On the first day of the new session of the Second Continental Congress, the delegates pay some bills, read several letters, fill vacancies in the armed forces, and address military matters in the South. The New York delegates receive new powers and operate under different quorum requirements. Robert Treat Paine feels betrayed and is angry about it. Josiah Bartlett is the lone New Hampshire delegate.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
A letter from Governor Trumbull, 23 December, 1775, was read.
John Patterson was elected Adjutant for the battalion raised in Pennsylvania.
Resolved, That the president sign commissions to the field officers appointed by the provincial Congress of North Carolina, to command the two battalions directed to be raised in that colony by the Continental Congress.
Resolved, That, in case of vacancy occasioned by the death or removal of a colonel or inferior officer, the provincial Congress of North Carolina, or, in their recess, the provincial Council, appoint another person to fill up such vacancy, until a commission shall issue from Congress; and that they send to Congress the names of the person or persons so appointed.
The delegates of New York having received new powers from their convention, laid the same before Congress, as follows:
Resolved, That the present Delegates of this Colony, in Continental Congress, be requested to make such an Arrangement among themselves, as that five of them only continue at Congress, and represent this Colony at any one Time; And that, in case of the necessary absence of any one or two of the Delegates so attending, according to such Arrangement, that three or four of them be a Quorum, and enabled to represent the Colony during such absence.
The committee to whom the letters from General Washington, and the intercepted letters, were referred, brought in their report, and Congress came to the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the seizing and securing the barracks and castle of St. Augustine will greatly contribute to the safety of these colonies, therefore it is earnestly recommended to the colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia to undertake the reduction of St. Augustine, if it be thought practicable.
Resolved, That the president of the provincial council of North Carolina and Georgia, be requested to procure committees of their several bodies to repair immediately to Charleston, and there to confer with a committee of the council of safety of South Carolina, upon matters relative to the defense and security of those colonies.
Resolved, That the first resolution together with copies or extracts of such of the intercepted letters as tend to show the state of the forts and garrison at St. Augustine be transmitted by express to Henry Middleton and John Rutledge, members of Congress, and that they lay them before the committees directed to meet [at Charleston] in consequence of the above resolution and in case the enterprise be judged practicable that immediate preparations be made by the joint force of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia and the expedition be undertaken without delay at the expense of the united colonies.
Resolved, That it appears the British ministry and their agents have meditated and are preparing to make attacks upon Charleston, in South Carolina, and several places in Virginia, and probably in North Carolina; and that it be recommended to the conventions or committees of safety of the two former colonies, and to the provincial council of the other, by all possible means, to make a vigorous defense and opposition; and that the committee of safety of Virginia, and the provincial council of North Carolina, meet together and confer and conclude upon such operations as they may think most for their mutual interest.
Adjourned to 10 o’clock tomorrow.
Robert Treat Paine to Joseph Palmer (Massachusetts Militia Colonel)
At present my mind is much agitated on the discovery of a malicious & Slanderous Correspondence between James Warren & John Adams respecting Mr. Cushing & my Self, & on comparing what is written with the behavior of some of my brother Delegates, it appears to me that while I have been exerting my Self to the utmost in supporting the Common Defense of all that is valuable & by that means exposing my Self to the vengeance of Administration if I should fall into their hands, Some particular persons whom I considered as Struggling with & Supporting me in the same Cause, to my astonishment are undermining my importance, happiness & Safety, so that not only if our true Enemy conquers me shall I be made miserable but if our struggles are crowned with success, I am then to be crushed & rendered unhappy by the very men I have been endeavoring to Support at the risk of everything that is valuable….
Excuse my writing thus freely to you but is to no purpose to disguise some sorts of uneasiness; if a Junto of 2, 3, or 4 men are able to combine together, settle a Test of political Rectitude, & destroy every one who will not Comply with their mode of Conduct, I must confess things are like to take a turn very different from what I expected….[Editor’s Note. A private December 3, 1775 letter from James Warren to John Adams critical of Robert Paine’s abilities was inadvertently made public. Also see Paine’s furious letter to Warren on January 1]
Josiah Bartlett to Mary Bartlett
Captain Langdon & his man returns with him, so that I shall be now here without any body from New Hampshire. I was, till lately in hopes I should be able to return with him; but to my great Disappointment I now find Public Business will not permit me to leave this place till our New Hampshire Convention appoint & send another Delegate to take my place here. I shall write to our Convention for that purpose.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.