Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: April 1, 1776

April 1, 1776

Congress resolves two military pay issues and clarifies, with numerous and layered accountability requirements, the Resolution of February 17 for “superintending the treasury.” John Adams and Richard Henry Lee expect an independence from Britain.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

The committee to whom the application of Captain White Eyes was referred, brought in their report, which was read and postponed until tomorrow.

The Congress having, on the 17th of February last, appointed a standing committee for superintending the treasury, with power, among other things, to employ and instruct proper persons for liquidating the public accounts; and the said resolution not being sufficiently explicit, with respect to the manner and place of settling those accounts, and nothing being of greater consequence, than that the public accounts should be regularly stated and kept, and justly liquidated and settled;

Resolved, therefore, That a treasury office of accounts, accountable to the standing committee for the treasury, shall be created.  That an auditor general shall be appointed by Congress, “for stating, arranging, and keeping the public accounts.”

Moreover, all accounts and claims against the United Colonies shall be first be presented to, and approved by, the Committee of Claims, liquidated by them, and reported to and allowed by Congress, previous to their being passed and entered at the treasury office…shall be liquidated and settled at the treasury office, and reported for the allowance of Congress, by the committee for superintending the treasury, and then passed and entered at the treasury office.

That all contracts, securities, and obligations, for the use and benefit of the United Colonies, shall be lodged and kept in the treasury office of accounts; and that all persons to whom public monies have been or shall be advanced or paid, shall be charged with the same in the books of the said office, for which purpose every warrant on the treasury, which shall issue after the said office shall be opened, shall, previous to its being paid, be entered at the treasury office, and the entry certified on the warrant, by one of the committee of the treasury, the auditor general, or one of his assistants or clerks; provided, however, that all orders or warrants issued by committees appointed and authorized by Congress to draw on the treasurers for particular purposes, shall be paid and charged to the account of the said committees respectively, until they shall settle and have their accounts passed by Congress, when the debits against them shall be discharged in the treasury office, by such credits as Congress shall agree to and allow:

That all assemblies, conventions, councils, and committees of safety, commissaries, pay masters, and others, entrusted with public monies, shall, within a reasonable time, after being called upon for that purpose by the committee of the treasury, produce their accounts and vouchers at the treasury office, in order to their being settled and adjusted in the manner before directed:

That the committee for superintending the treasury shall be authorized to apply to the commanding officers and others, in the continental service, for such materials and information, as the committee may judge to be useful, for stating, explaining, or checking the public accounts, in order to their being fairly and justly settled:

That the auditor general and his assistants or clerks, before entering upon their offices, shall, respectively, take an oath, to be administered by one or more of the committee of the treasury office (a certificate whereof shall be filed in the treasury office) well and faithfully to execute the trust reposed in them, as auditor, assistant, or clerk, (as the case may be,) of the office of accounts, established by Congress, according to the best of their skill and judgment, and to disclose no matter, the knowledge of which shall be acquired in consequence of such their office, which they shall be directed to keep secret:

That the committee for superintending the treasury shall be authorized to hire suitable places, and procure books of accounts and other necessaries at the public expense, for the establishing and doing the business of the said office.

Resolved, That Major James Hewes, a prisoner at Elizabethtown, be allowed and ordered to come to Philadelphia for the benefit of his health, and there wait on the Committee for Prisoners, and take their directions with respect to the place of his future residence.

Resolved, That Thomas Mc’Kean and Robert Treat Paine be directed to examine the jail [of Philadelphia,] and particularly the apartments where Kirkland, Connolly, Smith and Cameron are confined, and report what is necessary to be done to have them safely and securely kept.

Resolved, That a committee of three– Robert Morris, Thomas Mc’Kean, and John De Hart– be appointed to confer with James Mc’Knight, and examine into his account, and the nature of his claim, and report thereon to Congress.

Congress implemented the recommendation of The Committee on Qualifications that Jacob Kemper, Junior be appointed an Ensign in Captain Howell’s company in the first New Jersey battalion, in the room of Cyprus De Hart, who has resigned,

Resolved, That the president, in the first letter he writes to General Schuyler, desire him to send an account of the lead at Ticonderoga.

A letter from Alexander Mc’Donald, George Gillespie, and J. W. Sanders, of the 12 of March, was presented to Congress, read and referred to Robert Morris, Thomas Mc’Kean, and John De Hart.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to George Washington

We have no Reason to expect Peace from Britain.

I congratulate you, Sir, as well as all the Friends of Mankind on the Reduction of Boston, an Event which appeared to me of so great and decisive Importance, that the next Morning after the Arrival of the News, I did myself the Honor to move, for the Thanks of Congress to your Excellency and that a Medal of Gold should be Struck, in Commemoration of it.  Congress have been pleased to appoint me, with two other Gentlemen to prepare a Device.  I should be very happy to have your Excellency’s Sentiments concerning a proper one.  [Washington left the design of the medal to the committee of Congress.]

Richard Henry Lee to Landon Carter

It is curious to observe that whilst people here are disputing and hesitating about independency, the Court by one bold Act of Parliament, and by a conduct the most extensively hostile, have already put the two Countries asunder….The vicious principle has pervaded every heart, perverted every head, and will govern every movement of that Body.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.