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I HAVE omitted some things in 1775, which must be inserted. On the eighteenth of September, it was resolved in Congress,
“ That a secret committee be appointed to contract for the importation and delivery of a quantity of gunpowder, not exceeding five hundred tons.
" That in case such a quantity of gunpowder cannot be procured, to contract for the importation of so much saltpetre, with a proportionable quantity of sulphur, as with the powder procured will make five hundred tons.
" That the committee be empowered to contract for the importation of forty brass ficld pieces, six pounders, for ten thousand stand of arms, and twenty thousand good plain double-bridled musket locks.
“ That the said committee be empowered to draw on the treasurer to answer the said contracts, and
“ That the said committee consist of nine members, any five of whom to be a quorum.
“ The members chosen, Mr. Willing, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Livingston, Mr. Alsop, Mr. Deane, Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Langdon, Mr. McKean, and Mr. Ward.”
On the eighth of November, on motion, “ Resolved, That the secret committee appointed to contract for the importation of arnis, ammunition, &c., be empowered to export to the foreign West Indies, on account and risk of the Continent, as much provision or any other produce, (except horncd cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry) as they may deem necessary for the importation of arms, ammunition, sulphur, and saltpetre.”*
On Wednesday, November 29th, it was † “ Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed for the sole purpose of corresponding with our friends in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world, and that they lay their correspondence before Congress when directed.
* See the Journals of Congress for 1775, p. 238. Wednesday, November 8th, 1775, and the note. (Also the Secret Journals since printed, vol. i. pp. 26. 33.)
+ See Journals of Congress for the year 1775, pp. 272, 273.
1 From the records of the town of Braintree, it appears that in the year 1775, Mr. Adams was again elected one of the Selectmen.
His name is also found upon the town committees raised this year to prepare a non-importation agreement, and to procure enlistments of minute men, and as associated with the committees of correspondence and observation.
“ Resolved, That Congress will make provision to defray all such expenses as may arise by carrying on such a correspondence, and for the payment of such agents as they may send on this service. The members chosen, Mr. Harrison, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Dickinson, and Mr. Jay."
This last provision for an agent, was contrived, I presume, for Mr. Deane, who had been left out of the delegation by the State, but instead of returning home to Connecticut, remained in Philadelphia soliciting an appointment under the two foregoing committees, as an agent of theirs, first in the West Indies, and then in France. Unfortunately Mr. Deane was not well established at home. The good people of Connecticut thought him a man of talent and enterprise, but of more ambition than principle. He possessed not their esteem or confidence. He procured his first appointment in 1774 to Congress by an intrigue. Under the pretext of avoiding to commit the legislature of the State in any act of rebellion, he got a committee appointed with some discretionary powers, under which they undertook to appoint the members to Congress.
Mr. Deane being one, was obliged to vote for himself to obtain a majority of the committee. On the third of November, 1774, the representatives indeed chose Mr. Deane among others, to attend Congress the next May; but on the second Thursday of October, 1775, the General Assembly of Governor and Company left him out. On the 16th of January, 1776, the new delegates appeared in Congress. To the two secret committees, that of commerce and that of correspondence, Mr. Deane applied, and obtained of them appointments as their agent. Dr. Franklin also gave him private letters, one to Dr. Dubourg of Paris, a physician who had translated his works into French, and one to Mr. Dumas at the Hague, who had seen him in England. With these credentials Mr. Deane went, first to the West Indies, and then to France. He was a person of a plausible readiness and volubility with his tongue and his pen, much addicted to ostentation and expense in dress and living, but without any deliberate forecast or reflection, solidity of judgment or real information. The manner in which he made use of his powers we shall see hereafter. I had hitherto, however, thought well of his intentions, and had acted with him on terms of entire civility. Within a day or two after the appointment in Congress of
* See the Journals, vol. č. pp. 24, 25.
the committee of correspondence, Mr. Jay came to my chamber to spend an evening with me. I was alone, and Mr. Jay opened himself to me with great frankness. His object seemed to be an apology for my being omitted in the choice of the two great secret committees, of commerce and correspondence. He said in express terms, “ that my character stood very high with the members, and he knew there was but one thing which prevented me from being universally acknowledged to be the first man in Congress, and that was this; there was a great division in the house, and two men had effected it, Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee, and as I was known to be very intimate with those two gentlemen, many others were jealous of me." My answer to all this was, that I had thought it very strange, and had imputed it to some secret intrigue out of doors, that no member from Massachusetts had been elected on either of those committees; that I had no pretensions to the distinction of the first man in Congress, and that if I had a clear title to it, I should be very far from assuming it or wishing for it. It was a station of too much responsibility and danger in the times and circumstances in which we lived and were destined to live. That I was a friend very much attached to Mr. Lee and Mr. Adams, because I knew them to be able men and inflexible in the cause of their country. I could not therefore become cool in my friendship for them, for the sake of any distinctions that Congress could bestow. That I believed too many commercial projects and private speculations were in contemplation by the composition of those committees, but even these had not contributed so much to it, as the great division in the house on the subject of independence and the mode of carrying on the
Mr. Jay and I, however, parted good friends and have continued such without interruption to this day.*
There is a secret in this business that ought to be explained. Mr. Arthur Lee, in London, had heard some insinuations against Mr. Jay, as a suspicious character, and had written to his brother, Richard Henry Lee, or to Mr. Samuel Adams, or both, and although they were groundless and injurious, as I have no doubt, my friends had communicated them too indiscreetly, and had spoken of Mr. Jay too lightly. Mr. Lee had expressed doubts whether Mr. Jay had composed the address to the
* 8th of March, 1805.
