Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: April 2, 1776

April 2, 1776

Congress debates the report of the committee appointed to give guidance to the “commanders of private ships of war,” and delivers a Letter of Thanks to George Washington. John Adams continues to chronicle the great difficulty in the American Mind: war or reconciliation? “We continue Still between Hawk and Buzzard.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from General Washington, of the 24 March, with 5 papers enclosed, was laid before Congress and read.

The committee appointed to prepare the form of a commission, and instructions to commanders of private ships of war, brought in the same, which were read and debated.  “After some time spent thereon,” Resolved, “That it be recommitted, and that it be an instruction to the committee, to fill up the blanks in said instructions as they shall think best.”

The committee appointed to prepare a letter of thanks to General Washington, and the troops under his command, brought in a draught, which being read, was agreed to, transcribed, and signed by the president.  

Congressional Letter of Thanks to General Washington

It gives me the most sensible Pleasure to convey to you, by Order of Congress the only Tribute, which a free People will ever consent to Pay; the Tribute of Thanks and Gratitude to their Friends and Benefactors.

The disinterested and patriotic Principles which led you to the Field, have also led you to Glory: and it affords no little Consolation to your Countrymen to reflect, that, as a peculiar Greatness of Mind induced you to decline any Compensation for serving them, except the Pleasure of promoting their Happiness, they may, without your Permission, bestow upon you the largest Share of their Affections and Esteem.

Those Pages in the Annals of America, will record your Title to a conspicuous Place in the Temple of Fame, which shall inform Posterity, that under your Directions, an undisciplined Band of Husband-men, in the Course of a few Months, became Soldiers; and that the Desolation meditated against the Country, by a brave Army of Veterans, commanded by the most experienced Generals, but employed by bad Men in the worst of Causes, was, by the Fortitude of your Troops, and the Address of their officers, next to the kind Interposition of Providence, confined for near a Year, within such narrow Limits, as scarcely to admit more Room than was necessary for the Encampments and Fortifications, they lately abandoned.

Accept, therefore, Sir, the Thanks of the United Colonies, unanimously declared by their Delegates, to be due to you, and the brave Officers and Troops under your Command; and be pleased to communicate to them, this distinguished Mark of the Approbation of their Country.

The Congress have ordered a Golden Medal, adapted to the Occasion, to be struck, and when finished, to be presented to you.

The committee on prisoners, to whom the letter from M. Belestre, of the 16 of March last, was referred, brought in their report, which was read and agreed to.

A petition of William Lindsay being presented to Congress and read.  Resolved, That Colonel Wayne be directed to discharge his son Robert from his battalion.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to Joseph Palmer

Since my return to this Place, I have lived in tolerable good Humor with our old Friend [Robert Treat Paine] notwithstanding the rash Anger he expressed in certain Letters….I have ever lived in Friendship with him, until in the Month of August last he was pleased to quarrel with me, chiefly on Account of some Important Points of Rank, I suppose. But these Seem to be blown over.

The Evacuation of Boston is a great Event, and if wisely improved will be a decisive one.  But We must fortify the Harbor.  I must intreat you to let me know, with what Quantities of Powder you are likely to be Supplied and what Cannon you have, or can get, or what you want….The Tories, I think will never lose Sight of that Town; if they can possibly, prevail on the Ministry to set on foot another Expedition against it, they will.  They will pursue it with a Bitterness and Severity, inexpressible.  Fortify, Fortify, and never let them get in again.

We continue Still between Hawk and Buzzard.  Some People yet expect Commissioners to treat with Congress-and to offer a Chart blanc. All declare if they do not come impowered to treat with Us, and grant Us our Bill of Rights, in every Iota, they will hesitate no longer.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.