Historical Documents

of the United States of America

Report Of The Committee On Trade ~ 1775 (& 1776)

Resolved 02 October 1775, with additional Resolutions passed in 1776

 

     On Monday, 02 October 1775, the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress took under consideration the report submitted by the Committee on trade. Following are five points resolved at this first discussion.
      Note: Words, or groups of words, which were originally written by the Committee, but then decided to change, are enclosed by braces, as: {    }.

 

     Your Committee having in obedience to the order of this House taken into Consideration the Trade of the thirteen United Colonies, are of opinion
 
     1. That the Regulations respecting Imports and Exports agreed to by this and the preceding Congress ought to be continued and observed. And further that no Lumber, Hides, Leather, live stock, or Deer Skins, should be exported from these Colonies to any Part of the World.
 
     2. That the Island of Bermuda be permitted under the Direction and Inspection of the Provincial Convention or {Committee of Safety of} General Committee of the City of [     ] in the Colony of - - - - -  annually to purchase for their own Consumption and export from the Port of - - - - - , and from no other Place. And that they be allowed to pay for the same in Salt or any other Commodities not of the Growth or Manufacture of or exported from Great Britain or Ireland, except Tea.
 
     3. As the Cessation of the American Trae with Ireland originated in Policy dictated by Principles of self Preservation and may be attended with Distress to a People who have always manifested a Noble Regard to the Rights of Mankind and have ever been friendly to these much injured Colonies, {Your Committee are of opinion that great Kindness and Attention ought to be paid to such of that oppressed Nation as have or may come to settle in America, and that it be earnestly recommended by this Congress to the good People of these Colonies to let them have Lands at a cheap Rate, and on easy Terms, and that the several Conventions and Assemblies and Committees throughout these confederate Countries, afford them Aid and do them every friendly office.} And it having been represented to your Committee that the withholding Flax seed from Ireland will be attended with a much greater Degree of Distress and Ruin to the poor of that Kingdom, than the Congress apprehended, they are of opinion that our Friends and Fellow Subjects in Ireland should be admitted to take Flax seed from these Colonies in Exchange for all such Powder and other military Stores and woolen Yarn of their Manufacture as they shall bring to America.
 
     4. That as the Manufactury of Woolens in these Colonies, tho' rapidly advancing may not furnish an immediate Supply of Cloathing, your Committee think it would be for the Interest of the Inhabitants to go into the Practice of wearing {Deer Skin} leather Waist Coats and Breeches, and that the Members of this Congress should set the Example.
 
     5. That to encourage the internal Commerce of these Colonies, your Committee think Provision should be made to facilitate Land Carriage, and therefore are of opinion that it should be recommended by this Congress to the several provincial Conventions and Assemblies, to put their Roads in good Repair, and particularly the great Roads that lead from Colony to Colony. And that such Troops as may be quartered and unemployed in the Neighbourhood of such Roads be aiding and assisting therein. And that the Colony who shall employ any Soldiers in that Service, pay to each {Man} of them the (sixth of a dollar) for every Day in which they shall be so employed.
From Journals Of The Continental Congress 1774-1789, Volume III, 1905, Government Printing Office, Pages 268-269.

 

     Through the month of October, the subject of a report, from the committee established to consider Trade in the Colonies, was brought up almost daily, but likewise almost every time put off until the next day, with the response that: "Mr. [Samuel] Ward reported, from the Commee that not having come to any resolution, desired him to move for leave to sit again".
      During the session held on Tuesday, 31 October, Samuel Ward was able to report that "they had come to certain resolutions which he desired to report", but since the committee had not yet come to a conclusion, they asked for another postponement. Finally, on the 1st of November, the following Resolutions were passed by the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress.
      Note: Words, or groups of words, which were originally written by the Committee, but then decided to change, are enclosed by braces, as: {    }.

 

     Resolved, That no produce of the United Colonies be exported, (except from colony to colony, under the direction of the committees of Inspection and observation, and except from one part to another of the same colony) before the first day of March next, without the permission or order of this Congress: provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to vacate the resolutions of Congress for the importation of arms, ammunition, &c.
 
     Resolved, That New York, the lower Counties on Delaware, North Carolina, and Georgia, ought not to avail themselves of the benefit allowed to them by the late restraining act, and therefore, that no persons should apply at the custom houses in those colonies for clearances or other documents, which other colonies are deprived of by said restraining act, for securing the navigation of vessels with cargoes from their ports: {provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to vacate the resolutions of 15 July and 26th. of this Inst for the importation of ammunition, &c.}
 
     Resolved, That no Rice be exported under the exception contained in the 4th article of the Association, from any of the United Colonies to Great Britain, Ireland, or the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Aldernay, or Man, or any other European Island, or settlement within the British Dominions.
 
     That no live stock, (necessary sea stores, at the discretion of the committees, and horses excepted) be exported from these colonies, or water borne, except in rivers, bays, and sounds.
From Journals Of The Continental Congress 1774-1789, Volume III, 1905, Government Printing Office, Pages 312-315.

