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In Council, April 13, 1778. Read and Ordered That a Commission be issued out to John Hyer as Commander of Schr above mentioned, he complying with the Resolves of Congress.

JNO. AVERY, D'y Sec'y."

The first petition under the act of November 1, 1775, and dated December 1, was that of the owners of the schooner Dolphin, of Salem, which they had "at their own expence fixed out and equipped for the defence of America . . . and appointed Richard Masury of said Salem, mariner, to be commander thereof." The Council ordered that he "be commissionated for the purpose aforesaid on his giving Bond to the Colony Treasurer for the faithful performance of his Duty therein, agreable to the Act prescribing the Same.” 2

A petition on behalf of the State, dated January 15, 1777, represents that "the Board of War having fitted out the Sloop Republic, Allen Hallet, master, navigated with ten hands for the West Indies, mounting two 4 pd Cannon and ten Swivel Guns, and apprehending it may be of Service if the Master be furnish'd with a Commission for a Letter of Marque, do desire a Commission for him as such."3 This is signed: "By Order of the Board, Sam[uel] Philli]ps Savage, Prest." The Republic was built in 1776 for the Massachusetts Navy and in the fall of that year made a successful cruise. Soon afterwards, however, she was employed by the Board of War as a trading vessel, which accounts for the small crew and light battery mentioned in this petition.

Privateersmen frequently addressed petitions to the Council begging exemption from an embargo. These! petitions seem to have been quite generally, but by no

1. Mass. Archives, 168, 238.

2. Ibid., 164, 211.

3. Ibid., 166, 195.

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means always, granted. In 1780 Cushing & White, agents for, and part owners of, the ship Tracy, explained that they had "been at great panes and Expence in fitting sd. Ship for a three months Cruise against the Enemys of the United States of America. But the ship having met with and taken a Valuable Prize Ship with fifty Prisoners, the Captain thought best to convoy his prize into Port and land his Prisoners, which he has done, not Having an Idea till he came on shore of an Embargo or any thing to prevent his sailing again to finish his Cruise, which was not more than a third out, having been gone but Little more than four weeks. But as there Is an Embargo which prevents the Ship sailing Without Special leave, We therefore pray your Honours to take the matter Under your Serious consideration and that you'd be pleased to grant leave for the Ship to proceed again on her Cruise." In this case the Council "ordered that Nathl. Barber, Esq., Naval Officer for the port of Boston, be and hereby is directed to clear out the Ship Tracy . . . for her intended Cruise against the Enemies of these States, any Embargo to the Contrary Notwithstanding."


In 1779 Richard Whellen, commander of the brigantine Venus, at the request of the Navy Board of the Eastern Department and after binding himself in the sum of £5000 to Henry Gardner, State Treasurer, was allowed "to sail (the Embargo notwithstanding) to Bedford in order to Convoy the Schooner Hannah and Molley, now laying there loaded with flour for the use of the Navy of the United States, from said Bedford to the Harbour of Boston and then to be permitted to proceed his Cruise." Another petition of 1780, which


1. Mass. Archives, 176, 483, 484.

2. Ibid., VII, 264.

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also was granted, was that of Joseph Cutler, of Newburyport:


Humbly shews Joseph Cutler, of Newbury Port in the County of Essex, Merchant, on behalf of himself and others concerned in the armed privateer Brigantine called the Gates, that said Brigantine is ready to proceed to Sea on a Cruise against the Enemies of the united States of America, but cannot proceed without the permission of your Honours; That your petitioner is induced to throw himself on the Clemency of your Honours, as his Ship is so circumstanced that the detaining of her will be exceedingly detrimental to your Petitioner and probably to the State in general. Your Petitioner conceives that the laying of the Embargo was designed for the recruiting of the Army and not to discourage the harassing the Commerce of the Enemy; that the Town of Newbury Port has already at a great expence to her Inhabitants compleated all the Levies required of her and therefore the Embargo has already had its intire Operation with respect to that Town, and as the Reason of laying it ceases so far as it respects Newbury Port, so your Petitioner conceives the Operation of it ought so far to be suspended. Your Petitioner is further induced to apply to your Honors as the Honourable Board has already granted permission to two privateers in a neighbouring Town to sail, when your Petitioner is sure that the detention of those privateers could not be more inconvenient and expensive to their owners than the detention of the Gates will be to your Petitioner and others concerned; and when at the same Time the Town of Salem was greatly deficient in its quota of Soldiers. Your Petitioner is conscious that your honours will not suppose the Inhabitants of Newburyport not equally intitled to favours with the Inhabitants of any other Town, as their exertions in the Common Cause are equal to those of any other Town at the least. Your Petitioner begs leave also to suggest that the public Interest requires that the American Privateers should not be confined at home at this Season and be deprived of gloriously wounding the Enemy in their tenderest part, their Commerce, and of adding their supplies to those of the united States. Your Petitioner therefore prays that your Honours would grant liberty for the Brigantine Gates to sail upon a Cruise and would issue the necessary Orders therefore. And as in Duty bound shall ever pray. JOSEPH CUTLER.1

