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title:“James Madison to Reynolds Chapman”
authors:James Madison
date written:1831-1-6

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retrieved:Oct. 2, 2023, 2:12 a.m. UTC

Madison, James. "Letter to Reynolds Chapman." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

James Madison to Reynolds Chapman (January 6, 1831)

January 6, 1831.
Perhaps I ought not to omit the remark, that although I concur in the defect of powers in Congress on the subject of internal improvements, my abstract opinion has been, that, in the case of canals particularly, the power would have been properly vested in Congress. It was more than once proposed in the Convention of 1787, and rejected from an apprehension, chiefly, that it might prove an obstacle to the adoption of the Constitution. Such an addition to the Federal powers was thought to be strongly recommended by several considerations: 1. As Congress would possess, exclusively, the sources of revenue most productive and least unpopular, that body ought to provide and apply the means for the greatest and most costly works. 2. There would be cases where canals would be highly important in a national view, and not so in a local view. 3. Cases where, though highly important in a national view, they might violate the interest, real or supposed, of the State through which they would pass, of which an example might now be cited in the Chesapeake and Delaware canal, known to have been viewed in an unfavourable light by the State of Delaware. 4. There might be cases where canals, or a chain of canals, would pass through sundry States, and create a channel and outlet for their foreign commerce, forming at the same time a ligament for the Union, and extending the profitable intercourse of its members, and yet be of hopeless attainment if left to the limited faculties and joint exertions of the States possessing the authority.

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