A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Back to The Second Continental Congress

In Congress March 23, 1776. Whereas the Petitions of these United Colonies to the King, for the Redress of great and manifest Grievances ...

Page Viewing Options NOTE

  • 1
  • 2
Jump:
overview | small | large | transcription HELP

[Manuscript signature:] The Honourable James Warren Esqr.

IN CONGRESS

MARCH 23, 1776

.

WHEREAS the Petitions of these United
Colonies to the King, for the Redress of
great and manifest Grievances, have not only been
rejected, but treated with Scorn and Contempt;
and the Opposition to designs evidently formed to
reduce them to a State of Servile Subjection, and
their necessary Defence against hostile Forces ac-
tually employed to subdue them, declared Rebel-
lion: And Whereas an unjust War hath been
commenced against them, which the Comman-
ders of the British Fleets and Armies have prose-
cuted and shall continue to prosecute with their
utmost Vigour and in a cruel Manner; wasting,
spoiling and destroying the Country, burning
Houses and defenseless Towns, and exposing the
helpless Inhabitants to every misery from the In-
clemency of the Winter, and not only urging
Savages to invade the Country, but instigating
negroes to murder their masters: And Whereas
the Parliament of Great-Britain hath lately pas-
sed an Act, affirming these Colonies to be in open
Rebellion; forbidding all Trade and Commence
with the Inhabitants thereof, until they shall ac-
cept Pardons and submit to despotic Rule; decla-
ring their Property, wherever found upon the
Water, liable to Seizure and Confiscation; and
enacting that what had been done there, by Vir-
tue of the Royal Authority, were just and law-
ful Acts and shall be so deemed: From all which
it is manifest, that the iniquitous Scheme, con-
certed to deprive them of the Liberty they have
a right to by the Laws of Nature and the En-
glish Constitution, will be pertinaciously pursued.
It being, therefore, necessary to provide for their
Defence and Security, and justifiable to make Rep-
risal upon their Enemies and otherwise to an-
noy them, according to the Laws and Usages of
Nations; the CONGRESS, trusting that such
of their Friends in Great Britain (of whom it is
confessed there are many intitled to Applause and
Gratitude for their Patriotism and Benevolence,
and in whose Favor a Discrimination of Property
cannot be made) as shall suffer by Captures, will
impute it to the Authors of our common Calami-
ties, DO DECLARE AND RESOLVE as fol-
loweth, to wit.

Resolved, that the Inhabitants of these Colo-
nies be permitted to fit our Armed Vessels to cruise
on the Enemies of these United Colonies.

Resolved, That all Ships and other Vessels,
their tackle,apparel, and Furniture, and all
Goods, Wares, or Merchandize belonging to any
Inhabitant or Inhabitants of Great-Britain, taken
on the high Seas, or between high and low water
Mark, by any Armed Vessel fitted out by any pri-
vate Person or Persons to whom Commissions shall
be granted , and being libelled and prosecuted in
any Court erected for the Trial of Maritime Affairs
in any of these Colonies, shall be deemed and ad-
judged to be lawful Prize, and after deducting and
paying the wages of the Seaman Mariners on

board of such Captures as are Merchant Ships and
Vessels shall be intituled to according to the Terms
of their Contracts until the Time of Adjudication,
shall be condemned to and for the Use of the Own-
er or Owners, and the Officers, Marines and Mari-
ners of such Armed Vessel, according to such Rules
and Proportions as they shall agree on. Provided
Always, That this Resolution shall not extend, or
be construed to extend, to any Vessel bringing Set-
tlers, Arms, Ammunition, or Warlike Stores to
and for the Use of these Colonies, or any of the In-
habitants thereof who are Friends to the Ameri-
can Cause, or to such Warlike stores, or to the Ef-
fects of such Settlers.

Resolved, That all Ships or Vessels with their
Tackle, Apparel and Furniture, Goods, Wares,
and Merchandizes belonging to any Inhabi-
tant of Great-Britain, as aforesaid, which shall
be taken by any Vessel of War of these U-
nited Colonies, shall be deemed forfeited, one third
after deducting and paying the Wages of Seamen
and Mariners, as aforesaid, to the Officers and
Men on board, and two thirds to the use of the
United Colonies.

Resolved, That all Ships and Vessels with their
Tackle, Apparel and Furniture, Goods, Wares
and Merchandizes belonging to any Inhabitants
of Great-Britain as aforesaid, which shall be taken
by any Vessel of War fitted out by and at the ex-
pence of any of the United Colonies shall be deem-
ed forfeited, and divided, after deducting and
paying the Wages of Seamen and Mariners as
aforesaid, in such manner and Proportions as the
Assembly or Convention of such Cololony shall di-
rect.

Resolved, That all Vessels, their Tackle, Ap-
parel and Furniture, and Cargoes belonging to
Inhabitants of Great-Britain, as aforesaid, and all
Vessels which
may be employed in carrying Sup-
plies to the Ministerial Armies which shall hap-
pen to be taken near the Shores of any of these
Colonies, by the People of the Country or De-
tachments from the Army, shall be deemed lawful
Prize, and the Court of Admiralty within the
said Colony is required, on Condemnation there-
of, to adjudge that all Charges and Expences
which may attend the Capture and Trial be first
paid out from the monies arising from the sales of
the Prize, and the Remainder equally divided
among all those who shall have
actually en-
gaged and employed in taking the said Prize.
Provided,That where any Detachments of the
Army shall have been employed as aforesaid, their
part of the Prize-money shall be distributed among
them in Proportion to the Pay of the Officers and
Soldiers so employed.

Extract from the Minutes, CHARLES THOMSON, Secr'y.

[Endorsement]

[Manuscript notation:] In Congress. Philadelphia

[Endorsement]

[Manuscript notation at bottom of page; page was rotated 180 degrees before the additional endorsement was written: ] The Congress Resolves about
Privateers March 23. 1776