Congress elects George Washington General of the Army. Samuel Ward writes that “a Continental Currency is agreed upon,” Edmund Pendleton offers political advice to Joseph Chew, and the Pennsylvania delegates urge Cumberland County officials to implement the Resolves of Congress concerning the raising of troops.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Resolved, That a General be appointed to command all the continental forces, raised, or to be raised, for the defense of American liberty. That five hundred dollars, per month, be allowed for his pay and expenses.
The Congress then proceeded to the choice of a General by ballot. Thomas Johnson of Maryland nominated George Washington who was elected unanimously.
Adjourned till tomorrow at eight o’clock.
Samuel Ward to Henry Ward
The Congress continues vastly unanimous on going on with proper Measures for supporting the Troops already raised & putting all the Colonies into a Posture of Defense, a continental Currency is agreed upon & will soon be emitted. For want of proper estimates of the Number of Inhabitants and ratable Estate in each Colony, a Proportion hath been struck according to the Number of Inhabitants as near as we can now judge subject however to a Revision when more perfect Accounts are had. I imagine we may sit a few weeks longer, and then make a short adjournment, probably leaving a committee to superintend in our Recess.
Edmund Pendleton to Joseph Chew
The Crisis of our Fate in the present and unhappy Contest seems approaching nearer than may be imagined by us and perhaps this Summer may determine whether we shall be slaves or a Rotten wicked Administration be sacrificed to Our Freedom. In such times there will be as great Variety of Sentiments as Constitutions among those who have the same end in view. The Sanguine are for rash Measures without consideration; the Phlegmatic to avoid that extreme are afraid to move at all while a third Class take the middle way and endeavor by tempering the first sort and bringing the latter into action to draw all together to a Steady though Active Point of defense; but till this is done it is natural to suppose the extremes will be blaming each other and perhaps in terms not the most decent and each at times will include the third class in that which is opposite to themselves. This I have frequently experienced; and must blame since mutual Charity should lead Us not to censure but to endeavor to convince the Judgment of each other….
I imagine I have by this time tired you and will only Add what we are at liberty to Publish that Colonel Washington is appointed General and Commander in chief of all the American Force and that a Committee of the whole Congress have voted to raise 15 000 men and to emit a Continental Currency to Amount of 2 Millions of Dollars to pay and provide for them.
Cumberland County Committee of Correspondence
Enclosed are resolves of the Congress which we have Transmitted to you & Request you will use your utmost diligence to have as many of the best marksmen procured to enlist as fast as Possible. They are wanted for immediate service at Boston–and we have not the least doubt but the Spirit of our People of this Province will induce them without Delay to enter into so Glorious a service. You will please to Consult Such Gentlemen of knowledge and interest as you can (though not of your Committee) for the more speedy raising of the men and let us know your Sentiments relative to Such Gentlemen as may be proper for Officers and Such as may be Agreeable to the men. We hope the Counties will advance any Monies Necessary as they Shall be Shortly Repaid by the Congress. The honor of Pennsylvania is at Stake and we have not the least Doubt but that every nerve will be exerted not only Collectively but Individually to Carry this matter into instant execution. You will See by the Attestation to be Signed by the men they are to Serve one Year unless Sooner Discharged. This may seem inconvenient as the enlistments will not be on one Day–the intention is to Discharge them on the first of July 1776 unless their Service may not be wanted so long according to the terms of the Attestation which may Possibly happen to be the Case and then they may be Discharged this fall….
John Morton, Charles Humphreys, Thomas Mifflin, John Dickinson, Thomas Willing, George Ross, and James Wilson.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.