Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: July 29, 1776

July 29, 1776

Congress makes several military appointments and a number of letters and petitions are assigned to numerous committees. John Adams writes about his “two knotty problems in politics,” Thomas Jefferson and Josiah Bartlett disclose that the debate over the Articles is consuming valuable time but William Whipple thinks that the end is in sight.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Twelve letters and two petitions were received and read including three letters from General Washington and one petition from Brigadier General Sullivan concerning his commission. Six of the letters were referred to the Board of War.

Resolved, That the General be empowered to appoint another aid-de-camp:

That the letter from the convention of New Jersey be referred to the committee on the ways and means of Augmenting the flying camp; and, that Abraham Clark be added to said committee:

That the letter from the adjutant general be referred to the committee appointed to revise the articles of war:

That the petition of James Livingston be referred to the committee appointed to settle accounts of the army in the northern army.

That the petition from George Nicholson be referred to the committee on Canada affairs:

That the Latin letter be referred to the Marine Committee.

Resolved, That money be drawn on the treasurers, to reimburse Josiah Fessenden.

A letter from the council of Virginia, of the 20th, was laid before Congress, and read.

The Board of War brought in a report, which was considered.

Resolved, That General Washington be empowered to send the Connecticut regiment, where he shall think the service requires it:

Congress made several military appointments.

The Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration, the articles of confederation; and, after some time, the president resumed the chair, and John Morton reported, that the committee have made some farther progress in the articles of Confederation; but, not having finished, desire leave to sit again.

A petition from Samuel Morris was presented to Congress, and read.

The Committee on Spies brought in a farther report, which was read:

Ordered, To lie on the table.

Resolved, That the prisoners, from North Carolina, be given the use and benefit of the yard, under the inspection of the guard, provided it may be done with safety.

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

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I am at this present Writing perplexed and plagued with two knotty Problems in Politics. You love to pick a political Bone, so I will even throw it to you.
If a Confederation should take Place, one great Question is how We shall vote. Whether each Colony shall count one? or whether each shall have a Weight in Proportion to its Numbers, or Wealth, or Exports and Imports, or a compound Ratio of all? [Editor’s Note. See Adams’s Notes of Debates for July 30th and August 1st]
Another is whether Congress shall have Authority to limit the Dimensions of each Colony, to prevent those which claim, by Charter, or Proclamation, or Commission to the South Sea, from growing too great and powerful so as to be dangerous to the rest. [Editor’s Notes. See Adams’s Notes of Debates, July 25th and August 2nd]

Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee

The minutiae of the Confederation have hitherto engaged us; the great points of representation, boundaries, taxation &c. being left open. For God’s sake, for your country’s sake, and for my sake, come. I receive by every post such accounts of the state of Mrs. Jefferson’s health, that it will be impossible for me to disappoint her expectation of seeing me at the time I have promised, which supposed my leaving this place on the 11th of next month. The plan of is yet untouched. After being read it was privately printed for the consideration of the members and will come on when we shall have got through the Confederation.
[P.S.] I pray you to come. I am under a sacred obligation to go home.

Josiah Bartlett to John Langdon

The retreat of our army to Ticonderoga has no doubt alarmed the western parts of our State. Though I think there will be no great danger at present as there is a very powerful army there who are now getting well of the small pox and will be soon ready for action besides the numerous militia who are marching to join that army Our friend General Sullivan is disgusted at the appointment of General Gates to be a Major General and being sent to the Northern Army; by permission of the Generals Schuyler and Washington he (G. Sullivan) has left the army and is now here and has petitioned Congress for leave to resign his Commission. What will be done in the case, I can’t say but hope it will be settled without his dismission.

Brother Whipple is here yet and will not set out for home till the confederation is settled which may possibly take a week or ten day’s time as there is a great deal of other business to be done in the meantime and the Sentiments of the members of Congress very different on many of the articles. I should be glad he might hear the whole of the debates here and be present in our Colony when it is laid before our Legislature for their concurrence to answer any questions and remarks that may be made upon it. It is a matter of the greatest importance, but the interests and opinions of the several members are so various that I see it will not be settled agreeable to my mind.

William Whipple to Joseph Whipple

Congress were unanimous in the Declaration of independency which would not have been three weeks sooner. Things go on much smoother now, then before that important Question was determined. I think to set out for home about the 10th next month….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.