 

     Additional resolutions were passed by the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress during the time period between October 1775 and the summer of 1776. Many of these resolutions were passed individually during various sessions of the Congress. In the transcription below, the date on which each particular resolution was passed is included preceding the entry.
      Note: Words, or groups of words, which were originally written by the Committee, but then decided to change, are enclosed by braces, as: {    }.

 

     [27 January 1776] Resolved, That in order to preserve the friendship and confidence of the Indians, and to prevent their suffering for want of the necessaries of life, a suitable assortment of Indian Goods, to the amount of 40,000 sterling, be imported on account and risque of the United Colonies:
 
     That the said goods, when imported, he divided among the different departments, in the following proportions, viz: for the northern department, comprehending Canada, the value of 13,333  &#q160; 6  &#q160; 8 sterling; for middle department, the like value: and the residue for the southern department:
 
     That in order to pay for the said goods, a quantity of produce of these colonies be exported to some foreign European market, where it will sell to the best advantage:
 
     That the Secret Committee be empowered to contract with proper persons for importing said goods, and for exporting produce to pay the same:
 
     That the said goods, when imported, be delivered to the commissioners of Indian affairs for the respective departments, or their order, in the proportions before mentioned:
 
     That the respective commissioners, or such of them as can conveniently assemble for that purpose, shall, as the goods arrive, fix a price, adding to the first cost, interest, the charge of insurance, and all other charges, and also a commission, not exceeding 2 1/2 per cent. on the first cost, for their own care and trouble in receiving, storing and selling them among the Indian Traders; But such commissioners as are, at the same time, members of Congress, shall not be burthened with this part of the business, nor receive any part of the aforesaid commission:
 
     That no person shall be permitted to trade with the Indians without License from one or more of the commissioners of each respective department:
 
     That all traders shall dispose of their goods at such stated reasonable prices, as shall be fixed and ascertained by the commissioners, or a majority of such as can conveniently assemble for that purpose, in each respective department; and shall allow the Indians a reasonable price for their skins and furs, and take no unjust advantage of their distress or intemperance; And, for this purpose, they shall, respectively, upon receiving their licenses, enter into bond to the commissioners, for the use of the United Colonies, in such penalty, as the acting commissioners or commissioner shall think proper, conditioned for the performance of the terms and regulations above prescribed:
 
     That to such licensed traders only, the respective commissioners shall deliver the goods, so to be imported, in such proportions as they shall judge will best promote a fair trade, and relieve the necessities of the Indians.
 
     That every trader, on receiving the goods, shall pay to the commissioners in hand, the price at which they shall be estimated; And the commissioners shall, from time to time, as the money shall come to their hands, transmit the same to the continental treasurers, deducting only the allowance for their trouble as aforesaid:
 
     That the trade with the Indian nations shall be carried on at such posts, or places only, as the commissioners for each department shall respectively appoint:
 
     That these resolutions shall not be construed to prevent or debar any private person from importing goods for the Indian trade, under the restrictions expressed in the Association.
 
     [13 February 1776] Resolved, That when naval stores shall be wanted in any of the United Colonies, the assembly, convention, or committee of safety of such colony, may entrust a proper person or persons to import the same, taking sufficient security of him or them, that they will faithfully use their best endeavours to import the same into such port or ports as the said assembly, convention, or committee of safety shall direct, and, as much as possible, to avoid all British men of war and cutters; giving him or them, a certificate or certificates of the naval stores wanted, and also of his having given the said security: And that it be recommended to the convention, council of safety, and commitees of observation and inspection of North carolina, upon receiving such certificates, to permit the person or persons producing the same, to export the naval stores wanted by the colony applying for the same to such colony:
 
     That it be further recommended to the said convention, council of safety, and committees of inspection and observation in North carolina, to give permission to such vessels as may have arrived in that colony, for those articles, or such of the vessels belonging to that colony, as they may think proper, to export naval stores to any of the United Colonies, they taking security as in the other cases above mentioned.
 
     [26 February 1776] Resolved, That no vessel loaded for Great Britain, Ireland, or the British West Indies, be permitted to sail until the further order of Congress; and that it be recommended to the different committees of inspection and observation, to see that this resolution be carried into execution.
 
     [21 March 1776] Resolved, That it be recommended to the several assemblies, conventions, councils or committees of safety, and committees of correspondence and inspection, that they exert their utmost endeavours to promote the culture of hemp, flax, and cotton, and the growth of wool in these United Colonies.
 
