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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

Extract from the Minutes of the Continental Congress
Thursday, October 17, 1776

A petition from Henry Keppele was laid before Congress, and read, setting forth, that he hath entered an appeal against the sentence passed on the ship Charming Peggy, and praying that a convenient day may be assigned for hearing the said appeal:1


Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed, with full power to hear and determine upon the said appeal:

The members chosen, Mr. Huntington, Mr. Paine, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Wilson.

Resolved, That a committee of three2 be appointed to review such of the resolutions of Congress as relate to the capture and condemnation of prizes, and report what alterations or additions should be made respecting the same:

The members chosen, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Paine, and Mr. Huntington.

Printed in Journals of the Continental Congress, 6:884–885 .


There is no follow up on this case in the Journals of the Continental Congress.


Recte, four.

From Joseph Palmer
Palmer, Joseph RTP
Dr. Sir, Watertown, Octor. 21st, 1776

This acknowledges your favor of the 9th Inst., with yours to Majr. Hawley1 which I had the pleasure of perusing. As I have not time to write to my Friends individually, I beg the favour of mine being communicated & considered as general Epistles. What we have done relative to raising a new army, you will see before this reaches you: But to the honor of our Assembly, I must say, that they stick at no expence to obtain the end. We generally think, that if we can stop our enemies so as to hold them at bay ’till the Spring, their strength will then be much exhausted, & probably the Bourbon House will before that time cut out other work for them; certainly that House, if wise, will not slip this most favourable oppo. of taking the Balla. of Europe into their own hands, & recovering more from Britain than she gain’d from them in the last War. If more Troops are immediately wanted in each department, I suppose, by the present Spirit, that we cou’d furnish from the Militia, 4 or 5m thousand Men for a short time; as Harvest will soon be in. I beg leave to ask whether if you stamp a value of £ upon every 100 Acres of Land to be granted to Non-Com. officers & soldiers at the end of the War, to be paid within 3 yrs., at their Election to take either the Land 308or Stamp’d value, it might not be a great additional encouragemt.? This State (why may we not somtimes say Colony? We are straitned for want of it) wou’d readily acquiese in such a measure. You must not be severe upon my manner of writing; I must do as I can; if ’tis intelligible, it answers my end. I wish we cou’d get Watch-Coats for our Soldiers. We are now moving for a Comtee. of War, with ample powers: I hope it will take place; & if a good Comtee., ’twill soon bring our Naval & Military affairs into Systematical order, & will produce Secrecy, oeconomy & dispatch. I like your thots respecting Money; I have long been of opinion that none of the united States ought to have any Mint or Bills of Credit individually, but that the Congress shou’d order all emissions of Money: If so, then each State might borrow of Congress sufficient to sink what they now severally have; otherwise great confusions may arise, from 1 Colony having more Bills, in proportion to their weight in Congress, than another; & this wou’d more certainly establish the value of the Currency: Add to this, that a Mint may be established for the Coining of Gold, Silver & Copper, wh. in process of time (& not long first) may take place of Bills of Credit. Much money may be raised by an Annual State Lottery for the whole; & annual State Lotteries for the Several parts: as Cash is now plenty, sales for Ticketts wou’d be brisk, & officers & others in the Army & Navy wd. take off many: I will send you a Scheme or two as soon as I can. I don’t like Excises; but if admissible, why might not a duty of per Gallo., upon all distilled Spirits, be paid at the Still-Head, in each State, for the use of such State? It can’t take place, unless at the same rate in all; but it wd. not then be =, because Some States Distill more than others in proportion to their weight in the Union: If it shou’d obtain, there shou’d be also an = duty upon all foreign imported Spirits. This measure wou’d bring in a large Revenue, if at 1/ per Gallo. When confiscation takes place, which ’tis hoped will not be long first, the sales of Tory Estates will sink a very large part of the public Debts. Sumptuary Laws may also be framed, so as to make immence Savings. Congress permited Tea to be drank under certain restrictions which are wholly disregarded; the price is now 3 times as much as the limitation; imports will prevent the Stock from being ever exhausted; & what is worse, the authority of Congress is brot into contempt: Had the Stock of Tea in hand been bot: & ordered to be shiped, to Holland if you please, & sold at public Vendue, & the difference between its cost in America, & its Sales, been made a Continental 309Charge, this State wou’d chearfully have acquiesed: We see the growing evil, & dread the consequences: If Congress do not put an end to it, very soon we shall again consume 4 Million lb. wt. yearly; you may calculate it, & will find, that at 5/ per lb. it amounts to 1 Million. As it is not necessary, why might not that Sum be saved?

I feel anxiously concerned about the comparative Strength of our Armies; as this appears to be the Grand Crisis, we ought to Strain every Nerve to stop the progress of our Enemies: If we stop ’em now, they will never be able to make such another effort. If you call upon the Colonies, they will undoubtedly obey the call; we certainly shall.

Our Report for a Comtee. of War, we expect will be reported tomorrow; if it passes, it will give vigour to our Measures.

Many Prizes arrive in one Port & another. Our enemies must feel it. Forrister’s Prize of £36000 Stg. Invo., is in at Casco, & daily expected round. McNeil is to come round to Boston tomorrow; & then the Zacy. Bailey is to sail. My Eyes fail me. Adieu my dear Friends. May all your ways be guided by unering Wisdom; & health of body & peace of Mind be yours; so prays Yr. ffd. &c.

J. Palmer

P.S. Your Sister is at Dedham; she was to have spent the Peach-season at Germantown, but I suppose she had not oppo. to come: Much as usual when we last heard from her.

RC ; addressed: “To The Honble: Robert-Treat Paine Esqr: at Congress, Philadelphia”; endorsed.


Neither letter located.