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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Carlson, Marybeth (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Virginia (1)
8 (1988)

Introduction,   pp. xxiii-xxxix


Page xxxi

INTRODUCTION
The Mississippi issue had a profound impact on the debates in the
Constitutional Convention. Southern delegates realized that, in order
to protect their interests, a two-thirds vote in the Senate should be
required to ratify treaties. This provision would, in essence, give a
united South a veto power over treaties. Some southerners felt that
the two-thirds vote requirement should also apply to the passage of
all commercial legislation further safeguarding Southern interests.
The debate over the Mississippi did not subside when Congress
dropped the issue. On 12 November 1787 the House of Delegates
passed three resolutions concerning the Mississippi. First, the navi-
gation of the western waters by Virginians was a right given to them
by God and nature. Second, any attempt by Congress to barter away
this right was a violation of the principles of the American Revolution
and "strongly repugnant to all confidence in the Federal Government."
Third, a committee was to be appointed to instruct the state's delegates
to Congress to oppose "the cession of the western navigation." The
committee that was appointed does not appear to have reported, and
as late as 24 September 1788 congressional delegate James Madison
asked Governor Edmund Randolph why the resolutions had not been
forwarded to the state's delegates. Unaware of these resolutions, Ran-
dolph sent Madison the resolutions of December 1786.
The Efforts to Strengthen the Central Government
Even before the Articles of Confederation were finally ratified on
1 March 1781, most Americans realized that Congress needed an in-
dependent source of revenue to finance the war. The issuance of paper
money and the requisition system had not proven effective means of
giving Congress financial independence. Many believed that import
duties would be the best way for Congress to raise money, but the
Articles of Confederation had not given Congress the power to tax.
Consequently, in February 1781 Congress proposed an amendment to
the Articles-the Impost of 1781-that would have given it the power
to levy a five percent duty ad valorem on imported goods, the revenue
of which would go toward the payment of the principal and interest
on the war debt (CDR, 140-41). The Impost would remain in effect
until the debt was paid. On 14 June 1781 the Virginia legislature
ratified the Impost, and, because it believed that "commercial regu-
lations" throughout the states should be "uniform and consistent," it
also authorized Congress to appoint collectors in Virginia. On 17 De-
cember 1781, however, the legislature suspended its ratification until
the other states approved the Impost. By the fall of 1782 every state,
except Rhode Island, had ratified the Impost. On 7 December 1782
the Virginia legislature repealed its ratification, declaring in the pream-
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