Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 4, 1775

December 4, 1775

Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation defines the present state of the debate on reconciliation or independence. Congress nudges Virginia to declare independence and establish their own form of government. The five delegates from Massachusetts are re-elected.  John Jay and Josiah Bartlett want to go home.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Ordered, That James Duane call upon Major Preston, formerly a prisoner at St John’s,  and find out how he ended up in Philadelphia and whether he and the other officers have any say as to the place of their confinement.

Resolved, That the delegates of New Jersey write to the Committee of Trenton and request that they enquire whether or not Major Stopford, and the officers there, are endeavoring to “debauch the minds of the people” and report to Congress.

Resolved, That the New Hampshire and Massachusetts reimbursement requests be approved.

The Committee appointed on the state of Virginia, to whom were referred the letters received on Saturday, responded to Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation.

Resolved, That three companies of the Pennsylvania based battalions proceed to Virginia for the protection of the Association against the designs of the enemies of America.

Resolved, That the Inhabitants of the colony of Virginia resist to the utmost the arbitrary government intended to be established by Governor Lord Dunmore.

Whereas Lord Dunmore, by his proclamation lately published, has declared his intention to execute martial law, thereby tearing up the foundations of civil authority and government within the said colony:

Resolved, Therefore, that if the convention of Virginia shall find it necessary to establish a form of government in that colony, it be recommended to that Convention to call a full and free representation of the people, and that the said representatives, if they think it necessary, establish such form of government as in their judgment will best produce the happiness of the people, and most effectually secure peace and good order in the colony, during the continuance of the present dispute between Great Britain and these colonies.

Resolved, unanimously, That in the present situation of affairs, it will be very dangerous to the liberties and welfare of America, if any Colony should separately petition the King or either house of Parliament.

Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to confer with the Assembly of New Jersey.  The members chosen: John Dickinson, George Wythe, and John Jay.

Resolved, That four towns in Pennsylvania receive the prisoners taken at St. John’s.

Resolved, That Henry Knox inform Congress about the situation in Albany.

John Hancock, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine were re-elected by the General Court of Massachusetts to Congress, “agreeable to their former Commissions,” until January31st.

Adjourned to ten o’clock tomorrow.

John Jay to Alexander McDougall

The Congress have at Length determined against the Tea holders, a measure in my opinion neither just or politic. [Editor’s Note.  See Journal of Congress, November 28th] ….

I hope your Convention will soon tell us whether they mean to make any & what Provision for us. Unless something of this Kind is soon done, I must return, my Finances being exhausted, and my Absence from Home pulling it out of my Power to collect money.

Josiah Bartlett to Mary Bartlett

When I Shall be able to return I Can inform you no more than when I wrote you last; Some news of Governor Dunmore’s Behavior in Virginia will I See Detain me here longer than I was in hopes of. However Still hope I Shall be able to Set out from hence by Christmas if not Sooner. Of this one thing you may be assured that as Soon as I Can return with propriety I shall immediately Set out, for I am Sure you cannot be more Desirous of Seeing me than I am of Seeing you & the family. But as providence has Called me here I Cannot Return (and I Believe you would not Desire I Should) till the Business will permit me to do it with honor.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.