Second Continental Congress: April 22, 1776
April 22, 1776
A new Committee of Five is created to respond to the vast amount of letters received. “The Propriety Colonies”—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina—are the focus of attention for William Whipple, Richard Henry Lee, and John Adams.
Link to date-related documents.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
A letter from the committee of safety of Maryland, of the 18th; a letter from Dr. Robert Boyd of the 19th; and a letter from the committee of inspection of Lancaster, of the 11, were read.
A letter from the commissioners going to Canada, dated Saratoga, of the 13th, a letter from General Washington, of the 19th, a letter from General Schuyler, of the 12th, with sundry letters and papers from Canada. and a letter from the committee of inspection of West Augusta, with two papers enclosed, were referred to Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, John Jay, Carter Braxton, and Thomas Johnson.
Resolved, That the consideration of the letter from the committee of safety of Maryland, be postponed until tomorrow.
The committee appointed to prepare a resolve respecting Messrs. Price and Haywood, reported.
Two requests made to the commissioners gone to Canada.
Resolved, That a money order be drawn on the treasurers, in favor of Samuel Fairlamb, for the use of Colonel Wayne’s battalion.
Congress approved the recommendation of the Committee on Qualifications, that Jacob Weaver, fill the vacancy in the 3d Pennsylvania battalion.
The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.
William Whipple to Joshua Brackett
The two most Southern Colonies have not been represented in Congress since I’ve been here, but their delegates are now on their way & daily Expected. [Editor’s Note. South Carolina delegates were present on April 24 and the Georgia delegates on May 20]
Richard Henry Lee to Charles Lee
You ask me why we hesitate in Congress. I’ll tell you my friend, because we are heavily clogged with instructions from these shamefully interested Proprietary people, and this will continue until Virginia sets the example of taking up Government, and sending peremptory Orders to their delegates to pursue the most effectual measures for the Security of America. It is most certain that the people in these Proprietary Colonies will then force the same measure, after which Adieu to Proprietary influence and timid senseless politics.
John Adams to James Warren
The Management of so complicated and mighty a Machine, as the United Colonies, requires the Meekness of Moses, the Patience of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon, added to the Valor of Daniel.
They are advancing by slow but sure Steps, to that mighty Revolution, which You and I have expected for Some Time. Forced Attempts to accelerate their Motions, would have been attended with Discontent and perhaps Convulsions.
The News from South Carolina, has aroused and animated all the Continent. [Editor’s Note. The South Carolina Provincial Congress adopted a new constitution on March 26] It has Spread a visible Joy, and if North Carolina and Virginia should follow the Example, it will Spread through all the rest of the Colonies like Electric Fire.
The Royal Proclamation, and the late Act of Parliament, have convinced the doubting and confirmed the timorous and wavering. The two Proprietary Colonies only, are still cool. But I hope a few Weeks will alter their Temper.
Another Thing, if you are so unanimous, in the Measure of Independency and wish for a Declaration of it, now is the proper Time for you to instruct your Delegates to that Effect. It would have been productive of Jealousies perhaps and animosities, a few Months ago, but would have a contrary Tendency now. The Colonies are all at this Moment turning their Eyes, that Way. Vast Majorities in all the Colonies now see the Propriety and Necessity of taking the decisive Steps, and those who are averse to it are afraid to Say much against it. And therefore Such an Instruction at this Time would comfort and cheer the Spirits of your Friends, and would discourage and dishearten your Enemies.
Colonel Whipple’s Letters from New Hampshire, are nearly in the Same Strain with yours to me, vizt that all are now united in the great Question. His Letters inform him that even of the Protesters there is now but one left, who is not zealous for Independency….
I do not at all wonder, that so much Reluctance has been Shown to the Measure of Independency. All great Changes are irksome to the human Mind, especially those which are attended with great Dangers, and uncertain Effects. No Man living can foresee the Consequences of such a Measure. And therefore I think it ought not to have been undertaken, until the Design of Providence, by a series of great Events, had so plainly marked out the Necessity of it that he that runs might read….
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.