Meantime, the congress at Philadelphia
halting in the sluggishness of irresolution; and, so long as there remained the dimmest hope of favor to its petition, the lukewarm patriots had the advantage.
No court as yet had power to sanction ‘the condemnation of vessels taken from the enemy.’
On the third of October, one of the delegates of Rhode Island
laid before Congress their instructions to use their whole influence for building, equipping, and employing an American fleet.
It was the origin of our navy.
The proposal met great opposition; but John Adams
engaged in it heartily, and pursued it unremittingly, though ‘for a long time against wind and tide.’
On the fifth, Washington
was authorized to employ two armed vessels to intercept British storeships, bound for Quebec
; on the thirteenth, congress voted two armed vessels, of ten and of fourteen guns, and seventeen days later, two others of thirty six guns.
But much time would pass before their equipment; as yet, war was not waged on the high sea, nor reprisals authorized, nor the ports opened to foreign nations.
On the sixteenth of October, the day on which Mowat anchored below Falmouth
, the new legislature of Pennsylvania was organized.
Chosen under a dread of independence, all of its members who were present subscribed the usual engagements of allegiance to the king.
In a few days the Quakers presented an address, in favor of ‘the most conciliatory measures,’ and deprecating every thing ‘likely to widen or perpetuate the breach with their parent state.’
To counteract this movement, the committee for the city and liberties of Philadelphia
, sixty six in number, headed