer of equal rank to the Jersey captain, The answer of Clinton was not received when General Washington despatched a state of the transaction to Congress.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Philadelphia, May 5, 1781. DEAR SIR,
In compliance with your request, I have procured and now send you a copy of the Constitutions, &c., published by order of Congress. I know not why
the order in which they stand in the resolution was varied by the committee in binding them up. The encomiums on the inhabitants of Rhode Island was a flourish of a Delegate from that State, who furnished the committee with the account of its Constitution, and was very inconsiderately suffered to be printed.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Philadelphia, May 29, 1781. DEAR SIR,
The two circumstances relating to the proposed duty on trade, mentioned in your favor of the first instant, were subjects of discussion when the measure was on the anvil. It was evident that the disposition of the States to invest Congress with such a power would be influenced by the length of the term assigned for the exercise of it. It was equally evident that no provision would satisfy the present creditors of the United States, or obtain future loans, that was not commensurate to all the public engagements. In order to reconcile these points, the duration of the impost was limited, but limited in so indefinite a manner as not to defeat the object of it. Should the increase of trade render the duty more productive than was estimated, it must the sooner extinguish the public debts, and cease. The application of Congress for such a power supposes, indeed, a confidence in them, on the part of the States, greater perhaps than many may think consistent with republican jealousy; but if the States will not enable their Representatives to fulfil their engage
ments, it is not to be expected that individuals either in Europe or America will confide in them. The second objection you mention was also a subject of much discussion in Congress. On one side it was contended that the powers incident to the collection of a duty on trade were in their nature so municipal, and in their operation so irritative, that it was improbable that the States could be prevailed on to part with them; and that, consequently, it would be most prudent to ask from the States nothing more than the duty itself, to be collected by State officers, and paid to a Continental Receiver; and not the right of collecting it by officers of Congress. On the opposite side it was urged, that as Congress would be held responsible for the public debts, it was necessary, and would be expected, that the fund granted for discharging them should be exclusively and independently in their hands; that if the collectors were under the control of the States, the urgency of their wants would be constantly diverting the revenue from its proper destination; that if the States were willing to give up the thing itself, it was not likely they would cavil at any form that would be most effectual; that the term proposed might be reconciled with their internal jurisdictions, by annexing to the office of collector all the powers incident thereto, and leaving to Congress the right of appointing the officer. How far it may be best to appoint the established naval officer, I am not prepared to say; but should that be found to be the case, they will exercise their new functions, not as naval officers of the State, but as invested with a separate commission by Congress, in such manner that in the former
respect they are wholly exempt from the jurisdiction of Congress, and in the latter from that of the State. Such a junction of powers, derived from different sources, in the same person, certainly has its inconveniences, but there will be many instances of it in our complex government. I have met with so many interruptions this morning, that I fear I may have not done justice to the subject in my explanation of it. Another consequence is, that I must be very brief on the head of intelligence to make sure of the post.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Philadelphia, August 14, 1781. DEAR SIR,
The controversy relating to the district called Vermont, the inhabitants of which have for several years claimed and exercised the jurisdiction of an independent State, is at length put into a train of speedy decision. Notwithstanding the objections to such an event, there is no question but they will soon be established into a separate and Federal State. A relinquishment made by Massachusetts of her claims; a despair of finally obtaining theirs on the part of New York and New Hampshire, the other claimants, on whom these enterprising adventurers were making fresh encroachments; the latent support afforded them by the leading people of the New England States in general, from which they emigrated; the just ground of apprehension that their rulers were engaging in clandestine negotiations with