Congress grants exemptions to the Congressional restraint of the import-export trade policy to Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. John Rogers writes about the persistent inability of Maryland to meet its own quorum requirement, and Richard Smith indicates that Congress was 1) curious about a buried ammunition rumor and 2) furious over possible disobedience over the Connecticut-Pennsylvania border recommendations.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
A petition of Captain Sellick was presented to Congress, read, and referred to a committee of three: Richard Smith, William Floyd, and Francis Lightfoot Lee.
A petition from a number of the Inhabitants of Pennsylvania was read and
Ordered, To lie on the table.
Resolved, That a Committee of Three be appointed to inquire further into the report that arms and ammunition “may be procured.” The members chosen: Thomas M’Kean, John Jay, and Thomas Lynch.
The Committee of the Whole considered the trade of the United Colonies and, after some time, Samuel Ward reported that the committee was ready to report certain resolutions.
Congress considered the report and came to the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the colonies of Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, be permitted to export produce from their respective colonies, to any part of the world, except Great Britain, Ireland, the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney and Man, and the British West India islands, and in return to import so much salt from any part of the world, not prohibited by the Association, as the conventions or councils of safety of the two former colonies, and the provincial council of the other shall judge necessary, for the use of the inhabitants thereof, now suffering great distress by the scarcity of that necessary article, proper caution being taken to prevent any abuse of this indulgence, by exceeding in the quantities exported or imported, and that no provisions, staves, or naval stores be exported, if other commodities may answer the purpose.
Resolved, That it is earnestly recommended to the several Assemblies or conventions immediately to promote, by sufficient public encouragements, the making of salt.
Ordered, That the foregoing resolution be immediately published.
The Committee on Indian trade, and The Committee on Lord Stirling’s letters brought in their report.
A letter, from the committee of correspondence, in Virginia, dated December 16th, was laid before Congress, read, and Ordered, to lie on the table.
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.
John Rogers to Robert Alexander (Maryland Politician)
The enclosed Resolutions passed in Congress today. As the first of them relates particularly to Maryland, I have taken the earliest opportunity of inclosing them to you, that they may be the sooner transmitted to the Convention or Council of Safety. I have long expected the pleasure of seeing you in Philadelphia, but I presume you have been unavoidably detained. Many of the Congress are much dissatisfied that the province of Maryland has been so long without Representation.
[Editor’s Note. John Rogers arrived on December 21st and he was the only Maryland delegate present. Maryland had a quorum requirement of three and Chase, Johnson, Stone, and Tilghman had returned to Annapolis to attend the Maryland Provincial Convention which met on December 7th. Rogers and Alexander were chosen on December 9th to replace John Hall and Robert Goldsborough, so Maryland remained unrepresented for several weeks. Paca left between December 9th and December 21st. Alexander arrived on January 3rd, 1776. Most delegations required a quorum of three to five delegates. Congress on November 16th 1775 passed a resolution that required that delegates to obtain permission to be absent and by mid 1776, nine states reduced their quorum requirements. By late 1776 only four states had a quorum requirement of more than one delegate. New York and Virginia reduced their requirement to three but Pennsylvania (four delegates) and nearby Maryland (three delegates), retained a quorum requirement above one]
Richard Smith’s Diary
The House… agreed after much Debate to allow Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina to import as much Salt as their several Conventions or Committees of Safety think necessary from any foreign Country, & to export Produce. Debates upon opening our Ports to foreign Countries after the 1st of March next, within the Terms of our Association, adjourned. A Recommendation to the several Assemblies & Conventions to encourage the Manufacture of Salt, was offered by Dr. Franklin, agreed to & ordered to be published. R. Morris informed that a person offers to establish Salt Works on the Jersey Coast if the Congress will lend him £200. Mr. Morris & Lynch were desired to inquire more particularly into it. McKean gave Information that a Quantity of Arms, Ammunition & Cannon is buried near Sir John Johnson’s House with his Privity & that some Scotch and other Tories are there enlisted by the Enemy, a Committee of 3 was appointed to examine the Two Men who brought the report to McKean & to ascertain the Fact as far as they can. Leave granted for a Lieutenant a Prisoner, to come to Philadelphia for 2 Weeks. Andrew Allen presented a Petition from a Number of the Inhabitants of Northampton & other back Parts of Pennsylvania intimating that they will not obey the Recommendations of Congress in the Wyoming Affair, this Petition gave much Offence and was ordered to lie on the Table.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.