April 7, 1781. Be it Ordained and it is Hereby Ordained by the United States in Congress Assembled, the the Following Instructions be Observed by the captains or Commanders of Private Armed Vessels…
Broadside, U.S. Congress.
(David A. Claypool), ( 1781), (Philadelphia)
Folio sheet 13 1/2 x 8 inches.
Scarce original 1781 resolution by the Continental Congress outlining Americas decision to call for armed seizure of British ships by private vessels, an action first formulated by the Congress in March 1776. “First, you may by force of arms attack, subdue, and seize all ships, vessels, and goods, belonging to the king or crown of Great Britain…” The broadside includes thirteen numbered instructions many of which were adopted during the first session of the Congress of the Confederation, granting to the captains of private armed vessels among other things permission to disrupt British shipping, while in other articles holding them accountable for not interrupting the travel of neutral vessels and warning them that they shall suffer harsh punishment should any of their crew kill, maim or torture members of the captured crew. Prior to this broadside, five sets of instructions were progressively approved by the Continental Congress. As the war wore on the rules for privateer captains became longer and more specific, the last before this growing to eleven. In this copy, perhaps the last as the end of the war neared, the number of rules has been increased to 13. The instructions are dated 7 April 1781, only two days before Samuel Huntington, then President of the Continental Congress, was forced to resign due to failing health. With no replacement president yet named by the Congress, Thomson, the Congressional Secretary, was the logical person to sign the document. Signed in print by Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress following the phrase Extracts from the minutes. Evans 17384. A very good copy on an untrimmed sheet showing old fold marks. Scarce in the trade. According to Rare Book Hub, the last copy to sell at auction was in 1987.