Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 25, 1776

June 25, 1776

Congress has a morning and an afternoon session on the war effort and received word that the Pennsylvania Assembly was willing to join Congress in “declaring the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”  John Hancock and Elbridge Gerry emphasize the importance of the Canadian campaign. And Gerry hopes that it will be unnecessary to “take further measures preparatory to the declaration of independence.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from General Washington, of the 23, with sundry letters from Major General Schuyler, Brigadier General Sullivan, Brigadier General Arnold, and others, were read and referred to the Board of War and Ordnance; who are directed to sit immediately, and provide a report as soon as possible.

A memorial from Captain Stephen Rowe Bradley was presented to Congress, read, and referred to the Board of Treasury.

The Marine Committee recommended several people to appointments in the marines.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to sell 125 lb. of powder, for the use of a privateer.

Resolved, That the committee appointed to contract for making muskets, be directed encourage the making of muskets.

Adjourned to 4 o’Clock.

A Declaration of the deputies of Pennsylvania, meeting in provincial conference, was expressed their willingness to concur in a vote of Congress, declaring the United Colonies Free and Independent States.

The Board of War and Ordnance, to whom the several letters received this morning were referred, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration; Whereupon,

Resolved, That the number of men destined for the northern department, be augmented to 4 thousand:

That a colonel’s commission be immediately issued to Major Dubois, with instructions forthwith to raise a regiment to serve for three years, or during the war, in Canada; no officer to receive his commission until his company be raised and armed.

That New Hampshire send immediately one regiment of their militia to Massachusetts two regiments to Connecticut, and one regiment to for the northern department:

That letters be sent to the several assemblies of the colonies, from whence the several regiments of militia are and have been requested, earnestly pressing them to be expeditious in raising and equipping their troops, and requesting the several assemblies to take upon themselves the care of providing the said troops with clothes, tents, and all necessary camp equipage, and assuring them that the United Colonies will be answerable for the expense of the same:

That a regimental pay master, who is not to be an officer of the army, be appointed by the said colonies to each of the said battalions.

Resolved, That a committee be appointed immediately to go to New York and confer with General Washington and the other generals there, with power to agree upon and take the proper steps for carrying into execution such further measures as shall be judged most advisable in the present situation of affairs in Canada.

The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,

Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to Certain Colonies

Congress… have come to a Resolution to augment the Number of Men destined for Canada, four Thousand. I am therefore to request you will send immediately one Regiment of your Militia by Way of Augmentation of the Troops destined for that Department-and at the same Time earnestly to entreat you, to be expeditious in raising & equipping your Troops, and to provide them with Clothes, Tents, and other necessary Camp Equipage, for which the United Colonies will… reimburse you….

The present is not a Time for Delay. Every Thing we have a Right to expect from that Quarter, depends on Expedition. Without it, we shall inevitably be ruined. Remember, your own Safety, & the Security of Canada, are exactly one & the same Thing. If our Enemies are not opposed at a Distance, we must engage them in our Borders. One Idea should be forever on our Minds-that in the Conduct of Political Affairs, every Moment is precious. A Week-a Day-even an Hour has often proved decisive; and by an Attention thereto, the Liberties of a Country have been either established, or destroyed, forever.

I must repeat again to you that in all human Probability, the Fate of America will be determined in the ensuing Campaign. Much depends on your Colony….
May the Great Disposer of all human Events, animate & guide your Councils, & enable you so to determine, that you may not only establish your own temporal Peace and Happiness, but those of your Posterity. Forgive this passionate Language. I am unable to restrain it-it is the Language of the Heart.

Elbridge Gerry to Horatio Gates

The affairs of Canada having been evidently suffering from Want of an experienced officer to take the Command; & your Appointment to that Department is considered as a happy Circumstance, notwithstanding the eastern Colonies greatly need your Assistance. I hope the Campaign will terminate with Honor & Happiness to Yourself & Country, & if any Services can be rendered from this Quarter by giving You Information of the Measures here adopted, the Causes & moving principles thereof, or by promoting in Congress such other Measures as You shall find necessary for the Service, It will give me Pleasure to have a Share therein….

Confederation, & other Measures that depend on Secrecy for Success, & Congress having yesterday passed Resolves for capitally punishing Spies that shall be found in or about any of the Camps or Fortifications of the united Colonies; & recommended to the Assemblies to make provision for punishing all Inhabitants, & other persons receiving protection in any of the Colonies, who shall be found affording aid or Comfort to the King of G Britain or other Enemies of the united States of America; It appears to me that little will remain to be done, but an attention to the Supplies, Appointments & Discipline of the Army, all of which are of the utmost Importance…

Discipline is the last, but not the least Important object of Attention, & I shall be glad of your explicit Sentiments on the same. I cannot conceive Why We may not by setting out Right soon make Soldiers equal to any that the World affords. For surely Men inspired with the principles of Liberty & enthusiastically engaged in its Defense afford as good Materials as can anywhere be found for this purpose. And in the first place I put it down as a settled fixed principle that they must be enlisted for the War let the Necessary Encouragement be what it may, which I am happy to find the Generals agreed in & I think most of the Members of Congress….

Elbridge Gerry to James Warren

I am in hopes Congress will soon render it unnecessary to take further measures preparatory to the declaration of independence. New Jersey has appointed five new delegates, and instructed them to vote in favor of the question, and it appears to me there is not even a doubt of any colony on the continent except New York and Maryland. These will not impede us a moment. I do not affirm that either of these are of the neuter gender, but on the other hand am persuaded the people are in favor of a total and final separation, and will support the measure, even if the conventions and delegates of those colonies vote against it.

Since my first arrival in this city the New-England delegates have been in a continual war with the advocates of proprietary interests in congress and this colony. These are they who are most in the way of the measures we have proposed, but I think the contest is pretty nearly at an end, and am persuaded that the people of this and the middle colonies have a clearer view of their interest, and will use their endeavors to eradicate the ministerial influence of governors, proprietors and jacobites, and that they now more confide in the politics of the New-England colonies than they ever did in those of their hitherto unequal governments.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.