Motion in re Armed Vessels of Virginia
MS (NA: PCC, No. 36, II, 195–96). In the hand of Arthur Lee, except that Hugh Williamson wrote the third paragraph and Elias Boudinot the words in the second paragraph between “Defence” and “Pounders,” both inclusive. These emendations may not have been made until 3 October or shortly before that date. Docketed: “Motion of Delegates of Virginia July 28 1783 for leave to fit out two Armed Vessels. Passed Oct 4 1783.”
JM’s undoubted acquaintance with the issue of Virginia’s armed vessels, as well as his approval of the action taken by his fellow delegates from Virginia, probably warrants including the motion in this volume, even though JM, after attending Congress on Saturday, 26 July, had returned to Philadelphia (JM to Randolph, 8 July, n. 2; Memorial from Merchants of Hamburg, 26 July 1783).
Arthur Lee presumably introduced the motion. The third paragraph of the motion approximates a recommendation made to Congress on the same day by Secretary at War Benjamin Lincoln in regard to the statute of the Virginia General Assembly “directing the enlistment of Guards for the public prisons and stores” (Instruction to Delegates, 20 June 1783, and nn. 2, 3; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 455–56). The Virginia General Assembly, although it had instructed the Virginia delegates about these “Guards,” had issued no directive to them about “two Armed Vessels.” On 27 June, however, the Assembly “Resolved, That the Governor, with advice of Council, do appoint some proper person or persons, to procure men, provisions, and other necessaries, for the boats Liberty and Patriot, and to keep them manned and equipped, in such manner as to prevent running of goods subject to duties” (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 91, 93). For Governor Harrison’s suggestions, which account for the motion, see Harrison to Delegates, 4 July 1783.
[28 July 1783]
Whereas it is provided in the 6th. Art: of the Confederation, that—No Vessels of War shall be kept up, in time of Peace, by any State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the U.S. in Congress assembled for the defence of such State or its trade1—and the Delegates of the State of Virginia having applyd to Congress for their approbation of two armed Vessels being kept up by the said State, at its own expence for the purpose of securing her trade2
It is therefore resolved—that the State of Virginia may keep up, at its own expence, two armed vessels, for the Defence of the Trade of that State, provided that the same do not exceed the number of 14 Guns Six Pounders & 75 Men each3
That the State of Virginia may keep up at its own Expence to the number of 25 Privates with proper Officers to guard the public Prisons & Stores4
1. Paragraph 4, Article VI of the Articles of Confederation (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 216).
2. It probably had been on 23 July that the Virginia delegates “applyd to Congress” (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 114; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 444, n. 1; Delegates to Harrison, 26 July 1783).
3. Instruction to Delegates in re “Cormorant,” 26–27 June 1783, and n. 3; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 369–70.
4. Although the docket states that Congress adopted the motion on “Oct 4,” the journal for the preceding day includes the motion and strongly suggests that it was then agreed to. See Delegates to Harrison, 4 Oct. 1783, and n. 6. JM did not attend Congress on either of those days (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 639–41).