(Some delegates held US debt.)
George Mason (VA) (spoke of problems and attitudes against creditors I am not very familiar with.) would keep creditors in their same plight. While they should be repaid, the enumerated power will encourage speculators to shamefully obtain securities from distressed people at a deep discount. He knew the line between investment and torrid speculation was a fine one. The word shall, he thought, would prevent the government from buying the securities and would extend to paper Continental Money.
Hugh Langdon wished to leave creditors in the status quo.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) said he garnered a modest amount of interest from such securities; enough to pay his taxes. The government should repay value for value. Soldiers had been defrauded, cheated on their capital. Some States resorted to paper money more than others. He would support compelled restitution to the ignorant and depressed at the expense of the stock-jobbers.
Pierce Butler (SC) had no intent to affect creditor holdings.
Governor Edmund Randolph motioned to postpone the clause in order to consider, "All debts contracted & engagements entered into, by or under the authority of Congs. shall be as valid agst. the U. States under this constitution as under the Confederation."
Dr. William Samuel Johnson (CN) agreed. All debt contracted by the US, whether under the Confederation or the new plan, was obligatory.
Governeur Morris (PA) was not a public creditor, but nonetheless preferred the word, shall rather than may. The new government would be duty bound to pay of course, and the term, shall would draw friends to the Constitution.
Mr. Randolphs motion to postpone passed.
Roger Sherman (CN) motioned to add to the first clause, for the payment of said debts and for the defraying the expences that shall be incurred for the common defence and general welfare," which was defeated.
The Committee of Eleven Report, which was submitted and tabled the day before, was taken up. It dealt with Article VII Sections 4-6, and Slavery, Taxes, Navigation Acts.
General Pinckney (SC) motioned and Nathaniel Gorham (MA) seconded to delay the possibility of prohibiting Slave importation to 1808.
(He referred to the wording of the committee report: -"The migration or importation of such persons as the several States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Legislature prior to the year 1800, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such migration or importation at a rate not exceeding the average of the duties laid on imports.") (Have to wonder if Pinckney/Gorham met informally to discuss this issue. It was in the interests of all to accommodate others where possible. Fellow MA delegate to Gorham, Mr. Gerry would have none of it when it came to Slavery.)p>
James Madison (VA) said twenty more years of the traffic was dishonorable to the Nation and coming Constitution.
And just like that, so quickly after submission, General Pinckneys motion passed 7-4.
Governeur Morris (PA) (Hmm, looking out for Southern Slave interests.) motioned to make the clause read, importation of slaves into N. Carolina, S. Carolina & Georgia shall not be prohibited &c." He wished to remove any possible contradiction with the power of Congress over naturalization.
George Mason (VA) was not against use of the term, slaves in our Constitution, but did not think it proper to name NC, SC, and GA.
Roger Sherman (CN) (made reference to the Old Congress I am not familiar with)
George Clymer (PA) concurred.
Hugh Williamson (NC) was against slavery, but would rather have SC, GA in the union on these terms than not.
Governeur Morris (PA) withdrew his motion.
John Dickinson (DE) motioned language that, with minor wordsmithing, would end up in our Constitution. "The importation of slaves into such of the States as shall permit the same shall not be prohibited by the Legislature of the U- S- until the year 1808, which was defeated without opposition.
The first part of the report, as amended, "The migration or importation of such persons as the several States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Legislature prior to the year 1808," passed 7-4.
Abraham Baldwin (GA) motioned to deal with average of the duties, remove the words and replace with, "common impost on articles not enumerated," (Which does not make sense to me) which passed without opposition.
Roger Sherman (CN) opposed acknowledging slaves as property.
Rufus King (MA), John Langdon (NH), and General Pinckney (SC) reluctantly admitted this was a tax on men.
George Mason (VA) considered no slave importation tax would be the equivalent of a bounty.
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) asked Mr. Sherman to consider the Slave impost as a discouragement to import them.
Governeur Morris (PA) noted that the wording allowed for taxation of immigrant freemen.
Roger Sherman (CN) said the amount of the impost showed the purpose to be revenue, not to discourage importation.
James Madison (VA) did not wish to see property in men in our Constitution.
George Mason (VA) (interesting historic implication, as in later Australia?) considered the import tax necessary to prevent the introduction of convicts as well.
The Clause was modified, and approved to limit the impost to $10 on Slaves.
Article VII Section 5, No capitation tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the Census hereinbefore directed to be taken, passed without opposition.
Article VII Section 6 was postponed.
James Madison (VA) motioned and Governeur Morris (PA) seconded to insert "or which shall be made," after all treaties made, to make sure previous and well as future treaties would be in force.
Daniel Carroll (MD) and Luther Martin (MD) (wished to prevent the current system under the Confederation in which States with ocean ports ruthlessly taxed trade at the expense of others.) motioned, "The Legislature of the U: S: shall not oblige vessels belonging to citizens thereof, or to foreigners, to enter or pay duties or imposts in any other State than in that to which they may be bound, or to clear out in any other than the State in which their cargoes may be laden on board; nor shall any privilege or immunity be granted to any vessels on entering or clearing out, or paying duties or imposts in one State in preference to another"
Nathaniel Gorham (MA) predicted smuggling (an American tradition) and loss of revenue. (Many VA Planters could dock ocean going vessels at their Plantations along the great rivers.)
James McHenry (MD) & General Pinckney (SC) and others submitted a variety of Ports & Trade proposals that were referred to a Committee composed of almost one delegate from each State.
Mr. Dickinsons motion from yesterday near the close of business, regarding appointments to Offices by Congress and the States as an amendment to Article X, was defeated 6-3-1.
Governeur Morris (PA) motioned and Jacob Broome (DE) seconded to strike, -"and may correspond with the supreme Executives of the several States" as unnecessary, which passed 9-1.
Shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers, was agreed to without opposition.
Roger Sherman (CN) wished to limit the Presidents pardon power contingent on Senate approval. It failed 6-3-1.
On motion to exclude cases of impeachment from the pardon power, it passed without opposition.
On the question to agree to -"but his pardon shall not be pleadable in bar," failed 6-4.
Delegates opened the day's debate with money, debt and speculation. I suspect the discussion was actually more lively than Mr. Madison's terse notes indicate.
Colonel Mason wondered if the nation could ever pay its debts. We owed tremendous amounts to France as well as individuals. Ben Franklin loaned a few thousand pounds of real money to Congress early in the war and Elbridge Gerry had purchased government paper at deep discount.
Most of the States were stuck in severe recession despite the end of the war. They had internal problems of their own, one of which was a lack of hard money. What little they had, they refused to send in taxes to the Confederation government. Interest expense on loans was rapidly increasing. The little nation was caught in a downward spiral of debt, interest, unemployment and lack of job creation.