Journals of the Continental Congress

First Continental Congress: September 6, 1774

September 6, 1774

Present: The same members as yesterday, plus Richard Henry Lee from Virginia and Thomas McKean from Delaware.  The Congress passed several Resolutions dealing with the rules of debate, some of which anticipate the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  A secrecy rule was passed.  Patrick Henry declares that “I am not a Virginian, but an American.” John Jay responds: we are only here to correct the faults in the existing arrangement.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

The Morning Session

“Resolved, That in determining questions in this Congress, each Colony or Province shall have one Vote.–The Congress not being possessed of, or at present able to procure, proper materials for ascertaining the importance of each Colony.”

“Resolved, That no person shall speak more than twice on the same point, without the leave of the Congress,” and that “no question shall be determined the day, on which it is agitated and debated, if any one of the Colonies desire the determination to be postponed to another day.”

“Resolved, that the doors be kept shut during the time of business, and that the members consider themselves under the strongest obligations of honor, to keep the proceedings secret, until the majority shall direct them to be made public.”

“Resolved, That the Revd. Mr. Duché be desired to open the Congress tomorrow morning with prayers, at the Carpenter’s Hall, at 9 o’Clock.”

Adjourned to 5 o’Clock this afternoon.

The Evening Session

Thomas Johnson, from Maryland, took his seat.

The Library Company of Philadelphia offered to “furnish the gentlemen, who are to meet in Congress, with the use of such Books as they may have occasion for, during their sitting, taking a receipt for them.”

Adjourned until nine o’clock tomorrow.

[Editor’s Note. The Journal does not reveal the issue behind the scenes between Patrick Henry and John Jay concerning why the delegates were there in Philadelphia in the first place and how the delegates should vote]

John Adams’s Notes of Debates

Mr. Henry.  Government is dissolved….Where are your Land Marks? Your Boundaries of Colonies.  We are in a State of Nature, Sir, the Distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New Englanders, are no more.  I am not a Virginian, but an American.  Slaves are to be thrown out of the Question, and if the freemen can be represented according to their Numbers I am satisfied.

Mr. Lynch. Property ought to be considered, and that it ought to be a compound of Numbers and Property, that should determine the Weight of the Colonies.  I think it cannot be now settled.

Mr. Pendleton. If the Committee should find themselves unable to ascertain the Weight of the Colonies, by their Numbers and Property, they will report this, and this will lay the Foundation for the Congress to take some other Steps to procure Evidence of Numbers and Property at some future Time.

Mr. Henry.  I go upon the Supposition, that Government is at an End.  All Distinctions are thrown down.  All America is all thrown into one Mass. 

[Editor’s Note. The irony is that in the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1789, Henry objected to the opening phrase of the Preamble to the Constitution.  He wanted “We the States,” rather than “We the People.”]

 Mr. Jay. Could I suppose, that we came to frame an American Constitution, instead of endeavoring to correct the faults in an old one–I can’t yet think that all Government is at an End.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.