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1842 Navy Food and Spirit Ration

An Act to establish and regulate the navy ration.

With the signing of the Act by President John Tyler, on August 29, 1842, the navy ration saw its first real modification since 1801. The new law offered healthier options that included fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the "rum ration" was cut in half from a ½ pint to a gill (¼ pint). The law also forbade any Sailor under the age of 21 to partake in the spirit portion of the ration -- in lieu of the spirit, underage Sailors, and those who opted out of that portion of the ration, were paid the going rate in cash.

Law as Written [1]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the navy ration shall consist of the following daily allowance of provisions for each person.

One pound of salted pork, with half a pint of peas or beans; or one pound of salted beef, with half a pound of flour, and a quarter of a pound of raisins, dried apples, or other dried fruits; or one pound of salt beef with half a pound of rice, two ounces of butter, and two ounces of cheese; together with fourteen ounces of biscuit, one quarter of an ounce of tea, or ounce of coffee, or one ounce of cocoa; two ounces of sugar, and one gill of spirits; and of a weekly-allowance of half a pound of pickles or cranberries, half a pint of molasses, and half a pint of vinegar.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That fresh meat may be substituted for salted beef or pork, and vegetables or sour-crout for the other articles usually issued with the salted meats, allowing one and a quarter pounds of fresh meat for one pound of salted beef or pork, and regulating the quantity of vegetables or sour-crout so as to equal the value of those articles for which they may be substituted.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That, should it be necessary to vary the above described daily allowance, it shall be lawful to substitute pound of soft bread, or one pound of floor, or half a pound of rice, for fourteen ounces of biscuit; half a pint of wine for a gill of spirits; half a pound of rice for half a pint of beans or peas; half a pint of beans or peas for half a pound of rice. When it may be deemed expedient by the President of the United States, Secretary of the Navy, commander of a fleet or squadron, or of a single ship when not acting under the authority of another officer on foreign service, the articles of butter, cheese, raisins, dried apples or other dried fruits, pickles and molasses, may be substituted for each other and for spirits: Provided, The article substituted shall not exceed in value the article for which it may be issued, according to the scale of prices which is or may be established for the same.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That in cases of necessity, the daily allowance of provisions may be diminished or varied by the discretion of the senior officer present in command, but payment shall be made to the persons whose allowance shall be thus diminished, according to the scale of prices which is or may be established for the same: but a commander who shall thus make a diminution or variation shall report to his commanding officer or to the Navy Department, the necessity for the same, and give to the purser written orders specifying particularly the diminution or reduction which is to be made.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That no commissioned officer or midshipman, or any person under twenty-one years of age, shall be allow to draw the spirit part of the daily ration, and all other persons shall be permitted to relinquish that part of their ration, under such restrictions as the President of the United States may authorize: and to every person who, by this section, is prohibited from drawing, or who may relinquish, the spirit part of his ration, there shall be paid in lieu thereof, the value of the same in money, according to the prices which are or may be established for the same.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That the provisions of this act shall go into effect in the United States, on the first day of the succeeding quarter after it becomes a law, and in vessels abroad, on the first day of the succeeding quarter after its official receipt: and any and parts of acts which may be contrary to, or inconsistent with, the provisions of this act, shall be and are hereby repealed.

APPROVED, August 29, 1842.


1801 Ration | 1861 Ration


[1]United States Statutes at Large, Volume 05, pg. 546-547, Government Printing Office.

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