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IMPORTANT STATE PAPERS AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS,
THE LAWS OF A PUBLIC NATURE;
WITH A COPIOUS INDEX.
COMPRISING (WITH VOLUME IN THE PERIOD FROM MARCH 3, 1789,
TO MARCH 3, 1791, INCLUSIVE.
COMPILED FROM AUTHENTIC MATERIALS,
BY JOSEPH GALES, SENIOR.
VERY soon after the Treaty of Peace, by which the Independence of the United States was recognised by the Government from which they had effected their separation, the want of a general superintending power over commerce, with the correlative power of taxation, was almost universally felt, and very generally deplored by the inhabitants of all the States, though not to the same extent in all.
It was easier to see the defect, and to feel the evils which flowed from it, than to provide the remedy. Intelligent citizens, however, soon busied themselves in devising the means of forming a Union, which should possess the requisite authority, and become the foundation of certain and durable prosperity.
Of the manner in which this desirable object was consummated, the following brief account is condensed from Marshall's Life of Washington, the most authentic history of that period :
While the advocates for Union were exerting themselves to impress its necessity on the public mind, measures were taken in Virginia, which, though originating in different views, terminated in a proposition for a general Convention to revise the state of the Union.
To form a compact relative to the navigation of the rivers Potomac and Pocomoke, and of part of the bay of Chesapeake, commissioners were appointed by the Legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, who assembled in Alexandria, in March, 1785. While at Mount Vernon on a visit, they agreed to propose to their respective Governments the appointment of other commissioners, with power to make conjoint arrangements, to which the assent of Congress was to be solicited, for maintaining a naval force in the Chesapeake; and to establish a tariff of duties on imports, to which the laws of both States should conform. When these propositions received the assent of the Legislature of Virginia, an additional resolution was passed, directing that which respected the duties on imports to be communicated to all the States in the Union, who were invited to send deputies to the meeting.
On the 21st of January, 1786, a few days after the passage of these resolutions, another was adopted by the same Legislature, appointing certain commissioners, “ who were to meet such as might be appointed by