Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 16, 1775

June 16, 1775

Commander in Chief General George Washington, responds to his appointment.  Two more committees are created.  Silas Deane writes that “politics engross everything, private business is at an end in comparison,” and Eliphalet Dyer writes a political letter to Johnathan Trumbull.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Commander in Chief, and General, George Washington responded to his appointment.

Response of General Washington

“Though I am truly sensible of the high Honor done me, in this Appointment, yet I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust.  However, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their service, and for support of the glorious cause.  I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation.

But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

As to pay, Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that, as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to have accepted this arduous employment, at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it.  I will keep an exact Account of my expenses.  Those, I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I desire.”

Upon motion Resolved, That a committee of three–Richard Henry Lee, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams–be appointed to draft a commission and instructions for the General.

Upon motion Resolved unanimously, That a committee of 5 be appointed to take into consideration the papers transmitted from the convention of New York relative to Indian affairs, and report what steps, in their opinion, are necessary to be taken for securing and preserving the friendship of the Indian Nations.”  The five chosen were Philip Schuyler, Patrick Henry, James Duane, James Wilson, and Philip Livingston.

Samuel Ward reported that the committee he chaired had come to certain resolutions concerning the command and pay structure and “American Army.”  The Congress agreed with the Resolutions.

A letter from the Convention of New York, received by express, was read and considered.  The Congress recommended a movement of troops from Connecticut to New York.

Adjourned till tomorrow at 9 o’Clock.

Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane

The history of this Day is–rose at Five–breakfasted & dressed by Seven, at half past met a Committee in the State House on Business and Never left the house, until past Five, this afternoon when I went to dine with a Stomach, or Appetite so, so–immediately after which other business called, but Your Letter, & other packets arriving I have got some excuse and am now writing this at Twelve at Night….

General Washington, will be with you soon, elected to that high Office by the Unanimous Voice of all America. I have been with him for a great part of the last forty eight Hours, in Congress & Committee and the more I am acquainted with, the more I esteem him…who sacrificing private fortune, independent ease, and every domestic pleasure, sets off at his Country’s call, to exert himself in her defense without so much as returning to bid adieu to a fond partner and family.  Let our youth look up to this man as a pattern to form themselves by, who unites the bravery of the soldier, with the most consummate modesty and Virtue. I will say no more….

I fear the consequences of an adjournment on more grounds than I incline to mention. The subject is delicate, and on it am silent but do believe that an adjournment if any take place will undoubtedly be for Hartford….The Members talk more, & more, every day, of a removal to Connecticut.  Should it take place, will give timely notice for due preparation in Hartford….

Politics engross everything, private business is at an end in comparison.

Eliphalet Dyer to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

The Congress have appointed Colonel Washington of Virginia to be General of the Continental Army. He is a Gentleman highly Esteemed for his Military & other Accomplishments to that Important Command, We Esteem him well Adapted to please A New England Army and much better Suited to the Temper & Genius of our People than any other Gentleman not brought up in that Part of the Country.

We have no doubt but that he will render himself very Agreeable & Acceptable to all. His appointment will tend to keep up the Union & more strongly Cement the Southern with the Northern Colonies, & serve to the removing all jealousies Army composed principally of New Englanders (if happily they prove Successful) of being formidable to the Southern Colonies….

It gives the Congress some Concern least you Sir should Apprehend some Indelicacy in their mode of applying to you, through the Intervention of the York Provincial Congress. We beg leave just to explain the reasons of their Conduct therein, it is apprehended still that New York (ie) their Cautious men are for saving for themselves & the Province a safe retreat if possible. We readily see they most Carefully Avoid taking any lead in these Matters, therefore the more they are brought to move and Apply the more they will Involve themselves in the same Predicament with the other Colonies, which will give us a stronger Security for their future firmness in the General Cause.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.