The Ratification Debates
Digital History ID 248
In the following document, William Blount (1749-1800), a member of the Constitutional Convention who later served as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, describes the precarious state of the Union in order to convince the North Carolina general assembly of the necessity of ratifying the new Constitution.
We received the commands of the...General Assembly...to lay before you...the present state and circumstances of the Union....To describe the present state and circumstances of the Union we may declare in one word that we are at the Eve of a Bankruptcy and of a total dissolution of Government. Since the close of the war there has not been paid into the general Treasury as much money as was necessary for one years interest of the domestic and foreign debt and Congress have been reduced to the dreadful alternative of borrowing principal to pay interest. Our efforts at home to this end were ineffectual abroad where we were not known and, where enthusiasm for liberty has enrolled us among the most deserving of mankind, we were more successful. The deception cannot much longer be kept up and unless something can be done before the close of the ensuing year we must cease to be a unified government. Our friends must give us up and we shall become a laughing stock to our enemies. The annual requisitions are so partially attend[ed] to by states that our foreign and domestic embarrassments have accumulated beyond the possibility of being retrieved by other means than the punctual compliance on the part of the States....The sale of the western land has gone and will go a great way in discharge of our domestic debut. But our foreign debt is increasing and the best way of judging of the probability of soon discharging of it is by our own exertions; in five years we have made one payment something less than forty thousand dollars....
Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute
Additional information: William Blount to the General Assembly of North Carolina
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