Marine Committee

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Marine Committee

MARINE COMMITTEE. Formally established by Congress on 14 December 1775 with thirteen members, one from each colony, the Marine Committee was the immediate successor of the Naval Committee as Congress's agent for directing naval affairs. Its most important accomplishment was probably its first: sponsorship of a Rhode Island proposal to create an actual navy, made up of thirteen purpose-built warships rather than a passel of converted merchantmen. Plagued by a constant turnover in membership, it struggled to build the land-based infrastructure of administration needed to support ships at sea. Unable to exercise effective control over its far-flung agents, especially the Navy Board of the Eastern Department at Boston, and enmeshed in an accounting nightmare of cost overruns and unclear expenditures, it failed on three successive occasions in the spring of 1779 to reach a quorum. It took the Congress the rest of the year to decide what to do, but finally in December the delegates decided to replace it with a Board of Admiralty, consisting of two delegates and three commissioners who were not members of Congress.

SEE ALSO Naval Committee; Naval Operations, Strategic Overview.


Clark, William B., et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution: December 1774–December 1777. 10 vols. to date. Washington: Naval History Division, 1966–.

Fowler, William M., Jr. Rebels under Sail: The American Navy during the Revolution. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976.

Paullin, Charles O. The Navy of the American Revolution: Its Administration, Its Policy, and Its Achievements. Cleveland, Ohio: Burrows Brothers, 1906.

――――――. Out-Letters of the Continental Marine Committee and Board of Admiralty, August 1776–September 1780. 2 vols. New York: De Vinne Press, 1914.

                               revised by Harold E. Selesky