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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

From David Cobb
Cobb, David RTP
My Dear Sir, Boston June 10th 1776

The succession of Occurrences are so rapid in our Hemisphere, that it is difficult to relate what happen’d but six days since; I shall, however endeavour to give you what I can at present recollect, and for the future you may expect a weekly Journal, provided the oendemial desease of my habit don’t prevent it.

This day week was bro’t into Dartmô a Jamaica Sugar Ship containing 303 hhds. of Sugar, 90 Punchions of Rum, Cotton &c.; last Thursday another was bro’t1 into Cape Ann with 150 hhds. of Sugar, 100 Punchions of Rum & 20,000 Dollars in Cash. These Ships were taken sent out from Philedelphia, one command’d by Adam’s.2 Quere, whether the distinction between British & West India property can be determ’d. I wish I was a Judge of Admiralty for their sakes, or rather, I wish their was no distinction at all. Pray haisten that glorious Day when we shall no longer continue one of the Circulating Orbs of the System, but like our predecessor, the Sun, be fix’d in the Center, shine with unborrow’d Lustre and kindly defuse the Rays of our Influence upon the Worlds around us. You have the unanimous consent of every Town in this Colony for Independency. The Yankee Hero, a privateer Brigg mounting 14 Carriage Guns, own’d by Tracey’s, Jackson &c. of Newbury, was taken last friday afternoon by the Milford Man of War after an engagement of 3 glasses3; the same afternoon two of our privateers bro’t into Marblehead a Ship from Glasgow with 100 Officers & Soldiers of one of the Highland Regiments; she mounted 46 pounders but never fir’d a Gun. Grand Troops. Their was firing below in the Bay yesterday, but we have heard no perticulars.

I receiv’d your Letter4 last night & am suppriz’d you don’t know J. Russell Auctioneer, an old acquaintance of yours; I suppose he wants nothing more than the Priveledge of Venduing the Continental Captures etc. Their was great complaint last week at Beverly for want of a proper Vendue Master, where one Bond was employ’d by the Agents for that purpose, in the Sale of a Cargo of one of the Continental prizes; a Number of Gentn. went from this Town as purchasers, who came home very much disgustid from the Method of his conducting the Sale; so that I leave it with you whether a Man of Mr. Russell’s known Qualifications as an Auctioneer, seperate from your Inclinations to serve him, it wou’d not be 221more for the Intrest of the Continent to give him a Commission for a Joint Agent or a Continental Auctioneer to sell under their Direction, and allow him such a Commission for doing the business as shall be tho’t adequate to his services.

I return’d last Wednesday from my excursion to Taunton where our Families & Friends are all well. For the conveniency of getting along I have taken a Surgeon birth of one of the Regiments stationed in this Town, (I don’t mean ever to follow out of Town) and if their is any thing in my way, or any post of any kind that don’t oblige me to go out of Town, that you can git for me, better than a Regimental Surgeon, you’ll oblige me in doing it. My Friend Adieu

David Cobb

RC ; endorsed.


Manuscript repeats “was bro’t.”


The Reynolds was taken into Dartmouth (reported as the Vineyard in Thomas Cushing to RTP, below) and the Lady Juliana was taken into Cape Anne. They were captured by the privateers Congress (Capt. George McAroy) and Chance (Capt. John Adams) (Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 5:386, 450).


The Yankee Hero, commanded by Capt. James Tracy of Newburyport, Mass., was captured by H.M.S. Milford on June 6, 1776, and taken into Boston Harbor (Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 5:446–449). Three glasses equals one and one-half hours.


Not located.

From Thomas Cushing
Cushing, Thomas RTP
Dear Sir, Boston June 10 1776

I have received your Favor of the 7th May1 and am sincerely glad to hear that as the plot thickens you ripen more & more to Unanimity in the most decisive measures, more especialy as this is the Crisis, the very Crisis, when we ought to exert every Nerve and spare no expence or Trouble in the defence of our Country and it’s precious rights.2 If we behave well this year and Heaven succeeds us I beleive Great Britain will not Continue the Controversy any longer; pray, My Freind, take effectuall Care of Canada, let no stone be left unturned to secure that Country.

Our Fortifications go on well at Boston. Am very glad the Congress have granted us a reinforcement of three Regiments & that they have 222ordered the five left here to be recruited to their full Complement. We wanted men but fear we shall never be able to get them without giving some further encouragement. The Court think it may be necessary to give a Bounty of Twenty Dollars to those that will Enlist for Two Years and of Ten dollars to those who will engage only for one year but dare not do it before the Congress is Consulted upon this Head & have wrote our delegates upon the subject. The Price of Goods and every other Article has risen so much that the men say that upon the present terms they shall not be near so well off as they were the last year, besides the price of Labour with us is very high & they can get better Wages in the Feild than in the Army. This is occasioned by our being drained of such a large number of Men by the Army that General Washington carried away with him. I think he carried with him above 12 Regiments of our men. I hope Congress will duly Consider this & be convinced that it will be extremely difficult if not impraticable to get men upon the present terms.

Large Quantities of Salt Petre are dayly coming in. We have two powder Mills at Work & good Powder Makers. I hope the Cannon for the ships will soon be finished & sent along. The 24 Gun Frigate was Launched a week ago. She is universally allowed to be as fine a ship as ever was built in America.

I perceive Cap. Bradford3 is appointed Agent to take Care of any prizes that may be taken by the Continental Ships of War, but I am informed that the Congress or the Marine Committee design to appoint an Agent for the Continental Navy, whose special Business it will be to supply the ships with provisions, stores of all kinds, Masts, yards Riggen Cables &c. &c. as they may stand in need of it. This is quite a different department from the other & the Accounts ought to be kept distinct. One of these Businesses is quite enough for one man. If there should be such an appointment should be glad of your Interest & Influence amoung the Members of Congress or of the Committee that I might be appointed. My son in law Mr. Avery & my own son are out of Employ & could assist me in this Business. It is what I am acquainted with & should like.

I have lately seen Mr. Langdon & he is desirous of being appointed for their Colony. He thinks that after we have had the Trouble & fatigue of Building & fixing out these ships it will be very hard & unkind to give the Agency to other Persons. I must beg your Interest in his favor. He says he does not design to Continue a Member of Congress and therefore there will be no propriety in his holding this office.


Two Philadelphia Privateers have taken Two ships from Jamaica to London, one is arrived at the Vineyard with 300 hhds. of sugars & the other into Capan with 300 hhds. sugar 60 Puncheons of Rum & Twenty Thousand Dollars & other articles. Two of the Continental Privateers have also carried into Marblehead a store ship from Glazcow with 95 highlanders on board and 32 sea men, with their baggage. They came out with 31 sail more with 3500 Troops on board bound for Boston. The Captain of these Highlanders is Brother to the Dutches of Gordon.4 I am your sincere freind & hum. Servt.

Thomas Cushing

Pray write me frequently.

RC ; internal address: “The Honble. Robt. T. Paine Esqr.”; endorsed.


Not located.


RTP noted in code in his diary for June 8: “Debate about Independence. Sat till 7 oclock”; and on June 10: “Sat till 7 oclock in debate about Independence.”


Upon the recommendation of the Marine Committee, Congress on Apr. 23, 1776, appointed several agents for prizes in the various states, including Capt. John Bradford for Massachusetts (Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:301).


The transport Anne, with Capt. Hamilton Maxwell and his company of the 71st Highlanders, was taken by the schooners Lee and Warren, which took the prize to Marblehead on June 8, and by the Lynch, which took the balance of the prisoners to Plymouth (Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 5:423, 450).