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have been such of late as to make it absolutely necessary, in our opinion, to know what we have to depend upon.

We are all of us from the West-India Islands, where, and in Great Britain, the chief part of our properties are vested. We came here for various reasons; but without the least idea of taking, or being forced to take, any part in the present unhappy dispute between Great Britain and these Colonies.

It has been our constant wish and endeavours to avoid giving offence to any persons whatever; nevertheless, we have lately been summoned before the Township Committee, to sign the Association, or give our reasons for declining it. The latter we readily complied with, alleging that we conceived the Congress could not mean the Association to extend to persons in our circumstances; the greatest part of whose properties, lying in other countries, could receive no manner of protection from the Association; but, on the contrary, might be exposed to forfeiture, if we did sign it, or take any part in the matter. The Committee seemed satisfied, but said they had no power to excuse us; and therefore bound us over to appear before the County Committee, by whom we might, perhaps, be referred over to the Provincial Convention. We have no doubt but that either of those bodies would admit the reasonableness of our excuse; yet such attendance is not only troublesome and vexatious in itself, but it impresses the minds of the people with unfriendly ideas of our principles; insomuch, that a servant of one of us, being sent to buy some necessaries for the family, was refused what he wanted, because, said the person, “your master is a Tory.” Now, as the minds of the people are getting daily more and more inflamed, it is not improbable that they may, in time, refuse to supply us with all the necessaries of life, or even deprive us of what we have, under the notion of our being enemies to the liberties of America.

We therefore pray the Congress would take our case into consideration, and publish such resolves as may express the line of conduct expected to be observed to, and from us, and all peaceable West-Indians now residing on the Continent of America . We should have saved the Congress and ourselves the trouble of this application, by following the example of many others, (our friends lately from the West-Indies,) by withdrawing ourselves from the Continent; but the connexions we have formed in this country has endeared it to us, and made us very unwilling to tear the tender partners of our hearts from their families and friends, unless forced to it by dire necessity—the denial of safety and protection.

Should the Congress deem it improper to comply with our wishes in this matter, we then request they will allow us a reasonable time to settle our affaire, hire a vessel to carry us off, and grant us a safe pass from their ships-of-war and privateers.

We are, sir, your most humble servants,




To Jonathan Sergeant, Esquire, one of the Delegates in Continental Congress.


[Read March 13, 1776.]

Philadelphia, March 12, 1776.

HONOURABLE GENTLEMEN: The regard I bear to the liberty of my country prompts me to wish for an employment, under your direction, in a department in which I have acquired some knowledge by experience—I mean the naval service.

I beg leave to observe, that the command of a fleet has always been promised me by Messrs. Hopkins, Randolph, and J . Rutledge . Indeed, without such a command, I could not possibly act in the way I proposed to those gentlemen; which way was approved of by them. Nor was it disapproved of, after the alteration I made, by any but Colonel Gridley, whom I do not think infallible.

I think my inventions may be of service to this country. The fewer that know them, the less probability of our enemies’ knowing them. But if the honourable Congress choose that a greater number of gentlemen of their body should have an opportunity of judging of them, I will discover the whole to as many as the honourable Congress is pleased to appoint; provided the gentlemen appointed come under the same obligation of secrecy that those gentleman already in the secret have done.

I beg leave to assure you, gentlemen, that a desire of revenging the death of my dear boy, who fell by the side of the gallant General Montgomery, has a less share in prompting me to this application to you, than a desire of defending and transmitting the liberties of this country unimpaired to posterity.

If your honourable body shall think fit to appoint me to the command of any part of the American Navy, when such an officer is thought necessary, my every nerve shall be exerted to an honourable and successful discharge of my office.

With real esteem, I am, honourable gentlemen, your most devoted, most obedient humble servant,


To the Honourable Continental Congress.


[Read March 15, 1776.]

In Provincial Congress, New-York, March 12, 1776.

SIR: As we are informed, from undoubted authority, that Captain Parker, of his Majesty’s Ship Phenix, is now fitting out a Bermuda Brig, of eight or ten carriage-guns, and small schooner to carry four carriage-guns and forty men, and a brigantine of eight or ten carriage-guns, for the purpose of intercepting vessels between the Capes of Delaware and Sandy-Hook; and as we have already given orders for the immediate fitting out of an armed vessel for the protection of our trade, we think it necessary to acquaint you that such a one from Philadelphia will also be necessary, to be immediately ready to meet ours for this purpose; and that she be of such a draft of water as that she may run into Barnegat and Egg-Harbour. It is also necessary to be immediately informed by you what your Marine Committee regulations are respecting the wages, &c., of officers and men, that we may regulate ourselves accordingly.

We are, sir, your very humble servant,

By order:


To the Honourable John Hancock, Esquire, President of the Continental Congress.


Fairfield, March 12, 1776.

SIR: The receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, by Mr. Sturgcs, gave me a good deal of pleasure. I imagined that the paragraph in which you expressed your cheerful willingness to be bound to Mr. Burr for my faithfulness as a prisoner, would have led him to have given me a conditional enlargement. Mr. Burr took advice on it, but it did not produce the effect which I expected; so I still remain in the disagreeable apartment.

It gives me some satisfaction to find that your Congress had no hand in my being taken or brought off; and I cannot but thank them for their proceedings on my last letter. I conceive them still more entitled to my hearty thanks, when I reflect that they proceeded in my behalf, knowing, at the same time, that I was one of those who did not hold Congresses in very high esteem—a reflection, I must own, that makes me view them through a more favourable medium an heretofore.

But while I thus freely confess that I have not held any assemblies in high veneration, except such as were called by regular writ, I can, with equal truth, say, that whoever construes the disliked expressions in my letter to Colonel Bellows, to relate to others than those of the County of Cumberland, gives it a construction which was not thought of by me when I wrote it. I am not of opinion that you, or many of your body, hold their proceedings in a much better light than myself; nor can I suppose that any one can think me blameable in forbidding a delivery of the records to any but myself, or deputy.

The duty (mentioned in my letter) under which I should

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