Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: January 16, 1776

January 16, 1776

Several Committees deliver reports and new committees are created.  Tomorrow is assigned to consider, in Committee of the Whole, the propriety of opening the ports after March 1st 1776. John Hancock writes to George Washington about the “great struggle” in “the defense of our liberty… which we have received from our ancestors and transmit the same with unsullied luster to our posterity.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Connecticut announced their delegates for the 1776 session of the Second Continental Congress: Roger Sherman, Oliver Wolcott, Samuel Huntington with Titus Hosmer and William Williams as substitutes.  Three must be in attendance to form a quorum.  They are “Authorized and Impowered to Represent this Colony in said Congress, to Consult, advise, and Resolve upon Measures necessary to be taken and pursued for the Defense, Security and preservation of the Rights and Liberties of the said United Colonies, and for their common safety.”

Thomas McKean was chosen to replace Eliphalet Dyer on the committee to draw up instructions to the officers in the recruiting service.

Some members of the Secret Committee being absent, “Resolved, That two members be added”: Joseph Hewes and Robert Alexander.

Resolved, That another battalion be raised in the colony of North Carolina, “for the preservation of American Liberty.”

Resolved, That tomorrow be assigned for taking into consideration, in a committee of the whole, the propriety of opening the ports after the first of March next.

Resolved, That “Information being given to Congress by the delegates of South Carolina, that their colony, being in want of seamen, had given orders to offer high wages” be referred to a committee of 5: Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Lewis Morris, and William Floyd.

Resolved, That the committee appointed to fit out armed vessels, be empowered to purchase and fit out a small vessel as a tender for the fleet fitted out.

The committee appointed to devise ways and means for procuring powder from Providence, delivered a report.

Congress accepted the Report of the Committee on General Washington’s letters concerning expenses etc. 

Resolved, “That the free negroes who have served faithfully in the army at Cambridge, may be re-enlisted therein, but no others.”  Also, “That there be but one chaplain to every two regiments of the army at Cambridge.”

Several members of the Committee on the Qualifications of persons applying for offices were absent. That four new members were chosen: Oliver Wolcott for Eliphalet Dyer, James Duane for John Jay; Thomas Mc’Kean, for Cæsar Rodney and John Rogers, for Maryland.

Resolved, That Thursday next be assigned for taking into consideration the Report of the Committee on Indian Affairs.

Resolved, That a list be made of the committees to whom matters are referred, and who have not reported.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to George Washington

Lord Dunmore has endeavored to exercise the same barbarity against the defenseless town of Norfolk, as was exercised against Falmouth. By these repeated instances of inhumanity so contrary to the rules of war and so long exploded by all civilized nations, it would seem as if the rancorous ministry, despairing of their measures to conquer and enslave, had determined to glut their revenge with destruction & devastation….

As it is now apparent that our enemies mean to exert their whole force against us next summer, the Congress are taking measures for putting the middle and southern colonies in a posture of defense.

We shall, doubtless, in this great struggle suffer much, but I trust no losses or sufferings will induce us to give over the defense of our liberty, and that cost what it may, we will persevere with unremitting vigor to maintain that inestimable jewel which we have received from our ancestors and transmit the same with unsullied luster to our posterity.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.