Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: February 1, 1776

February 1, 1776

The status of Canada is a serious issue and several announcements are made: Massachusetts announces the delegation for 1776, John Hancock announces that “We are Disarming the Tories in New York,” and Robert R. Livingston announces that it is “expedient” to end the “expedition in Canada” and Congress should move to Albany.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the delegates of Virginia be reimbursed “for the use of Mr. J. Walker, one of the commissioners for Indian affairs in the southern department.”

Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts, was added to the Committee on the State of the Treasury in place of Thomas Cushing who was not re-elected.  The 1776 Massachusetts delegation was elected on January 18, but credentials were not presented until February 9, when Elbridge Gerry and John Adams arrived.

Resolved, That General Prescot, a confined prisoner in the Philadelphia prison, “be allowed the attendance of his servant, and in case his health requires it, that he be allowed the attendance of a physician.” Also Resolved That the Committee of Safety for Pennsylvania “be directed to take the parole of such officers who are prisoners as are now in Philadelphia, and order them to their respective places of residence.”

The Congress debated the Report of the committee on establishing posts or expresses and postponed a decision.  Benjamin Franklin shall “be directed to write to post masters, and enquire on what terms expresses can be procured.”

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to Thomas Cushing

Not having heard anything from our Assembly with respect to a new Delegation, and our Time Expiring yesterday, we mentioned it to Congress, and I proposed to Resign my place, not looking upon ourselves Authorized to appear in Congress again.  The Congress apprehending it was not the intention of Massachusetts to be unrepresented and a newspaper being produced wherein mention was made of a new Appointment they ordered the paper to be put on file, and Desired us to Attend in Congress as usual, until we received the further Directions of our Assembly….

We go on as usual. I have been much hurried, in giving out Commissions, etc., very little time to myself.  I have sent Cash and Commissions for the Battalion Raising in our province for Canada to the Assembly.  Lord Stirling with some of his Troops has Taken a large Transport Ship bound with Necessaries to Boston, and she is now unloading in Elizabeth Town point. We are Disarming the Tories in New York….

Robert R. Livingston to Thomas Lynch

When the expedition against Canada was first projected I opposed it for reasons which have been too often reiterated to make any mention of them necessary & our success has not changed my sentiments but whether the loss which I have sustained by the death of my very worthy friend, a relation, may not have confirmed me in (what is possible) an error I will not pretend to determine. However, it is indisputable that the possession of Canada will drain us of our specie, dissipate without adding to our strength, for it is most evident that the Canadians are not to be relied on & that they will always side with the stronger power.

If therefore an expedient could be fallen upon which would at once free us from this danger & the expense of defending that province I cannot help thinking that it should be readily adopted however daring it may seem for it is much too late to deliberate about the arms we shall use when the enemy are at the door….  I must own that I cannot help entertaining a thought which may perhaps be too visionary to realize yet I submit it to your judgment; if it should happen to coincide with your sentiments I shall be strongly confirmed in my opinion.  Our enemies have set us the example of calling in foreign aid.  I know none that can so easily assist us as France.

I always had it very much at Heart that the Congress should set at Albany or some other place nearer the scene of Action than Philadelphia & I am most firmly persuaded that we should not have met with the late mortifying check at Quebec had that been the case….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.