Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 5

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Tuesday, February 25

Discussion on the motion to refer the officers for half-pay to their respective states.

In favor of the motion of Mr. GILMAN, (see the Journal of this date,) to refer the officers of the army for their half-pay to their respective states, it was urged that this plan alone would secure to the officers any advantage from that engagement; since Congress had no independent fund out of which it could be fulfilled, and the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, in particular, would not comply with any recommendation of Congress, nor even requisition, for that purpose. It was also said that it would be satisfactory to the officers; and that it would apportion on the states that part of the public burden with sufficient equality. Mr. DYER said, that the original promise of Congress on that subject was considered, by some of the states, as a fetch upon them, and not within the spirit of the authority delegated to Congress. Mr. WOLCOTT said, the states would give Congress nothing whatever, unless they were gratified in this particular. Mr. COLLINS said, Rhode Island had expressly instructed her delegates to oppose every measure tending to an execution of the promise out of moneys under the disposition of Congress.

On the other side, it was urged that the half-pay was a debt as solemnly contracted as any other debt, and was, consequently, as binding, under the 12th article of the Confederation, on the states, and that they could not refuse a requisition made for that purpose, [p.58] that it would I be improper to countenance a spirit of that sort by yielding to it; that such concessionson the part of Congress would produce compliances on the part of the states, in other instances, clogged with favorite conditions; that a reference of the officers to the particular states to whose lines they belong would not be satisfactory to the officers of those states who objected to half-pay, and would increase the present irritation of the army; that to do it without their unanimous consent would be a breach of the contract by which the United States, collectively, were bound to them; and, above all, first the prosed plan, which discharged any particular state which should settle with its officers on this subject, although other statesmight reject the plan, from its proportion of that part of the public burden, was a direct and palpable departure from the law of the Confederation. According to this instrument, thewhole public burden of debt must be apportioned according to a valuation of land; nor could any thing but a unanimous concurrence of the states dispense with this law. According to the plan proposed, so much of the public burden as the half-pay should amount to was to be apportioned according to the number of officers belonging to each line; the plan to take effect, as to all those stateswhich should adopt it, without waiting for the unanimous adoption of the states;and that, if Congress had authority to make the number of officers the rule of apportioning one part of the public debt on the states, they might extend the rule to any other arbitrary rule which they should think fit. The motion of Mr. GILMAN was negatived. See the ayes and noes on the Journal.

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Chicago: Elliot, Jonathan, ed., "Tuesday, February 25," Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 5 in The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787, ed. Jonathan Elliot (Philadelphia: J. B. Lipincott Company, 1901), Original Sources, accessed March 2, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8SAUZ38JFWKXJL4.

MLA: . "Tuesday, February 25." Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 5, edited by Elliot, Jonathan, in The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787, edited by Jonathan Elliot, Vol. 5, Philadelphia, J. B. Lipincott Company, 1901, Original Sources. 2 Mar. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8SAUZ38JFWKXJL4.

Harvard: (ed.), 'Tuesday, February 25' in Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 5. cited in 1901, The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787, ed. , J. B. Lipincott Company, Philadelphia. Original Sources, retrieved 2 March 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8SAUZ38JFWKXJL4.