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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Hugh Williamson to Alexander Martin
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
April 29, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 63-65

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Annapolis, 29th April, 1784.


During the last & present week Congress have agreed on two very important Resolutions; one of them is on the subject of western territory. As our Clerks will be much hurried 'til the departure of the post I have taken the liberty of enclosing you a rough Copy of the resolve. After the first report of the Committee had been corrected & argued in Congress it was recommitted. By the enclosed paper you will note the further corrections and additions made in Congress before the report was agreed to. In a few days I shall have the pleasure of forwarding some correct Copies of it for yourself and Gentlemen of the Council. The President will forward you a Copy of the requisitions for the expences of the year as agreed to yesterday in Congress. We are informed that some of the States not knowing what the requisitions might be; but knowing that money surely would be wanted have already passed Laws for laying a considerable tax; The Assemblies of some of the States are to sit very soon, the requisitions will come before them in course. The President is instructed to cause the Post Master at Petersburg to send an Express to Hillsboro with the hope that these requisitions may come under the notice of the general Assembly of our State during their present Session, for though we might express our hope that the Assembly would sit again in the autumn, we could not speak of such an event as certain.

Congress had under their consideration yesterday, the report of a Committee on the subject of a recommendation to the States to vest the United States in Congress with a power to restrain the commerce of foreign nations for the purpose of putting our own trade on a

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respectable footing or of obtaining reciprocity in Commerce, it is proposed “That it be recommended to the several States to vest the “United States in Congress assembled with the powers for the space “of 15 years of prohibiting any goods, wares or merchandize from “being imported into any of the States or exported from them except in vessels belonging to or navigated by Citizens of the United “States.” A resolve in those words would comprehend the amount of what seems to be desired by any of the States, but some Gentlemen are of the opinion that powers short of these are sufficient. Perhaps this may be true, but it is not probable that other restraints will be imposed than what may be found necessary. Some Gentlemen would only restrain foreign powers from importing & would suffer them to export. Others desirous to encourage our own shipping & considering that our exports are much more bulky than are imports, would restrain them also from exporting our produce. If Great Britain for instance should be prevented from sending her vessels into our ports unless she acceed to a commercial treaty which should be honorable and equal it is presumed that she would soon agree to treat. While she has the present advantages and may carry on our trade without suffering us to look at one of her Islands, it is not probable that she will treat.

We are now persuaded that the recommendations on the subject of Commerce can not overtake the present Session of our Assembly. In this case I submit it to your Excellency's consideration whether you will not recommend it to the General Assembly to pass a Law impowering their Delegates in Congress to accede to their general regulation contained in the proposition I have quoted or to any similar regulations that may be agreed to by nine States in Congress assembled, and which regulations shall equally extend to every State in the Union. Great Britain has depended much on our want of power & if she was to see the States passing Laws by which we might be enabled to restrain her trade she would be apt to save us the trouble of imposing the restraint, by giving us mutual advantages.

If the General Assembly shall have passed the Law for granting the 5.2 Cent impost I hope you will cause it to be forwarded by the return of the express. South Carolina had perhaps six months ago passed an imperfect Act for an impost but they have lately amended

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it to the full of what was required. We are given to understand that Rhode Island only stands out till she sees whether all the other States comply. I do not know what Georgia has done, all the other States except Connecticut passed the Act.

It is resolved that Congress shall adjourn on the 3d of June till the end of October, leaving a Committee of the States. The ordinance for opening the Land office, one for regulating the Indian trade; for securing the frontier posts & sundry other very difficult & perplexing subjects are still on hands.

I have the honor to be, &c.,