Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 14, 1775

December 14, 1775

Congress speeds up the reading of the corrected journal and alters its morning procedures, creates a Committee of Thirteen on Armed Vessels, and discusses Article 2 of General Washington’s letter. Samuel Ward criticizes Nathaniel Shaw Jr. for breaking the Import-Export restrictions and Richard Smith describes how “Much of the Day was spent upon” Washington’s letter.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That half an hour every morning be employed in reading the corrected copy of the journal, till the whole is gone through.

Resolved, That every morning the minutes of the preceding day be read, before the Congress enter upon new business.

A part of the corrected Journal being read,

Ordered, That the journal, as corrected, be transcribed, in order to be sent to the press.

Congress, agreeable to the order of the day, appointed one member from each colony to the committee for carrying into execution the resolutions of Congress for fitting out armed vessels.

Resolved, That the said Committee consist of: Josiah Bartlett, John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Silas Deane, Francis Lewis, Stephen Crane, Robert Morris, Thomas McKean, George Read, Samuel Chase, Richard Henry Lee, Joseph Hewes, Christopher Gadsden, and John Houston. [Editor’s Note.  The Journal lists fourteen instead of thirteen members. Thomas McKean and George Read are both from Delaware]

The Congress considered a letter received yesterday from General Washington dated December 4th.

Resolved, That the second resolution in the report of the committee on General Washington’s letter, relative to transports, be recommitted.

Resolved, That Lieutenant Hay, of the 7th Regiment, who is now a prisoner, be permitted to return to Great Britain, on his parole, and not to take up arms against America, during the present dispute between Great Britain and these colonies.

A petition from Peter Berton, was laid before Congress and read.

Resolved, That the said petition, with the papers accompanying it, be referred to a committee of three: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Lynch, and Richard Smith.

Resolved, That further consideration of the General’s letter be referred till tomorrow.

The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Secret Committee Minutes of Proceedings

At a meeting of the Committee of Secrecy present Samuel Ward, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, Josiah Bartlett, Francis Lewis. A Contract was entered into between Willing Morris & Co. of the City of Philadelphia Merchants & the said Committee of Secrecy.

Samuel Ward to Nathaniel Shaw, Jr.

I was astonished to find by a Letter from Mr. Mumford that You were shipping live Cattle on Account of the united Colonies. There is an express Resolve of Congress that no horned Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, or Poultry should be exported and it must be owing to the great Haste in which your Permit was made out that it was not expressly inserted. You were informed however of the Purport of it by Mr. Deane as he recollects & I think by me. You will therefore if the Vessels have not sailed instantly stop the Exportation of any live Stock mentioned above. The Necessity of the strictest Compliance with every Resolve of Congress you are well sensible of; I doubt not therefore your immediate Compliance as you value the Interest of your Country.

Richard Smith’s Diary

Agreed to read the Minutes for the first Half Hour every Morning & also the preceding Day’s Transactions, accordingly the Journal was begun from the 5th of September last being the Time of Meeting after the last Adjournment. Ordered that the Votes be sent to the Press as fast as they are revised. Several Matters were marked to be omitted as improper for Public Inspection. Much of the Day was spent upon an Answer to that Part of General Washington’s Letters requesting Directions what to do with the Ships & Cargoes lately taken by our armed Vessels which was at length referred after learned Debates & Authorities from Vattel &c. Much Altercation Whether a former Resolution of Congress had passed against confiscating the Ships taken in Carrying Military Stores or Goods to Boston, the Colonies on Vote were equally divided upon it, however it was agreed that the Cargoes should be forfeited & that such Matters ought to be tried in the Admiralty Court and by the Course of the Law of Nations not of the Municipal Law. The President applied to the Congress to release Lieutenant Hay taken in Canada & now in Philadelphia he offering his Parole of Honor to go Home to Scotland, resign his Commission and never serve against America. Lynch, Lee & others for it who were opposed by Nelson and several more, the Question passed in the Affirmative. The Journal of the Indian Treaty lately held by our Commissioners at Pittsburg lies before Congress & is not yet examined. A member from each Colony (Crane for New Jersey, though now absent) chosen by Ballot to procure or cause to be built and fitted out the 13 Ships of War yesterday ordered….Duane presented a Petition from Peter Berton of New York praying Compensation for a Vessel taken by the Men of War, it was referred by Ballot to Lynch, E. Rutledge & myself.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.