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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 xxxiv

I. DEBATE OVER CONSTITUTION
the state's trade laws arose in the House of Delegates. Some wanted
the state itself to retaliate against Great Britain, while others sought
that power for Congress. In November 1785 resolutions were consid-
ered that would have authorized the state's congressional delegates to
propose that Congress have the power to enact commercial regulations,
with the proviso that they be adopted by two-thirds of the states and
that they be in force for only thirteen years. A group of delegates
opposed a temporary grant of power because it would endanger the
adoption of a permanent grant. This opposition doomed the temporary
grant on 1 December.
Soon after the grant was tabled, John Tyler introduced a resolution
proposing that the states meet to consider the "Trade of the United
States" and "to consider how far an uniform System in their Com-
mercial regulations may be necessary to their common Interest and
their personal harmony." The states were to report an "act relative
to this great Object as, when unanimously ratified by them will enable
the United States in Congress assembled effectually to provide for the
same" (Rutland, Madison, VIII, 471). Tyler's motion was submitted to
a committee. In the meantime, some delegates recommended several
ways to strengthen the state's control over commerce. When these
attempts failed, Tyler's resolution was resurrected and passed on 21
January 1786, "by a very great majority" (ibid., 483).
James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and Walter Jones were the first
commissioners appointed. St. George Tucker and Meriwether Smith
were added, and the Senate completed the roster by naming George
Mason, David Ross, and William Ronald. The latter declined the ap-
pointment. Madison was dismayed by both the number and compo-
sition of the commission, but he thought that a convention might "lead
to better consequences than at first occur" (to James Monroe, 22
January, ibid., 483). The idea of a convention to recommend an in-
crease in the powers of Congress was not new. Joseph Jones had rec-
ommended one to Madison in 1785; and the year before John Francis
Mercer and Richard Henry Lee had supported a convention.
On 19 February 1786 Edmund Randolph, writing on behalf of the
Virginia commissioners, forwarded the resolution to the executives of
the states, seeking their concurrence and recommending that the con-
vention meet in Annapolis, Md., on the first Monday in September.
Four days later, Governor Henry also wrote the state executives asking
them and their legislatures to consider the matter (Appendix II, below).
Nine states elected delegates to the Annapolis Convention, but the
delegates of only five states (including Virginia) attended between 11
and 14 September. The report of the Convention called upon the states
to elect delegates to meet in convention in Philadelphia on the second
xxxiv


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