Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 15, 1775

December 15, 1775

Congress provides instructions for the Committee who will sit during the anticipated recess of Congress. Richard Smith supplements the Journal with “what I could readily recollect,” and Silas Dane writes how he is given additional duties by Congress yet “discharged” and vilified by the Connecticut Assembly.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the committee appointed to distribute the Reading prisoners, confer with Captain Motte, and report to Congress.

Resolved, That the committee of safety for Pennsylvania, and for Delaware, requested to recommend officers of the four battalions to be raised in the two colonies.

Resolved, That Messrs. George Meade and company, merchants, of the city of Philadelphia, be permitted to export salt from Virginia subject to strict regulations, permits and reporting.

The Committee appointed to prepare instructions for the Committee who are to sit during the recess of Congress, brought in their report, which was read.

The Committee appointed to consider and prepare instructions for a committee during who are to sit during the recess of Congress have agreed to the following Resolutions:

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee that the said Committee during the Recess of Congress should be authorized and instructed to perform the regular functions of Congress.  Twenty three specific duties are listed.

The Committee of Claims reported there were four claims due.

Ordered, That the said accounts be paid.

The Committee to whom the second resolution, in the report on General Washington’s letter relative to transports, was referred, brought in their report, which was read.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Richard Smith’s Diary

Part of the Journal read and sundry Paragraphs as usual ordered to be omitted in Publication. Controversy Whether a particular Part shall be published, the Colonies were equally divided & the Part is to remain unpublished. Motion by Wilson that all Officers below a Major in the Continental Troops now raising in Pennsylvania shall be appointed by the several Committees of Correspondence & Observation was at length rejected & the Mode of Appointment there & in the Lower Counties settled. A Letter & several Papers from some Indians on the Susquehannah, one of them named Jacob Johnson a Preacher, were read and the Indian Messengers ordered to be taken Care of at the Continental Expense. Robert Morris moved that a Committee be nominated to consider of Ways & Means to bring in Gold & Silver & keep it in the Country, it is reported that Half Joes have already risen to £3-2-6, it was debated & postponed until tomorrow. Colonel Lee moved that George Mead & Co. of Philadelphia may export from that City to Virginia 6000 Bushels of Salt & carry abroad Produce to the Amount from thence, opposed by Jay, Lewis & others & supported by Nelson, Wythe, Robert Morris &c. It passed in the Affirmative 7 Colonies to 4. Committee on Public Accounts reported a Number of Accounts which were allowed & ordered to be paid…. Several other Motions & Matters, for these Memoirs only contain what I could readily recollect.

Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane

I am fully Convinced this Congress will adjourn before Christmas if nothing New offers.

Naval preparations are Now entering upon with Spirit, and Yesterday the Congress chose a Standing Committee to superintend this department, of which I had the honor to be Unanimously chosen one. This will detain Me here sometime after the 1st of January, indeed I apprehend that the Congress will leave a Number to put into Execution the resolves of the Congress, together with the Naval Committee, as the adjournment will probably be over to the 1st of March. I do not expect to return sooner unless it may be to engage Workmen on the Business, part of which, I shall agree to have carried on in the Colony….

I wrote to Governor Trumbull a Letter on the Conduct of the Assembly which he will be obliged to read before them when they meet, and I think, some People will look small, in the issue. If the Assembly sit this Winter I shall endeavor to be at home at the Time at all adventures, to demand a hearing before them, how I have discharged the Trust reposed in Me and shall bring with me Vouchers for my Conduct, from the Gentlemen of the Congress. My Enemies designs have been, by superseding me in my absence, tacitly to Censure Me, & leave by implication a Stigma on my Character, which they know a public hearing must not only clear up, but Tumble them into the Pit they have (like Moles as they are) been digging for Me. They cloak themselves under Sanction, and Authority of Assembly, and have no Idea of my asking for a public hearing, which as they have not censured Me directly, They imagine I shall not think of, but I can fairly do it, by desiring to give an Account of my performance of the Duty reposed in Me, and Justice can never refuse Me….

The behavior of Our Soldiers, has made Me Sick, but little better could be expected from Men, trained up with Notions of their right of saying how, & when, & under whom they will serve & who have, for certain dirty political purposes, been tampered with by their Officers, among whom, no less than a General has been busy.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.