Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 13, 1775

December 13, 1775

The Committee “for fitting out a naval armament” delivers a very specific Report and a Committee is created to execute the Report. A Committee of Five is selected to prepare instructions for the Committee that will run Congress during the anticipated adjournment. John Jay wishes that New York “would lessen the number of Delegates,” and Richard Smith identifies one of the matters postponed: should General Washington storm Boston?

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from General Washington dated 4th December, with sundry enclosures, was read.

The Committee appointed to devise ways and means for fitting out a naval armament, brought in their report which, after consideration, was agreed to as follows:

That five ships of thirty-two guns, five of twenty-eight guns, three of twenty-four guns, making in the whole thirteen, can be fitted for the sea probably by the last of March next, viz. in New Hampshire one, in Massachusetts bay two, in Rhode Island two, in Connecticut one, in New York two, in Pennsylvania four, and in Maryland one.

That the cost of these ships, so fitted, will not be more than 66,666 2/3 dollars each, on an average, allowing two complete suits of sails for each ship, equal in the whole to 866,666 2/3 dollars.

That the materials for fitting them may be all furnished in these colonies, except the articles of canvas and gun powder; and that therefore it will be proper the Congress direct the most speedy and effectual means of importing the said articles of canvas and powder; that of the former, 7,500 pieces will be wanted, and of the latter, one hundred tons.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed with full powers to carry the above report into execution, with all possible expedition, (except what relates to canvas and powder) at the expense of the United Colonies.

Resolved, That the appointment of the committee be deferred until tomorrow.

Resolved, That it be an instruction to the Secret Committee to embrace the best and earliest opportunities to procure the quantity of duck and powder in the above report.

Thomas Willing, a member of the Secret Committee, wished to be excused because he lived out of town. This made it impracticable for him to attend the committee that usually met in the Evening:

Resolved, That he be excused, and that Robert Morris be selected to replace him.

On motion, Resolved, That when this Congress shall adjourn, it will be necessary to appoint a committee to sit during the adjournment, for the purpose of superintending the treasury, carrying on necessary correspondence, and such other services as shall be directed by Congress.

Resolved, that a Committee of five be appointed to consider and prepare instructions for the committee above-mentioned. The members chosen: Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Silas Deane.

Information being given that sundry persons in this city have lately sold tea,

Resolved, That the consideration of this matter be referred to Friday next.

The several matters to this day referred were postponed.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Jay to Alexander McDougall (New York Military Leader and Politician)

I am very glad to hear that the Convention begins to think of us, and am in daily Expectation of hearing from them on the Subject. I wish they would lessen the number of Delegates-it would diminish the Expense, without injuring the Interest of the Colony. As I can’t confer with you on this Subject, the Matter must be entirely submitted to your Discretion. It is too delicate to trust to the uncertain Fate of a Letter.

Richard Smith’s Diary

I was at Congress. The Delegates of Maryland & Georgia all absent. A Report from a Committee was agreed to for equipping Thirteen Ships of War in several Colonies of 32 Guns 28 and 24 Guns each & the Expense of each at an Average estimated at 66,666 2/3 Dollars. There is a Secret Committee whereof Governor Ward is Chairman and Thomas McKean Clerk. Mr. Willing resigned his Seat in it & Robert Morris was chosen in his Room by Ballot. Debates upon the Question Whether to make an Adjournment a few Days hence for some Time and to appoint a Committee of One out of each Colony to superintend the Treasury and do the Business left unfinished. Agreed to appoint such a Committee if an Adjournment shall take Place & a Committee was now nominated to prepare the Business of the other Committee. Debates whether a Committee of One out of each Colony shall be appointed to take Care of Naval Affairs in the Nature of a Board of Admiralty postponed….

The Order for this day was to consider giving Gen Washington Directions to storm Boston but various other Matters intervening it was put off till Tomorrow. McKean informed the Congress that many Persons in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Jersey sell Tea and drink Tea upon a Report that Congress has granted Leave so to do & he doubted Whether the Committees had Power to restrain them. A Day was fixed for considering the Matter. Mr Crane went Home, Livingston and myself remain, Kinsey & De Hart have lately resigned.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.