The Committees make their reports, including one on future quorum requirements, Congress is furious about what John Adams calls the “Disasters in Canada,” William Ellery and Caesar Rodney still celebrate the Declaration, and Adams tells writes to Abigail how he wishes the revolution had happened six months to a year ago.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Resolved, That one month’s pay be advanced to the militia of Pennsylvania in the Trenton campaign.
That Mr. Mease be directed to deliver to Mr. Biddle, the deputy quarter master general for the flying camp, and militia, such tents, and other articles wanted for the militia and flying camp.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into consideration: Whereupon,
Resolved, That the committee of Lancaster be empowered and directed, to keep a guard over the prisoners and to surround the said barracks with a stockade fort:
That the privates who are prisoners in Reading, be removed to Lancaster.
A letter from Ephraim Anderson was read, and sent to General Washington.
The Rules and Orders for the Government of the Congress Committee delivered an extensive and elaborate report on member behavior including a quorum requirement of nine states. [Parts of the report are in the writing of Robert Treat Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock. The rules were adopted on July 17.]
The standing committee for Indian affairs, brought in a report, which was read:
Resolved, That the committee for providing medicine chests, be directed to furnish Dr. Allison with a set of instruments, and that the director general be directed to supply him with proper medicines.
The Congress, came to the following resolutions:
Resolved, That all acts contrary to good faith, the laws of nature, or the customs of civilized nations, done by the officers or soldiers of his Britannic Majesty, or by foreigners or savages taken into his service, are to be considered as done by his orders, unless indemnification be made, in cases which admit indemnification.
Congress is furious about the a) plundering the baggage of the garrison at the Cedars [near Montreal, May 1776], b) murder of the prisoners of war, c) unauthorized conduct of General Arnold, d) shameful surrender of the post at the Cedars is chargeable on the commanding officer.
That, if the enemy shall commit any further violence recourse be had to retaliation and punishments of the same kinds and degree be inflicted on an equal number of the captives from them in our possession, till they shall be taught to respect the violated rights of nations:
Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.
William Ellery to Benjamin Ellery
We have lived to see a Period which a few years ago no human forecast could have imagined. We have lived to see these Colonies shake off, or rather declare themselves independent of a State which they once gloried to call their Parent-I said declare themselves independent; for it is One Thing for Colonies to declare themselves independent, and another to establish themselves in Independency. For this Establishment the Congress are exerting every Nerve, and I rejoice to see this as well as the other American States ready to execute their Measures.
Caesar Rodney to Thomas Rodney
The Declaration has laid the foundation-and will be followed by Laws fixing the degree of Offence, and punishment Suitable. Some people have done things, which if done in future nothing less than life will be Sufficient to Atone for. These Enemies to our Righteous Cause will (I apprehend) be Less on their Guard if they are not held up in that public way, than if they are-and Will undoubtedly meet their due Reward, provided you pursue Steadily your line of Patriotism, and at the Same time keep a Watchful Eye toward their Conduct in the politics of your County.
John Adams to Joseph Ward
The Establishment of the War office as you observe has given me Work enough-more than I have a Relish for, and of a Kind not very suitable to my Taste, but must acquiesce….
The continual Reports of our Disasters in Canada have not intimidated the Congress: on the Contrary in the midst of them, more decisive steps have been taken than ever, as you must have seen, or will see before this reaches you….
You hear there is not Candor and Harmony between Some of the Members of this Body. I wish you would mention the Names and Particulars of the Report-the Names I mean of the Members between [whom] it is reported there is not Candor and Harmony. The Report is groundless. There is as much Candor and Harmony between the Members as generally takes Place in assemblies, and much more than could naturally be expected in such an assembly as this. But there is a Prospect now of greater Harmony than ever. The principal object of dispute is now annihilated, and several Members are left out.
John Adams to Abigail Adams
How many Calamities might have been avoided if these Measures had been taken twelve Months ago, or even no longer ago than last December?
The Colonies to the South, are pursuing the same Maxims, which have heretofore governed those to the North. In constituting their new Governments, their Plans are remarkably popular, more so than I could ever have imagined, even more popular than the “Thoughts on Government.” And in the Choice of their Rulers, Capacity, Spirit and Zeal in the Cause, supply the Place of Fortune, Family, and every other Consideration, which used to have Weight with Mankind.
My Friend Archibald Bullock Esq. is Governor of Georgia. John Rutledge Esq. is Governor of South Carolina. Patrick Henry Esq. is Governor of Virginia &c. Dr. Franklin will be Governor of Pennsylvania. The new Members of this City, are all in this Taste, chosen because of their inflexible Zeal for Independence. All the old Members left out, because they opposed Independence or at least were lukewarm about it. Dickinson, Morris, Allen, all fallen, like Grass before the Scythe notwithstanding all their vast Advantages in Point of Fortune, Family and Abilities.
I am inclined to think however, and to wish that these Gentlemen may be restored, at a fresh Election, because, although mistaken in some Points, they are good Characters, and their great Wealth and numerous Connections, will contribute to strengthen America, and cement her Union….
Time which takes away the Veil, may lay open the secret Springs of this surprising Revolution…. But I find, although the Colonies have differed in Religion, Laws, Customs, and Manners, yet in the great Essentials of Society and Government, they are all alike.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.