Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: February 29, 1776

February 29, 1776

New Hampshire selects three delates for the 1776 session.  There is an even division of opinion in Congress over whether to seek reconciliation or pursue independence.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

New Hampshire selected Josiah Bartlett, John Langdon, and William Whipple, to be delegates to the 1776 session of Congress.  “Any one of them, in the Absence of the Others, to have full Power to represent this Colony, and that not more than Two of Them attend at one time.”  William Whipple presented his credentials today.

A letter from General Washington, dated 14 February, enclosing a letter from Lord Drummond to General Robertson, a return of the army 4th of same month, &c., was read and further consideration was postponed until Friday.

Congress considered 1) the letter from General Washington, dated 9 February and 2) the trade of the colonies after the 1st of March, and, “after some time spent thereon,” Samuel Ward requested “leave to sit again.” 

Resolved, That this Congress will, tomorrow, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their further consideration the letter from General Washington dated, and the state of the trade of the colonies.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to Charles Lee

Your Letter of 22d Inst. [read in Congress on February 26] has been duly Received & Referred to a Committee of Congress, who have not yet Reported thereupon.  As soon as the Congress have come to a Determination I shall do myself the pleasure to Communicate the same to you. In the mean while I am Directed to Desire you not to set out for Canada, until you Receive further orders from Congress.

Editor of the Journal of Congress

There was a four-hour debate in Congress on February 29 on “the Expediency and Probability of contracting foreign Commercial Alliances and chiefly with France and Spain, and the Advantages and Disadvantages of attempting to carry on Trade in our present Circumstances.  When it became apparent to the delegates that a decision in favor of a foreign alliance would inevitably lead to a declaration of independence, debate in Congress ended because “it appeared that 5 or 6 Colonies have instructed their Delegates not to agree to an Independency till they, the Principals are consulted.”  

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.