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Congress Suspends Hopkins



John Reed. Papers of the Continental Congress, 58, 225-231
The Marine Committee considered these charges and appointed a committee to examine witnesses. The examination follows. J. G. C.
[This Examination is undated.] No. 4
The Examination of John Grannis on the Subject Matter of the Petition of several Officers of the Frigate Warren agst Commodore Hopkins, and on Papers herein inclosed.
Question Where do you live?
Answer. In Falmouth in the County of Barnstable in the Massachusetts Bay.
Qu: Are you an Officer of the Warren Frigate, and what Officer, and how long have you been an Officer on Board said Frigate ?
A. I am Capt of Marines, have been so from ye 14th June 1776, was sometime recruiting, and have been on board her Time to Time upwards of Three Months.
Q. Are you the Man who signed the Petition against Esek Hopkins Esqr by the Name of John Grannis?
A. Yes.
Q: Do you know the other Subscribers to said Petition?
A. Yes.
Q: Are any of them Officers of the Warren, and if Officers what Offices do they sustain?
A. John Reed is Chaplain and belongs to Middleborough, and James Sellers is Second Lieut of the Warren and of Dartmouth, both of Massachusetts Bay, Richard Marvin is Third Lieut and of Providence, George Stillman first Lieutt of Marines, Barnabas Lothrop Second Lieut of Marines and both of Barnstable. Samuel Shaw is a Midshipman of Bridgewater, Roger Haddock is Master of the Frigate and formerly was of New York, and John Truman is Gunner and James Brewer Carpenter and both of Boston in the State aforesaid.

Q: Have you a personal Acquaintance with Esek Hopkins Esqr
A. Yes I have had a personal Acquaintance with him since I came on board the Ship.
Q: Did you ever hear him say any Thing disrespectful of the Congress of the United States, and what and when?
A. I have heard him at different Times since I belonged to the Frigate speak disrespectfully of the Congress,—have heard him say that they were a Sett or Parcel of Men who did not understand their Business, that they were no Way calculated to do Business, that they were a Parcell of Lawyers Clerks, that if their Measures were followed the Country would be ruined, and that he would not follow their Measures. I have heard him say the above in Company on Ship Board and Words to the same Effect on Shore. Sometimes the above was spoken of Congress in general; but more frequently of the Marine Comee.
Qu: Did you ever hear him speak disrespectfully of Congress or the Marine Committee before Prisoners?
A. No. I never was in his Company when Prisoners were present.
Q: Do you know any thing about his Treatment of Prisoners ?
A. I was on board the Frigate Providence when there were about Twenty Prisoners on board. They were called into the Cabin where I was and were asked by Capt Whipple whether they would do Ships Duty? They answered No. Capt Whipple said it was his Orders from the Commodore to put them in Irons, to keep them on Two Thirds Allowance and by God he would obey the Commodore's Orders. They were sent out of the Cabin with an Officer, who returned & said he had put them in Irons. There were also some Prisoners sent on board the Frigate Warren, who were forced to do Ship's Duty by Commodore Hopkins Orders, and he refused to exchange them when a Cartel was settled and other Prisoners were exchanged, but don't know that it was their Turn. The Reason he assigned for not exchanging them was, that he wanted to have them inlist on board the Frigate.
Q: Do you know any Thing about a British Frigate being last Winter, aground in the River or Bay leading up to Providence in the State of Rhode Island &c and what?

