Primary tabs

Constitution and Powers of the Committee of Safety


The Congress then resumed and read the Constitution and powers for a Committee of Safety during their recess, The whole were read, sundry amendments made thereto, and, the same being finally determined, resolved on, and agreed to, are in the words following, to wit:

Resolved, That the Committee of Safety for this Colony, appointed by this Congress on the 16th day of December last, be, and is hereby, entirely dissolved; and that a Committee of Safety for this Colony shall, notwithstanding any former order or resolve, be formed, and is hereby formed, in the manner and with the powers hereinafter mentioned; and that a quorum thereof shall consist of seven Counties represented in Committee.

That any three or more of the Members for the City and County of New-York be a quorum, to represent that City and County in the said Committee of Safety.

That Peter R˙ Livingston, Robert Yates, and Jacob Cuyler, for the City and County of Albany; Dirck E˙ Wynkoop, Esquire, Samuel Brewster, and Henry Wisner, Jun˙, for the County of Ulster; Morris Graham, Jacob Everson, or any other Member for the County of Dutchess; Colonel Pierre Van Cortlandt, Colonel Gilbert Drake, and Mr˙ Paulding, for the County of Westchester; Jeremiah Clarke and Tennis Cooper, for the County of Orange; Mr˙ Polhemus, Mr˙ Leffertse, Mr˙ Vanderbilt, and Mr˙ Covenhoven, for King' s County; Thomas Treadwell,


or any other Member, for the County of Suffolk; Colonel John Williams, or Mr˙ Alexander Campbell, for the County of Charlotte; Mr˙ Moore, or Mr˙ Wills, for the County of Tryon; Mr˙ Adrian Bancker, or Mr˙ Richard Lawrence, for the County of Richmond and Colonel William Williams for Cumberland County; with any three or more Members for the City and County of New-York, to be the Committee of Safety for this Colony, to have duration until the second Tuesday in May next.

That each of the Counties, except New-York, be effectually represented by one Member.

That every vote, order, or resolve, in the said Committee be by Counties, and not by Poll; and that in estimating every vote, order, or resolve, the respective voices be as follows, to wit: The City and County of New-York, four; the City and County of Albany, three; and every other County, two.

That every Member of this Congress who attends the Committee of Safety, may sit in said Committee, and join in the vote of the County to which he belongs.

That in case any of the before-named persons should, through sickness or otherwise, be unable to attend the said Committee, the Deputies of the County where such person or persons so unable to attend resides, shall appoint and immediately send one other of their Members to supply such deficiency.

That the said Committee of Safety be fully vested with the following powders and authorities, and under the following Regulations, to wit:

1st. A power to grant all Commissions in the Militia of this Colony, subject to the regulations thereof as established by the Provincial Congress; and the said Committee have the same powers as to the nomination and election of officers, and the granting and refusing of Commissions to officers of every rank, as this Provincial Congress while sitting.

2d. A power, during the recess of this Congress, in case of any alarm, insurrection, or invasion, or for any matter or thing, for the executing whereof military force shall or may be necessary, to order and direct the Militia of the Colony, or any part thereof; subject, nevertheless, to the control of this and the Continental Congress.

3d. The like power, during such recess, from time to time, in such cases as are last mentioned, to order and direct any of the Continental forces that shall be within this Colony, and be by any order or appointment of the Continental Congress, under the direction of this Congress; subject, nevertheless, to such control as aforementioned.

4th. A power, by drafts on the Treasurer, to apply all such moneys as shall be appropriated to uses, but not actually applied by this Congress.

5th. A power, by like drafts, to appropriate and apply any such moneys as shall, from time to time, be by them judged necessary for contingent services; provided the same do not, in the whole, exceed five thousand Pounds.

6th. A power to execute, or cause to be executed, orders, resolves, and recommendations, as well of the Continental as of this Congress.

7th. A power for the care, direction, and disposition of the magazines, arms, and ammunition, and other military stores and implements belonging to this Colony, or which shall be committed by the Continental Congress to the care and direction, of this Congress.

8th. A power, in the recess of this Congress, to call a meeting of the same, when and where, in the judgment of the Committee, any emergency shall require it.

9th. A power to enjoin secrecy on their Members, and others under their direction, as to all matters in the execution of their trust, wherein they shall judge it necessary.

10th. A power, during the recess of this Congress, to open and answer all letters directed to this Congress, or the President thereof.

11th. A power to comply, as far and as often as they shall think proper, with any requisition by the Generals of the Continental forces, or any or either of them.

12th. A power to take up and examine persons suspected to have broken the resolutions of the Continental or this Congress, or to have in any otherwise acted inimical to the liberties of their country; and, according to the discretion of the said Committee of Safety, to discharge such persons, or to send them to the General Committee of the County to whom it may belong to determine the matter.


13th. A power to carry into execution a settlement of accounts with the Continental Congress; which this, Congress recommends to their Committee of Safety to be done with all possible despatch.

14th. A power to appoint signers for the emission, of the paper currency lately resolved to be issued, and to insert their names in the plan agreed to and resolved on by this Congress for that purpose.

15th. A discretionary power to purchase arms and ammunition, and apply the same to the publick service.

16th. A power, in case of a deficiency of the Provincial Treasury, to answer the appropriations and applications by this Congress entrusted to the Committee of Safety; to supply such deficiency as often as it may happen, by a vote of credit, to be made good by provision hereafter to be made by this Congress.

17th. A power to answer and determine all questions that may be inquired of, or put to them, by the Committee for Accounts, and that may arise in their Department.

18th. A power to purchase, secure, and lodge at the publick expense, in such places of safety as they may think proper, as much pitch, tar, and turpentine, as the said Committee may think necessary for the publick use and publick safety.

19th. A power to provide for the removal of, and to remove the poor that are or may be in the Alms-House, at the City of New-York, and to place them in such place, or places of safety, as the said Committee of Safety may think proper.

20th. A power to remove the Records of the Colony of New-York, and the Records of the City and County of New-York, and the Treasury of this Congress, and the Treasury of the said Colony in the hands of Abraham Lott, Esq˙, or any, or either of them, to such place or places of safety, and under such guards and directions, as to the said Committee of Safety shall seem necessary.

21st. A power to restore any person or persons who may have been held up as inimical to his country, and who shall have made proper concessions, and signed or subscribed the General Association, and given to the Committee of Safely such assurances of his, or their, future good conduct, and willingness and determination to conform, and in all things be obedient to the resolutions of Congress, as shall be satisfactory to the said Committee of Safety.

22d. A power to advance to Abraham Livingston, contractor for the maintenance of the Continental Troops in this Colony, the sum of five thousand Pounds, as soon as he shall have given sufficient security for that sum, or for fulfilling such contract; and further, to advance to the said contractor any sum of money, not exceeding the sum of five thousand Pounds, at the expiration of every month, from the commencement of such contract, if, in the opinion of the Committee of Safety, the supply of the Army in the Colony shall require it.

23d. A power to the Committee of Safety, from time to time, to make such dispositions and distributions of any quantity, or quantities of gunpowder, or other Colony stores, of arms or ammunition, as they shall think necessary for the defence of the Colony.

24th. That the Committee of Safety keep exact Journals of their proceedings, subject to the inspection of this, or a future Provincial Congress.

Ordered, That Mr˙ Richard Norwood, Commissary of Colony Stores, be directed, and he is hereby directed, to weigh the Powder lately purchased of Mr˙ Nicholas Low, so as to know exactly the quantity thereof; and to examine, or cause to be examined, with great care, the quality thereof; and to report the quantity and quality thereof particularly to this Congress, or the Committee of Safety, with all possible speed.