Why Did Delegates Meet at Mount Vernon and Annapolis?

Delegates met at Mount Vernon and Annapolis to discuss issues of commercial fishing rights and navigation in the waters of the Pocomoke and Potomac Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. These meetings, known as the Mount Vernon Conference and the Annapolis Convention, transpired in 1785 and 1786.

George Washington arranged the Mount Vernon Conference, and he hosted commissioners from Maryland and Virginia at his home on the Potomac River. The delegates discussed matters that were absent from the Articles of Confederation, which, at the time, was the constitution for the 13 founding states.

During the Mount Vernon Conference, Maryland and Virginia agreed to consider their waterways as a common highway that vessels from each state would be forever free to use. The resulting Compact of 1785 was the first such binding contract between two states.

The Mount Vernon Conference was such a success that Virginia invited all the states to participate in a similar meeting, and 12 total delegates from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia subsequently attended the meeting on commercial issues. The formal title of the meeting was the Meeting of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government.

The delegates sought to overcome barriers that limited commerce or trade between states under the Articles of Confederation. The immediate outcome of the meeting was a unanimous call for a constitutional convention.