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The Ship James at Sandy Hook

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

February 16. –On Thursday morning, the 2d instant, the ship James, Captain Watson, arrived at New York from Glasgow, with a cargo of coals and dry goods, but as she did not arrive within the time prescribed by the tenth article of the association of the Continental Congress,1 a strict watch was constantly kept, by some of the subcommittee, and a number of inhabitants, to prevent the landing of any goods, in a clandestine manner; and the captain was requested to procure such necessaries as he might stand in need of, and immediately quit the port. With this request, he seemed rather unwilling to comply, and was encouraged to hope from the assurances of a number of ministerial tools, who promised to support him, that his cargo would be landed; for which purpose they employed a few vagrants to go on board the ship, which then lay in the harbor, and bring the colors on shore, with a view of raising a posse, to assist in landing the goods; but the banditti that were collected for this purpose were soon suppressed by the inhabitants, who are for supporting the association, and who began to assemble in great numbers; upon which the captain, conceiving the ship to be in great danger, sent the mate on shore, requesting assistance to get her under sail, as the seamen refused to do that duty. This request being complied with, they immediately got her under weigh, and fell down about four miles below the city, where she remained, attended by a boat, with a member of the committee and some of the townsmen on board, till last Thursday night (9th), when she was again brought into the harbor, by an officer and a number of men belonging to his Majesty’s ship King Fisher; which ship it is supposed came down from Turtle Bay expressly for the purpose of protecting her, and intimidating the inhabitants.

In a popular show of support for the Continental Congress, the people of New York prevent a ship from landing its cargo

As soon as it was known that the ship was coming up again, the people, highly exasperated, began to assemble together in great numbers, and immediately went to the captain’s lodgings; seized him, and after conducting him through many of the principal streets, attended by a prodigious concourse of people, he was, without suffering the least hurt or injury, put on board a boat, with some hands to row him, and sent off. His ship then lying at anchor ten miles below the town, he went on board the man-of-war, which lay in the harbor, where his own ship did not arrive until the next morning, when she came to anchor under the cannon of the King Fisher. In this situation matters remained until Saturday, when they began to unmoor the ship, intending to get under sail, but were prevented by the lieutenant of the man-of-war, who hailed the ship, and demanded if they had a clearance. Being assured in the negative he ordered them not to unmoor. This obstruction greatly exasperated a number of people that were collected to see her get under sail, who went in quest of the captain of the King Fisher, to know by what authority he detained the ship, but they could not meet with him; he was, however, soon after waited upon, by one of the gentlemen to whom the ship was consigned, and on being informed of the lieutenant’s conduct, and asked his reasons for detaining her, he replied that he had nothing to do with her, and immediately gave orders to let her pass. Accordingly she got under sail the next morning about ten o’clock, accompanied by a boat, with two of the committee and a number of inhabitants on board; which boat, after taking out the pilot, left her at two o’clock P. M., about a league to the southward of Sandy Hook, with a fresh gale, and at half-past four o’clock she was out of sight.

As every artifice has been used, and a variety of manoeuvres put in practice, by a set of ministerial hirelings, to procure the landing of the cargo of this ship, it must give real pleasure to every lover of his country to observe that the good people of New York are determined to support the association of the general Congress at all events. 2


1 Association, Article 10. –In case any merchant, trader, or other person, shall import any goods or merchandise, after the first day of December, and before the first day of February next, the same ought forthwith, at the election of the owner, to be either re-shipped, or delivered up to the committee of the county or town wherein they shall be imported, to be stored at the risk of the importer, until the non-importation agreement shall cease, or be sold under the direction of the committee aforesaid; and in the last-mentioned case, the owner or owners of such goods shall be reimbursed out of the sales, the first cost and charges, the profit, if any, to be applied towards relieving and employing such poor inhabitants of the town of Boston, as are immediate sufferers by the Boston Port Bill; and a particular account of all goods so returned, stored, or sold, to be inserted in the public papers; and if any goods or merchandise shall be imported after the said first day of February, the same ought forthwith to be sent back again, without breaking any of the packages thereof. —Jornals of Congress.

2 Holt’s New York Journal, Feb. 16.

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