Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: April 6, 1776

April 6, 1776

Congress passes Import-Export Regulations and the Committee for Prisoners proposes a four-part report. John Dickinson Sergeant is “rather in the Dumps,” and Robert Morris wonders “whether the Liberties of America can be established & Secured by reconciliation, or whether we must totally renounce Connection with Great Britain & fight our way to a total Independence.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the resolution respecting the sloop Sally, passed on Thursday last, be reconsidered, and that it be recommitted to the same committee.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to supply Captain Romans with 24 muskets for the use of his company.

Resolved, That the said committee be directed to deliver to Colonel St. Clair six lbs. of powder and four pounds of lead, for the use of the riffle company in his battalion.

The Congress resumed consideration of the report from the committee of the whole; and the same being twice read, and debated by paragraphs, was agreed to as follows:

Resolved, That any goods, wares, and merchandise, except staves and empty casks, other than shaken or knocked down casks for molasses, may be exported from the thirteen United Colonies, by the inhabitants thereof, and by the people of all such countries as are not subject to the King of Great Britain, to any parts of the world which are not under the dominion of the said King; provided, that no vessel be permitted to export any greater number of shaken or knocked down molasses casks, than the same vessel is capable of carrying when they shall be filled with Molasses.

Resolved, That any goods, wares, and merchandise, except such as are of the growth, production, or manufacture of, or brought from any country under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, and except East India Tea, may be imported from any other parts of the world to the thirteen United Colonies, by the inhabitants thereof, and by the people of all such countries as are not subject to the said King; liable, however, to all such duties and impositions as now are, or may hereafter be laid by any of the said colonies.

Resolved, That nothing herein contained shall be understood to prevent such future commercial regulations as shall be thought just and necessary by these United Colonies, or their respective legislatures.

Resolved, That no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the assemblies and conventions in the several colonies, to appoint proper officers, at convenient places in their respective colonies, to take bonds, in adequate penalties, for observing the regulations made by the Congress, or assemblies, or conventions, concerning trade, and for securing the observation of such parts of the association as are not inconsistent therewith….

Resolved, That all goods, wares, and merchandise, except such as are made prize of, which shall be imported directly or indirectly from Great Britain or Ireland, into any of these United Colonies, contrary to the regulations established by Congress, shall be forfeited and disposed of, agreeable to such rules as shall be made by the several assemblies or conventions, and shall be liable to prosecution and condemnation in any court erected, or to be erected, for the determination of maritime affairs, in the colony where the seizure shall be made.

Ordered, That the above resolutions be published.

Resolved, That a committee of three–Robert Morris, John Jay, and Thomas Mc’Kean– be appointed to bring in a resolution for disposing of and using the Tea now in these colonies:

The Committee of Claims reported that there is a claim due to Robert Erwin.

Ordered, That the above be paid.

The committee to whom the letters from General Schuyler, of the 7 and 19, and from William Paulding, of the 26 of March last, were referred, brought in their report.

Resolved, That the committee of inspection and observation of Albany settle the accounts of expenses incurred in the taking of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, which shall be laid before them by General Schuyler, and report the same to Congress.

Resolved, That Robert Yates be appointed secretary to the commissioners for Indian affairs in the northern department.

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee that the contract made on March 16th between the Committee of the Convention of New York and Mr. Abraham Livingston, for supplying the Troops employed for the defense of that Colony, etc., be confirmed.

Resolved, That the commissioners for Indian affairs in the northern department assure the Indians that Congress will do everything in their power to procure goods for them.

Resolved, That the remainder of the report be postponed.

A letter from General Washington of the 27 of March, and one from Brigadier General Heath, being received, were read,

Resolved, That the letter from General Washington, with the enclosed papers, be referred to a committee of the whole.

Resolved, That the sum of 100,000 dollars be sent to New York, for the use of the army there, in the service of the United Colonies.

The Committee for Prisoners brought in a report that contained four detailed Resolutions.

The Committee on Applications and Qualifications recommended that Samuel Checkley, fill up a vacancy of an ensign in the third Pennsylvania battalion:

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock on Tuesday next.

Robert Morris to Horatio Gates

I suppose you know that Doctor Franklin, Chase & two Mr. Carrols are gone to Canada and I hope a sufficient Force will be there to put Quebec under their direction for I jump in opinion with you, that Country must be ours at all Events.  Should it fall into the hands of The Enemy they will soon raise a Nest of Hornets on our backs that will Sting us to the quick.

In short, the Scene thickens and if our Enemies can find Men we may expect to be attacked in all quarters, but to do this they must Certainly have recourse to Foreigners as they cannot meet success in the Recruiting Service in any of the three Kingdoms. Where the plague are these Commissioners, if they are to come what is it that detains them; it is time we should be on a Certainty & know positively whether the Liberties of America can be established & Secured by reconciliation, or whether we must totally renounce Connection with Great Britain & fight our way to a total Independence. Whilst we Continue thus firmly United amongst ourselves there’s no doubt but either of these points may be carried, but it seems to me, We shall quarrel about which of these roads is best to pursue unless the Commissioners appear soon and lead us into the first path. Therefore I wish them to Come, dreading nothing so much as even an appearance of division amongst ourselves.

Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant to John Adams

If we fall I must ascribe it to our fatal Mismanagement…. But I hope we shall yet awake & at least not fall unrevenged.

How does this Report work with You? I hope it will rouse, not intimidate. We can if we are in Earnest cope with all this power & with the Assistance of Heaven may defeat them. If this is done I should hope, like the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, it will forever break the Force of our Enemies. I think You should neither exaggerate nor attempt to conceal such News if it be true or even probable; but let it work. If the People do not kindle at it, if they do not resolve now to exert themselves, they would do yet worse if it should come unexpectedly upon them. They should be solemnly appealed to, they should be called upon to make the last Effort of their Strength and I trust we may yet be delivered. I wish they had never been lulled into a Sort of Security from that State of Expectation of strong Attempts against us which they were in before the Talk of Commissioners.

You see I am rather in the Dumps….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.