Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: July 24, 1776

July 24, 1776

The Board of War is busy as usual, the Congress passes a confiscation of property resolution, and continues to debate the Articles of Confederation. Joseph Hewes writes that we “cannot negotiate with his Lordship,” and John Adams reflects on the impact of the small pox epidemic.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A resignation letter from Lieutenant Colonel William Allen was granted.

The Marine Committee’s recommendation that Benjamin Thompson be a marine lieutenant in Captain Palmes’s company was accepted and a commission granted.

Resolved, That the committee appointed to revise the Journal, be empowered to employ a proper person to make an index to the Journal.

Ordered that The Board of Treasury report concerning the reimbursement of of Brigadier General Wooster be paid.

Resolved, That the sum of one hundred dollars be advanced to Captain Robert Johnson, to be deducted out of his pay on the settlement of his account.

A petition from George Kitts was presented, read and referred to the Board of War.

The Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the committee appointed to prepare a resolution for confiscating the property of the subjects of the crown of Great Britain; and thereupon, came to the following resolution:

Whereas these United States have by a long series of oppressions, been driven into a war with Great Britain and at last to the necessity of declaring themselves free and independent States; and as it is impossible to distinguish among the subjects of the same sovereign, between those who are friends and such as are enemies to the rights of America and Mankind, it is become necessary to consider as enemies all the subjects of the King of Great Britain and all others, who aid, abet adhere to or in any way assist him in his unjust and cruel designs against these states; Therefore,

Resolved, That all the resolutions of this Congress, passed on the twenty third day of March last, and on the third day of April last, relating to ships and other vessels, their tackle, apparel and furniture, and all goods, wares and merchandises, belonging to any inhabitant or inhabitants of Great Britain, taken on the high seas, or between high and low water mark, be extended to all ships and other vessels, their tackle, apparel and furniture, and all goods, wares and merchandises, belonging to any subject or subjects of the King of Great Britain, except the inhabitants of the Bermudas, and Providence or Bahama islands; or to any other person or persons who adhere to him or in any wise aid or abet him in his unjust war against these states.

The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into consideration:

Resolved, That the regiment of rangers, now in the pay of the state of South Carolina and Georgia, be placed upon continental establishment and the rules laid down by Congress for pay and rank.

Resolved, That Colonel Knox’s plan for raising another battalion of artillery, be approved, and carried into execution, as soon as possible:

That General Washington 1) recommend proper officers to compose this corps, 2) be empowered to agree to the exchange of Governor Skene for Mr. James Lovell and to 3) be authorized to take into continental pay, the horse proposed by Mr. John Leary, Junior upon the terms by him mentioned.

Resolved, That the report of the committee on gold and silver coins be recommitted and that Jefferson be added to the committee.

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to consider and report on the President of South Carolina-General Lee situation: Samuel Adams, Edward Rutledge and Lyman Hall.

Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to further consider, the Articles of Confederation; and, after some time, Benjamin Harrison reported, that the committee have made farther progress in the matter referred to them; but, not having finished, wish to continue their deliberations.

Resolved, That this Congress will, tomorrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their further consideration, the Articles of Confederation.

Sundry letters were laid before Congress, and read: 1 from General Washington, of July 23rd, with sundry papers enclosed, among which a letter from Mr. Fraesh to Lord Sterling. The General’s letter, with enclosed papers, was referred to the Board of War.  The Sterling letter was referred to the committee for contracting casting cannon.

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston

Lord Howe is arrived with four or five Men of War but no Troops. A large Fleet is hourly expected having on board some say 20 others 30 thousand Men. His Lordship it is said expresses a great desire to promote a reconciliation. He has sent at three different times a boat with a Flag and a Letter to General Washington but the Letter being directed to George Washington Esquire was not received though much pressed by the officer in whose charge it was sent. The officer who was a Colonel and adjutant general that went on shore with the last boat had an interview with General Washington. The conversation was chiefly about prisoners. In the close of it he produced a Letter which he said was from Lord Howe but being directed as before was refused. What powers his Lordship may have is not known but from all circumstances that have yet appeared they extend no farther than to receive submissions and grant Pardons. As the people of the united Colonies are only defending their Just rights and Liberties and have committed no Offence they have nothing to ask pardon for, consequently cannot negotiate with his Lordship.

N.B. Mr. Hooper came to Town last evening. I have not yet seen him.

John Adams to James Warren

This I Suppose will find you, at Boston, growing well of the Small Pox. This Distemper is the King of Terrors to America this Year. We shall Suffer as much by it, as We did last Year by the Scarcity of Powder. And therefore I could wish, that the whole People was inoculated. It gives me great Pleasure to learn, that Such Numbers have removed to Boston, for the Sake of going through it, and that Inoculation is permitted in every Town. The plentiful Use of Mercury is a Discouragement to many: But you will see by a Letter from Doctor Rush… that Mercury is by him wholly laid aside. He practices with as much success and Reputation as any Man….

Before now you have the Result of our Proceedings the Beginning of this Month. A Confederation will follow very soon and other mighty Matters….

I rejoice at the Spread of the Small Pox, on another Account. Having had the Small Pox was the Merit which originally recommended me to this lofty Station. This Merit is now likely to be common enough, and I shall Stand a Chance to be relieved. Let some others come here, and see the Beauties and Sublimities of a Continental Congress. I will stay no longer. A Ride to Philadelphia, after the Small Pox, will contribute prodigiously to the Restoration of your Health.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.