people of Great Britain, and ascribed it to his father-in-law, Mr. Livingston, afterwards Governor of New Jersey. These things had occasioned some words and animosities, which, uniting with the great questions in Congress, had some disagreeable effects, 1
Mr. Jay's great superiority to Mr. Livingston in the art of composition would now be sufficient to decide the question, if the latter had not expressly denied having any share in that address.
On Wednesday, June 12th, 1776, Congress “ Resolved that a committee of Congress be appointed, by the name of a board of war and ordnance, to consist of five members, with a secretary, clerk,” &c., and their extensive powers are stated.* On the 13th, Congress having proceeded to the election of a committee to form the board of war and ordnance, the following members were chosen. Mr. John Adams, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. E. Rutledge; and Richard Peters, Esq. was elected secretary. The duties of this board kept me in continual employment, not to say drudgery, from the 12th of June, 1776, till the 11th of November, 1777, when I left Congress forever. Not only my mornings and evenings were filled up with the crowd of business before the board, but a great part of my time in Congress was engaged in making, explaining, and justifying our reports and proceedings. It is said there are lawyers in the United States who receive five thousand guineas a year, and many are named who are said to receive to the amount of ten thousand dollars. However this may be, I don't believe there is one of them who goes through as much business for all his emoluments, as I did for a year and a half nearly, that I was loaded with that office. Other gentlemen attended as they pleased, but as I was chairman, or as they were pleased to call it, president, I must never be absent.
On Thursday, October 5th, 1775, sundry letters from London were laid before Congress and read, and a motion was made, that it be
“ Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to prepare a plan for
* Vol. ü. page 209, of the Journals. + See the Journals.
1 An interesting letter of Mr. Jay, in reply to one by Mr. Adams on this subject, is found in the Life of John Jay, by his son William Jay, vol. ii. pp. 380 – 384.
intercepting two vessels which are on their way to Canada, laden with arms and powder, and that the committee proceed on this business immediately."
The secretary has omitted to insert the names of this committee on the journals, but as my memory has recorded them, they were Mr. Deane, Mr. Langdon, and myself, three members who had expressed much zeal in favor of the motion. As a considerable part of my time, in the course of my profession, had been spent upon the sea-coast of Massachusetts, in attending the courts and lawsuits at Plymouth, Barnstable, Martha's Vineyard, to the southward, and in the counties of Essex, York, and Cumberland to the eastward, I had conversed much with the gentlemen who conducted our cod and whale fisheries, as well as the other navigation of the country, and had heard much of the activity, enterprise, patience, perseverance, and daring intrepidity of our seamen. I had formed a confident opinion that, if they were once let loose upon the ocean, they would contribute greatly to the relief of our wants, as well as to the distress of the enemy. I became therefore at once an ardent advocate for this motion, which we carried, not without great difficulty. The opposition to it was very loud and vehement. Some of my own colleagues appeared greatly alarmed at it, and Mr. Edward Rutledge never displayed so much eloquence as against it. He never appeared to me to discover so much information and sagacity, which convinced me that he had been instructed out-of-doors by some of the most knowing merchants and statesmen in Philadelphia. It would require too much time and space to give this debate at large, if any memory could attempt it. Mine cannot. It was, however, represented as the most wild, visionary, mad project that ever had been imagined. It was an infant, taking a mad bull by his horns; and what was more profound and remote, it was said it would ruin the character, and corrupt the morals of all our seamen. It would make them selfish, piratical, mercenary, bent wholly upon plunder, &c. &c. These formidable arguments and this terrible rhetoric were answered by us by the best reasons we could allege, and the great advantages of distressing
1 A slight idea of the character of this discussion is given in the notes of debates in this Congress, vol. ii. page 463. Governor Ward of Rhode Island in his letters to his brother, alludes to the obstacles interposed to the adoption of the resolution. Gammell's Life of Ward, in Sparks's Ainerican Biography, vol. xix. p. 316.