Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 (Commerce)

Document 5

Richard Henry Lee to ------

10 Oct. 1785Letters 2:389

So essential is the difference between the Northern & Southern productions and circumstances relative to Commerce, that it is not easy to adopt any general system that would well accord with all; and the Staple States should be feelingly alive to the proposed plan of vesting powers absolute for the restraint & regulation of Commerce in a Body of representatives whose Constituents are very differently circumstanced--Intrigue and coalit[i]on among the No Staple States, taking advantage of the disunion and inattenti[on] of the South, might fix a ruinous Monopoly upon the trade & productions of the Staple States that have not Ships or Seamen for the Exportation of their valuable productions--You know Sir that the Spirit of Commerce is a Spirit of Avarice, and that whenever the power is given the will certainly follows to monopolise, to engross, and to take every possible advantage. I am free therefore to own that I think it both safest & best to give no such power to Congress, leave it to that Body to point out what is fit to be done in this [line], and founding their plans on principles of moderation and most accordant to the actual state & situation of the different States, to recommend their systems for the general adoption. I am persuaded that this plan would be successful to every good purpose. A contrary one would, I verily believe, be more hurtful, much more hurtful to us, than even the crabbed selfish system of Great Britain.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 (Commerce), Document 5
The University of Chicago Press

The Letters of Richard Henry Lee. Edited by James Curtis Ballagh. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan Co., 1911--14.

Easy to print version.