Two dramatic interruptions to the reading of a letter from General Washington occur. Congress clarifies that the intent of the Resolution of November 4th was to grant discretionary rather arbitrary power to General Washington.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
The Congress considered the General’s letter received yesterday. During their deliberation, the women and children taken at St. John’s arrived, with their baggage.
Resolved, That the committee of safety of this Colony have them removed to the places assigned them in the cheapest manner, at Continental expense.
Congress then resumed the Consideration of the General’s letter. During debate, an express arrived with a letter from Lord Stirling, dated Amboy, 6th December, which was read, containing an account that Colonel Arnold has taken possession of Quebec.
The Congress then resumed the consideration of the General’s letter and clarified the intent of the November 4th Resolution empowering the General, in case the necessity of the service should require it, to call forth the minute men and Militia of the New England colonies. Congress had no intent of granting arbitrary power to Washington.
Resolved, That the president write letters to the council of Massachusetts, the Convention of New Hampshire, and the Governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut, acquainting them with the present state of the Army, and enclosing copies of the resolutions of this Congress, relative to the General’s being empowered to call forth the Militia of those governments, on any emergency, and requesting those colonies to exert themselves in defense of our common liberties, by affording the General all the aid in their power, and comply with his request for the assistance of the Militia whenever he may find it necessary to apply for it.
A letter from General Schuyler, of the 22nd November, inclosing a copy of a letter from General Montgomery, dated 17th November, and one from Colonel Arnold, 14th November were read.
Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.