Formation of the U.S. Navy

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The Algerine Pirates and the Creation of the Navy
An Act to Provide a Naval Armament, March 18, 1794
Henry Knox and Joshua Humphreys
The First Frigates--Technology and Philosophy


An Act to Provide a Naval Armament, March 18, 1794

Whereas the depredations committed by the Algerine corsairs on the commerce of the United States, render it necessary that a naval force should be provided for its protection.

Sect. I. Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States, be authorized to provide, equip and employ, four ships to carry forty guns each, and two ships to carry thirty-six guns each by purchase or otherwise.

Sect. II. And be it further enacted, That there shall be employed on board each of the said ships of forty guns, one captain, four lieutenants, one lieutenant of marines, one chaplain, one surgeon, and two surgeon's mates, and in each of the ships of thirty-six guns, one captain, three lieutenants, one lieutenant of marines, one surgeon, and one surgeon's mate, who shall be appointed, and commissioned, in like manner as other officers of the United States are.

Sect. III. And be it further enacted, That these shall be employed in each of the said ships, the following warrant officers, who shall be appointed by the President of the United States, to wit: one sailing master, one purser, one boatswain, one gunner, one sailmaker, one carpenter, and eight midshipmen; and the following petty officers, who shall be appointed by the captains of the ships, respectively, in which they are to be employed, viz. two master's mates, one captain's clerk, two boatswain's mates, one sailmaker's mate, two gunner's mates, one yeoman of the gun room, nine quarter gunners, (and for the four larger ships) two additional quarter gunners, two carpenter's mates, one armorer, one steward, one cooper, one master at arms, and one cook.

Sect. IV. And be it further enacted, That the crews of each of the said ships of forty-four guns, shall consist of 150 seamen, 100 midshipmen and ordinary seamen, one sergeant, one corporal, one drum, one fife and fifty marines; and that the crews of each of the said ships of thirty-six guns, shall consist of one hundred and thirty able seamen and midshipmen, ninety ordinary seamen, one sergeant, two corporals, one drum, one fife, and forty marines, over and above the officers herein before mentioned.

Sect. V. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States, be and is hereby empowered to provide by purchase or otherwise, in lieu of said ships a naval force not exceeding in whole, that by this act directed, so, that no ship thus provided shall carry less than thirty-two guns; as he may so provide and proportion thereof, which in his discretion he may think proper.

Sect. VI. And be it further enacted, That the pay and subsistence of the respective commissioned and warrant officers be as follows: A captain, seventy-five dollars per month, and six rations per day; a lieutenant, forty dollars per month, and three rations per day; a lieutenant of marines, twenty-six dollars per month, and two rations per day; a chaplain, forty dollars per month, and two rations per day; a sailing-master, forty dollars per month, and two rations per day; a surgeon, fifty dollars per month, and two rations per day; a surgeon's mate, thirty dollars per month, and two rations per day; a purser, forty dollars per month, and two rations per day; a gunner, fourteen dollars per month, and two rations per day; a sailmaker, fourteen dollars per month, and two rations per day; a carpenter, fourteen dollars per month, and two rations per day.

Sect. VII. And be it further enacted, That the pay to be allowed to the petty officers, midshipmen, seamen, ordinary seamen, and marines, shall be fixed by the President of the United States. Provided, that the whole sum to be given for the whole pay aforesaid shall not exceed 27,000 dollars per month: and that each of the said persons shall be entitled to one ration per day.

Sect. VIII. That it be further enacted, That the ration shall consist of as follows:

Sunday
  • 1 lb bread
  • 1 1/2 beef
  • 1/2 pint of rice

Monday

  • 1 bread
  • 1 pork
  • 1/2 pint peas, or beans
  • and 4 oz cheese

Tuesday

  • 1 lb bread
  • 1 1/2 beef
  • and 1 potatoes or turnips, and pudding

Wednesday

  • 1 lb bread
  • 2 oz butter
  • 4 cheese
  • and 1/2 pint rice
Thursday
  • 1 lb bread
  • 1 pork
  • and 1/2 pint peas, or beans

Friday

  • 1 lb bread
  • 1 salt fish, 2 oz butter or 1 gill of oil
  • and 1 of potatoes

Saturday

  • 1 lb bread
  • 1 pork
  • 1/2 pint peas, or beans
  • and 4 oz cheese

And there shall also be allowed one half pint of distilled spirits per day or in lieu thereof, one quart of beer per day to each ration.

Sect. IX. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That if a peace shall take place between the United States and the regency of Algiers, that no further proceedings be had under this act.

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Henry Knox and Joshua Humphreys

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