Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/621

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No. 205]
593
Maryland on the Western Lands

other states as inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the proposed confederation. Should it take place by establishing a sub confederacy, imperium in imperio, the state possessed of this extensive dominion must then either submit to all the inconveniences of an overgrown and unwieldly government, or suffer the authority of Congress to interpose at a future time, and to lop off a part of its territory to be erected into a new and free state, and admitted into a confederation on such conditions as shall be settled by nine states. If it is necessary for the happiness and tranquillity of a state thus overgrown, that Congress should hereafter interfere and divide its territory, why is the claim to that territory now made, and so pertinaciously insisted on? We can suggest to ourselves but two motives ; either the declaration of relinquishing at some future period a proportion of the country now contended for, was made to lull suspicion asleep, and to cover the designs of a secret ambition, or, if the thought was seriously entertained, the lands are now claimed to reap an immediate profit from the sale. We are convinced, policy and justice require, that a country unsettled at the commencement of this war, claimed by the British crown, and ceded to it by the treaty of Paris, if wrested from the common enemy by the blood and treasure of the thirteen states, should be considered as a common property, subject to be parcelled out by Congress into free, convenient and independent governments, in such manner and at such times as the wisdom of that assembly shall hereafter direct.

Thus convinced, we should betray the trust reposed in us by our constituents, were we to authorize you to ratify on their behalf the confederation, unless it be farther explained. We have coolly and dispassionately considered the subject ; we have weighed probable inconveniences and hardships against the sacrifice of just and essential rights ; and do instruct you not to agree to the confederation, unless an article or articles be added thereto in conformity with our declaration. Should we succeed in obtaining such article or articles, then you are hereby fully empowered to accede to the confederation. . . .

We have spoken with freedom, as becomes free men ; and we sincerely wish that these our representations may make such an impression on that assembly as to induce them to make such addition to the articles of confederation as may bring about a permanent union.

Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress (Boston, 1821), I, 434-438 passim.