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Kaminski, John P.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Fields, David P.; Conley, Patrick T.; Moore, Timothy D. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Rhode Island (3)
26 (2013)

VI. The debate over the Constitution in Rhode Island, 20 January-29 May 1790,   pp. 711-897


Page 896

VI. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
this Quarter, and I believe extensively through America. It is constantly
asked, what does your State mean to do? How far is the present System
to be carried? It seems to be expected that the Constitution will not be
adopted, and that the Convention ought to be considered as a Measure
of Evasion. Formerly it was thought impossible that you should con-
tinue long in a State of Disunion, and that you might be let alone. Now
a very different Sentiment seems to prevail.
"Congress is about funding the Debt, and the Creditors are impa-
tient to have it accomplished, as you may suppose. The People at large
seem to wish for it too, because they expect, and I believe justly and
with good Reason, that a funded Debt will favour the Circulation of
Money and active Property. Two Things are asserted in Regard to your
State, which do Violence to these Hopes:-That you are collecting Du-
ties into your State Treasury upon imported Articles, which are con-
sumed chiefly by the People in the Union; so that you escape paying
your Share of the common Debt, while you actually tax your Neigh-
bours, who are obliged to pay it-and further, that your State will nearly
destroy the Collection of the national Duties, by favouring the illicit
Passage of dutied Goods.
"Measures which will oblige your State to pay its Part, and secure
our Citizens from paying to your Treasury, and at the same Time will
secure the Revenue from Loss, by smuggling through your State, seem
to be indispensible: The Creditors and People at large will concur to
call for them. The former will not consent to go unpaid, nor the latter
to pay for others. Justice requires that your State should pay its Part;
and your Legislature will not be able to find any Pretext of Complaint,
as by their Letter to the President they have consented to the Principle,
and given Assurances that they were getting ready to pay;2 nor can your
People, of Right, claim the Trade and Privileges of Citizens, if they
prefer the Condition of Strangers. Upon these Principles the Senate of
the United States have nearly completed a Bill to forbid all Intercourse
with Rhode-Island; and to demand about 27,000 Dollars without Delay:
This has passed hitherto by a great Majority in the Senate. The House
of Representatives have not expressed any Opinion on this Subject; but
my Conversation with Individuals has led me to this Opinion, that the
Demand of Money is thought to be unexceptionably just-and that
Duties on the Articles of the Growth or Manufacture of Rhode-Island,
which the Senate cannot impose constitutionally, as Bills for Revenue
must originate in the House, ought to be laid. Whatever Reluctance
Congress may have discovered heretofore to a System of Rigour in Re-
gard to you, the Necessities of Revenue will soon force them to it.-
Your People could not object to Duties upon your Produce as cruel
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