The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 10: 300–301
News from America, chiefly focused on commerce and trade. Jefferson first relays that Thomas Barclay had been sent to Morocco to negotiate a treaty of peace. For the sum of $30,000, Barclay was able to conclude a treaty 26 June with the Emperor of Morocco that entailed no annual tribute or ransom. American ships were also to receive favored nation treatment.
French-born J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur became a naturalized citizen of New York in 1765 and is famous for his Letters of an American Farmer. He left for France in 1780 after having been imprisoned by the British as a spy, but returned in 1783 as French consul to New York. Jefferson lodged next door to him in 1784 while en route for France to take up his commission. The two became fast friends.
He then conveys news he has received in letters and newspapers from America. In rapid fire, he enumerates: "I have letters & papers from America to July 16. they inform us of the deaths of Generals Greene, McDougal & Williamson. also that Genl Sullivan is President of N. Hampshire. S. Adams is no longer president of the Massachusetts Senate. I cannot conceive the reason of this. the Creeks have made a formidable invasion of Georgia. some scattered Indians have done mischeif at Kentucke: they are however disavowed by their tribes. the Commercial Convention is likely to take effect. I will prepare an article for giving Congress a power over our Commerce." It was vital that commerce of the states was taken out of the hands of the states and placed in the absolute control of Congress. The basic weakness of the present American position was summed up in a letter from the Duke of Dorset to the commissioners which dated back to 26 March 1785. He inquired whether they were merely commissioned by Congress or had received separate powers from the respective states, and asked what engagements they could enter into which could not be rendered fruitless and ineffectual by any state.
The futility of enacting mercantilist legislation within a confederated polity was also demonstrated with regard to the navigation laws, as is borne out in Jefferson's final bit of news. "John Collins is Governor of Rhode Island, Huntingdon of Connecticut. N. Hampshire & Massachusets have suspended their navign acts." In 1784, northern legislatures began penalizing British shipping by laying additional duties upon goods imported in British bottoms. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York doubled tariffs on goods arriving in British ships while Rhode Island tripled them. None of these laws proved effective, and within two years of their passage the states moved to repeal them.
The steep duties encouraged British shippers to go to nearby, tariff-free states and use them as bases for distributing European goods and for obtaining American produce. The readiness of Connecticut to receive British vessels without subjecting them to penalties forced Rhode Island virtually to suspend its act, or else lose trade to its western neighbor. So also the assembly of New Hampshire moved to suspend its law until New York and Connecticut should adopt similar acts. Massachusetts repealed its law in July 1786, because, as Governor Bowdoin explained, other states, refusing to cooperate, had tried to use it for one-sided advantage. (H. A. Scott Trask, "Rethinking the Articles of Confederation," 8 August 2003, http://mises.org/story/1296).
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