Article 1, Section 9, Clause 6
Luther Martin, Genuine Information1788Storing 2.4.73--74
In this same section there is a provision that no preference shall be given to the ports of one State over another, and that vessels bound to or from one State shall not be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another. This provision, as well as that which relates to the uniformity of impost duties and excises, was introduced, Sir, by the delegation of this State.--Without such a provision, it would have been in the power of the general government to have compelled all ships sailing into, or out of the Cheseapeak, to clear and enter at Norfolk, or some port in Virginia--a regulation which would be extremely injurious to our commerce, but which would if considered merely as to the interest of the union, perhaps not be thought unreasonable, since it would render the collection of the revenue arising from commerce more certain and less expensive.
But, Sir, as the system is now reported, the general government have a power to establish what ports they please in each State, and to ascertain at what ports in every State ships shall clear and enter in such State, a power which may be so used as to destroy the effect of that provision, since by it may be established a port in such a place, as shall be so inconvenient to the State, as to render it more eligible for their shipping to clear and enter in another than in their own State; suppose, for instance, the general government should determine that all ships which cleared or entered in Maryland, should clear and enter at George-Town, on Potowmack, it would oblige all the ships which sailed from, or were bound to, any other port of Maryland, to clear or enter in some port in Virginia. To prevent such a use of the power which the general government now has of limiting the number of ports in a State, and fixing the place or places where they shall be, we endeavoured to obtain a provision, that the general government should only, in the first instance, have authority to ascertain the number of ports proper to be established in each State, and transmit information thereof to the several States, the legislatures of which, respectively, should have the power to fix the places where those ports should be, according to their idea of what would be most advantageous to the commerce of their State, and most for the ease and convenience of their citizens; and that the general government should not interfere in the establishment of the places, unless the legislature of the State should neglect or refuse so to do; but we could not obtain this alteration.
The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 6, Document 3
The University of Chicago Press
Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.
Easy to print version.