Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: December 5, 1775

December 5, 1775

Congress acts on three committee reports and creates a new committee. John Dickinson summarizes the history of the Petition-Reconciliation-Independence debate, Samuel Adams is furious about the Dunmore Proclamation and “the Scotch Tories” in Virginia, and the Connecticut delegates warn that a “dangerous Storm is gathering in the South.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the seamen and marines be engaged for the first of January, 1777, unless sooner discharged by Congress.

Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to consider the matter of Captain Jenkins [Editor’s Note. See Journal December 2nd] and report to Congress. The members chosen: John Adams, Thomas Cushing, and Thomas M’Kean.

Congress received The Committee of Claims report on the claims of Rhode Island.

Resolved, That the charge for purchase and the repair of arms be not allowed. Other claims were 1) allowed and 2) deferred.

A letter from Lord Stirling, dated 3 December, with enclosures, was received and read.

Resolved, That the committee for fitting out armed vessels have liberty consulting with the committee of inspection of this City, to purchase duck and other articles.

Congress Resolved the issue of the form of the bills ordered to be emitted.

The Committee on re-captures brought in their report which was read, considered, and led to a Resolution by Congress.

Resolved, As the army to the northward are to be supplied with Clothing at Montreal, that the clothing purchased for the northern army, and sent to Albany, be forwarded to Thomas Mifflin, quarter master general, for the use of the Army near Boston.

Adjourned to ten o’Clock tomorrow.

John Dickinson’s Speech to the New Jersey Assembly

Mr Dickinson … began with the first Congress, sd. Their first Meeting was to appease the disorders from Oppressive Acts of Parliaments…. But the Congress Petition was Rejected and Britain Prepared for war. Said She had been thought to believe we were a Rope of sand and would not fight. To Divide us the Resolution of the 20th February, was sent out, Which the Congress Rejected…. In the Spring General Gage sent a Detachment to Lexington which, without Cause put to Death Some Americans but in the end they were forced Shamefully to Retreat. When the New Congress Met there was a General ferment in the Colonies and a universal Union. Said had the Congress then Drawn the sword… all lovers of Liberty, all honest and Virtuous Men Would have applauded them, but they Again Presented a humble Petition, sent it by the Honorable Mr Penn (which he would not have us believe was Rejected, because no Answer; said it was not received on the Throne, Therefore No answer expected; The Conduct of Parliament and administration the only Answer) but said it was Necessary to Convince Great Britain that we would fight, and were not a Rope of Sand, therefore An Army was formed, Expedition against Canada &c Success Attend everywhere….

He then bragged of our Success & Courage, said Nothing would bring Great Britain to reason but our Unity & Bravery, That all Great Britain wanted was to procure Separate Petitions, which we Should avoid, it would break our Union we would be a Rope of Sand. Repeated as if to frighten us, That Neither Mercy nor Justice was to be Expected from Great Britain. He then Complimented the House on their former Petition and Noble Answer to the Governor, in their address on the Resolution of the 20th of February, and intreated us not to Petition but rest on our former Petition and that of United America. He spoke near three quarter of an hour.

Samuel Adams to James Warren

A few days ago we had Intelligence from Virginia that their Governor Lord Dunmore had landed a Party of Regulars who, joined by a Number of Volunteers, had attacked and defeated a Number of Provincials. His Auxiliaries consisted of the Inhabitants of Norfolk, a Town inhabited by Scotch Tories, and such weak & timid People as they prevailed upon to join them. Lord Dunmore has issued a Proclamation, calling upon the People to resort to the Kings Standard or be deemed Traitors, and declaring the indented Servants and Negroes belonging to Rebels, who will join him free. He has also in the same Proclamation declared his Determination to execute Martial Law, thereby tearing up the Foundations of civil Authority & Government in the Colony. The Congress, taking this under Consideration, have recommended to the Colony of Virginia the setting up and exercising civil Government, in like Manner as New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Connecticut Delegates to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

The draft of Articles of Confederation we have not as yet been able to lay before the Congress, Business of every kind, & from every Quarter thickening fast at this Season. We obtained a Committee to hear the dispute between the Colony, and Mr. Penn, who reported, but the Delegates of this province opposed the acceptance of it, & finally the most we could obtain was such Orders, as we hope will prevent further hostilities, and a recommitment of the Report…

A dangerous Storm is gathering in the South, Lord Dunmore having proceeded to the black, & dreadful extremity of putting, as far as is in his power into execution the execrable plans of ministry, by proclaiming Liberty to the Slaves in Virginia. Shall be able to write You more at large in Our Next on this Subject.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.