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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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quorum of the Congress could not be convened for several days, and in such cases the members present would assemble, and act as a Committee of Safety.  Sometimes during the regular sitting of Congress the attendance would be so thin, that they could not act in that capacity, and they would resolve themselves into a committee for the day, or till the House should become full enough to permit them to go back again into the more dignified form of a congress.  In this way no time was lost, and the public business was never neglected.

The Committee of Safety were empowered to carry into effect the previous resolves of the Congress, to open and answer letters, to take measures for executing the orders and recommendations of the Continental Congress, to superintend the military affairs of the colony, to comply with the requisitions of the generals of the continental army, to appropriate money for the public; service, and to summon a meeting of the Congress, at such time and place as they should think necessary.  Armed with these powers, they contrived to keep the wheels of government in motion, and for the most part to satisfy the people.

This Committee, however, which was appointed on the 2d of September, resorted to one measure, that proved unpopular, and caused a good deal of excitement.  Many of the soldiers, enlisted into the continental service in New York, were without arms, and all efforts to purchase them in a sufficient number had failed.  To remedy this defect, the committee issued an order, ‘that all such arms, as are fit for the use of the troops raised in this colony, which shall be found in the hands or custody of any person, who has not signed the general Association, shall be impressed for the use of the said troops.’  To carry this order into effect, persons were sent out with instructions to seize and collect arms, to have them appraised, and to give a certificate of their value to their owners, who were to be paid for them out of the treasury of the colony, if they should not be returned before the unhappy controversy with Great Britain was brought to a close.  The per-

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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 62. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to


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