Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: February 12, 1776

February 12, 1776

Securing sufficient ammunition, arms, battalions, recruits, and qualified military leaders are the central features of the discussions today. John Hancock requests John Dickinson to attend Congress promptly tomorrow, and John Penn laments that King and Parliament have approved this “unnatural war” and hopes that North Carolina is ready with troops, ammunition, and spirit.  John Alsop asks Alexander McDougall to keep an eye on his empty house in New York while he is in Philadelphia.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That it be recommended to the convention or committee of safety of New Jersey, immediately send detachments of the minute men equal to a battalion, under proper officers, to New York, there to be under the command of Major General Lee:

That it be also recommended to the committee of safety for Pennsylvania, to send detachments of four battalions to Major General Lee.

Resolved, That 1) the colonels of the Pennsylvania battalions provide an immediate account to Congress of the number and condition of the men enlisted, the places where they now are, and the manner in which they are appointed and 2) a copy of the above be forwarded to the commanding Officers of each of the battalions.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to send to General Lee in New York one ton of the powder belonging to the United Colonies.

Resolved, That the said committee purchase powder and arms for the use of the United Colonies; and that they provide the fire arms to the three remaining companies of the first Pennsylvania battalion, ordered to Canada.

Resolved, That 1) fifty tons of salt petre be delivered by the Secret Committee to the committee of safety for the province of Pennsylvania, 2) ten tons be delivered to the Late Judge [J. R.] Livingston’s powder mill in New York, and 3) That 10 tons of salt petre be sent to the council of Massachusetts, and manufactured into gun powder, with all possible expedition, and sent to General Washington.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the committee of inspection for the county of Chester, to aid Colonel Wayne in procuring blankets for his battalion.

The Congress being informed that a gentleman [Monsieur la Jeunesse] arrived from Canada, had some matters of consequence to communicate, Ordered, That the Committee of Correspondence do confer with him and report to Congress.

Adjourned to ten o’clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to John Dickinson

I have this moment Received a Letter by Express from General Lee at New York, mentioning the Arrival of some Troops in the Harbor of New York, and Requesting an Augmentation of Troops from this Colony; these Circumstances Render it necessary that there should be a punctual Attendance of the Members of Congress, & as full as possible; I therefore trouble you with this to Request your Attendance at 10 o’ Clock, that we may Avail ourselves of your Advice & Aid.

John Penn to Thomas Person (North Carolina Provincial Congress)

I make no doubt but the Southern Provinces will soon be the Scene of action, as our enemies may hope to obtain greater success there than at the Northward. Will it not be necessary for your Committee to do something immediately for putting the Province in a Condition to oppose the designs of our enemies; and to desire the Convention to meet sooner than May in order to consult what steps may be necessary for you to take. The People to the Northward have Spirit and Resolution which I doubt not will carry them victorious through this Contest, I hope we to the Southward shall act like men determined to be free. It will perhaps be necessary for you to aid the recruiting service and to put the Militia in such a situation as to be able to march at an early notice & to keep the Tories under; they have all been disarmed at New York which measure I believe will contribute to the Salvation of that Province. I don’t know that a step of that kind could be taken with you, perhaps it would be dangerous. I expect the Wagon with the powder, drums &c. will set off this week, you may depend nothing will be omitted by us to contrive you such necessary articles. Is there any preparation for making Saltpetre, gun powder or Guns?

The House of Commons have approved of the King’s speech and promised to support him. Should they persevere in their attempts to reduce us to a state of Slavery by carrying on this unnatural war with fire and sword, we must determine to act with unanimity and assume every power of Government for the purpose of Legislation, in order to be the better able to defend ourselves. We have obtained an order for 10,000 dollars for the use of our Province, which sum is ready whenever you think proper to call for it…. The great distance we are off and hearing so very seldom gives me some concern lest matters of consequence happen without our hearing of it. One reason for our sending an express to inform you of the above is that I think the expense is nothing compared to the advantage it may be of.

[P.S.] I send you some newspapers.

John Alsop to Alexander McDougall (New York Military Leader)

Your favor of the 6 Instant to Mr. Jay & Self have Just received (Mr. Jay is not yet returned to Congress) informing of our unanimous election as representatives in the Assembly, and that the usual custom in such cases was to give The Sum of £50, for the use of the poor, which I readily agree to…. I have not the least doubt but Genera Lee will endeavor [to] preserve The peace and good order of the City with the advice and in Conjunction with our Committee of Safety, yet I shall take it kind when you pass my house that you’ll Turn an eye Towards it, for I have many Valuables in it that are not removed, & note the Condition its in, for I think my family have gone out of Town & Shut it up, and when you have leisure shall be glad of a line from you to know the State of our City, and if you are at liberty to give me your Sentiments, about having My effects removed from the City. As I write this in Congress whilst they are debating the fate of our City.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.