Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: July 2, 1776

July 2, 1776

Congress shifts overnight from a 9-2-1-1 vote to a 12-0-1 vote in favor of Independence. The New York delegation seeks guidance from home. The bad news about Canada still occupies the attention of John Adams.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That most of the letters received be referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.

The Congress resumed the consideration of the resolution agreed to by and reported from the committee of the whole.

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole; and, after some time, Benjamin Harrison reported, that the committee have not arrived at a conclusion.

Resolved, That this Congress will, tomorrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to further consider the declaration on independence.

Resolved, That the Marine Committee be directed to inquire into the complaints against Captains Whipple and Saltonstal, and report to Congress.

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

The New York Delegates to the New York Provincial Congress

[The New York delegation abstained when Congress voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s Resolution of July 2. The New York Convention approved the Declaration of Independence on July 9 thus enabling the New York delegates to sign the Declaration]

The important Question of Independency was agitated yesterday in a Committee of the whole Congress, and this Day will be finally determined in the House. We know the Line of our Conduct on this Occasion; we have your Instructions, and will faithfully pursue them. New Doubts and Difficulties however will arise should Independency be declared; and that it will not, we have not the least Reason to expect nor do we believe that (if any) more than one Colony (and the Delegates of that divided) will vote against the Question; every Colony (ours only excepted) having withdrawn their former Instructions, and either positively instructed their Delegates to vote for Independency; or concur in such Vote if they shall judge it expedient.

What Part are we to act after this Event takes Place; every Act we join in may then be considered as in some Measure acceding to the Vote of Independency, and binding our Colony on that Score?…. We wish therefore for your earliest Advice and Instructions whether we are to consider our Colony bound by the Vote of the Majority in Favor of Independency and vote at large on such Questions as may arise in Consequence thereof or only concur in such Measures as may be absolutely necessary for the Common safety and defense of America exclusive of the Idea of Independency. We fear it will be difficult to draw the Line; but once possessed of your Instructions we will use our best Endeavors to follow them.

George Clinton, John Alsop, Henry Wisner, William Floyd, Francis Lewis.

[Editor’s Note.  The New York Convention left New York on June 30, reconvened in White Plains and considered this July 2 letter on July 9. It approved the decision of Congress to declare independence and authorized the New York delegates “to consent to and adopt all such measures as they may deem conducive to the happiness and welfare of the United States of America.”]

John Adams to Samuel Cooper

The very Post which brought us this agreeable Intelligence from Boston, brought Us from Canada, the melancholy Tidings that our Army had evacuated Canada, with such a Complication of Circumstances, of Famine, Pestilence, Distress, Defeat, and Disgrace, as are sufficient to humble a prouder Heart than mine.

The Small Pox is an Enemy more terrible in my Imagination, than all others. This Distemper will be the ruin of every Army from New England if great Care is not taken. I am really Sorry that the Town of Boston attempted to clear itself of the Infection. I cannot but wish that an inoculating Hospital was set up in every Town in New England. But if this is not done, I am sure that some Hospitals ought to be erected in Some convenient Places.

Thomas Jefferson’s Recollections of the Proceedings in Congress in July 1776

The ultimate question whether the house would agree to the resolution of the committee was accordingly postponed to the next day [July 2]. It was again moved and S. Carolina concurred in voting for it. In the meantime a third member had come post from the Delaware counties [Caesar Rodney] and turned the vote of that colony in favor of the resolution. Members of a different sentiment attending that morning from Pennsylvania also, their vote was changed, so that the whole 12 colonies, who were authorized to vote at all, gave their voices for it; and within a few days the convention of New York approved of it and thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of their delegates from the vote….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.