Journals of the Continental Congress

First Continental Congress: September 7, 1774

September 7, 1774

The session opened with an extemporaneous prayer by Reverend Duché of Christ Church.  The Congress created two sub-committees to deal with 1) grievances and rights and 2) trade.  The colonies were equally represented on these two committees by representatives chosen by the Congress.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

“A great majority” voted for “two from each of the Colonies” on the first sub-committee.  New Hampshire: John Sullivan and Nathaniel Folsom.  Massachusetts: Samuel Adams and John Adams.  Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward.  Connecticut: Eliphalet Dyer and Roger Sherman.  New York: James Duane and John Jay.  New Jersey, William Livingston and John Dehart.  Delaware: Cæsar Rodney and Thomas McKean.  Maryland: Thomas Johnson and Robert Goldsborough.  Virginia: Richard Henry Lee and Edmund Pendleton.  South Carolina: Thomas Lynch and John Rutledge.

“Agreed, that the Second Committee consist of one chosen from each Colony.”  New Hampshire: John Sullivan.  Massachusetts: Thomas Cushing.  Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins.  Connecticut: Silas Deane.  New York: Isaac Low.  New Jersey: James Kinsey.  Pennsylvania: Thomas Mifflin.  Delaware: George Read.  Maryland: Samuel Chase.  Virginia: Patrick Henry.  South Carolina: Christopher Gadsden.

“Resolved, That the President may adjourn the Congress from day to day, when he finds there is no business prepared to be laid before them, and may, when he finds it necessary, call them together before the time to which they may stand adjourned.”

Adjourned until tomorrow Morning, 9 o’Clock.

The Congress met according to adjournment.

Agreeable to the resolve of yesterday, the meeting was opened with prayers by the Revd. Mr. Duché.

Voted, That the thanks of the Congress be given to Mr. Duché, by Mr. Cushing and Mr. Ward, for performing divine Service, and for the excellent prayer, which he composed and delivered on the occasion.

Adjourned till Monday next at 9 o’Clock.

John Adams’ Diary

Went to congress again. Heard Mr. Duchè read Prayers. The Collect for the day, the 7th of the Month, was most admirably adapted, though this was accidental, or rather Providential. A Prayer, which he gave us of his own Composition, was as pertinent, as affectionate, as sublime, as devout, as I ever heard offered up to Heaven. He filled every Bosom present.

Dined with Mr. Miers Fisher, a young Quaker and a Lawyer. We saw his Library, which is clever. But this plain Friend, and his plain, though pretty Wife, with her Thee’s and Thou’s, had provided us the most Costly Entertainment-Ducks, Hams, Chickens, Beef, Pigg, Tarts, Creams, Custards, Geles, fools, Trifles, floating Islands, Beer, Porter, Punch, Wine and a long &c.

We had a large Collection of Lawyers, at Table. Mr. Andrew Allen, the Attorney General, a Mr. Morris, the Prothonotary, Mr. Fisher, Mr. McKean, Mr. Rodney–besides these We had Mr. Reed, Governor Hopkins and Governor Ward. We had much Conversation upon the Practice of Law, in our different Provinces, but at last We got swallowed up, in Politics, and the great Question of Parliamentary Jurisdiction. Mr. Allen asks me, from whence do you derive your Laws? How do you entitle yourselves to English Privileges? Is not Lord Mansfield on the Side of Power?

[Editor’s Note.  According to William Chauncey Ford et al., John Adams says the first sub-committee to “state the rights &c” met on the 8th, “and a most ingenious, entertaining debate we had.”  Another meeting was held on the 9th where they “agreed to found our rights upon the laws of Nature, the principles of the English Constitution, and charters and compacts” and “ordered a Sub-Committee to draw up a Statement of Rights.”  Apparently, Galloway and Duane argued against an appeal to the laws of nature; John Adams insisted on retaining it.  A sub-committee met from the 10th to the 14th, and then reported to the Congress.  On the 14th a sub-committee was created to “state the infringements of our rights.” They presented the report to the Congress on September 24th] 

James Duane’s Propositions Before the Committee on Rights

[September 7-22, 1774]

A firm Union between the Parent State and her Colonies ought to be the great object of this Congress. It is this alone which can ensure the permanent Stability of the British Empire & the mutual Happiness of its’ respective Members. In the Resolves therefore to be adopted the Prerogatives of the Crown, the Interest of Great Britain and the Rights of the Colonies ought each to have their proper Influence, & our proceedings to be tempered not only with a Regard to justice but a desire of Reconciliation.

Reverend Jacob Duché Extemporaneous Prayer

The Rev Jacob Duche

Jacob Duché (1737–1798) was born in Philadelphia, educated at the University of Pennsylvania, ordained in Britain, and buried at St. Peter’s Church. He was the Rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia and husband of Elizabeth Hopkinson, sister of Francis Hopkins. He read the 35th Psalm, and then broke into an extemporaneous prayer which was well received by the delegates. On July 4, 1776, Duché helped Americanize the Book of Common Prayer. On July 9, Congress elected him its first official chaplain. In September 1777, however, he wrote an unpopular letter to George Washington at Valley Forge encouraging him to negotiate a peace treaty with the British. Duché fled to England, returned to America in 1792, and died in 1798.

Extemporaneous Prayer

O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American States, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved bands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.