Congress meets during the day as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the state of America. A decision on The Address to the People of Great Britain is again postponed. The specific issue oriented committees made up of a small number of delegates meet in the evening hours. Benjamin Franklin is dubious about the outcome of sending “one more Petition to the King” and John Adams writes that “Liberty once lost is lost forever.”
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
The Committee’s revision of the Petition or Address to the People of Great Britain on why it was necessary for Americans to take up arms was read, debated, and postponed until tomorrow. The Second Petition to the King—the Olive Branch Petition was approved on July 5 and signed on July 8.
Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Shipley
I found at my arrival all America from one end of the 12 united Provinces to the other, busily employed in learning the Use of Arms. The Attack upon the Country People near Boston by the Army had roused every Body, & exasperated the whole Continent….The same Spirit appears everywhere and the Unanimity is amazing.
The day after my arrival, I was unanimously chosen by our Assembly then sitting, an additional Delegate to the Congress, which met the next week….We meet at nine in the morning, and often sit until four. I am also upon a Committee of Safety appointed by the Assembly, which meets at Six, and sits until near nine. The Members attend closely without being bribed to it by either salary, place or pension, or the hopes of any; which I mention for your refection on the difference, between a new virtuous people, who have public spirit, and an old corrupt one, who have not so much as an idea that such a thing exists in Nature. There has not been a dissenting voice among us in any Resolution for Defense, and our Army which is already formed, will soon consist of above 20,000 Men.
The Congress will send one more Petition to the King which I suppose will be treated as the former was, and therefore will probably be the last; for though this may afford Britain one chance more of recovering our affections and retaining the connection, I think she has neither temper nor wisdom enough to seize the Golden Opportunity.
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Every Year brings us fresh Evidence, that We have nothing to hope for from our loving Mother Country, but Cruelties more abominable than those which are practiced by the Savage Indians….
Your Description of the Distresses of the worthy Inhabitants of Boston, and the other Sea Port Towns, is enough to melt an Heart of stone. Our Consolation must be this, my dear, that Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. …
You ask if every Member feels for Us? Every Member says he does–and most of them really do. But most of them feel more for themselves. In every Society of Men, in every Club, I ever yet saw, you find some who are timid, their Fears hurry them away upon every Alarm–some who are selfish and avaricious, on whose callous Hearts nothing but Interest and Money can make Impression. There are some Persons in New York and Philadelphia, to whom a ship is dearer than a City, and a few Barrels of flower, than a thousand Lives–other Mens Lives I mean.
You ask, can they realize what We suffer? I answer No. They can’t, they don’t–and to excuse them as well as I can, I must confess I should not be able to do it, myself, if I
It gives me more Pleasure than I can express to learn that you sustain with so much Fortitude, the Shocks and Terrors of the Times. You are really brave, my dear, you are an Heroine. And you have Reason to be. For the worst that can happen, can do you no Harm. A soul, as pure, as benevolent, as virtuous and pious as yours has nothing to fear, but every Thing to hope and expect from the last of human Evils….
I have really had a very disagreeable Time of it. My Health and especially my Eyes have been so very bad, that I have not been so fit for Business as I ought, and if I had been in perfect Health, I should have had in the present Condition of my Country and my Friends, no Taste for Pleasure. But Dr. Young has made a kind of Cure of my Health and Dr. Church of my Eyes.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.