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Report of the Annapolis Convention concerning trade, including cover letter from John Dickenson to Richard Caswell
Delaware; New Jersey; New York (State); Pennsylvania; Virginia
September 14, 1786
Volume 18, Pages 736-740

HONORABLE JNO. DICKENSON TO GOV. CASWELL.
[From Executive Letter Book.]


Annapolis, 14th September, 1786.

Sir:

Agreeable to the request of the Commissioners assembled at this place, I do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency, a copy of this Report to the Legislature of those States by whom they were appointed.

I remain, with great respect,
Your Excellency's Most Obdt. Servt.,
JOHN DICKENSON, Chairman.

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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF FIVE STATES RESPECTING TRADE & COMMERCE.
[From Executive Letter Book.]

Annapolis, 14th September, 1786.

To the Honorable the Legislatures of Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York & New Jersey:

The Commissioners from the said States respectively assembled at Annapolis, humbly beg leave to report:

That pursuant to their several appointments, they met at Annapolis, in the State of Maryland, on the eleventh day of September Instant, and having proceeded to a communication of their powers, they found that the States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia had in Substance, and nearly in the same terms, authorized their respective Commissioners to meet such Commissioners as were, or might be, appointed by the Other States in the Union, at such time and place as shall be agreed upon by the said Commissioners, to take into consideration, the Trade and Commerce of the United States, to consider how far an uniform system of Commercial intercourse and regulations might be necessary to their Common Interest and permanent Harmony, and to report to the several States such an Act relative to this great Subject, as when unanimously ratified by them, would enable the United States in Congress Assembled effectually to provide for the same.

That the State of Delaware, has given similar powers to their Commissioners, with this difference Only, that the Act to be framed in Virtue of these powers is required to be reported to the United States in Congress Assembled, to be agreed to by them, and Confirmed by the Legislatures of every State.

That the State of New Jersey has enlarged the Object of their appointment empowering their Commissioners “to Consider how far an uniform System in their commercial Regulations and other Important matters might be necessary to the Common Interest and permanent Harmony of the several States, and to report such an Act on the Subject, as when ratified by them, would enable the United States in Congress Assembled effectually to provide for the exigencies of the Union.

-------------------- page 738 --------------------

The appointments of Commissioners have also been made by the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and North Carolina, none of whom however have attended, but that no Information has been received by your Commissioners of any appointment having been made by the States of Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina or Georgia.

That the express terms of the Powers to your Commissioners, supposing a deputation from all the States, and having for Object the Trade and Commerce of the United States, your Commissioners did not conceive it advisable to proceed on the Business of their Mission under the circumstances of so partial and defective a representation.

Deeply impressed, however, with the Magnitude and importance of the object confided to them on this Occasion, your Commissioners cannot forbear to indulge an expression of their earnest and unanimous wish, that speedy measures may be taken to effect a General Meeting of the States in full Convention, for the same, and such other purposes as the Situation of public affairs may be found to require.

If in expressing this wish, or in intimating any other Sentiment, your Commissioners should seem to exceed the strict bounds of their appointment, they entertain a full confidence that a conduct dictated by an Anxiety for the Welfare of the United States will not fail to receive an indulgent construction.

In this persuasion your Commissioner submit an opinion that the idea of extending the powers of their deputies to other objects than those of Commerce, which has been adopted by the State of New Jersey, was an improvement on the original plan, and will deserve to be incorporated into that of a future Convention; they are the more Naturally led to this Conclusion, as in the Cause of their reflections on the subject they have been induced to think that the power of regulating Trade is of such comprehensive extent, and will enter so far into the General System of the Federal Government, that to give it efficacy and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise nature and limits may require a correspondent adjustment of other parts of the Federal System.

That there are important defects in the System of the Federal Government, is acknowledged by the Acts of all those States which have concurred in the present meeting; that the defects upon a close examination may be found greater and more numerous than

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even those Acts imply, is at least so far probable from the embarrassments which characterize the present State of our National Affairs, foreign and domestic, as may reasonably be supposed to merit a deliberate & candid discussion in some Mode which will Unite the Sentiments and Councils of all the States. In the Choice of the mode, your Commissioners are of opinion that a Convention of Deputies from the different States for the Special and Sole purpose of entering into this Investigation, and digesting a plan for Supplying such defects as may be discovered to exist, will be entitled to a preference, from Considerations which will Occur without being particularized.

Your Commissioners decline an enumeration of those National Circumstances, on which their Opinion respecting the propriety of a future Convention with more enlarged powers, is founded; as it would be a useless intrusion of facts and observations; most of which have been frequently the subject of public discussion, and none of which can have escaped the penetration of those to whom they would in this Instance be addressed. They are however of a Nature so serious, as in the view of your Commissioners to render the Situation of the United States delicate and Critical, calling for an exertion of the United Virtue and wisdom of all the Members of the Confederacy.

Under this Impression your Commissioners, with the most respectful difference, beg leave to suggest their Unanimous Conviction that it may essentially tend to advance the Interest of the Union, if the States by whom they have been respectively delegated, would themselves concur and use their endeavors to procure the concurrence of the other States in the appointing of Commissioners to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into Consideration the Situation of the United States; to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them Necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the Exigencies of the Union, and to report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress Assembled, as, when agreed to by them, and afterwards Confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the Same. Though your Commissioners could not, with propriety, address those Observations and Sentiments to any but the States they have the Honor to represent, they

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have Nevertheless concluded from Motives of respect to Transmit Copies of this report to the United States in Congress Assembled, and to the Executives of the other States.

By Order of the Commissioners.
JOHN DICKENSON, Chairman.