Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Whipple, William (1730-1785) to John Langdon

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00194 Author/Creator: Whipple, William (1730-1785) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 29 April 1776 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 21 x 32.6 cm.

Summary of Content: William Whipple, a Continental Congressman, discusses the newly established Continental Navy with fellow Congressman Langdon. Refers to supplying guns to soldiers, and mentions a United States flag with "thirteen stripes red & white for the field, & a Union." Advises Langdon not to resign his Congressional seat in order to accept an appointment as a Continental Naval Agent, stating "such a step would have an avaricious appearance, & on the other hand there can not be a greater evidence of Patriotism than preferring the public good, to ones private interest ... I by no means can advise to your resigning your seat in Congress." Requests that Langdon transmit a list of nominations for officers of an unspecified ship. Discusses details regarding canvas being transmitted to Langdon (possibly for use in making a flag). Fragile and slightly torn in creases. For a related discussion of the Continental Navy, refer to GLC00336.

Background Information: Congress established the Continental Navy 13 October 1775. Langdon resigned his Congressional seat in June 1776 to become a Marine agent for Continental prizes and superintendent of the construction of several ships of ...war.See More

Full Transcript: Philadelphia 29 apr 1776

Dear Sir
I received yours of ye 15th inst by which I find some of my letters respecting guns canvas he had not come to hand, I am ...doing every thing in my power to forward these matters & flatter myself shall be able to obtain an order for the canvas (by this port) to be forwarded from (struck: Philadelphia) Providence or New?London, I can say nothing about the guns, but what I have already wrote you, the colours have thirteen stripes Red & white for the field, & a Union. As to the Agency I wrote you that I had nominated you in Committee where there was no objection, nor did I imagine there wod be in Congress but I was mistaken, for when the nomination came before Congress, there was objections from every part of the room, on account of your being a member it was proposd to be put off which I did not object to, finding I shod not be able to carry it at that time There has since been a motion that no member of Congress shall hold any lucrative office, if this shod not obtain I shall make another attempt. You say you'd resign your seat in Congress rather than not have [2] the Agency. If my advice can have any weight with you, you certainly will not. Such a step would have an avaricious appearance, & on the other hand there can not be a greater evidence of Patriotism than preferring the public good, to ones private interest. I shod be very sorry that any Person who has stood forth in the glorious cause of Liberty shod take a step that will in any measure destroy the lustre, of so glorious a character as that of a true Patriot. I heartily wish to see every place of Public trust filled by such persons as will [inserted: best] serve the Public interest for which reason I shod be exceeding glad if your present desires might be gratified, but I by no means can advise to your resigning your seat in Congress, if the nomination of another person shod be urgd I shall be much at a loss who to propose it shod be a person of great integrity a good accountant a stanch friend to the cause & one who will give close attention to the business but I hope shall have the assistance of a coleague in this matter if I can't get you appointed, which I really do not expect. [3] Pray send a list of proper persons for officers for the ship. Thompson I think is a very good man. There must be three Leiuts, a capt & two Leiuts. of Marines. The Master must be a very good man. I hope we shall have such men as will do Honor to the Colony There has been no mention of Flaggs nor do I immagine there will be any appointment for some time, if there shod you may be assured I shall not be unmindful of my Friend The Committee have promis'd me an order to morrow morning for the Canvas to be forwarded from Providence, that is very heavy canvas as for light canvas I don't know where its to come from, I shall send you the name of the ship next post & hope you will have the canvas soon after this reaches you.

I am with great sincerity
Yours
Wm: Whipple
J Langdon Esqr
[4] Captain
3 Leiuts
Master
3 Mates
Surgeon
2 Mates
Capt Marine
2 Leiuts
These officers must be appointed by Congress or Committee the others such as Boatswain, Carpen, Gunners &c &c will I suppose be left for you to appoint
[docket]
Mr. Whipple, Esq.
Letters
See More

People: Langdon, John, 1741-1819
Whipple, William, 1730-1785

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: American FlagNavyRevolutionary WarContinental CongressWeaponry

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources