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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 3

This note contained in document ADMS-06-03-02-0076-0009
2. About his role in drawing up these rules, JA wrote: “They were drawn up in the Marine Committee [that is, Naval Committee] and by my hand, but examined, discussed and corrected by the Committee” (Diary and Autobiography, 3:350). Nothing in the Journals specifically indicates that either the original committee or the enlarged one was to draft rules for the regulation of a navy, although rules undoubtedly were necessary for ships being fitted out by the congress. Worthington C. Ford, in citing an endorsement by Charles Thomson in a letter from Washington of 5 Oct., seems to have found some authorization for the committee's rule-making, but Ford misread the MS. The endorsement reads: “That part of this letter which relates to the capture of a vessel in N. Hampshire referred to the committee appointed to bring in regulations for priv[ateers].” Ford read the final word of the endorsement as “navy.” Although Washington's letter was read on 13 Oct., the part requesting “the determination of Congress as to the Property and disposal of such Vessels and Cargoes as are designed for the Supply of the Enemy and may fall into our Hands” received no action in subsequent days. In all likelihood, Thomson wrote his endorsement after a committee on disposal of prizes was established on 17 Nov., in response to a second letter from Washington urging that the congress give him guidance on prizes (JCC, 3: 293 and note 2, 357–358; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 4:11, 73).
The separately printed version of the rules, of which only one copy is known to be extant, that at Yale University, differs in several respects from the version in the Journals. Only the rules regulating the day-to-day conduct of officers and men were separately printed. The rules on rations and wages and the terms of the covenant which officers and men signed upon entering into service would not have been appropriate for a handbook meant to inform them of fixed duties and rights and of penalties for infractions of the rules. Probably for this reason also, the paragraphs were numbered for ease of reference, and some stylistic changes were made (see note 14, below), although the order to have the resolutions of the congress printed does not specifically authorize such alterations. The handbook was even provided with an enticing subtitle: “Established for Preserving their Rights and Defending their Liberties, and for Encouraging all those who Feel for their Country, to enter into its Service in that way in which they can be most Useful.”
One difference between the handbook and the Journals, however, needs another sort of explanation. Thomson's rough draft shows a change of wording in Art. 24 that was included in the transcribed or corrected Journals, but does not appear in the handbook. Obviously the change occurred after the articles went to the printer (PCC, No. 1, I, f. 248; No. 2, I, f. 130; note 10, below).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.