Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 2, 1775

December 2, 1775

The resignation of two New Jersey delegates accepted. The Massachusetts delegation is reappointed. Congress responds to the effort of Lord Dunmore to undermine the Import-Export Agreement, passes numerous war related Resolutions, and read multiple Committee Reports.  Several delegates write about two matters: Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation in Virginia and an anticipated adjournment of Congress. Joseph Hewes adds that “No plan of Separation has been offered, the Colonies will never agree to any till drove to it by dire necessity.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from the Committee of Northampton, Virginia, with sundry papers, was read and referred to the Committee to consider the state of Virginia.

One of the members of that Committee is absent—Thomas Johnson—so another member was chosen–William Paca.

Resolved, That the Committee for fitting out armed vessels, take and destroy the cutters and armed vessels in Chesapeake Bay, under Lord Dunmore.

Resolved, That Colonel Harrison, with the delegates of that Maryland in Congress, procure two or three armed vessels to proceed immediately to destroy as many enemy ships of war as possible of the coasts of Virginia and Maryland.

Designs are formed by certain ministerial partisans under the influence of Lord Dunmore, to contravene the non-exportation agreement, by exporting provisions and other produce of that Country to the West Indies, and thus injure the efforts of the United Colonies, opposing the present oppressive system of the British ministry.

Resolved, That armed vessels be authorized and directed to seize and detain, until further order of Congress, all such ships and vessels as they may find employed in such exportations from the places aforesaid.

Resolved, That the committee for fitting out armed vessels be directed to employ the armed sloop, commanded by Captain Abraham Whipple, of Rhode Island, now on a voyage to this port, and dispatch her forthwith to aid the marine business southward.

Resolved, That the committee for fitting out armed vessels be directed to prepare a proper commission for the Commanders of the war ships of the United Colonies.

Resolved, That the Colonel of the Pennsylvania Battalion send a detachment of his regiment and keep a regular guard on the wharves of Messrs. Willing and Morris, and Mr. Cuthbert, to take care of the ships and stores belonging to the United Colonies.

The Assembly of New Jersey, on November 22nd, accepted the resignation of James Kinsey and John de Hart, and, on the 30th, empowered the three remaining delegates, to represent the Colony during the present continental Congress.

The Committee appointed to prepare the form of a commission, &c. reported.

The Committee on the treasury brought in their report.

Resolved, That the Committee on the treasury, be directed to think of proper persons for signing and numbering said bills, and report to Congress.

The Congress resumed the Consideration of the General’s letters, and the report of the Committee of Conference, who went to Cambridge, and passed two Resolutions concerning 1) the treatment of prisoners and 2) military appointments.

Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee of Conference; and thereupon came to the following resolutions:

Resolved, That it be recommended to the Assembly, or general Court of Massachusetts, that the army near Boston be supplied with adequate wood and hay.

Resolved, That in the new establishment of the army, the general officers be not allowed regiments, nor the field officers companies.

Resolved, That all persons taken in arms on board any prize, be deemed prisoners at the disposal of the General, whether prizes be taken by vessels fitted out in the pay of the Continent or by others.

Resolved, That such as are taken be treated as prisoners of war, but treated humanely.

Congress passes nine other military related resolves.

Resolved, That the Committee of Correspondence secure the services of skillful engineers and that they receive the same remuneration they received in any former service.

Resolved, That the Indians of St. Francis, Penobscot, Stockbridge, and St. John’s, and other tribes, may be called on in case of real necessity, and that giving them presents is both suitable and proper.

Resolved, That it be referred to a Committee of Three to devise the best mode of having expresses posted along the roads at different distances, for the purpose of conveying early and frequent intelligence. The members chosen: Benjamin Franklin, Francis Lewis, and Silas Deane.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee enquire what articles are necessary for the use of the army, and how they may be procured, and make report to Congress.

Ordered, That a certified copy of the resolutions passed on the General’s letters, and on the report of the Committee of Conference, and such other resolutions as relate to the establishment of the new army, be immediately sent by express to the General.

Congress was informed that Ethan Allen, who was taken prisoner near Montreal, is confined in irons on board a vessel in the river St. Lawrence.

Ordered, That General Washington apply to General Howe for a prisoner exchange.

Francis Lightfoot Lee to Robert W. Carter (Virginia Convention Representative)

We have got the most valuable part of Canada, as it cuts off all communication with the Indians, & prevents inroads on our frontiers. It would give me infinite pleasure, if our affairs to the Southward wore as favorable an Aspect; it will require very vigorous efforts, to put a stop to the proceedings of Lord Dunmore. We are extremely alarmed by an express from the Committee of Northampton County to Congress informing that he has issued a Proclamation, declaring military Law in Virginia & offering freedom to all servants & slaves, who shall repair to the King’s standard which he has erected; that the inhabitants of Norfolk & Princess Ann Counties have taken an Oath to oppose, to the last drop of their blood, any of their countrymen who shall come in arms into their Counties…. Fatal consequences may follow if an immediate stop is not put to that Devil’s career.

Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston

I wish I could inform you when We shall adjourn, some say about Christmas, others, not till Spring. I am inclined to think with the former; for we grow tired, indolent, Captious, Jealous and want a recess. These only discover themselves now and then, in general we are pretty unanimous and friendly. No plan of Separation has been offered, the Colonies will never agree to any till drove to it by dire necessity. I wish the time may not come too soon. I fear it will be the case if the British Ministry pursue their present diabolical Schemes. I am weary of politics and wish I could retire to my former private Station.

Rhode Island Delegates to Nicholas Cooke (Governor of Rhode Island)

Lord Dunmore has issued a Proclamation which We have just seen requiring all Persons Capable of bearing Arms to repair to his Majesty’s Standard erected in Norfolk upon the Penalty of being declared Rebels. He hath offered Freedom to all Slaves belonging to those he calls Rebels that will take up Arms against the Country & hath forbad the Payment of all Taxes & Quitrents until Peace is restored & is taking every Measure to debauch the People. He has of all Sorts about twelve hundred.

John Hancock to the Massachusetts Assembly

I have just received your Resolution for the extension of our time. It is very uncertain when Congress will adjourn, you will therefore please to take such order as you shall judge best. [Editor’s Note. In the middle of November, The Massachusetts General Court reappointed the Massachusetts delegates through January 31st, 1776]

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.