Congress continues to consider the state of the trade of the United Colonies as it especially relates to the objective of self defense. John Adams summarizes the October debates over the costs and benefits of keeping or altering the Association agreements on imports and exports.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
The Committee of Safety of Philadelphia sought the advice of Congress on what ought to be done with the people captured on the ships Rebecca and Frances.
Resolved, That they be confined in such jails in this Colony, as the Committee of Safety think proper, and that they be supported by the continental treasury.
Congress resumed consideration of the Committee on the New York letters report.
Resolved, That a Company be immediately raised in New York, for the defense of Hudson’s river, and to occupy the fortifications now erecting in the high lands. The president should write to the convention of New York recommending to them immediately to raise the said Company, and to appoint the proper officers.
The Committee of Claims reported that there are two claims due.
Ordered, That the above accounts be paid.
Resolved, That five of the Committee of Claims be empowered to act, of which the chairman is to be one.
Resolved, That the inspectors of the press deliver the proof sheets and checks of the continental bills, to the continental treasurers, the delegates of every colony, and retain the rest.
Peyton Randolph, being dead, who was one of the salt petre committee, and John Morton, not being able to attend, due to his attendance in the house of Assembly,
Resolved, That three new members be chosen for that Committee: Robert Treat Paine, Charles Humphreys, and George Wythe.
Resolved, that this Congress will on Monday next resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to take into consideration the trade of the United Colonies.
Adjourned to Monday, 10, o’Clock.
John Adams to James Warren
Our Association, against Importations and Exportations, from and to Great Britain, Ireland and the British West Indies, if We consider its Influence, upon the Revenue, the Commerce, the Manufactures and the Agriculture of the Kingdom, is a formidable Shield of Defense for us. It is Shearing of its Beams that Luminary, which, in all its Glory might dazzle our feeble Sight.
But a Question arises, whether, our Association against Exportations, can be observed, so as to have its full Effect, upon Britain, Ireland and the West Indies, unless We extend it further? We have agreed not to export to B., I. and the W. Indies. Parliament has made an Act that We Shall not export to any other Place, So that Trade is entirely stopped. But will not a Smuggling Trade be opened? That is, will not Adventurers push out Vessels against the Act of Parliament? If they do, when the Vessels are once at Sea, will they not go to the Place where a Famine price is to be had. The Spirit of Commerce is mercenary and avaricious, and Merchants will go where the Scarcity is greatest, the Demand quickest and the Price highest.
What Security then can we have that Merchants will not order their Vessels to the West India Islands, British or foreign, to Ireland or even to Great Britain, in Defiance of our association?
Besides is there not reason to apprehend, that the concealed Tories of whom there are many in every Colony, and especially in every maritime Town, will Send their Vessels to sea, on purpose to be taken by the Enemy and sent to Supply the Army and Navy in America. It is true, their Vessels would be forfeited, and seized and condemned no doubt but they might be pleased with this, and would easily obtain hereafter Compensation or Retribution for this meritorious Sacrifice, from the Ministry.
In Short may not our association be wholly evaded and eluded, if We don’t draw it closer?
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.