Congress resolves unanimously to instruct the Committee drafting an Address to King George to state that the colonies are prepared to defray the necessary expenses for supporting the colonies. Silas Deane records that a lengthy debate took place over Richard Henry Lee’s proposed amendment to put the colonies in “a state of defense.”
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Resolved unanimously, that it be an instruction to the committee, who are appointed to draw up an address to the King: “Whereas parliamentary taxes on America have been laid, on pretense of defraying the expenses of government, and supporting the administration of justice, and defending, protecting, and securing the Colonies,” that they do assure his Majesty, that the colonies have, or will make ample provision for defraying all the necessary expenses of supporting government, and the due administration of Justice in the respective colonies; that the militia, if put upon a proper footing, would be amply sufficient for their defense in time of peace; that they are desirous to put it on such a footing immediately; and that in case of war, the colonies are ready to grant supplies for raising any further forces that may be necessary.
Silas Deane’s Diary
The president in the Chair. Ten o’Clock–both Motions [Nonimportation and Nonexportation] read. Col. Lee makes a Motion for Amendment. [Editor’s Note. Richard Henry Lee’s Proposed Resolution “to apprise the public of danger, and of the necessity of putting the colonies in a state of defense” was eventually voted down]
Opposed by Mr. Rutledge as being out of the Line of Our Business, and in degree, a Declaration of War, which if intended, no other Measure ought to be taken Up, but that We should he says speak out at Once. Col. Lee opposes him & defends his Motion-that it is the- Duty of the Congress to put the Americans on defending themselves.
Mr. Roger Sherman, for it, confusedly enough though missed the Question & sat down. Col. Harrison against it, that it will tend, only to irritate, whereas Our Business is to reconcile–that we are unable to defend Ourselves. Mr. Henry for it. Says that a preparation for War is Necessary to obtain peace–That America is not Now in a State of peace–That all the Bulwarks, of Our Safety, of Our Constitution are thrown down, That We are Now in a State of Nature–That We ought to ask Ourselves the Question should the plans of Nonimportation & Nonexporation fail of success–in that Case Arms are Necessary, & if then, it is Necessary Now. Arms are a Resource to which We shall be forced, a Resource afforded Us by God & Nature, & why in the Name of both are We to hesitate providing them Now whilst in Our power.
Mr. Rutledge again moving to postpone this and to take it up here after that it is out of Order and is a New Motion.
Mr. Henry corrects him.
Mr. Rutledge again.
Col. Lee in the same Way.
Mr. Duane in support of his first Motion that he is not for War, nor are his people.
Mr. Rutledge again to Order.
Mr. Pendleton declares it to be in Order but that it is exceptionable and proposes it to be amended.
Mr. Rutledge Junior against it.
Col Dyer for it at large.
Mr. Low against it.
Col. Bland against it.
Mr. Henry again lengthy & zealous for it.
Mr. Hooper against it as a most impolitic measure at this Time & if pursued will defeat its design….
Mr. Duane again.
Mr. Lynch for it and Lengthy says We have already adopted much the same thing–That all Europe cannot subdue it, &c but proposes a different Bill which Col. Lee agrees to.
Mr. Jay says he would be for it were it as innocent as it is wise.
Col. Bland against it. The Motion was again altered & amended and the Question being put was carried Unanimously…. After long debating put off the Question until Tomorrow & adjourned.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.