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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 2


This foot note contained in document ADMS-06-02-02-0041-0002
4. After the burning of the Gaspee in Rhode Island in June 1772, English authorities at first attempted to apply to the case the Dockyards Act, passed in April 1772, which permitted trial either where the offense was committed or in England of those accused of destroying British warships. Legal advice, however, ruled the Dockyards Act inapplicable for the Gaspee since it had not been burned in a yard. Then the government called into play the statute passed in 1543 permitting offenses of treason committed outside the realm to be tried in England. In 1769 Parliament had asserted that this old statute was effective in the colonies (Bernhard Knollenberg, Growth of the American Revolution, 1766–1775, N.Y., 1975, p. 84–85 and notes 31–33).