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CONFEDERATIONS.                                247

no lawful impediment to the recovery of debts to their full
sterling value. In several of the states laws forbade the re-
covery of the principal or of interest, or allowed payments
in land. All such laws  and others suited to the necessity
of the times when enacted  now became unlawful, but they
were not immediately abrogated. Hence, the British gov-
ernment, two years after the treaty, retained their western
military posts upon the plea that the treaty was not observed
by the other party. Most of the states repealed laws placing
barriers in the way of the recovery of British debts. But
Virginia made this conditional upon notice given by the
governor that Great Britain had delivered up the western
posts, and had restored the negroes taken away from persons
in the state during the war, or made compensation for their

It is instructive, in regard to the weakness of the confedera-
tion, to notice the measures taken by Great Britain concern-
ing the commerce of the United States. There was and
could be no treaty of a commercial nature with congress, and
the states could make none. Commerce, therefore, mean-
while, from the United States with British possessions could
be regulated only by orders in council. Such an order,
passed in 1783, excluded from the British West Indies all
ships from the United States, and the importation offish with
other articles even in British vessels. This measure of vital
importance was met by retaliating propositions, and enlarge-
ments of the powers of congress to make commercial treaties
were recommended ; but the states acted so slowly and SQ
little on a uniform plan, that nothing was gained whatever
by applications to them. In the spring of 1784, congress
appointed a commission to negotiate commercial treaties,
expressing in their resolution for this purpose "that the
United States, in all such treaties and in every c^se arising
under them, should be considered as one nation upon the

* The treaty in Art yij, provides tjiat witli tjii? aw, when,
drawn, negroes should not be carried away.