Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 11, 1776

June 11, 1776

Congress 1) selects the Committee to draft the Declaration of Independence 2) approves committees to draft the Articles of Confederation and plan foreign treaties and 3) has a friendly exchange with the Indians. The “affairs in Canada” continues to be a concern, the Maryland delegates seek the opinion of their constituents on independence and William Whipple writes about the long hours spent in Congress.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Sundry letters were laid before Congress, and read. 2 letters, from General Washington, of the 9th and 10th were referred to the committee appointed on the 6th.Recent letters from H. E. Stanhope, E. Webb, and from Mrs. Connolly were read and referred to the Committee on Prisoners.

Resolved, That the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars be paid to the Indian interpreter [Thomas Folmer] for his services, and to defray his expenses.

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to consider of a compensation to the secretary for his services: John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Joseph Hewes.

Resolved, That an order for 10,000 dollars be drawn on the Treasurers, in favor of Carpenter Wharton, for the use of the Pennsylvania battalions.

A speech was delivered to the Indians.


We hope the friendship that is between us and you will be firm, and continue as long as the sun shall shine, and the waters run; that we and you may be as one people, and have but one heart, and be kind to one another like brethren.

The king of Great Britain, hearkening to the evil counsel of some of his foolish young men, is angry with us, because we will not let him take away from us our land, and all that we have, and give it to them, and because we will not do everything that he bids us; and hath hindered his people from bringing goods to us; but, we have made provision for getting such a quantity of them, that we hope we shall be able to supply your wants as formerly.

We shall order all our warriors and young men not to hurt you or any of your kindred, and we hope you will not suffer any of your young men to join with our enemies, or to do any wrong to us, that nothing may happen to make any quarrel between us.

We desire you to accept a few necessaries, which we present you with, as tokens of our good will towards you.

The presents being delivered, the Indians gave the president the name of Karanduawn, or the Great Tree, by which name he informed him the president will be known among the Six nations.

After which the Indians took their leave and withdrew.

Mr. Chase, one of the Commissioners being arrived from Canada, brought a letter dated June 1 from General Sullivan; it was laid before Congress and read.

Congress turned to internal matters dealing with military affairs including directions to the Secret Committee.

Resolved, That the committee, to prepare the declaration, consist of five members: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.

Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, two of the commissioners arrived from Canada, and give an account of their proceedings, and the state of the army there.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Elbridge Gerry to John Wendell (A Northern Merchant)

Our Affairs in Canada are at present unfortunate. I have never liked their appearance since my Arrival here & hope that a favorable Change will take place, but however it may happen We must use Misfortune as a Stimulus to new & greater Exertions.
I observe you have begun to Speculate in the papers & think You have made a good Exordium: I hope You will go on & successfully finish the Theme. The paper will undoubtedly prove a good one but the printers in our own Colony & this City generally furnish Us with One or two a Day which are as many as We can well peruse.

P.S. I hope soon to see your Colony following the others in declaring for Independence.

Maryland Delegates to The Maryland Council of Safety

We are astonished at the ungenerous and malevolent Turn given to the Proceedings of our convention by that of Virginia-And hope they will be as unsuccessful in their nefarious Attempt to stir up the People of Maryland against their representatives as they have hitherto been in their Endeavors to render the Councils of that Province suspected. We are exceedingly sorry to observe this unfriendly Disposition in a Neighboring Sister Colony, but hope there will be found spirit enough in the Convention of Maryland to resent this most nefarious Treatment in the Manner it deserves.

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 postpone 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 shall attend the Convention whenever it meets if it is thought proper we should do so.

We beg you will inform Us as soon as may be of the Time you fix for the Convention to meet, and We should also be very glad to receive the Proceedings of the last session. We see with the deepest Concern the Attempts from various Quarters to throw the Province into a State of Confusion, Division & Disorder but trust the Exertions of those who are the true friends of Virtue & the American Cause will be adequate to the surrounding Difficulties & Dangers. 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…. Mat. Tilghman, T. Stone, and J. Rogers.

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’clock-there is so many irons in the fire I fear some of them will burn…. 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. I hope shall be able to give you a more particular account of this affair before I close this.

One of the Jamaica ships taken by the Privateers from this place is arrived here; the other two have not yet been heard of. The money viz 20,000 dolls. is also in this city. Congress did not rise till 7 o’clock which prevented the Committee from meeting last evening. No accounts from Canada since the above. You say you want to be here for a short time; I hope you’ll let me know about 2 or 3 weeks before you set out, that I may meet you half way. I hope my next will give some accounts more pleasing than is in my power at this time.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.