Enclosure No. 3. Reasons Assigned by the Delegates of Virginia to the Committee for Territorial Cessions; for Refusing to Exhibit Evidence Touching the Rights of Virginia
That no misconstruction unfavourable to the territorial Rights of the State of Virginia may be put on the refusal of the Delegates to exhibit Evidence in support of them, before the Committee to whom the territorial Cessions of Virginia, New York & Connecticut were referr'd according to the request of that Committee, and the Example of the Delegates of New York and Connecticut the Considerations on which that refusal was grounded, & of which the Committee were verbally app[r]ized before any progress was made in the present inquiry, are now stated to them in Writing.
1st. The Acts of Congress, in compliance with which the abovementioned Cessions were made, are founded on the supposed inexpediency of discussing the Questions of Right, & recommends to the several States having territorial Claims in the Western Country, a liberal Surrender of a portion of their Claims for the benefit of the United States, as the most adviseable means of removing the Embarrassments which such Questions created. To make these Acts of Surrender therefore the Basis of a discussion of territorial Rights is a direct Contravention of the Acts of Congress, & extends to diminish the Weight & Efficacy of future Recommendations from them to their Constituents.
2ndly. If the present Discussion has been opened upon an Opinion, that Congress can assume for the use of the United States, any portion of terri[tory] claimed by an Individual State, and supposed by them not to fall within its limits, we are now to learn the page of the Confederation in which this power is delegated. If upon an Opinion that Congress may exercise a Jurisdiction in terretorial Controversies between individual States, we refer the Committee to the Article in the Confederation which vests an exclusive Jurisdiction in such Cases in another Tribunal.
3rdly. The Cases now before the Committee may eventually be brought before that constitutional Tribunal. Ought not its Decrees to be free from the Bias of Suspicion to which they may be exposed by the most indirect prejudication on the Subject of Right, so high an Authority as Congress or even a Committee of Congress.
4thly. Altho it should be confessed that the Cognizance of territorial Rights belongs to Congress or to a Committee of Congress (against which position we strenuously protest) Yet the very form of conducting this Business if scanned by the ordinary Rules of Justice, is manifestly & essentially defective. Without any previous Notice to the parties of an Intention to discuss Questions of Right & receive Evidence relating to them, may after expressly holding forth to them Instruction to exclude all such Question [s.] They are now called upon to exhibit the Evidence which supports their respective Claims; by which means prepossessions in favour of one party may be created by Arguments & Representations which another party is unprepared to controvert.
5thly. Nor can the Conditions & Reservations annexed to some of the Cessions render a discussion of territorial Rights necessary to determine the Authority of Congress to accept them. For even if these Reservations should interfere with the Claims of any other State what injury can arise? since the Doors of the constitutional Tribunal abovementioned will not be barr'd to them: Yet at the same time be declared by Congress, that such acceptance shall in no wise affect them.