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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Report by Thomas Burke concerning the debates in the Continental Congress
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
February 07, 1777 - February 08, 1777
Volume 15, Pages 695-698


Feby. 7th, 1777.

Motion in Congress that the President send to every State excepting Virginia and Massachusetts Bay recommending a fuller representation. Proposed to leave out the Exceptions, passed in the Negative. Amendments Proposed that whenever any State was unrepresented the President should write requesting a full representation, agreed by a Majority. Motion to be reconsidered. Amendment proposed that when ever any State was represented by less than three, President should write, &c. Rejected. Question upon the whole as amended: No's, 5, Ayes 4, 1 Divided. In this Debate the States fully represented insisted on the Exceptions that it might appear they had no need of a Memento. Several other States insisted that no State ought to be permitted to Commit a Vote in the General Council of the States to less than three. That less now than even that Number would Supply Committee Men. It was answered to the first that every State had made her representation as best suited her Circumstances; that many were unable to spare or Support one more Numerous; that each was best Judge how many of her Citizens She would Trust and to what length She could Trust them; that there was no need of publicly calling on them for a representation more full because they already wished the same thing

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but found it Inconvenient to be Effected; that therefore those who had any representation at all had presumedly done what their Circumstances permitted and should not be called on for greater Exertions to Second that representation and the States who had few had either refused to elect more or had not re-elected; that the Weight and Trust were Certainly too great for any one person, but it was an evil that could not at present be remedied, and therefore it must be borne; that requiring them to form a Quorum would Embarrass several States and leave Such State often without any representation at all, because if any Accident prevented the Attendance of one, the Vote was Necessarily lost, and any State would prefer a Vote by one of her Delegates rather than No Vote at all.

North Carolina having only one Delegate present raised the point that the Arguments levelled at the Insufficiency of one Delegate for so Important a Trust were Sensibly felt by the Delegate who already tho' but a very few days in Congress found his Experience and abilities far Inferior to his Duty, but this was not the fault of his Country who could not prevail on her abler men to undertake a Business so arduous and Inconvenient that she had Indeed appointed three but never Expected that they should be always in Service at Once, because the Absence was too long from their private Families and Affairs and She had no Fund to Support a greater Number; that One who Expected to have been here was prevented by Illness, the other has Just departed and after a long attendance was permitted to return home; that the Single Representation of that State was the Misfortune of the Delegate on whom all Incompetent as he is, burthen of so high a Trust had fallen and also the Misfortune of his Country, who in the Absence of his more able Colleagues could not be so well served; that Considering it as a Matter which Each had an Exclusive right to Judge of the Delegate could not agree that Congress should at all Intefere with it; that having Just informed the Congress that one of the delegates had been permitted by his Country to return, and that the other delegate was prevented by illness and that only the two would be in Service. The Delegate considered the amendment relative to three as implying a Censure on his Country and he must therefore protest against it. The Intention to Censure was disclaimed.


Feby. 8th, 1777.

An adjournment to Philadelphia was moved for and postponed.

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A Resolve was moved for offering 6 Pct. Interest in the Loan Office. The Debate took up the greatest part of the Day, and the determination was postponed at the request of Connecticut.

The Arguments chiefly were that money was absolutely Necessary for Carrying on the War; that four per cent which was already offered could not procure it and it was therefore Necessary to Increase the Interest, that this mode was more eligible than a farther Emission because it would draw out of Circulation that Superfluous quantity which Occasioned the Rise of all prices; that the alluring monied men to embark in one Common Interest with the other orders of men would greatly add to the Security of our Independence.

In answer it was argued that the Offering a higher Interest would not more certainly procure the money for those who had it to lend would find no borrower but the public and those who had not would not lend it on any Interest; that the interest would be an accumulating debt, if it could be borrowed, under which the Country must Sink; that the States would be very unequally burthened because those who now possessed the greater part of the Money would lay other States under a heavy Tax to them under the name of Interest; that there were in the Country no money Lenders as every man found that every day's Occurrences presented Opportunities of laying out his money to much greater Advantage; that however Necessary the money Might be it was Still the more Necessary to fall on Some expedient that might procure it with Certainty; that the Increase of Interest having been tried in many States without Effect clearly proved money was not to be borrowed.

North Carolina urged that it was a clear Truth that Money was Necessary. It was equally clear that it was advisable to prevent further Emissions, and to reduce the quantity in circulation if it was possible to effect it. The delegate declared that when he offered his thoughts before that Illustrious Assembly he did it with the greatest Diffidence and deference that he should not trouble them with so abstruse and Intricate a Subject as the present, but that he perceived the matter had not Struck any other in the same point of View that it did him; that he felt himself oppressed with the weight of the question, and having the misfortune Singly to have

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the Vote of one State to give, he wished to do it on Established Principles, and the clearest Conviction, he therefore begged their Indulgence and candour if he should offer objections which had been answered in some former Debates (for there had been many on that Subject) which he had not the good fortune to hear.

He urged that he had not been able to derive any Satisfactory Information from the Debate; that the money could be had by way of Loan on any Interest, or that money raised by way of Loan would not be a further Emission in Effect; that he perceived therefore few or no money lenders in the Country; that Farmers and Gentlemen speculated, and reserved their money for purchases and Merchants always relyed on employing (unfinished).

(The above is a summary of a debate sent by Dr. Burke, delegate in Congress, to Gov. Caswell. Ed.)