A School History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 507 pages of information about A School History of the United States.

%170.  Paper Money issued.%—­This left the people without any money with which to pay wages, or buy food and clothing, and led at once to a demand that the states should print paper money and loan it to their citizens.  Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, and Georgia did so.  But the money was no sooner issued than the merchants and others who had goods to sell refused to take it, whereupon in some of the states laws called “tender acts” were passed to compel people to use the paper.  This merely put an end to business, for nobody would sell.  In Massachusetts, when the legislature refused to issue paper money, many of the persons who owed debts assembled, and, during 1786-87, under the lead of Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary soldier, prevented the courts from trying suits for the recovery of money owed or loaned.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Read McMaster’s History of the People of the United States, Vol.  I., pp. 281-295, 304-329, 331-340; Fiske’s Critical Period of American History, pp. 168-186.]

%171.  Congress proposes Amendments.%—­Of the many defects in the Articles, the Continental Congress was fully aware, and it had many a time asked the states to make amendments.  One proposed that Congress should have power for twenty-five years to lay a tax of five per cent on all goods imported, and use the money to pay the Continental debts.  Another was to require each state to raise by special tax a sum sufficient to pay its yearly share of the current expenses of Congress.  A third was to bestow on Congress for fifteen years the sole power to regulate trade and commerce.  A fourth provided that in future the share each state was to bear of the current expenses should be in proportion to its population.

But the Articles of Confederation could not be amended unless all thirteen states consented, and, as all thirteen never did consent, none of these amendments were ever made.

%172.  The States attempt to regulate Trade and fail.%—­In the meantime the states attempted to regulate trade for themselves.  New York laid double duties on English ships.  Pennsylvania taxed a long list of foreign goods.  Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island passed acts imposing heavy duties on articles unless they came in American vessels.  But these laws were not uniform, and as many states took no action, very little good was accomplished.[1]

[Footnote 1:  McMaster’s History of the People of the United States, Vol.  I., pp. 246-259, 266-280; Fiske’s Critical Period of American History, 134-137, 145-147.]

%173.  A Trade Convention called to meet at Annapolis, 1786.%[2]—­Under these conditions, the business of the whole country was at a standstill, and as Congress had no power to do anything to relieve the distress, the state of Virginia sent out a circular letter to her sister states.  She asked them to appoint delegates to meet and “take into consideration the trade and commerce of the United States.”  Four (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) responded, and their delegates, with those from Virginia, met at Annapolis in September, 1786.

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