Congress continues to coordinate the production and distribution of food and armaments. John Adams adheres to the secrecy rule, sort of, with Abigail Adams. Samuel Adams writes that “The Battle of Lexington will be famed in the History of this Country,” and both John Adams and Eliphalet Dyer reject Lord North’s plan for reconciliation.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Congress showed mercy toward Philip Skene.
Congress passed several Resolutions with recommendations to conventions, committees, and citizens to be conscious of the importance of the availability of Sulphur and salt petere to the defense effort.
Resolved, that Robert Treat Paine, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Schuyler, and Thomas Johnson, be a committee “to devise ways and means to introduce the manufacture of salt petre in these colonies.”
Congress also showed mercy toward Philip Skene and his lieutenants. Resolved, that they “be released from their present confinement, and suffered to go at large anywhere within eight miles of this city…on their parole of honor, not to pass those limits, and that they will hold no correspondence with any person whatsoever, on any political subject.”
Christopher Gadsden was added to the committee examining Skene’s papers.
Adjourned till Monday at 9 o’Clock.
John Adams to Abigail Adams
I wish I could write freely to you my Dear, but I cannot. The Scene before me, is complicated enough. It requires better Eyes and better Nerves than mine. Yet I will not despond. I will lay all Difficulties prostrate at my feet….
Two days ago, We saw a very wonderful Phenomenon in this City–a field Day, on which three Battalions of Soldiers were reviewed, making full two thousand Men…. All this has been accomplished in this City, since the 19th. of April. So sudden a formation of an Army never took Place anywhere.
In Congress We are bound to secrecy: But, under the Rose, I believe, that ten thousand Men will be maintained in the Massachusetts, and five thousand in New York at the Continental Expense.
Samuel Adams to James Warren
The Battle of Lexington will be famed in the History of this Country.
Whether the People of England will hereby be brought to reflect on their own Danger, or whether their pride will be touched at this unexpected & Signal Defeat of British Troops is to me uncertain…. It is however the Duty of America to be still upon its Guard, for there is no Dependence to be had on the People of England, and I am convinced most abundantly that it is the Determination of the King & his Ministers to establish arbitrary Government in the Colonies by Acts of Parliament & to enforce those Acts by the Sword. Could the public Sentiment be otherwise it would be a Delusion leading directly to Destruction.
The Spirit of Patriotism prevails among the Members of this Congress, but from the Necessity of things Business must go on slower than one could wish. It is difficult to possess upwards of Sixty Gentlemen, at once with the Same Feelings upon Questions of Importance that are continually arising. All mean the Defense and Support of American Liberty, and Matters are finally well decided; I have endeavored to act with that kind of Prudence, which I dare say, when I shall explain my Conduct to you, you will not condemn….
Every Step is taking here for the procuring of Gun powder from abroad and setting up the Manufacture of it in America and I believe they will be successful. Mr. Mifflin assures me that large Quantities are expected in a few Weeks in this place and 200 Barrels every hour.
Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull
I have seen sundry private Letters from London which soon followed this same Major Skene from London apprising of us of the purpose and design of the Ministry in sending him by the way of Philadelphia. We have the best Intelligence that Numbers of the New York Assembly were largely bribed & that Skene now had Unlimited Orders to draw on the Treasurer in England for any sums Necessary that he was to bribe & buy over such a Number of the Congress as was Necessary to Confound the whole. He was to propose Lord North’s Conciliatory plan & the dunce Imagined he should have easy work to settle the whole Controversy….The Ministry it seems are now so pushed as they will descend to every, the lowest Artifice, & employ every Scoundrel they can pick up for it seems this Mighty Major, has been of the Cabinet, has really guided the Measures that he has Absolutely the ear of Lords North and Dartmouth & they have relied upon him as for their Intelligence as to America & the proper Measures to take with them to Answer their purpose.
John Adams to Moses Gill ( Chairman of the committee of supplies, Massachusetts Provincial Congress)
It would be a relief to my mind, if I could write freely to you concerning the sentiments, principles, facts, and arguments which are laid before us in Congress; but injunctions and engagements of honor render this impossible. What I learn out of doors among citizens, gentlemen, and persons of all denominations, is not so sacred. I find that the general sense abroad is, to prepare for a vigorous defensive war, but at the same time to keep open the door of reconciliation; to hold the sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other….
I am myself as fond of reconciliation, if we could reasonably entertain hopes of it upon a constitutional basis, as any man. But I think, if we consider the education of the sovereign, and that the Lords, the Commons, the electors, the army, the navy, the officers of excise, customs, &c., &c., have been now for many years gradually trained and disciplined by corruption to the system of the court, we shall be convinced that the cancer is too deeply rooted and too far spread to be cured by anything short of cutting it out entire.
We have ever found by experience, that petitions, negotiations, everything which holds out to the people hopes of a reconciliation without bloodshed, is greedily grasped at and relied on; and they cannot be persuaded to think that it is so necessary to prepare for war as it really is. Hence our present scarcity of powder, &c.
However, this continent is a vast, unwieldy machine. We cannot force events. We must suffer people to take their own way in many cases, when we think it leads wrong, hoping, however, and believing that our liberty and felicity will be preserved in the end, though not in the speediest and surest manner. In my opinion, powder and artillery are the most efficacious, sure, and infallible conciliatory measures we can adopt.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.