The Annapolis Convention
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.
Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300)
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