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legislatures is, to enable it to appoint trustees to hold its property, for the charitable purposes to which it is destined. Second—Because, by a fundamental article, it obliges the society of each state to lend its funds to the state ; a provision which would be improper, for two reasons; one, that in many cases the society might be able to dispose of its funds to much greater advantage; the other, that the state might not always choose to borrow from the society.
** That while the committee entertain this opinion with respect to the proposed alterations, they are at the same time equally of opinion, that some alterations in the original constitution will be proper, as well in deference to the sense of many of our fellow-citizens, as in conformity to the true spirit of the institution itself. The alterations they have in view respect principally the duration or succession of the society, and the distinction between honorary and regular members. As to the first, the provision intended to be made appears to them to be expressed in terms not sufficiently explicit; and as far as it may intend an hereditary succession by right of primogeniture, is liable to this objection—that it refers to birth what ought to belong to merit only; a principle inconsistent with the genius of a society founded on friendship and patriotism. As to the second, the distinction holds up an odious difference between men who have served their country in one way, and those who have served it in another, and improper in a society where the character of patriot ought to be an equal title to all its members.”
Time has furnished the best comment on the character and motives of this association. Notwithstanding all the alarms which were felt, or feigned, and the jealousies which were inflamed, these societies have retained the solitary solace of a riband and a medal to commemorate their sufferings; have persevered in performing their original office of silent benevolence, and are only known to exist when they assemble to celebrate the birthday of independence; to confer a more sacred distinction upon some modern achievement of patriotism; or to remind posterity, in an unobtrusive recital of his merits, that " another patriot of the revolution is no more."*
The unrepealed proclamations of our great maritime rival, or, as England was termed, in language becoming an age of barbarism, our “natural enemy," were more worthy objects of opposition, and the first efforts to teach this “ assuming brother" moderation, are among the most interesting and instructive portions of American history.
The first proclamation was issued in July, seventeen hundred and eighty-three. In December of that year, Virginia passed a resolution recommending congress to prohibit all intercourse, until the restrictions upon the commerce of the United States were removed. In the following year she enacted several laws of a commercial nature. One was to restrict foreign vessels to certain ports. Having instructed her delegates in congress to remonstrate against the infractions of the treaty, and to render the col. lection of British debts contingent upon its fulfilment, she passed an act empowering congress to regulate trade and to collect a revenue. In seventeen hundred and eightyfive she gave this subject a more deliberate consideration, and resolutions were proposed and discussed in her legislature of much moment.
* The medal was of gold, suspended by a blue riband edged with white, indicative of the union with France. The principal figure was Cincinnatus, three senators presenting him a sword, and other military ensigns. On a field in the background, his wife standing at the door of their cottage, near it a plough and instruments of husbandry. Around the whole, “Omnia reliquit servare rempublicam.” On the reverse, sun rising ; a city with open gates, and vessels entering the port; Fame crowning Cincinnatus with a wreath, inscribed, " Virtutis premium.” Below, hands joining, supporting a heart, with the motto, “Esto perpetua.” Round the whole, “ Societas Cincinnato. rum, instituta A. D. 1783."
It was moved that her delegates should be instructed to propose a recommendation to the states, to authorize congress to regulate the trade and collect the revenue upon the following principles. To prohibit vessels of any nation not in treaty from entering any of the ports of the United States, and to impose any duties on such vessels, or their cargoes, as they should judge necessary, provided they were uniform throughout the union; the proceeds to pass into the treasury of the states where they should accrue. To this general authority restrictions were to be annexed, that no state should impose duties on goods from another, by land or water, but might prohibit the importation from any other state of any particular species of any articles, which were prohibited from all other places; and that no act of congress, affecting this subject, should be entered into by less than two-thirds of the states, nor be in force beyond a limited term. An effort was made to in. troduce an amendment, authorizing a continuance of this act, by a vote of two-thirds of congress, if given within a year prior to the expiration of the limited period, or a revival of it by a similar vote within a year after. After much debate, the first resolution was so amended as to expunge the words, “nations not in treaty," and to extend the power “ to any foreign nation."*
The authority to collect a five per cent. advalorem impost was refused, the restrictions on the respective states were retained, and the duration of the act was limited to thirteen years, the amendment authorizing its being continued having been rejected. After waiting a year for the concurrence of a sufficient number of states, in conferring this general power upon congress, Virginia, following the example of other states, passed a countervailing law, that no vessels trading to the state, other than those owned
* November, 1785. Vol. III.-9
wholly by American citizens, or by states having commercial treaties with the United States, should be permitted to import any other articles, than such as were the produce or manufacture of the state or kingdom to which they belonged. She gave a preference of duties to her own citizens, and discriminated between states having and those not having commercial treaties with the United States ;* and for the purpose of encouraging ship-building within the state, gave a drawback on the duties imposed on articles imported in Virginia built vessels, wholly owned by citizens of the United States. These measures, viewed in connection with the vigorous and obnoxious system of taxations she now imposed, and with the fact that she had opened communications with France in her separate capa. city, could leave little doubt that she was preparing for the moment to assume her station at the head of a southern confederacy. In this countervailing policy it is believed that Maryland was the first of the southern states to concur.
The action of New-Jersey upon this subject was nearly contemporaneous with that of Virginia. As early as seventeen hundred and seventy-eight, she had represented, when congress were framing the articles of the confederation, that the exclusive power of regulating trade ought to be vested in that body, and that the commercial revenue should be applied to the equipment of a navy and to the common benefit. As soon as the policy of England gave
* December, 1786.
+ She passed a stamp act levying duties on legal processes, and upon all alienations of property, and following out her policy of discrimination, a carriage tax, which was charged per wheel on all home-built coaches, and was more than doubled on imported carriages. She subsequently prohibited the importation of rum, brandies, and of all foreign malt liquors, and imposed a tax on bar iron and castings; hemp and hempen ropes not the product or manufacture of the United States. Thus far had that state proceeded, urged by a strong necessity, in a system of taxation, which, though much modified, she subsequently strenuously opposed.
practical evidence of her wise foresight, she again resolved* that congress ought to be invested with the power of prohibition. The contiguous state of Pennsylvania had shown herself at an early period inclined to a protective system, and her successive laws give evidence of her desire to encourage and to mature domestic manufactures by bounties and discriminations. Impelled at last by the same motives which had influenced other states, in March, seventeen hundred and eighty-six, she enacted a law restricting her commerce to American vessels, unless the imports were all in bottoms belonging to the countries of which their cargoes were the growth, product, or manufacture, under pain of forfeiture, and levied a tonnage duty of five per cent. on foreign vessels, annexing a condition, that this act should be in force until congress were invested with the necessary powers. She at the same time declared, “ that the privilege in the degree retained by the states individually of controlling and regulating their own trade, was no longer compatible with the general interest and welfare of the United States ; reason and experience clearly evincing that such a privilege is productive of mutual inconveniences and injuries among ourselves, and that the systems of several nations, by which our merchants are excluded from the most beneficial branches of their commerce, while the whole of ours is laid open to them, cannot be consistently or effectually countervailed but by a unity of counsel in the great representative body of the United States."
Connecticut had passed an “act for the regulation of navigation” during the war. In the preamble to it, she recited, that as “a free, sovereign, independent state, she had an equal right with all other sovereign powers to the free and undisturbed navigation of the high seas, and to exercise a convenient jurisdiction therein." By this act, her
* December 24, 1783.