     [21 March 1776] Resolved, That it be recommended to the said assemblies, conventions, and councils or committees of safety, that they take the earliest measures for erecting and establishing, in each and every colony a society for the improvement of agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce, and to maintain a correspondence between such societies, that the rich and numerous natural advantages of this country, for supporting its inhabitants, may not be neglected:
 
     That it be recommended to the said assemblies, conventions, and councils or committees of safety, that they forthwith consider of ways and means of introducing the manufactures of duck and sail cloth, and steel, into such colonies where they are not now understood, and of encouraging, increasing and improving them where they are.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That any goods, wares, and merchandise, except staves and empty casks, other than shaken or knocked down casks for molasses, may be exported from the thirteen United Colonies by the inhabitants thereof, and by the people of all such countries as are not subject to the King of Great Britain, to any parts of the world which are not under the dominion of the said King; provided, that no vessel be permitted to export any greater number of shaken or knocked down molasses casks, than the same vessel is capable of carrying when they shall be filled with Molasses.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That any goods, wares, and merchandise, except such as are of the growth, production, or manufacture of, or brought from any country under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, and except East India Tea, may be imported from any other parts of the world to the thirteen United Colonies, by the inhabitants thereof, and by the people of all such countries as are not subject to the said King; liable, however, to all such duties and impositions as now are, or may hereafter be laid by any of the said colonies.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That nothing herein contained shall be understood to prevent such future commercial regulations as shall he thought just and necessary by these United Colonies, or their respective legislatures.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That it be recommended to the assemblies and conventions in the several colonies, to appoint proper officers, at convenient places in their respective colonies, to take bonds, in adequate penalties, for observing the regulations made by the Congress, or assemblies, or conventions, concerning trade, and for securing the observation of such parts of the association as are not inconsistent therewith; and that the obligor shall, within eighteen months after the departure of the vessel, produce to such officers a certificate, under the hands and seals of three or more reputable merchants, residing at the port or place where the cargo shall be delivered, that the same was there unladed, and take manifests, upon oath, of the cargoes exported and imported, and keep fair accounts and entries thereof, give bills of health when desired, grant registers showing the property of the vessels cleared out, and sign certificates that the requisites for qualifying vessels to trade have been complied with: And that the fees of the said officers be stated by the respective assemblies or conventions: Provided always, that no prosecution upon any of the said bonds shall be commenced but within three years after the date thereof.
 
     [06 April 1776] Resolved, That all goods, wares, and merchandise, except such as are made prize of, which shall be imported directly or indirectly from Great Britain and Ireland into any of these United Colonies, contrary to the regulations established by Congress, shall be forfeited and disposed of, agreeable to such rules as shall be made by the several assemblies or conventions, and shall be liable to prosecution and condemnation in any court erected, or to be erected, for the determination of maritime affairs, in the colony where the seizure shall be made.
 
     [13 April 1776] Whereas, by the third article of the association entered into by the late Continental Congress, at Philadelphia, on the 24th day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1774, it was agreed, that, from that day, the inhabitants of the United Colonies "would not purchase or use any Tea imported on Account of the East India company, or any on which a duty had been or should be paid, and from and after the first day of March then next following, they would not purchase or use any East India tea whatever:" And whereas, it has been represented to this Congress, that the time, as aforesaid limited for the consumption of the tea then on hand, was too short; whereby many zealous friends to the American cause, who had imported large quantities of that commodity, with design not merely to advance their fortunes, but to counteract the plan then pursued by the ministry, and India company, to introduce and sell in these colonies tea subject to duty, are likely to become great sufferers; the greater part of the estates of many of them being vested in that article, and they, by that means, rendered incapable not only of paying their debts and maintaining their families, but also of vigorously exerting themselves in the service of their country: And whereas, it was originally the design of Congress, that all India tea, which had been imported agreeable to the tenor of the said association, might be sold and consumed, but the time limited for that purpose proving too short;
 
      Resolved, That all India tea, imported as aforesaid, expressly excepting all teas imported by or on Account of the East India company, now remaining on hand in these colonies, be sold and used:
 
      And whereas, from the future importation of tea being prohibited, some tea-holders may be tempted to avail themselves of the scarcity which will be occasioned by it, and exact exorbitant prices for an article of little real value in itself, and which owes its worth to a habit, in many respects, pernicious to the inhabitants of these colonies,
 
      Resolved, Therefore, That Bohea tea ought not to be sold by retail in the smallest quantities, at a higher price, in any colony, than at the rate of three-fourth parts of a dollar per pound; and other teas at such a price as shall be regulated by the committees of the town or county where the Tea is sold; and that all persons who shall either give or take a greater price for it, ought to be considered as enemies to the American cause, and treated accordingly. And it is earnestly recommended to all committees of inspection and observation, as well to be vigilant in carrying this resolve into execution, as those which prohibit the importation of India tea from any part of the world. It being the desire of Congress to exclude all teas, except such as make part of the cargoes of prizes taken by ships of war or privateers belonging to these colonies.
 
     [30 April 1776] Resolved, That the ninth article of the association, which enjoined the inhabitants of the United Colonies to sell goods and merchandises at the rates they had respectively been accustomed to do for twelve months then last past, was, in its nature, a temporary regulation respecting the goods then on hand; But as those goods are nearly consumed, and a further supply must be obtained at an extraordinary risk and expence, and it is reasonable that adventurers should be encouraged by a prospect of gain adequate to the danger which may be incurred in the importation, and a free trade being now opened from the United Colonies to all parts of the world except the dominions belonging to the King of Great Britain,
 
      Resolved, That the power of committees of inspection and observation to regulate the prices of goods, (in other instances than the article of green Tea,) ought to cease.
From Journals Of The Continental Congress 1774-1789, Volume IV, 1906, Government Printing Office, Pages 96-98, 131, 172, 224, 257-259, 277-278, 320.