The Movement for Federal Reform
ONCE THE DISPUTE over western lands was resolved and Maryland approved the Articles of Confederation, the three Chesapeake states became the mainstays of congressional authority. Throughout the Confederation period they consistently sent nationalist delegations to the Continental Congress, and they prided themselves on their generous response to congressional requests for funds. 1 Here, too, originated the movement to strengthen the powers of the general government. The instigators were the innovative leaders of the creditor parties, and the movement stemmed directly from their concern for the free flow of trade and credit. Just as they opposed artificial burdens on commerce imposed by debtor-relief measures, they favored uniform regulations imposed by national authority. As a result, they enthusiastically endorsed amendments to the Articles of Confederation that would have empowered Congress to levy customs duties and regulate trade.
The attempt to add to the powers of Congress originated in the nationalists' reforms of 1780-81. In the military and fiscal emer