History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX.
STRIVING FOR UNION.
1779–1781.

“OUR respective governments which compose the union,” so ran the circular of congress to the states in the opening of the year 1779, “are settled and in the vigorous exercise of uncontrolled authority.” The union itself was without credit and unable to enforce the collection of taxes. About one hundred and six millions of paper money were then in circulation, and in April 1779 stood at five cents. For the service of the year 1779, congress invited the states to pay by instalments their respective quotas of fifteen millions; and, further, to pay six millions annually for eighteen years, as a fund to sink all previous emissions and obligations. After these preliminaries, a new issue of a little more than fifty millions was authorized.

“The state of the currency was the great impediment to all vigorous measures; “it became a question whether men, if they could be raised, could be subsisted. The Pennsylvania farmers were unwilling to sell their wheat except for hard money. There was no hope of relief but from the central authority. To confederate without Maryland was the opinion of Connecticut; with nine or more states, of Boston; with “so many as shall be willing to do so,” allowing to the rest a time during which they might come in, of Yirginia.

Late in May congress apportioned among the states fortyfive millions of dollars more, though there was no chance that the former apportionment would be paid. Four times in the course of the year it sent forth addresses to the several states. Newspapers, town-meetings, legislatures, teemed with

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