Second Continental Congress: July 28, 1775
July 28, 1775
Congress discusses the production and distribution of gunpowder, saltpeter, and Sulphur among the colonies. They “Ordered, That Thomas McKean, and James Wilson prepare the bonds for the continental treasurers to execute,” and unanimously selected Jonathan Trumbull “Paymaster of the forces for the New York department.”
The Congress deliveres the Address to the People of Ireland. The first half of the Address is very similar to the first half of the Address to the People of Jamaica, namely, an explanation that America took up arms in self-defense against a British government that had recklessly abandoned what it meant to be British and humane. Then the Address turns to the particularly Irish connection.
The delegates are ready for break.
Link to date-related documents.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Address the People of Ireland [edited]
[According to the editor of the Journals, The Address was not entered upon the Journals.]
To the people of Ireland.
Friends and Fellow-subjects!
As the important contest, into which we have been driven, is now become interesting to every European state, and particularly affects the members of the British Empire, we think it our duty to address you on the subject. We are desirous, as is natural to injured innocence, of possessing the good opinion of the virtuous and humane. We are peculiarly desirous of furnishing you with a true state of our motives and objects; the better to enable you to judge of our conduct with accuracy, and determine the merits of the controversy with impartiality and precision.
However incredible it may appear, that, at this enlightened period, the leaders of a nation, which in every age has sacrificed hecatombs of her bravest patriots on the altar of liberty, should presume gravely to assert, and, by force of arms, attempt to establish an arbitrary sway over the lives, liberties, and property of their fellow subjects in America, it is, nevertheless, a most deplorable and indisputable truth….
A Congress, consisting of Deputies from Twelve United Colonies, assembled. They, in the most respectful terms, laid their grievances at the foot of the throne; and implored his Majesty’s interposition in their behalf. They also agreed to suspend all trade with Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies; hoping, by this peaceable mode of opposition, to obtain that justice from the British Ministry which had been so long solicited in vain. And here permit us to assure you, that it was with the utmost reluctance we could prevail upon ourselves, to cease our commercial connection with your island. Your parliament had done us no wrong. You had ever been friendly to the rights of mankind; and we acknowledge, with pleasure and gratitude, that your nation has produced patriots, who have nobly distinguished themselves in the cause of humanity and America. On the other hand, we were not ignorant that the labor and manufactures of Ireland, like those of the silk-worm, were of little moment to herself; but served only to give luxury to those who neither toil nor spin.
We perceived that if we continued our commerce with you, our agreement not to import from Britain would be fruitless, and were, therefore, compelled to adopt a measure, to which nothing but absolute necessity would have reconciled us. It gave us, however, some consolation to reflect, that should it occasion much distress, the fertile regions of America would afford you a safe asylum from poverty, and, in time, from oppression also; an asylum, in which many thousands of your countrymen have found hospitality, peace, and affluence, and become united to us by all the ties of consanguinity, mutual interest, and affection….
With anxious expectation did all America wait the event of their petition. All America laments its fate. Their Prince was deaf to their complaints….Orders were given to reinforce the troops in America. The wild and barbarous savages of the wilderness have been solicited, by gifts, to take up the hatchet against us; and instigated to deluge our settlements with the blood of innocent and defenseless women and children….The Ministry, bent on pulling down the pillars of the constitution, endeavored to erect the standard of despotism in America; and if successful, Britain and Ireland may shudder at the consequences! Though vilified as wanting spirit, we are determined to behave like men. Though insulted and abused, we wish for reconciliation. Though defamed as seditious, we are ready to obey the laws. And though charged with rebellion, will cheerfully bleed in defense of our Sovereign in a righteous cause. What more can we say? What more can we offer?
But we forbear to trouble you with a tedious detail of the various and fruitless offers and applications we have repeatedly made, not for pensions, for wealth, or for honors, but for the humble boon of being permitted to possess the fruits of honest industry, and to enjoy that degree of Liberty, to which God and the Constitution have given us an undoubted right.
Blessed with an indissoluble union, with a variety of internal resources, and with a firm reliance on the justice of the Supreme Disposer of all human events, we have no doubt of rising superior to all the machinations of evil and abandoned Ministers. We already anticipate the golden period, when liberty, with all the gentle arts of peace and humanity, shall establish her mild dominion in this western world, and erect eternal monuments to the memory of those virtuous patriots and martyrs, who shall have fought and bled and suffered in her cause.
Accept our most grateful acknowledgments for the friendly disposition you have always shown towards us. We know that you are not without your grievances. We sympathize with you in your distress, and are pleased to find that the design of subjugating us, has persuaded administration to dispense to Ireland, some vagrant rays of ministerial
Even the tender mercies of government have long been cruel towards you. In the rich pastures of Ireland, many hungry parricides have fed, and grown strong to labor in its destruction. We hope the patient abiding of the meek may not always be forgotten; and God grant that the iniquitous schemes of extirpating liberty from the British empire may be soon defeated. But we should be wanting to ourselves–we should be perfidious to posterity–we should be unworthy that ancestry from which we derive our descent, should we submit, with folded arms, to military butchery and depredation, to gratify the lordly ambition, or sate the avarice of a British Ministry. In defense of our persons and properties, under actual violation, we have taken up arms; When that violence shall be removed, and hostilities cease on the part of the aggressors, they shall cease on our part also. For the achievement of this happy event, we confide in the good offices of our fellow-subjects beyond the Atlantic. Of their friendly disposition, we do not yet despond; aware, as they must be, that they have nothing more to expect from the same common enemy, than the humble favor of being last devoured.
Adjourned until tomorrow.
Roger Sherman to William Williams
We have had but little leisure being obliged to attend Congress from 8 or 9 in the morning to 4 or 5 in afternoon ….The Congress has Set much longer than I at first expected it would, but I believe not longer than was needful. I hope it will adjourn the beginning of next week & have a recess of a few weeks. It is very tedious Sitting here this hot Season….I have not been absent at any time while the Congress has been sitting.
Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull
We are all exhausted sitting so long at this place and being so long confined together that we feel pretty much as a Number of passengers confined together on board ship in a long Voyage. We shall take a short recess by Next Week. What we have done good or bad will soon be published.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.