Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: February 19, 1776

February 19, 1776

The Delegates attend the Oration for General Montgomery.  Samuel Ward and Josiah Bartlett write in praise of Paine’s Common Sense. John Adams praises the selection of Carroll of Carrollton to the Committee of Three to go to Canada.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Congress attended the oration delivered in honor of General Montgomery, and of those officers and soldiers who magnanimously fought and fell with him in maintaining the principles of liberty.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Richard Smith’s Diary

Some little Business being done, the Congress, attended by the Pennsylvania. Assembly and other invited Bodies with a vast Crowd of Spectators, proceeded in State to the Dutch Calvinist Church where Dr. Smith pronounced an Oration for General Montgomery, the Band of vocal and Instrumental Music was good but played too low for the Place, the light Infantry and Rifle Rangers walked on both Sides of the Congress going and coming.

Samuel Ward to Henry Ward

Your observations upon the immediate Necessity of a Confederation are clearly conclusive. I am daily in Pursuit of it & never intend to lose sight of it. That unhappy Jealousy which I have more than once mentioned I believe retards it, Dr. Franklin who is full for it advises the four N. England Governments to enter into one themselves & invite the other Colonies to accede to it and let them fall in as they may like. I sometimes think this would be the surest Way to induce the other Colonies to join Us…

To my ardent Affection for the Town of Newport not only you but Heaven itself is a Witness, there is nothing consistent with the Preservation of the Liberties of America (upon which theirs as well as the general Happiness depends) but what I would do at the Hazard of my Life & Property to serve them, they most certainly mistake their own Interest. When the Ship founders in the midst of the Ocean can Passengers be safe in any part of her? No more can the Town expect when one general Ruin involves the Liberties & Property of All America to be saved from the general Destruction….

I see no Advertisement in the Providence Paper for reprinting Common Sense; that Pamphlet ought surely to be distributed throughout all the Colonies if it was even at the public Expense. It has done immense Service; I am told by good Judges that two thirds of this City & Colony are now full in his Sentiments; in the Jerseys & Maryland &c they gain ground daily.

John Adams to James Warren (Paymaster-General of the Army)

Dr. Franklin, and Mr Chase of Maryland, and Mr Charles Carroll of Carrollton, are chosen a Committee to go to Canada….I have very great Confidence, in the Abilities and Integrity, the Political Principles and good Disposition of this Committee.

Franklin’s Character you know….Chase is in younger Life, under forty; But deeply impressed with a sense of the Importance of securing Canada….

Carroll’s Name and Character are equally unknown to you….He had a liberal Education in France, and is well acquainted with the French Nation. He Speaks their Language as easily as ours and, what is perhaps of more Consequence than all the rest, he was educated in the Roman Catholic Religion, and still continues to worship his Maker according to the Rites of that Church. In the Cause of American Liberty, his Zeal, Fortitude and Perseverance have been so conspicuous that he is Said to be marked out for peculiar Vengeance by the Friends of Administration. But he continues to hazard his all: his immense Fortune, the largest in America, and his Life.  This Gentleman’s Character, if I foresee aright, will hereafter make a greater Figure in America. His Abilities are very good, his Knowledge and Learning extensive….

We have impowered the Committee to take with them, another Gentleman of Maryland Mr John Carroll, a Roman Catholic Priest, and a Jesuit, a Gentleman of learning and Abilities. This Gentleman will administer Baptism to the Canadian Children, and bestow Absolution upon Such as have been refused it by the Toryfied Priests in Canada. The Anathema’s of the Church so terrible to the Canadians, having had a disagreeable Effect upon them….

The Unanimous Voice of the Continent is Canada must be ours, Quebec must be taken….The Importance of Canada arises from this, and occasions our remarkable Unanimity at present in deciding the Affairs of it. In the Hands of our Enemies, it would enable them to inflame all the Indians upon the Continent, and perhaps induce them to take up the Hatchet, and commit their Robberies and Murders upon the Frontiers of all the southern Colonies as well as to pour down Regulars, Canadians and Indians together upon the Borders of the Northern.

Josiah Bartlett to Mary Bartlett

This Day Dr Smith of this City Delivered a funeral Oration, to the Memory of General Montgomery and the other Brave men, who fell in the attack on Quebec; the oration was Delivered in a large and Beautiful & Elegant Dutch Church.  The Congress, the General Assembly of this province…and about 30 Clergymen of the Different Denominations in this City, with other Gentlemen, walked from the Court house, in a Body, to the Church.

Benjamin Franklin to Charles Lee (General Continental Army)

I rejoice that you are going to Canada. I hope the Gout will not have the courage to follow you into that Severe Climate. I believe you will have the Number of Men you wish for: I am told that there will be 2000. more: but there are always Deficiencies.
The Bearer Mr. Paine has requested a Line of Introduction to you, which I give the more willingly, as I know his Sentiments are not very different from yours. He is the reputed, & I think the Real, Author of Common Sense, a pamphlet that has made great Impression here. I do not enlarge, both because he waits, and because I hope for the pleasure of conferring with you face to face in Canada. 

Josiah Bartlett to John Langdon (New Hampshire Politician)

In yours of the 29th, you informed me that Colonel William Whipple was to set out for this place next week, and in consequence I now look out sharp for him, & hope he will be here this week, as I am Extremely anxious not only for his assistance but to be informed of what nature the Difficulties are which you say have unaccountably turned up in regard of the Civil government of the Colony….

I am greatly Surprised to hear, that there is Danger, that the poison of Toryism, will spread in the Colony of New Hampshire. If you had informed me of the Danger of the Smallpox or plague Spreading, it would not have given me half the Concern, as the one is only temporal, and the other in a sense eternal, for if our rights & privileges are now given up, they are gone forever. 

The Pamphlet Common Sense has already had three Editions in this City; in the last there is an appendix and large additions, it has also been reprinted at New York; by the best information it has had a great Effect on the minds of many here & to the Southward.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.