Primary Resource

An Act establishing a Board of War (June 1779)

With this act, passed in June 1779, the General Assembly creates a Board of War under the governor.

Transcription from Original


An Act establishing a Board of War.

BE it enacted by the General Assembly, That a board of war shall be constituted to consist of five persons to be chosen by joint ballot of both houses of assembly at the first session of every assembly, and to continue in office until the next choice shall be made; but any member may be removed within that time by joint vote of both houses, and thereupon, as also on the death, resignation, or refusal to act of any member, they shall proceed to choose another, to act in his stead and during his term, and if such death, resignation, or refusal to act, happen during the recess of assembly, the governour and council may appoint some person to act in the said office, until the end of the next session of assembly; the members having in some court of record, or before some judge or justice thereof, given assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth and taken the following oath: "I A. B. do solemnly promise and swear, that I will faithfully, impartially, and justly perform the duty of my office of a member of the board of war, according to the best of my skill and judgment. So help me God." Any three of them may proceed to business, and he who is first in the nomination shall preside.

The duty of the said board shall be to superintend and manage, subject to the direction and controul of the governour with the advice of the council, all matters and things within the department of war, and all persons holding offices or performing duties within that department; all their resolutions, proceedings, and orders before they are carried into execution, shall be signed by the governour; the said board shall depute by rotation, unless they can otherwise agree, some one of their members to visit, and personally examine and report, once in every two months at the least, the condition of the military stores and provision in the several magazines, they shall also appoint a commissary of prisoners.

They shall sit at such places and in such apartments as the governour with the advice of the council shall direct; and if at any time they shall be separated, and occasion for their meeting shall arise, the governour shall have power to call them together; they shall have authority from time to time, to appoint a commissioner of the navy, and also their own clerk; which clerk and commissioner, shall severally take an oath of office, and also to keep secret all such matters as they shall direct to be kept secret; the said oath may be administered by any member of the board.