Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: April 29, 1776

April 29, 1776

A Committee of Five is selected to recommend a response to several letters and papers. Resumed consideration of keeping the peace between the Indian tribes and the United Colonies. William Whipple and John Adams reflect on the one person, one job, resolution passed by Congress in January at the request of the Maryland delegates. And John Adams gives advice on constituting republican government.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Sundry Letters and papers were laid before Congress and read.

A letter from 1) General Washington of the 25th, with enclosures, 2) Major Wrixon, declining the commission of chief engineer, and 3) the council of safety of Maryland, with the examination of Alexander Ross, and sundry papers found in his possession.

Resolved, That the letters from General Washington and the council of safety of Maryland, with Ross’s papers, be referred to a committee of five: Benjamin Harrison, Edward Rutledge, Robert Goldsborough, Robert Treat Paine, and Cæsar Rodney.

A letter from 1) General Lee of the 19th, 2) Thomas Bullit and a petition from Dr. J. Potts, was presented to Congress and read.

Resolved, That they be referred to the committee of five.

Resolved, That letters be written by the president to General Schuyler and the committee of safety of New York, requesting them to inform Congress about the status of approved continental commissions.

Resolved, That Captain Peter Adams, from Maryland, under whose custody Alexander Ross was brought to this city, be dismissed, and that the said Alexander Ross be delivered to the officer Commanding the continental troops in Pennsylvania.

Resolved, That a standing committee of five be appointed for Indian affairs; the members will be selected tomorrow.

Resolved, That the Congress parole Captain [A.] M’Gee, but he is not to encourage the Indian nations to make war against the colonies.

The Committee of Claims reported that there are two claims due.

Ordered, That the claims be paid.

The Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the committee on the letters from General Washington of the 19th, &c. 

Resolved, That the papers from Fort Pitt be referred to the committee appointed to consider the state of Indian affairs in the middle department, and that the said committee be instructed to prepare a plan of an expedition against Fort Detroit.

Resolved, That no Traders ought to go into the Indian country without license from the agent in the department; and that care be taken to prevent exorbitant prices for goods being exacted from the Indians.

Resolved, That a ton of powder be sent to Mr. G. Morgan, to be distributed to such Indians as the agent shall be convinced are in our interest.

Resolved, That measures be immediately taken to procure goods to supply the Indians at the treaties ordered to be held with them.

Resolved, That the Line between the Indians and these Colonies, agreed upon at Fort Stanwix, ought to be adhered to, and no Surveys or Encroachments made of their Lands.  And that the late Attempt to survey Montours Island on the Ohiom, is unjustifiable and ought immediately to be cancelled.

Resolved, That the councils of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and the governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island, take the most speedy and effectual measures to collect as much hard money in their respective colonies as possible, and send the same, to General Schuyler, and draw upon the Congress for the amount.

Resolved, that Mr. Price go to Canada immediately.

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

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

William Whipple to John Langdon

As to the Agency I wrote you that I had nominated you in Committee, where there was no objection, nor did I imagine there would be in Congress, but I was mistaken, for when the nomination came before Congress, there was objections from every part of the room on account of your being a member. It was proposed to be put off which I did not object to, finding I should not be able to carry it at that time. There has since been a motion that no Member of Congress shall hold any lucrative office; if this should not obtain I shall make another attempt. You say you’ll resign your seat in Congress rather than not have the Agency; if my advice can have any weight with you, you certainly will not. Such a step would have an avaricious appearance and on the other hand there cannot be a greater evidence of patriotism, than preferring the public good, to one’s private interest.

John Adams to James Otis, Sr. (Boston Patriot)

As the day of the general election draws nigh, I think it my duty to express my grateful acknowledgments to the honorable electors of the last year, for the honor they did me in choosing me into the council. My station in the continental Congress has made it impossible for me to attend my duty at the honorable board; and as the same cause must prevent my attendance during a great part of the ensuing year, and the dangers and distresses of the times will require the assistance of the whole
number, I cannot think it becoming in me to deprive the colony of the advice of a counsellor, for the sake of keeping open a seat for me. I must therefore beg the favor of you, to make my resignation known to the two honorable Houses, and request them to choose another gentleman to that honorable seat, who will be able to discharge the duties of it.

John Adams to John Penn (North Carolina Politician)

The account you give of the Temper and Sentiments of the People in Virginia and Carolina, and their general Inclination to those Measures which will be absolutely necessary for the Preservation of their Liberties is very encouraging.

I cannot Sufficiently admire the Spirit and Valor of the Gentlemen of North Carolina. May Heaven reward them for their Magnanimity, by establishing a free Constitution, for their Children-and I know of no greater Reward in this Life….

The Baseness and Cruelty of your Enemies don’t Surprise me. They are all alike, in general, at least, through the Continent abandoned to a reprobate Sense. You tell me that all Fondness for the King and Nation is gone. This is the Effect of the late Act of Parliament everywhere….

Rejoice to hear that you are forming a Constitution, but it is whispered here that …you are divided about the Form. For God’s Sake teach one another Patience, and Forbearance. The Majority must govern in Committees and Assemblies. There is-there can be no other Rule. And when a Measure is carried, it becomes the Duty of the Minority, not only to acquiese, but heartily to join in promoting it.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.