Although less well-known than the Marine Corps’ historical connection to The Tun, the Continental Navy, forerunner of the United States Navy does indeed have a history with The Tun. In 1775 the Second Continental Congress debated the need for a Navy to support the newly authorized Continental Army. Among the delegates was a New Englander who argued strongly that the newly united colonies needed a Navy to counter the blockading practices of the British Navy at American ports. Long an admirer of the Royal Navy and intimately familiar with its workings and organizational design, he effectively argued for a small Navy that could take the fight to the British, selectively choosing harassment patrols and intercepts of British war supplies needed by Washington’s new army. His name was John Adams.
The congressional record shows that he was appointed the head of the Naval Committee in August of 1775, and the committee agreed to meet regularly after session to begin to organize a naval service. History tells us that the committee met in a rented room on the second floor of a local tavern, the Tun Tavern, to draft the rules and organizational structure of a Continental Navy. Taking guidance from the structure and guidelines of the established and world renowned Royal Navy, by October they were ready to “man four vessels, to draw $100,000, and to “agree with such officers and seamen as are proper man and command such vessels”.
Though dwarfed by the Royal Navy, the new Continental Navy did an efficient job of harassing the Royal Navy and even took the fight to British shores, with raids at small ports in England that forced the Royal Navy to commit ships and men to defensive actions at home rather than attacking American merchant ships bringing valuable supplies from Europe.
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