Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1

[Volume 3, Page 394]

Document 4

Luther Martin, Genuine Information

1788Storing 2.4.75--78

By the tenth section every State is prohibited from emitting bills of credit--As it was reported by the committee of detail, the States were only prohibited from emitting them without the consent of Congress; but the convention was so smitten with the paper money dread, that they insisted the prohibition should be absolute. It was my opinion, Sir, that the States ought not to be totally deprived of the right to emit bills of credit, and that as we had not given an authority to the general government for that purpose, it was the more necessary to retain it in the States--I considered that this State, and some others, have formerly received great benefit from paper emissions, and that if public and private credit should once more be restored, such emissions may hereafter be equally advantageous; and further, that it is impossible to foresee that events may not take place which shall render paper money of absolute necessity; and it was my opinion, if this power was not to be exercised by a State without the permission of the general government, it ought to be satisfactory even to those who were the most haunted by the apprehensions of paper money; I therefore, thought it my duty to vote against this part of the system.

The same section also, puts it out of the power of the States, to make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts, or to pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.

I considered, Sir, that there might be times of such great public calamities and distress, and of such extreme scarcity of specie as should render it the duty of a government, for the preservation of even the most valuable part of its citizens in some measure to interfere in their favour, by passing laws totally or partially stopping the courts of justice, or authorising the debtor to pay by instalments, or by delivering up his property to his creditors at a reasonable and honest valuation. The times have been such as to render regulations of this kind necessary in most, or all of the States, to prevent the wealthy creditor and the monied man from totally destroying the poor though even industrious debtor--Such times may again arrive. I therefore, voted against depriving the States of this power, a power which I am decided they ought to possess, but which I admit ought only to be exercised on very important and urgent occasions. I apprehend, Sir, the principal cause of complaint among the people at large is, the public and private debt with which they are oppressed, and which, in the present scarcity of cash, threatens them with destruction, unless they can obtain so much indulgence in point of time that by industry and frugality they may extricate themselves.

This government proposed, I apprehend, so far from removing will greatly encrease those complaints, since grasping in its all powerful hand the citizens of the respective States, it will by the imposition of the variety of taxes, imposts, stamps, excises, and other duties, squeeze from them the little money they acquire, the hard earnings of their industry, as you would squeeze the juice from an orange, till not a drop more can be extracted, and then let loose upon them their private creditors, to whose mercy it consigns them, by whom their property is to be seized upon and sold in this scarcity of specie at a sheriff's sale, where nothing but ready cash can be received, for a tenth part of its value, and themselves and their families to be consigned to indigence and distress, without their governments having a power to give them a moment's indulgence, however necessary it might be, and however desirous to grant them aid.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1, Document 4
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000