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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from James Bowdoin to Richard Caswell
Bowdoin, James, 1726-1790
July 28, 1785
Volume 17, Pages 494-495

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
Boston, July 28th, 1785.


In compliance with the enclosed Resolutions of the Legislature of this Commonwealth, I transmit for the perusal of your Excellency, an Act passed in their last Session, for the regulating of Navigation and Commerce. This Act is intended as a temporary expedient, to prevent, as far as it is in the power of the Legislature of a single state the effects of a system of commercial Policy adopted by the British Government, which it is conceived, will be ruinous to the trade of the United States. That Nation seems to build her hopes, and expectations of carrying these plans into execution, upon a supposed interference of Commercial interest among these states and a mutual jealousy arising therefrom, which will render it impracticable for them to agree to vest Congress with a sufficient power to regulate the trade of the United States. But such hopes must be grounded upon an antecedent, and I would hope, a mistaken opinion that these states in the time of their prosperity, have lost that sense of honor and justice, that mutual feeling of friendship and attachment, and above all that public virtue and supreme regard to the interest and safety of the whole, which so powerfully actuated them in the day of common danger and which will ever be essentially necessary, so long as they shall continue to be one great confederated commonwealth. It highly concerns United Sovereign States duly to attend to the ruling principles of all well regulated

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Societies; and it concerns them the more because they may be more apt than others to forget, that the interest of individuals must be governed by that of the whole.

It is much to be desired that Congress may be vested with a well guarded power to regulate the Trade of the United States. This being effected the Act of our Commonwealth will cease to operate. In the mean time it is to be relied on, that the mutual friendship and good humor of the several states, towards each other, their sentiments of honor and justice, will be a sufficient pledge, that when measures wisely calculated to defeat the unjust designs of foreigners against the trade or general interest of the United States, are taken by any individual State, they may be adopted by all; so that no one state may be left to suffer essentially in its own trade, by its laudable zeal and caution for the common safety.

I shall from time to time transmit to your Excellency such Acts of the Legislature of this Commonwealth, as may regard the general interest of the confederacy, or that of your State in particular, and request you to oblige me with similar communications.

I have the honor to be with the most perfect esteem Sir,
your Excellency's mo. ob. humb. Servt.,