Page images
PDF
EPUB

until January 1, 1777–practically for one year. They further voted $500,000 of the continental currency to the use of the naval committee.

Then, on Tuesday, December 19th, the Congress still further showed their appreciation of the situation of affairs by resolving “ that the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania be requested to supply the armed vessels, which are nearly ready to sail, with four tons of gunpowder at the continental expense”; and, further, “ that the said committee be requested to procure and lend the said vessels as many stands of small arms as they can spare, not exceeding 400.”

The Pennsylvania people had already agreed to furnish these necessaries; the resolutions of the Congress were only in the nature of vouchers, and, twenty-four hours later, the first American fleet was found and fitted for service. Only the crews for the ships were needed, and these the committee had provided ready for the occasion, so all that was then required to man the ships was for the Congress to confirm the appointment of the officers.

And this was done on the memorable date, Friday, December 22, 1775. The resolutions of the Congress shall be given in full, because it was upon this legal warrant that the American navy was founded. They were as follows:

measuns as is in

On bosid Helengate Providencek Mazob i20. Seardir.

Incrived

you by de Lauroy duly noto te cmlent, and bhall pinwall vuch

my power for the dutinijing or armoying

enume I imagible for them to get over the bar this day, and the force cohich is have vont doon ismufficint to prevent

their connomy or broying this bav. - chodbe

glad puwed reinforce u wilt oome Ako ship

above, in Jarticutaw thisLucun of France, ako with one hundred Marine for the clifferent Continitat Ship who you will put under the driestión glo. Launens.

I Sir,

Obedient saemon

you

brave

um

[ocr errors]

Son Lincoln

Facsimile of a Letter from Abraham Whipple to General Lincoln during the Siege of

Charleston.

From the original at the Lenox Library.

“ The committee appointed to fit out armed vessels, laid before congress a list of the officers by them appointed agreeable to the powers to them given by Congress, viz :

Esek Hopkins, esq. comander in chief of the fleet

Dudley Saltonstall, Captain of the Alfred. Abraham Whipple, Captain of the Columbus.

Nicholas Biddle, Captain of the Andrea Doria.

John Burrow Hopkins, Captain of the Cabot.

First lieutenants, John Paul Jones, Rhodes Arnold, Stansbury, Hoysted Hacker, Jonathan Pitcher.

Second Lieutenants, Benjamin Seabury, Joseph Olney, Elisha

Olney, Elisha Warner, Thomas Weaver, McDougall.

Third Lieutenants, John Fanning, Ezekiel Burroughs, Daniel Vaughn.

Resolved, That the Pay of the Comander in-chief of the fleet be 125 dollars per calender month.

Resolved, That commissions be granted to the above officers agreeable to their rank in the above appointment.

Resolved, That the committee for fitting out armed vessels, issue warrants to all officers employed in the fleet under the rank of third lieutenants.

Resolved, That the said committee be directed as a secret committee) to give such instructions to the commander of the fleet, touching the operations of the ships under his command, as shall appear to the said committee most conducive to the defence of the United Colonies, and to the distress of the enemy's naval forces and vessels bringing supplys to their fleets and armies, and lay such instructions before the Congress when called for.”

The thirteen United Colonies had at last a naval fleet, armed, equipped, and manned, and legally authorized to sail away on the secret expedition the committee had planned. But before Commodore Hopkins might up anchor and spread his canvas to the breeze there was one ceremony to be performed which, though not mentioned in any colonial law, was (and it still is) considered of the utmost importance. He must “put his ships in commission must “pipe all hands on deck," and then “hoist in their appropriate places the national colors and the pennant of the commanding officer,” after which he must address the crew and “read to them the order by virtue of which he assumes command.”

That is a most impressive ceremony, and it was now to be performed for the first time in the American naval fleet.

Important-even thrilling as was the occasion, there is no known record by which the date on which this ceremony was performed may be definitely located.

But it is unquestioned that the naval committee of the Congress had, on this December 22d, secured the crews as well as the ships for a fleet, and that the crews were then on board awaiting the coming of properly authorized officers. There is, therefore, no reason to doubt that as soon as the Congress had passed the resolutions

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

above quoted, and the commissions therein mentioned had been signed, the commodore and his officers immediately went on board to take formal possession.

But whatever the date, it is recorded that it was on a beautiful winter day when the com

« PreviousContinue »