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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Resolution by the Continental Congress concerning the regulation of commerce, including cover letter from Charles Thomson to Richard Caswell
United States. Continental Congress
March 03, 1786
Volume 18, Pages 556-558

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Office of the Secretary of Congress,
March 4th, 1786.


I have the honor of transmitting to your Excellency herewith enclosed, an Act passed yesterday by the United States in Congress assembled, together with a Copy of their recommendations of the 30th April, 1784, which are again presented to the view of your State.

As a longer delay in complying with those recommendations, must be attended with great evils, and as the Act passed by your State is so inconsonant to them both in letter & spirit, that it cannot be deemed a Complyance, the Legislature of your State is earnestly solicited to reconsider their Act, and to make it agreeable to the recommendations of the 30th April, 1784.

With the greatest respect,
I have the honor to be
Your Excellency's Most Obedient
& most Humble servant,

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[From Executive Letter Book.]

United States in Congress Assembled,
March 3, 1786.

The Committee consisting of Messrs. Kean, Gorham, Pinkney, Smith and Grayson, to whom were recommitted sundry papers & documents relative to Commerce and the Act passed by the States in consequence of the recommendations of Congress of the 30th April, 1784, report—

That in examining the laws passed by the States, in consequence of the Act of the 30th of April, 1784, they find that 4 States, namely, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Virginia have enacted laws conformable to the recommendations contained in the Act, but have restrained their Operation until other States shall have substantially complied.

That three States, namely, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland have passed laws conforming to the same, but have determined the time from which they are to commence; the first from the time of passing their Act in May, 1785, and the two latter from the 30th April, 1784.

That New Hampshire by an Act passed the 23d June, 1785, have granted full powers to regulate their trade by restriction or duties for fifteen years; with a proviso that the law shall be suspended until the other States have substantially done the same.

That Rhode Island by Acts passed in February and October, 1785, have granted power for the term of twenty-five years, to regulate trade between the respective States, and of prohibiting, restraining or regulating the importation only of all foreign goods in any ships or vessels other than those owned by Citizens of the United States, and navigated by a certain proportion of Citizens; and also, with a proviso restrictive of its operation until the other States shall have substantially complied.

That North Carolina by an Act passed the 2d June, 1784, have granted powers similar to those granted by Rhode Island, relative to Foreign Commerce, but unrestrained in duration and clogged with a Clause, that when all the States shall have substantially

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complied therewith, it shall become an article of Confederation and perpetual Union.

That they cannot find that the three other States, namely Delaware, South Carolina and Georgia have passed any laws in consequence of the recommendations. The Result is that four States have fully complied, three others have also complied, but have determined the time of commencement so that there will be a dissimilarity in the duration of the power granted; that three other States have passed laws in pursuance of the recommendations, but so inconsonant to them both in letter & spirit that they cannot be deemed compliances; and that three other States have passed no Act whatever.

That although the powers to be vested by the recommendations do not embrace every object which may be necessary in a well formed System, yet as many Beneficial effects may be expected from them, the Committee think it the duty of Congress, again to call the attention of the States to this subject, the longer delay of which must be attended with very great evils; whereupon,

Resolved, That the recommendations of 30th April, 1784, be again presented to the view of the States of Delaware, South Carolina and Georgia, and that they must be earnestly called upon to grant powers conformable thereto.

Resolved, That the States of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Carolina, be solicited to reconsider their Acts and to make them agreeable to the recommendations of the 30th April, 1784.

Resolved, That the time for which the power under the recommendations of the 30th April, 1784, is to continue, ought to commence on the day that Congress shall begin to exercise it, and that it be recommended to the States of Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, to amend their Acts accordingly.