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Memorial of Robert and John Murray to the Continental Congress



To the Honourable the Continental Congress now sitting at PHILADELPHIA:

The Memorial of ROBERT MURRAY and JOHN MURRAY, of the City of NEW-YORK, Merchants, humbly sheweth:

That the memorialists being owners of the ship Dutchess of Gordon, and expecting she would be in London by the time their orders could arrive there, did, on the 7th of September last, by a letter to Philip Sansom, direct him to put certain articles on board the said ship, on account of the memorialists, together with what freight he could procure for her, and to despatch her immediately far New-York, as may appear by an extract of the letter hereunto annexed, marked No˙ 1 .

That the memorialists, so far from entertaining any design to counteract the measures recommended by the late Continental Congress, did, as soon as they were informed thereof, countermand the above-mentioned orders, except as to such goods as might, in consequence thereof, have actually become the property of the memorialists and their partner, the said Philip Sansom; for the truth of which they beg leave to refer to the annexed extract of a letter to the said Philip Sansom, dated the 5th of October, 1774, marked No˙ 2 .

That in pursuance of the above directions, there were shipped on board the Beulah, (a vessel belonging to the memorialists) at London, sundry goods, on account of the memorialists and their partner, with which goods the said vessel sailed for New-York on the 5th or 6th day of December last, and arrived there the 16th or 17th of February following.

That on the arrival of the said vessel and cargo, which happened after the time limited by the Congress for the continuance of our importations, the memorialists having no intention to land their goods contrary to the terms of the Association, would have cheerfully submitted to what they conceived to be the spirit and design thereof, and were therefore willing, and did offer to unload their cargo and ship it in another bottom, under the inspection of some of the Committee here, and to send it to some place not within the restriction imposed by the Congress; and the memorialists beg leave to refer to the annexed copy of their letter, sent to the Committee upon this subject, marked No˙ 3 , containing more at large their proposal, and the reasons on which it was founded.

The memorialists beg leave further to observe, that they did verily believe their construction of this pact of the


Association was consistent with the spirit and design thereof; and had the Committee here been of that opinion, such a mode of compliance would have greatly alleviated the loss of the memorialists, as they might, in that case, have shipped their cargo away in a small vessel, instead of sending it in a vessel not above one-third full.

That, reduced, as they thought, to an unnecessary hardship, and chagrined with the disappointment, the memorialists rashly formed the design of secretly landing some small part of the cargo, and were so imprudent as to carry the same into execution. That before a discovery was made thereof, and at a time when the memorialists had great reason to suppose the place where the goods were deposited would not be discovered, to wit: the 13th of March last, they made a declaration of the fact, and offered to give the Committee a full account of the particulars, on oath, which they accordingly did on the 15th of the same month, when all the goods landed had been delivered up to the Committee of Elizabethtown, and the disposition thereof submitted entirely to the directions of the Committees at New-York; all which particulars will more fully appear from Holt' s New-York Journal, of the 23d March, hereunto also annexed, to which the memorialists refer.

The memorialists having proceeded thus far, and manifested their intention to satisfy the publick in any reasonable way that could be expected, as well as to express their contrition for the hasty and imprudent measure they had taken; and to prevent their future commercial intercourse with others from becoming the means of other infractions of the Association, the memorialists did shut up their store, discontinue all trade, shut up their own goods under the seals of certain persons here, transfer their commission business to others, and give up their wharf as free for the use of the navigation of this City, until they should be relieved in the premises by the interposition of the Congress. As vouchers of these facts, the memorialists refer to the annexed printed publications, marked No˙ 5 and No˙ 6.

The foregoing is a true state of the facts relative to this unhappy affair in which the memorialists are involved; and as their commercial concerns were largo and extensive, at least amounting to £50,000 per annum, this total dereliction of business has become an immense loss to them; and if unrelieved, cannot but terminate in their ruin.

That Mr˙ Philip Sansom, their partner, who has been distinguished for his warm attachment to American liberty, though not concerned in the indiscreet step taken by the memorialists, is yet involved in all its fatal consequences. That besides the weight of distress and sufferings to which the memorialists themselves have been exposed, not only from their great losses, but the resentment of an incensed people, their present situation must be attended with a train of evils to the innocent who are connected with them in business; their creditors must suffer; those who depended on their large commercial business for bread, are turned out of employ, and the publick deprived of the advantages which necessarily flow from a continuance of their trade and commerce.

That the memorialists presume the American Congress, from the great and important ends of the Convention, will move only on publick principles, and therefore think it improper to address their tender and benevolent feelings, not doubting but every generous and humane sentiment towards the memorialists, which is consistent with the publick good, will have their due influence in a determination of this subject, in which the memorialists are so deeply interested.

Permit them, then, to hope that this august and respectable body, from a consideration of the conduct of the memorialists in this affair; from their utmost endeavours to atone, in some measure, for their indiscretion; from the great and complicated distress they have already sustained; from the circumstance that the innocent are deeply involved in their sufferings; and that a continuation of their sufferings can only perpetuate their calamities, without advancing the important ends of publick safety, will, in their wisdom, reinstate the memorialists in their former situation, with respect to their commercial privileges.