A. I did not see the Diamond Frigate when She was a Shore in Jany last, I was then on board the Warren, which with the continental Fleet lay just above a Place called Fields Point. Commodore Hopkins went down the River in the Sloop Providence, and sometime after he returned I heard him say that People in Providence blamed him for not taking the Diamond, but that the Men were not to Blame, for they went as far as he ordered them, and would have gone further if he would have permitted them but that he did not think it safe to go nearer with that Sloop; for that the Diamond fired over her. I heard a Number of People, who said they were at Warwick Neck when the Diamond was aground there say that Commodore Hopkins was so far off the Ship that his Shot did not reach her, that the ship lay so much on a Careen that She could not bring any of her Guns to bear upon the Sloop. And further I heard some American Seamen, who were Prisoners when the Diamond was aground, say after they were exchanged that the Ship lay so much on a Careen that She could not have hurt the Sloops People so long as they kept out of the Reach of her Small Arms. They also said that it was the Intention of the Enemy to have fired the Ship and left her if the Sloop had come near enough to have played upon her. One of the Seamen who told me the above was one—Weeks and another of them was named Robinson Jones, both of Falmouth aforesaid and young Men of good general Reputation.
Q: Were the Frigates manned, when you came from Providence ?
A. No, there were then about One hundred Men on board the Warren, and I heard some of the Officers of the Frigate Providence say that in last December they had on board about One hundred and seventy Men, and the last of February I heard them say that so many of their Men were dead and run away that they were then not better of for Men than the Warren.
Q: Commodore Hopkins is charged with being an Hindrance to the proper Manning of the Fleet. What Circumstances do you know relative to this Charge?
A: For my Part his Conduct and Conversation is such that I am not willing to be under his Command? I think him unfit for command, and from what I have heard, Officers and Seamen say, I believe that that is the general Sentiment of the Fleet, and his Conversation is at Times so wild and orders so unsteady that I have sometimes thought he was not in his senses and I have heard some others say the same: And to his Conduct and Conversation it is attributed both by People on board the Fleet as well as by the Inhabitants of the State that the Fleet is not manned; and it is generally feared by People both on board the Fleet as well as ashore that his Commands would be so imprudent that the Ships would be foolishly lost, or that he would forego Opportunities of getting to Sea, or attempt it when impracticable. The Seamen belonging to the Columbus left her when their Time of Service expired, and went into the Army, and I heard some of them say that they would not inlist again into the Continental fleet, so long as Commodore Hopkins had the Command of it. The Character that Commodore Hopkins bore was a great Hindrance to me in getting Recruits.

Q: Had you Liberty from Commodore Hopkins, or Capt Hopkins to leave the Frigate you belong to?
A. No. I came to Philadelphia at the Request of the Officers who signed the Petition against Commodore Hopkins, and from a Zeal for the American Cause.
Q: Had you, or to your Knowledge either of the signers aforesaid ever any Difference or Dispute with Commodore Hopkins since your or their entering into the Service?
A. I never had, nor do I believe that either of them ever had. I have been moved to do and say what I have done and said from a Love to Country, and I verily believe that the other Signers of the Petition were actuated solely by the same Motives.
Jno Grannis
The Committee appointed to take the Examination of John Grannis, have examined him as above and report the same to the Marine Committee accordingly.
This paper is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 58, 235. [Mr. Ford, the Editor of the Journals of Congress, states this paper is in the writing of William Ellery]

CONGRESS SUSPENDS HOPKINS
March 26, 1777. Journals of Congress.
Congress took into consideration the paper containing charges and complaints against Commodore Hopkins; Whereupon,
Resolved, That Esek Hopkins be immediately, and he hereby is suspended from his command in the American Navy. Wednesday May 14, 1777. Journals of Congress.
On motion,
Resolved, That a copy of the complaint lodged with the Marine Committee, against Commodore Hopkins, be delivered to Mr. William Ellery, for the said Commodore Hopkins.
[To this entry, the Editor of the Library of Congress edition has appended the following note.]
In the Papers of the Continental Congress, No. 36, I, folio 8, in the writing of William Duer, is the following motion: It was presented May 13, and postponed:
"Resolved, That a Special Commission be made out for instituting a Court of Inquiry to examine into the Conduct of Esek Hopkins Esq. Commodore in the Navy of the United States, the said Court to consist of the Commissioners of the Navy in the Eastern Department and of
'That the Court so instituted be directed and authorized to report to Congress the Result of the Inquiry into the Conduct of Commodore Hopkins with all possible Despatch, in order that Congress may adopt such Measures in Consequence as to them shall appear most conducive to the public Welfare."
In re Esek Hopkins
1776 March 9 C. C. 78 XI, 33
April 16 Resolution of Congress (See Printed Jour
nals of Congress)
April 17 Payment of $40.7 Riding Express
April 26 Resolution (See Jr.)
May 4 Resolution (See Jr.)
May 7 Resolution (See Jr.)
May 8 Orders given by Naval Committee to Com
modore Hopkins. C. C. 58. 239 (See Jr. Dec. 22, 1775)« PreviousContinue »