Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: April 26, 1776

April 26, 1776

A five member committee is created to consider the state of the eastern department, the “the late disturbances in Canada” and troop misconduct receive particular attention.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the Secret Committee settle and repay Connecticut the powder lent to General Washington, for the use of the continent.

Resolved, That the sum of 50,000 dollars be sent to the committee of safety of Virginia, and that the president request them to use their utmost endeavors to have it exchanged into specie, and remit the same to the continental treasurers.

Resolved, That the sum of 250,000 dollars be sent to the pay master in Virginia, for the use of the continental troops.

A letter from Dr. Thomas Cadwalader giving an account of Allan Cameron’s state of health, was laid before Congress, and read.

Resolved, That the said A. Cameron be allowed the benefit of air in his room, and of walking an hour every morning in the yard, in company of the jailer, and that his uncle, Dr. M’Clean, be allowed to converse with Cameron with the jailer present.

Edmund Randolph, deputy muster master general of the Southern department, was chosen by the citizens of Williamsburg, to represent them in Convention, and an ordinance having been passed, excluding all persons holding any military post of profit from a seat, wished to resign his office.

Resolved, That the resignation of Edmund Randolph be accepted.

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to consider the state of the eastern department, and provide a report. The members chosen: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Johnson, George Wythe, Benjamin Harrison, and James Duane.

The Committee of Claims reported, that one claim is due.

Ordered, That the account be paid.

The committee, to whom the letters from General Washington of the 22 and 23, were referred, brought in their report, which was read.

Resolved, That the pay of the aids de camp of the commander in chief be increased; that none of the troops already raised be disbanded for lack of arms; and that the General apply to the convention, and committee of safety of New York, for such arms, as may have been collected under the resolve of Congress, for disarming non-associators and disaffected persons and that they be delivered to the New York troops.

Resolved, That Mr. Baldwin, the assistant engineer, ordered to Canada, be allowed, in consideration of his merit, the pay and rank of lieutenant colonel.

Resolved, That the respective governments from whence militias have come for the defense of the city of New York, transmit to Congress, authenticated accounts of monies due to such militias in order that they be immediately settled and discharged.

Resolved, That this Congress approve the assistance given by the General to Commodore Hopkins.

Resolved, That further consideration of the report be referred until tomorrow.

Congress then considered the report of the committee on the petition of Colonel James Easton.

The testimonials produced by the petitioner indicate that he and his battalion behaved with great diligence, activity, and spirit in the successful enterprise against General Prescot, and the vessels and troops under his command, in the river Sorel, in which important service they were joined by Colonel Bedel and a part of his regiment–that to encourage the party employed in that important service, the late Major General Montgomery promised them all the public stores which should be taken in the vessels under General Prescot’s command, excepting ammunition and provisions; And, as the petitioner alleges that no part of those stores was delivered, nor any composition made to the troops concerned in the acquisition; Therefore,

Resolved, That it be recommended to the general commanding in Canada, to appoint commissioners to estimate all the public stores taken with General Prescot, (except ammunition and provisions) and pay the value thereof among the officers and men employed in that service, in such proportions as the commissioners shall determine.

As the petitioner’s account of monies received, and disbursements made by him for the use of his regiment, on which he claims a balance, can, for want of proper vouchers and information here, only be adjusted in Canada, where the business was transacted,

Resolved, That the same be referred for settlement in such mode as the Commissioners from Congress, in that province, shall direct.

Resolved, That 200 dollars be advanced to him in part of his demand against the United Colonies.

With regard to the petitioner’s request, that a court of inquiry may be called respecting the charge against him and Major Brown, for plundering the effects of the prisoners

Resolved, That the Commissioners from Congress, in Canada, be instructed to cause an inquiry to be made by a court martial giving him an opportunity to defend himself; and that the proceedings be transmitted to Congress, in order that Justice may be done to the petitioner, if he has been accused without sufficient reason.

The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock to Morrow.

John Hancock to the Commissioners to Canada

The late Disturbances in Canada, owing to an Insurrection of a Number of the Inhabitants, have, for some Time, occupied the most serious Attention of Congress. In Pursuance of which they have come into sundry Resolves calculated both to increase our military Force in that Country, and to allay the Fears & Apprehensions of the People. Of this latter Kind is the Resolve I herewith transmit…. [Editor’s Note. On April 23rd Congress instructed the commissioners to prepare an address to the people of Canada concerning their grievances against the American Army.]

John Hancock to Philip Schuyler

It is indeed to be lamented that the Misconduct of our Troops should have given Occasion to the Canadians to proceed such Lengths as to commence Hostilities…. Though it is much to be wished that the subaltern Officers in Canada had exerted themselves more in keeping the Troops in Order, yet I am apt to think, the utmost Vigilance could not have totally prevented all Irregularities. But we were compelled unprepared hastily to take up the Weapons of Self Preservation, and have consequently had numberless Difficulties to struggle with; of which the Expedition into Canada has been a continued Scene. This is the true source of all our Misfortunes with which you are too well acquainted to make it necessary for me to repeat them….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.