Committee of Sixty
The Committee of Sixty was an extra-legal group formed in New York City, in 1775, by rebels to enforce the Continental Association, a boycott of British goods enacted by the First Continental Congress. It was the successor to the Committee of Fifty-one and was replaced by the Committee of One Hundred.
Committee of Fifty (and fifty-one)
The Committee of Fifty was formed May 16, 1774 in response to the news that the port of Boston would be closed under the Boston Port Act. Previous to this committee's formation, opposition to the British was organized through the informal leadership of the Sons of Liberty and the Committee of Correspondence. Isaac Low was selected as chairman of the new Committee of Fifty. The Committee was the first formed for action, as opposed to the previous Committee of Correspondence. On May 16, Francis Lewis was added to make it the Committee of Fifty-One. From late 1774, the Committee exercised effective control of New York City, and declared that Boston was "suffering in the defense of the rights of America". On May 23, 1774 the Committee called for a Continental Congress. This congress, which became known as the First Continental Congress, was convened on September 5, 1774. Isaac Low, James Duane, Philip Livingston, John Alsop, and John Jay attended as New York's delegates. The more radical Sons of Liberty rejected these delegates and proposed their own slate. The First Continental Congress resolved to boycott British imports and the Committee of Fifty-One formed a sub-committee of Observation for enforcement of this boycott.
Committee of Sixty
The committee was replaced by the Committee of Sixty which was elected in New York City on March 15, 1775. This Committee issued a call to the counties of New York to send delegates to a Provincial Convention in New York City on April 20, to elect delegates to the Second Continental Congress. On April 23, news of the battle of Lexington and Concord arrived. On April 26, Isaac Low called for the dismissal of the Committee of Sixty and the convening of a Provincial Congress. Before such a congress could be formed a Committee of One Hundred was to be formed to perform the function of the Provincial Congress. On April 29, 1775 a mass meeting of residents signed a "General Association" whereby they agreed to obey the Continental Congress, the Committee of Sixty, and New York's Provincial Convention.
Committee of One Hundred
The Committee of Sixty was replaced by a more representative Committee of One Hundred on May 1, 1775. By May 4, the city had four companies of volunteers. On May 15, the Continental Congress ordered the construction of a fort at Kings Bridge, the construction of batteries in the Highlands, and the arming and training of a militia.
The Committee of One Hundred still considered itself loyal to the British Crown, but was instead opposed to the laws of the Parliament of Great Britain which they considered unconstitutional because they had no representation in it. The committee wrote to Governor Cadwallader Colden in May, 1775 "that though they are arming with the greatest diligence and industry; it is not with design to oppose, but to strengthen government in the due exercise of constitutional authority". In May, all inhabitants were asked to sign a Association. Anyone who refused to sign were to be called "enemies of this country". Some of the Loyalists were tarred and feathered. The committee disarmed all loyalists within its jurisdiction. The Committee of One Hundred was officially replaced by the New York Provincial Congress which first convened on May 23, 1775, but the committee continued to meet for a while.
- Launitz-Schurer, pg. 160