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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
3 (1978)

VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788,   pp. 535-562

Page 544

naval forces. He resides in the States-General, and in the states of
every province; and by means of this, he has a great opportunity to
influence the elections and decisions. The province of Holland have
ever been opposed to the appointment of a stadtholder, because, by
their wealth and power, being equal to all the other provinces, they
possess the weight and influence of the stadtholder when that office
is vacant. Without such an influence, their machine of government
would no more move than a ship without wind or a clock without
But to come nearer home, Mr. President, have we not seen and
felt the necessity of such a coercive power? What was the consequence
of the want of it during the late war, particularly towards the close?
A few states bore the burden of the war. While we, and one or two
more of the states, were paying 80 or 100 dollars per man to recruit
the Continental Army, the regiments of some states had scarcely
men enough to wait on their officers. Since the close of the war, some
of the states have done nothing towards complying with the requisi-
tions of Congress; others, who did something at first, seeing that they
were left to bear the whole burden, have become equally remiss.
What is the consequence? To what shifts have we been driven? We
have been driven to the wretched expedient of negotiating new loans
in Europe to pay the interest of the foreign debt. And what is still
worse, we have even been obliged to apply these new loans to the
support of our own civil government at home.
Another ill consequence of this want of energy is that treaties
are not performed. The Treaty of Peace with Great Britain was a
very favorable one for us. But it did not happen perfectly to please
some of the states, and they would not comply with it. The conse-
quence is, Britain charges us with the breach and refuses to deliver
up the forts on our northern quarter.
Our being tributaries to our sister states is a consequence of the
want of a federal system. The State of New York raises 60 or 80,O00E.
a year by impost. Connecticut consumes about one-third of the
goods upon which this impost is laid; and consequently pays one-
third of this sum to New York. If we import by the medium of
Massachusetts, she has an impost, and to her we pay a tribute. If
this is done when we have the shadow of a national government,
what shall we not suffer when even that shadow is gone?
If we go on as we have done, what is to become of the foreign
debts? Will foreign nations forgive us this debt, because we neglect
to pay? or will they levy it by reprisals as the laws of nations authorize
them? Will our weakness induce Spain to relinquish the exclusive
navigation of the Mississippi or the territory which she claims on

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