CHAPTER X
HOW THE ANNAPOLIS CONVENTION WAS CALLED

PATRICK HENRY'S general expressions in favour of strengthening the Federal Government were a tolerably correct reflection of the attitude of the Virginia Assembly on the subject. It amounted to an admission that something should be done, and specific dissent to every project brought forward to that end. As the session progressed it became evident that the legislation desired by the Federalists could not be secured; even if it could be what chance of concurrence would it have from twelve other State Legislatures? The outlook was gloomy indeed, and impending disaster was only averted by seizing a succession of circumstances and turning them to a purpose different from that which they had been designed to serve. The story of the manipulation of these occasions is the story of how the Annapolis Convention was called.

The boundary between Virginia and Maryland was the Potomac River, and the charter of 1732 to Lord Baltimore defined it as the southern shore.* The Constitution of Virginia confirmed this boundary, but reserved the right of the free navigation of the river. Madison and others feared that this confirmation might be construed into a total surrender of jurisdiction over the river, thus leaving Virginia's commerce wholly at the mercy of such regulations as Maryland might choose to make. A harmonious agreement on regulations for the two States was obviously the bestremedy for the threatened evil, and on April 25, 1784, Madison wrote to Jefferson and asked him to sound the Maryland dele

____________________
*
"Writings of Madison" ( Hunt), II, 41.

-87-

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