Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: July 26, 1776 

July 26, 1776

John Adams summarizes the debate over Article 18 of the Articles of Confederation, Congress decides to postpone further meetings until Monday because of the hot weather, and Adams really wants to go home.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Congress elected three commissioners to liquidate and settle the accounts in the northern department: James Milligan, John Carter, and John Wells.

The committee on the treasury reported that money was owed to Messrs. Price and Haywood. Ordered, To lie on the table.

Resolved, That the exchange between General Washington and Adjutant General Patterson be published.

Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to further consider the Articles of Confederation; and, after some time, John Morton reported that the committee have made further progress but have not concluded their work.

Resolved, That this Congress will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to further consider the Articles of Confederation.

A letter from Brigadier General Sullivan, with sundry papers enclosed, was laid before Congress, read, and postponed.

Resolved, That money be drawn on the treasurers in favor of Dr. W. Shippen.

The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock on Monday

John Adams to James Warren

My Health has lasted much longer, than I expected but at last it fails. The Increasing Heat of the Weather added to incessant application to Business, without any Intermissions of Exercise, has relaxed me to such a degree that a few Weeks more would totally incapacitate me for anything. I must therefore return home.

There will be no difficulty in finding Men Suitable to send here. For my own Part, as General Ward has so resigned his Command in the Army, I Sincerely wish you would send him here….

Send Dana along for another, and come yourself by all Means. I should have mentioned you, in the first Place. Will Lowell do? or Sewall? You will want four or five new ones.  Major Hawley must be excused no longer. He may have the small Pox here without keeping House an Hour, and without absence from Congress four days. It would be vastly for his Health to have it.  Send Palmer, or Lincoln, or Cushing if you will. Somebody you must send. Why will not Mr Bowdoin or Dr Winthrop take a Ride?

John Adams’s Notes of Debate

Rutledge and Lynch oppose giving the Power of regulating the Trade and managing all Affairs of the Indians, to Congress. [Article 18] The Trade is profitable they say.

Gwinnett is in favor of Congress having such Power.

Braxton is for excepting such Indians as are tributary to any State. Several Nations are tributary to Virginia.

Jefferson explains it to mean the Indians who live in the Colony. These are Subject to the Laws in some degree.

Wilson. We have no Right over the Indians, whether within or without the real or pretended Limits of any Colony. They will not allow themselves to be classed according to the Bounds of Colonies. Grants made 3000 miles to the Eastward have no Validity with the Indians. The Trade of Pennsylvania has been more considerable with the Indians than that of the neighboring Colonies.

Walton. The Indian Trade is of no essential service to any Colony. It must be a Monopoly. If it is free it produces Jealousies and Animosities, and Wars. Carolina very passionately considers this Trade as contributory to her Grandeur and Dignity. Deerskins are a great Part of the Trade. A great difference between S. Carolina and Georgia. Carolina is in no danger from the Indians at present. Georgia is a frontier and Barrier to Carolina. Georgia must be overrun and extirpated before Carolina can be hurt. Georgia is not equal to the Expense of giving the Donations to the Indians, which will be necessary to keep them at Peace. The Emoluments of the Trade are not a Compensation for the Expense of donations.

Rutledge differs from Walton in a Variety of Points. We must look forward with extensive Views. Carolina has been run to an amazing expense to defend themselves vs. Indians. In 1760 &c. fifty thousand Guineas were spent. We have now as many Men on the frontiers, as in Charleston. We have Forts in the Indian Countries. We are connected with them by Treaties.

Lynch. Congress may regulate the Trade, if they will indemnify Carolina vs. the Expense of keeping Peace with the Indians, or defending Us vs. them.

Witherspoon. Here are two adjacent Provinces, situated alike with respect to the Indians, differing totally in their Sentiments of their Interests.

Chase. South Carolina claims to the South Sea. So does North, Virginia, and Massachusetts. South Carolina says they have a Right to regulate the Trade with the Indians. If so 4 Colonies have all the Power of regulating Trade with the Indians. South Carolina alone could not stand alone vs. the Indian Nations.

Sherman moves that Congress may have a Superintending Power, to prevent Injustice to the Indians or Colonies.

Wilson. No lasting Peace will be with the Indians, unless made by some one Body. No such language as this ought to be held to the Indians. We are stronger, We are better. We treat you better than another Colony. No Power ought to treat, with the Indians, but the united States. Indians know the striking Benefits of Confederation- they have an Example of it in the Union of the Six nations. The Idea of the Union of the Colonies struck them forcibly last Year. None should trade with Indians without a License from Congress. A perpetual War would be unavoidable, if everybody was allowed to trade with them.

Stone. This Expedient is worse than either of the alternatives. What is the meaning of this Superintendency? Colonies will claim the Right first. Congress can’t interpose until the Evil has happened. Disputes will arise when Congress shall interpose.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.