The Report of the Annapolis Conference – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

The Report of the Annapolis Conference

In September 1786, a conference was called in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss
the state of commerce in the fledgling nation. The national government had no
authority to regulate trade between and among the states. The conference was
called to discuss ways to facilitate commerce and establish standard rules and
regulations. The conference was called by Virginia, at the urging of one of
its great minds of the time, James Madison. Only five of the 13 states sent
any delegates at all.

Unable to do much of anything, the assembled group, most of whom were
nationalists, eager for a stronger national government, decided that another
conference was needed to investigate the deficiencies of the United States
under the Articles of Confederation, and recommend
changes to the Articles. The report of the Annapolis Conference was the first
step toward the Constitutional Convention that
would eventually hammer out the Constitution of the
United States

Proceedings of commissioners to remedy defects of the federal government

Annapolis in the State of Maryland, September 11th 1786. — At a
meeting of Commissioners, from the States of New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia:


New York
Alexander Hamilton
Egbert Benson

New Jersey
Abraham Clark
William C. Houston
James Schuarman

Tench Coxe

George Read
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett

Edmund Randolph
James Madison, Junior
Saint George Tucker

Mr Dickinson was unanimously elected Chairman.

The Commissioners produced their Credentials from their respective States;
which were read.

After a full communication of Sentiments, and deliberate consideration of
what would be proper to be done by the Commissioners now assembled; it was
unanimously agreed: that a Committee be appointed to prepare a draft of a
Report to be made to the States having Commissioners attending at this

Adjourned ’till Wednesday Morning.

Wednesday September 13th 1786 — Met agreeable to Adjournment.

The Committee, appointed for that purpose, reported the draft of the report;
which being read, the meeting proceeded to the consideration thereof, and after
some time spent therein, Adjourned ’till tomorrow Morning.

Thursday September 14th 1786 — Met agreeable to Adjournment.

The meeting resumed the consideration of the draft of the Report, and after
some time spent therein, and amendments made, the same was unanimously agreed
to, and is as follows, to wit:

To the Honorable, the Legislatures of Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, and New York, the Commissioners from the said States, respectively
assembled at Annapolis, humbly beg leave to report.

That, pursuant to their several appointments, they met, at Annapolis in the
State of Maryland, on the eleventh day of September Instant, and having
proceeded to a Communication of their powers; they found that the States of New
York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, had, in substance, and nearly in the same
terms, authorised their respective Commissioners ‘to meet such Commissioners
as were, or might be, appointed by the other States in the Union, at such time
and place, as should be agreed upon by the said Commissioners to take into
consideration the trade and Commerce of the United States, to consider how far
an uniform system in their commercial intercourse and regulations might be
necessary to their common interest and permanent harmony, and to report to the
several States such an Act, relative to this great object, as when unanimously
ratified by them would enable the United States in Congress assembled
effectually to provide for the same.’

That the State of Delaware, had given similar powers to their Commissioners,
with this difference only, that the Act to be framed in virtue of those powers,
is required to be reported ‘to the United States in Congress assembled, to be
agreed to by them, and confirmed by the Legislatures of every State.’

That the State of New Jersey had enlarged the object of their appointment,
empowering their Commissioners, ‘to consider how far an uniform system in
their commercial regulations and other important matters, might be necessary to
the common interest and permanent harmony of the several States,’ and to report
such an Act on the subject, as when ratified by them ‘would enable the United
States in Congress assembled, effectually to provide for the exigencies of the

That appointments of Commissioners have also been made by the States of New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, none of whom
however have attended; but that no information has been received by your
Commissioners, of any appointment having been made by the States of
Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina or Georgia.

That the express terms of the powers to your Commissioners supposing a
deputation from all the States, and having for object the Trade and Commerce of
the United States, Your Commissioners did not conceive it advisable to proceed
on the business of their mission, under the Circumstance of so partial and
defective a representation.

Deeply impressed however with the magnitude and importance of the object
confided to them on this occasion, your Commissioners cannot forbear to indulge
an expression of their earnest and unanimous wish, that speedy measures may be
taken, to effect a general meeting, of the States, in a future Convention, for
the same, and such other purposes, as the situation of public affairs, may be
found to require.

If in expressing this wish, or in intimating any other sentiment, your
Commissioners should seem to exceed the strict bounds of their appointment,
they entertain a full confidence, that a conduct, dictated by an anxiety for
the welfare, of the United States, will not fail to receive an indulgent

In this persuasion, your Commissioners submit an opinion, that the Idea of
extending the powers of their Deputies, to other objects, than those of
Commerce, which has been adopted by the State of New Jersey, was an improvement
on the original plan, and will de serve to be incorporated into that of a
future Convention; they are the more naturally led to this conclusion, as in
the course of their reflections on the subject, they have been induced to
think, that the power of regulating trade is of such comprehensive extent, and
will enter so far into the general System of the federal government, that to
give it efficacy, and to obviate questions and doubts concerning its precise
nature and limits, may require a correspondent adjustment of other parts of the
Federal System.

That there are important defects in the system of the Federal Government is
acknowledged by the Acts of all those States, which have concurred in the
present Meeting; That the defects, upon a closer examination, may be found
greater and more numerous, than even these acts imply, is at least so far
probable, from the embarrassments which characterize the present State of our
national affairs, foreign and domestic, as may reasonably be supposed to merit
a deliberate and candid discussion, in some mode, which will unite the
Sentiments and Council’s of all the States. In the choice of the mode, your
Commissioners are of opinion, that a Convention of Deputies from the different
States, for the special and sole purpose of entering into this investigation,
and digesting a plan for supplying such defects as may be discovered to exist,
will be entitled to a preference from considerations, which will occur, without
being particularized.

Your Commissioners decline an enumeration of those national circumstances on
which their opinion respecting the propriety of a future Convention, with more
enlarged powers, is founded; as it would be an useless intrusion of facts and
observations, most of which have been frequently the subject of public
discussion, and none of which can have escaped the penetration of those to whom
they would in this instance be addressed. They are however of a nature so
serious, as, in the view of your Commissioners to render the situation of the
United States delicate and critical, calling for an exertion of the united
virtue and wisdom of all the members of the Confederacy.

Under this impression, Your Commissioners, with the most respectful
deference, beg leave to suggest their unanimous conviction, that it may
essentially tend to advance the interests of the union, if the States, by whom
they have been respectively delegated, would themselves concur, and use their
endeavours to procure the concurrence of the other States, in the appointment
of Commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to
take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such
further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution
of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to
report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled,
as when agreed to, by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of
every State, will effectually provide for the same.

Though your Commissioners could not with propriety address these
observations and sentiments to any but the States they have the honor to
Represent, they have nevertheless concluded from motives of respect, to
transmit Copies of this Report to the United States in Congress assembled, and
to the executives of the other States.

By order of the Commissioners.

Dated at Annapolis, September 14th, 1786

Resolved, that the Chairman sign the Foregoing Report in behalf of the

Then adjourned without day

New York
Egbt Benson
Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey
Abra: Clark
Wm Chll Houston
Ja Schureman

Tench Coxe

Geo: Read
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett

Edmund Randolph
Ja Madison Jr
St George Tucker