1. Mass. Archives, 176, 628.

No early commissions, issued by the Colony or State, have been found in the Archives or elsewhere, but the following copy is doubtless a fair sample of these docu


Colony of the
Massachusetts Bay

The major part of the Council of the
Massachusetts Bay, in New England,

To James Tracey, Gentleman, greeting:

Whereas James Tracey, Jonathan Jackson, Nathaniel Tracey, John Tracey, and Joseph Lee, merchants, have at their own expense fitted out and equipped for the defence of America, a vessel called the Yankee Hero, burthen about one hundred and twenty tons, and have recommended you as a suitable person to be commander thereof, we have thought fit to commission you for the purpose aforesaid, and do accordingly by these presents give you, the said James Tracey, full power, with such other persons as you shall engage to your assistance, to sail in the said vessel on the seas, attack, take, and bring into any port in this colony all armed and other vessels which shall be found making unlawful invasions, attacks, or depredations, on the sea-coasts or navigation of any part of America; or improved in supplying the fleet and army, which have been or shall at any time be, employed against the United Colonies, or employed by the enemies of America in any respect whatsoever; and also all vessels whose masters or supercargoes shall have had designs of carrying supplies of any kind to the enemy, or that shall be returning from the enemy after having carried such supplies, that such proceedings may be had thereon as are required by a law of this colony entitled "An act for encouraging the fixing out of armed vessels to defend the sea-coast of America, and for erecting a court to try and condemn all vessels that shall be found infesting the same:" and you are hereby directed in all your proceedings to govern yourself by the said act.

Given under our hands, and the seal of the said Colony, at Watertown, the twentieth day of February, in the sixteenth year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third [1776]. By their honor's command: PErez Morton, D. Sec.

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The Continental Congress, after the passage of the act of March 23, 1776, authorizing privateering, had forms printed and these commissions, signed by the President of Congress in blank, were sent to the various states, to be filled out and distributed. One of these forms, undated but probably printed about 1780, authorizes the commander to set forth in a warlike manner and

"by Force of Arms to attack, subdue and take all Ships and other Vessels whatsoever carrying Soldiers, Arms, Gunpowder, Ammunition, Provisions, or any other contraband Goods to any of the British Armies or Ships of War employed against these United States. And also to attack, seize and take all Ships or other Vessels belonging to the Inhabitants of Great Britain, or to any Subject or Subjects thereof, with their Tackle, Apparel, Furniture and Ladings, on the High-Seas or between high and low-water Marks (the Ships or Vessels, together with their Cargoes, belonging to any Inhabitant or Inhabitants of Bermuda, Providence and the Bahama Islands, and such other Ships and Vessels bringing Persons with Intent to settle and reside within any of the United States, or bringing Arms, Ammunition, or Warlike Stores to the said States for the Use thereof, which said Ships or Vessels you shall suffer to pass unmolested, the Commanders thereof permitting a peaceable Search and giving satisfactory Information of the Contents of the Lading and Destination of the Voyage, only excepted). And the said Ships or Vessels so apprehended as aforesaid and as Prize taken, to carry into any Port or Harbour within the Dominions of any neutral State willing to admit the same, or into any Port within the said United States, in order that the Courts there instituted to hear and determine Causes Civil and Maritime, may proceed in due Form to condemn the said Captures, if they be adjudged lawful Prize, or otherwise according to the Usage in such Cases at the Port or in the State where the same shall be carried." The commander "having given Bond with sufficient Sureties, that Nothing be done by [his vessel] or any of his Officers, Marines or Company thereof, contrary to or inconsistent with the Usage and Customs of Nations, and that he shall not exceed or transgress the Powers and Authorities contained in this Commission. And We will and require all our Officers whatsoever in the Service of the United States, to give Succour and Assistance to the said

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