Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 18, 1776

June 18, 1776

Congress continues to operate by means of an elaborate committee system. South Carolina is a subject of concern as is how to treat the Tories. And so is Canada to John Adams and Elbridge Gerry. The issues of Independence, Confederation, and delegate attendance are also raised.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Several recent letters and papers from military leads were referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.

A letter from William Palfrey, Paymaster General, of the June 16 was referred to the superintendents of the treasury.

Resolved, That the president be directed to pay the bills of Joseph Trumbull for the purpose of purchasing flour and pork in Philadelphia.

A letter from the committee of safety of Pennsylvania, requesting the opinion of Congress, whether persons taken on board merchants’ ships and river craft, ought to be exchanged for seamen taken from the enemy’s ships of war?

Resolved, That the president inform the committee of safety that the Congress judge it improper that such an exchange should take place.

Resolved, That Gunning Bedford, deputy muster master general, be promoted to the rank of muster master general, and that he be directed immediately to repair to head quarters at New York.

Resolved, That General Washington be empowered and directed, to nominate and send a deputy muster master general to Canada.

Resolved, That two members be added to the board for superintending the treasury: Joseph Hewes, and Thomas McKean were elected.

A memorial from Dr. John Morgan, director general and chief physician of the Hospital, was laid before Congress, and read.  Resolved, That it be referred to the committee appointed to provide medicines.

The committee to whom the report on the resolutions of the convention of South Carolina, respecting the battalions raised in that colony, were recommitted, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration.

Resolved, That the battalion of artillery, and the two other battalions of foot, raised in South Carolina, and kept up in that colony for the defense of the same, be considered as continental forces, and allowed the same pay, rations and disbursements as other forces on the continental establishment:

That the said forces be continued on the continental establishment until the expiration of their enlistment, unless they shall be sooner disbanded by Congress:

That not more than one third of the effective men of the abovementioned forces be ordered out of the said colony, without the express order of Congress or the consent of the president of that colony.

Resolved, That Thomas Heyward, and Lyman Hall be added to the committee for providing medicines.

Resolved, That John Rodgers, be appointed a member of the marine committee.

Resolved, That a commissioner be appointed to settle in Canada the debts due on certificates, given by officers to the Canadians for carriages and other services etc.;

Resolved, That the deputy pay master general be directed to transmit to Congress copies of the particulars before mentioned on the original certificates, with the report and remarks of the Commissioners thereon.

Resolved, That no man in these colonies, charged with being a tory, or unfriendly to the cause of American liberty, be injured in his person or property, or in any manner whatever disturbed, unless the proceeding against him be founded on an order of this Congress, or the Assembly, convention, council or committee of safety of the colony, or committee of inspection and observation, of the district wherein he resides; provided, that this resolution shall not prevent the apprehending any person found in the commission of some act destructive of American liberty, or justly suspected of a design to commit such act, and intending to escape, and bringing such person before proper authority for examination and trial.

Some of the officers, who were prisoners at Lebanon, in the colony of Pennsylvania, have, in violation of the parole by them given and subscribed, made their escape.

Resolved, That this case be referred to the Board of War and Ordnance to consider what steps are necessary to be taken.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to Horatio Gates

We have ordered you to the Post of Honor, and made you Dictator in Canada for Six Months, or at least until the first of October.  We don’t choose to trust you Generals, with too much Power, for too long Time.

Elbridge Gerry to Elisha Porter [Massachusetts Militia Commander in Canada]

I am sorry to find the affairs of Canada in such a situation, but they will be soon assisted if in the Power of Congress to effect it. General Gates is ordered to the Command in Canada….

Things are going on well in the Colonies with Respect to Independency, Confederation &c &c, & the Question relative to the former is to be agitated in Congress the 1st July next….

William Whipple to John Langdon

I sometime ago mentioned to the Chairman of the Secret Committee, what you propose respecting powder and am in no doubt, but you’ll be supplied in season with that article; in short I am not concerned about anything but guns and men….

I find there is no possibility of getting you appointed Agent while you have a seat in Congress and if you are not appointed I am apprehensive the present Acting Agent will be confirmed [Joshua Wentworth]. I have already told many of the members that you intended to resign your seat here. It’s Colonel Bartlett’s opinion, that you should come here; I don’t know but it would be right for you to come. I should be exceeding glad to be at home for a few months; if this plan is agreeable to you. I shall like to set out about the middle of July, but as there will be time enough for you to answer this before I shall set out shall let it rest entirely on your determination…. I hope your answer will be very explicit about your coming or resigning.

This day fortnight I expect the grand question will be determined in Congress, that being the day assigned to receive the report of a Committee who are preparing the Declaration. There is a great change here since my arrival as there was in New Hampshire between the time that the powder was taken from the fort and the battle of Bunker Hill. New Jersey have called a new Convention who are now setting. They have forbidden the meeting of the Assembly who were called by the Governor’s Proclamation and I hope my next will advise you of that Governor’s being seized which I think ought to have been done many months ago. Affairs go on here bravely as you’ll see by the papers.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.