Mount Vernon Conference and Mount Vernon Compact
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One problem still had to be resolved, however, in order for George Washington to be able to implement his dream of building the Patowmack Canal. This was the navigation and interstate commerce problems presented by the fact that, under the Articles of Confederation, there was no clear framework for facilitating interstate commerce ventures such as Washington’s proposed Patowmack Canal. To attempt to resolve such problems, George Washington convinced the Virginia and Maryland state legislatures to approve of a conference between the two states to be held in Alexandria, Virginia, with James Madison acting as the sponsor of such legislation for Washington in the Virginia legislature. Unfortunately, when the Maryland delegates arrived for the conference, the only Virginia delegate in attendance was George Washington’s neighbor George Mason – since Virginia’s Governor Patrick Henry had failed to notify the other Virginia delegates. What saved the conference was George Washington’s offer to host the delegates at Mount Vernon, even though George Washington himself was not a delegate to the conference. Held in March 1785, the Mount Vernon Conference proposed a number of agreements between Virginia and Maryland relating to the regulation of navigation and interstate commerce on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.