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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from David Ramsay to Richard Caswell
Ramsay, David, 1749-1815
January 31, 1786
Volume 18, Pages 515-517


New York, January 31st, 1786.


In conformity to the resolution enclosed it becomes my duty to write to the Executives of the several States which are at present unrepresented in Congress.

Three months of the Federal year are now completed, and in that whole period no more than seven States have at any one time been represented. No question excepting that of adjourning from day to day can be carried without perfect Unanimity. The extreme difficulty of framing resolutions against which no exceptions can be taken by any one State, can scarcely be conceived but by those

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whose unfortunate situation has led them to experience the perplexing embarrassment. Was the convenience of the present Members only concerned your Excellency would not have been troubled with this Letter. Sorry I am to add that the most essential interests of the United States suffer from the same cause. The languishing state of public Credit is notorious both in Europe and America. What an additional wound must be given to it when it is known that no plans can be made for the payment of our debts, without the unanimous consent of nine States and that only seven States have yet come forward with a representation. The disposition of our Western Territory, an American Coinage, Commercial arrangements with European Powers, particularly Great Britain, and a Variety of other matters are of immense and pressing importance, but for want of an additional number of States nothing can be done.

I forbear to mention to your Excellency that even in private life where two persons agree to meet at a given time and place for the adjustment of their common Concerns, the One who attends has a right to Complain, that he is not treated with Common politeness by the other who breaks his appointment. I say nothing of unequal Burden imposed on the States who are present, they incur a heavy expence to maintain their Delegates, and this expence is rendered inefficient because that out of the other six no two have come forward to concur with them in dispatching the public business. Least of all would I insinuate that the present States might be justified in Resolving that as they had attended three months to no purpose they would in their turn relinquish the public service and leave the other States, should they come on, to suffer a similar mortification to what they have long experienced of meeting and adjourning from day to day without having it in their power to enter on the most important and pressing National Business.

The remissness of the States in keeping up a representation in Congress naturally tends to annihilate our Confederation; that once dissolved our State's establishment would be of short duration, Anarchy or intestine wars would follow till some future Cæsar seized our Liberties, or we would be the sport of European politics and perhaps parcelled out as appendages to their General Governments.

In behalf of Congress, in the Chair of which have the Honor to sit, I beseech your Excellency by the regard you have for our federal Government to use your utmost endeavors to induce

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the Delegates of your State to give their immediate attendance in Congress.

I have the Honor to be,
Your Excellency's most obedient and
Most Humble Servt.,