Naval Committee

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Naval Committee

NAVAL COMMITTEE. On Friday, 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress resolved, "after some debate," that two ships, one a "swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men," the other of fourteen carriage guns, "be fitted, with all possible dispatch … to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for other purposes as the Congress shall direct" (Clark, pp. 441-442). It then appointed three of its members as a committee to procure the two vessels: Silas Deane of Connecticut, John Langdon of New Hampshire, and Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina. On 30 October, Congress resolved to procure two additional, larger vessels, one of twenty guns and another of thirty-six guns, "to be employed for the protection and defence of the United Colonies" (Clark p. 647). It added four new members to the committee: John Adams of Massachusetts (who had been a constant advocate of creating a Continental navy), Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, Joseph Hewes of North Carolina, and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. During the day the committee members attended sessions of Congress and, every evening at six o'clock, met in a rented room in the Tun Tavern on the Philadelphia waterfront "in order," as Adams wrote, "to dispatch this business with all possible celerity" (Butterfield, p. 345). They accomplished an amazing amount of work in a matter of weeks—what Adams later called "the pleasantest part of my labours for the four years I spent in Congress" (Butterfield, p. 202). On 14 December, Congress established a standing Marine Committee, which took over, and expanded on, the functions of the Naval Committee.

SEE ALSO Marine Committee; Naval Operations, Strategic Overview.


Butterfield, Lyman H., et al., eds. The Adams Papers, Series I, Diaries: Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. 4 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press for the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1961.

Clark, William B., ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. Vol. 2: American Theatre: September 3, 1775–October 31, 1775; European Theatre: August 11, 1775–October 31, 1775; American Theatre: November 1, 1775–December 7, 1775. Washington, D.C.: Naval History Division, 1966.

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

                              revised by Harold E. Selesky