Page:The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 Volume 3.djvu/546

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


The principal difficulties which embarrassed the progress, and retarded the completion of the plan of Confederation, may be traced to 1. the natural reluctance of the parties to a relinquishment of power: 2 a natural jealousy of its abuse in other hands than their own: 3 the rule of suffrage among parties unequal in size, but equal in sovereignty. 4. The ratio of contributions in money and in troops, among parties, whose inequality in size did not correspond with that of their wealth, or of their military or free population. 5. The selection and definition of the powers, at once necessary to the federal head, and safe to the several members.

To these sources of difficulty, incident to the formation of all such confederacies, were added two others one of a temporary, the other of a permanent nature. The first was the Case of the Crown lands, so called because they had been held by the British Crown, and being ungranted to individuals when, its authority ceased, were considered by the States within whose charters or asserted limits they lay, as devolving on them; whilst it was contended by the others, that being wrested from the dethroned authority by the equal exertion of all, they resulted of right and in equity to the benefit of all. The lands being of vast extent and of growing value, were the occasion of much discussion & heart-burning; & proved the most obstinate of the impediments to an earlier consummation of the plan of federal Govt. The State of Maryland the last that acceded to it held out as already noticed till March 1. 1781. and then yielded only to the hope that by giving a Stable & authoritative character to the Confederation, a successful termination of the contest might be accelerated. The dispute was happily compromised by successive surrenders of portions of the territory by the States having exclusive claims to it, and acceptances of them by Congress.

The other source of dissatisfaction was the peculiar situation of some of the States, which having no convenient ports for foreign commerce, were subject to be taxed by their neighbors, thro whose ports, their commerce was carryed on. New Jersey, placed between Phila. & N. York, was likened to a Cask tapped at both ends: and N. Carolina between Virga. & S. Carolina to a patient bleeding at both Arms. The Articles of Confederation provided no remedy for the complaint: which produced a strong protest on the part of N. Jersey; and never ceased to be a source of dissatisfaction & discord, until the new Constitution, superseded the old.

But the radical infirmity of “the arts. of Confederation.” was the dependance of Congs, on the voluntary and simultaneous compliance with its Requisitions, by so many independant communities, each consulting more or less its particular interests & convenience