The Foundations Of Our Nation


Proceedings of the Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the 
Federal Government, Annapolis in the State of Maryland.
                 September 14, 1786    

To the Honorable, The Legislatures of Virginia, Delaware, 
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York -

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 Commissions 
"to meet such other Commissioners as were, or might be, 
appointed by the other States in the Union, at such time and 
place as should be agreed upon by the said Commissions to take 
into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States, 
to consider how far a uniform system in their 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 object, as when 
unanimously by them would enable the United States in 
Congress assembled effectually to proved for the same."...  

That the State of New Jersey had enlarged the object of their 
appointment, empowering their Commissioners, "to consider how 
far a uniform system in their commercial regulations and other 
important matters, mighty 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."  

That 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 of 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 be 
taken, to effect a general meeting, of the States, in a 
future 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 Commissioners 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 course 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 closer examination, may be found greater and more 
numerous, than even these acts imply, is at least so far 
probably, from the embarrassments which characterize the 
present State of our national affairs, foreign and domestic, 
as may reasonably be supposed to merit a deliberate and 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 
untied virtue and wisdom of all the members of the Confederacy.  

Under this impression, Your Commissioners, with the most 
respectful deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous 
conviction that it may essentially tend to advance the interests 
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 
appointment 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 
these observations and sentiments to any but the States they 
have the honor to represent, they have nevertheless concluded 
from motives of respect, to transmit copies of the Report to 
the United States in Congress assembled, and to the executives 
of the other States.

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