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 Most of the states repealed laws placing barriers in the way of the recovery of British debts.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 value.* 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.