Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 24, 1776

June 24, 1776

Congress creates a committee to investigate what went wrong in Canada and passes laws of allegiance. John Adams is eager for July 1 to arrive and looks forward to independence, a Confederation, and treaties. He wonders why New York and Maryland are hesitant.  William Wipple also looks forward to July 1 when “the grand question is to be debated and I believe determined unanimously.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

That letters from and to General Washington, with enclosed papers, be referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.

Congress declared Governor William Franklin “a virulent enemy to this country, and a person that may prove dangerous, and that the said William Franklin be confined in such place and manner as the Continental Congress shall direct.”

Resolved, That the Committee of Claims, be directed to forward money owed to various accounts and to ensure the redelivery of tents to Massachusetts.

Resolved, That a committee, to consist of a member from each colony, be appointed to enquire into the cause of the miscarriages in Canada: William Whipple, Robert Treat Paine, Stephen Hopkins, Roger Sherman, George Clinton, James Wilson, William Paca, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Hewes, Arthur Middleton, and Lyman Hall.

Resolved, That the report on the cartel for exchange of prisoners, entered into between Brigadier General Arnold and Captain Foster, be recommitted.

The Congress took into consideration the report of the Committee on Spies.

Resolved, That all persons abiding within any of the United Colonies, and deriving protection from the laws of the same, owe allegiance to the said laws, and are members of such colony; and that all persons passing through, visiting, or make a temporary stay in any of the said colonies, being entitled to the protection of the laws during the time of such passage, visitation or temporary stay, owe, during the same time, allegiance thereto:

That all persons, members of, or owing allegiance to any of the United Colonies, as before described, who shall levy war against any of the said colonies within the same, or be adherent to the king of Great Britain, or others the enemies of the said colonies, or any of them, within the same, giving to him or them aid and comfort, are guilty of treason against such colony:

That it be recommended to the several legislatures of the United Colonies, to pass laws for punishing, in such manner as they shall think fit, persons who shall counterfeit, or aid or abet in counterfeiting, the continental bills of credit, or who shall pass any such bill in payment, knowing the same to be counterfeit.

The committee, appointed to consider what harbors are proper to be fortified, brought in their report, which was read.

The Committee appointed to consider what Harbors are proper to be fortified, made their report.

Resolved, that the Marine Committee be impowered and instructed, to build, Man and equip two large Row Gallies for the Defense of little Egg Harbor, in New Jersey.

Resolved, That the said committee be empowered to draw on the Treasurers, for a sum of money sufficient to defray the expenses of surveying and examining the ports.

A petition and papers from Antoine Felix Wiebert was presented to Congress, and read and referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.

The Board of War and Ordnance, to whom was referred a petition from Carpenter Wharton, brought in their report, which was read.

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to William Tudor

What is the Reason, that New York is still asleep or dead, in Politics and War? Must it be always So? Cannot the whole Congregation of Patriots and Heroes, belonging to the Army, now in that Province, inspire it, with one generous Sentiment? Have they no sense? No Feeling? No sentiment? No Passions? While every other Colony is rapidly advancing, their Motions Seem to be rather retrograde. The timid and trimming Politics of some Men of large Property here, have almost done their Business for them. They have lost their Influence and grown obnoxious. The Quakers and Proprietarians together, have little Weight. New Jersey shows a noble Ardor. Is there anything in the Air, or Soil of New York, unfriendly to the Spirit of Liberty? Are the People destitute of Reason, or of Virtue? Or what is the Cause?

I agree with you, in your Hopes, that the Massachusetts will proceed to complete her Government. You wish me to be there, but I cannot. Mr. Bowdoin or Dr. Winthrop, I hope, will be chosen Governor. When a few mighty matters are accomplished here, I retreat like Cincinnatus to the Plough and like Sir William Temple to his Garden; and farewell Politics. I am weary. Some of you, younger Folk, must take your Trick and let me go to Sleep.

John Adams to Samuel Chase

Gates is gone to Canada and We have done every Thing that you recommended and more to support him. But for my own Part I confess my Mind is impressed with other Objects the Neglect of which appears to me to have been the source of all our Misfortunes in Canada, and everywhere else. Make the Tree good and the Fruit will be good. A Declaration of Independency, Confederation, and foreign Alliances, in Season would have put a Stop to that embarrassing opposition in Congress, which has occasioned us to do the Work of the Lord deceitfully in Canada and elsewhere.

A Resolution of your Convention was read in Congress this Morning, and the Question was put whether your Delegates should have leave to go home, and whether those great Questions should be postponed, beyond the first of July. The Determination was in the Negative. We should have been happy to have obliged your Convention and your Delegates. But it is now become public in the Colonies that those Questions are to be brought on the first of July. The lower Counties have instructed their Members, as the assembly of Pennsylvania have. Jersey has chosen five new Members, all independent Souls, and instructed them to vote on the first of July for Independence.

There is a Conference of Committees from every County in Pennsylvania, now Sitting in this City, who yesterday voted that the Delegates for this Colony ought on the first of July to vote for Independence. This Vote was not only unanimous, but I am told by one of them, that all the Members declared Seriatim that this was their opinion, and the opinion of the several Counties and Towns they represented, and many of them produced Instructions from their Constituents to vote for that Measure. You see therefore that there is such a universal Expectation that the great Question will be decided the first of July, and it has been already so often postponed, that to postpone it again would hazard Convulsions, and dangerous Conspiracies. It must then come on and be decided. I hope that before Monday Morning next, we shall receive from Maryland, Instructions to do right.

William Whipple to John Langdon

I am just come from the Marine Committee & have once more got their Unanimous consent to nominate you for agent.  I think there is no doubt but you’ll be appointed, but believe it will be in expectation that you resign Your seat in Congress….

There has been a most hellish conspiracy at New York; we have not the particulars of it yet, but by the best information I can get, the plan was to assassinate the General, blow up the magazine and spike the cannon; this was to be done on the arrival of the enemy it’s supposed. However there is a full discovery of the whole plot and a considerable number, say 30, or 40 of the infernal villains seized and I hope justice will be done to them.

Governor Franklin is seized by the Convention of New Jersey and is to be confined in Connecticut. The middle Colonies are getting in a good way. Next Monday being the first of July, the grand question is to be debated and I believe determined unanimously. May God unite our hearts in all things that tend to the well being of the rising Empire.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.