Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 10, 1776

June 10, 1776

Today marks the second of four important days in the movement from reconciliation to independence. The First Resolution of the Declaration of Independence is introduced and further consideration postponed, on a 7-5 vote, until July 1. A Committee is created to put into effect the First Resolution. The letters of John Hancock and William Whipple reinforce the Journal’s account that military matters generally, and the Canadian situation in particular, continue to receive lengthy attention and that the meetings of Congress are long and arduous.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Sundry letters and papers from General Washington, General Schuyler, and the commissioners in Canada were laid before Congress, read, and referred to the committee appointed on June 6th, to consider sundry letters that day.

A letter from Stephen Moylan, expressing his grateful thanks to Congress for appointing him to the office of quarter master general; and a letter from the convention of New York of the 7th, were laid before Congress, and read.

Resolved, That the pay of the continental troops, in the middle department, be henceforth the same as that of the troops in the eastern.

Resolved, That this Congress will tomorrow morning proceed to the appointment of a deputy pay master general for the eastern department.

Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into further consideration the resolutions to them referred; and, after some time spent thereon, Benjamin Harrison reported, that the committee have come to a resolution, which he read.  Congress considered the report from the committee of the whole Whereupon,

Resolved, That the consideration of the first resolution be postponed to this day, three weeks [July 1], and in the meanwhile, that no time be lost, in case the Congress agree thereto, that a committee be appointed to prepare a declaration to the effect of the said first resolution, which is in these words: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown: and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to George Washington

I am honored with your Letters of 7th, 8th and 9th Instant. The two first I have read in Congress. We have been two Days in a Committee of the Whole deliberating on three Capital Matters, the most important in their Nature of any that have yet been before us; & have sat till 7 O’Clock in the Evening each Day.….

I hope soon to give you a full Answer to all your Queries; and in future I will exert myself in Congress that your Applications may be considered as soon as received, and you punctually and regularly informed of the Result.

William Whipple to John Langdon

Congress never were so much engaged as at this time; business presses on them exceedingly. We do not rise sometimes till 6 or 7 o’clock-there is so many irons in the fire I fear some of them will burn….

We have dismal accounts from Canada: 500 men taken by the enemy who consisted of about 40 regulars, 250 Canadians and 400 Indians. How so large a number as 500 could be taken by about 7 is very unaccountable, but so it is though we have no particular accounts how it happened. When the last express came off, General Arnold was near the enemy with about 1000 men-some messages had passed between him and a Captain Foster who commanded the party. Arnold was threatened if he attacked them they would murder all the prisoners. I am fearful his humanity got the better of his judgment.

Maryland Delegates to The Maryland Council of Safety

The Proposition from the Delegates of Virginia to declare the Colonies independent was yesterday after much Debate postponed for three Weeks, then to be resumed, and a Committee is appointed to draw up a Declaration to prevent Loss of time in Case the Congress should agree to the Proposition at the day fixed for resuming it. This postponement was made to give an Opportunity to the Delegates from those Colonies, which had not as yet given Authority to adopt this decisive Measure, to consult their Constituents; it will be necessary that the Convention of Maryland should meet as soon as possible to give the explicit Sense of the Province on this Point. And we hope you will accordingly exercise your Power of convening them at such Time as you think the members can be brought together. We wish to have the fair and uninfluenced Sense of the People we have the Honor to represent in this most important and interesting Affair And think it would be well if the Delegates to Convention were desired to endeavor to collect the opinion of the people at large in some Manner or other previous to the Meeting of Convention. We shall attend the Convention whenever it meets if it is thought proper we should do so….

From every Account and Appearance the King and his Ministers seem determined to hazard everything upon the Success of the Sword; without offering any Terms to America which she ought to accept. That Peace & Security which every virtuous man in this Country has so earnestly desired seems not attainable in the present disposition of the ruling powers of Britain….

The Question for postponing the Declaration of Independence was carried by seven Colonies against five.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.