George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Continental Congress Committee on Fortifying Ports, 17 April 1776

From the Continental Congress Committee on Fortifying Ports

Philada Apr. 17th 1776.


We are appointed by the Congress a Committee to examine into and report to them the Properest Places for the Building Forts for the Protection of our Trade, our Cruisers, and their Prizes, and we have permission from them to request of you to send some Person in whose judgment you can confide to take an exact Plan of the Harbours of Cape Ann and New London, and the fortifications now erected at those Places, with the Number and Size of the Cannon in them, and give us his Opinion what more is necessary to be done to put them in such a State of Defence as will answer the above purposes, with an estimate of the Expense, we also wish to be inform’d the Distance of each of those Ports from the Sea, what Difficu[l]ties attend the geting into, or out of them, or whether they may be easily block’d up by the Enemy, in short we would gladly be inform’d of every advantage and disadvantage attending them, and hope you will order as full a Report as possible.

We Congratulate you on your safe arrival at New-York and are your most Obedt Servts

Benja. Harrison

John Adams

Wm Whipple

LS, in Benjamin Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW.

The members of this committee, which Congress appointed on 23 Mar., also included Joseph Hewes of North Carolina and Robert Morris of Pennsylvania. On 15 April Congress empowered the committee to write to GW “and request him to send a proper person to examine such ports on the coast of New England as they shall direct.” The committee was also authorized to employ other persons to examine ports and harbors south of New England. In its report to Congress on 24 June, the committee recommended the fortification of Cape Ann and New London harbors and the building of two row galleys for the defense of Little Egg Harbor, N.J. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:233, 283, 5:476). William Whipple of New Hampshire served in Congress from February 1776 to September 1779.

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