History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
THE CONSTITUTION IN DETAIL. THE POWERS OF CONGRESS,
CONTINUED.
FROM THE MIDDLE TO THE END OF AUGUST 1787.

ON the eighteenth of August, Rutledge insisted that it was necessary and expedient for the United States to assume “all the state debts.” A committee of eleven, to whom the subject was referred, on the twenty-first reported a grant of power to the United States to assume “the debts of the several states incurred during the late war for the common defence and general welfare.” But the states which had done the most toward discharging their obligations were unwilling to share equally the burdens of those which had done the least; and the convention, adopting on the twenty-fifth the language of Randolph, affirmed no more than that the engagements of the confederation should be equally valid against the United States under this constitution.*

The convention, on the seventeenth, agreed with its committee in giving jurisdiction to the United States over the crime of counterfeiting their coins and over crimes committed on the high seas, or against the law of nations,†

The report of the committee of detail gave power to congress “to subdue a rebellion in any state on the application of its legislature.” Martin, on the seventeenth, approved the limitation to which Charles Pinckney, Gouverneur Morris, and Langdon objected. Ellsworth moved to dispense with the application of the legislature of the rebellious state when that body could not meet. “Gerry was against letting loose the

* Gilpin, 1426; Elliot, 476.

† Gilpin, 1349; Elliot, 437.

-311-

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