Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 3, 1776

June 3, 1776

Congress continues to be directly involved in the war effort, Josiah Bartlett reports that Britain is determined “to subdue us,” John Hancock keeps General Washington up to date on the Resolves of Congress, John Adams 1) laments that “there is so much of Accident in the Appointment of Officers,” and 2) informs Patrick Henry “We all look up to Virginia” in the “present perplexities.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Sundry letters received by General Washington, were laid before Congress, and read.

Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers for the purchase of shoes, to be sent to Williamsburg, for the use of the continental Army.

The Committee of Conference Report was read and referred to the committee of the whole Congress. After some time spent, Benjamin Harrison reported that the committee have come to sundry resolutions.

Resolved, That the General be empowered to employ in Canada a number of Indians, not exceeding two thousand.

Resolved, That 13,800 militia from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey reinforce the army at New York.

Resolved, that the eleven battalions, raised and ordered to be raised for the protection of the four New England colonies, are sufficient.

Resolved, That a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies; and, that it consist of 10,000 men Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.

Resolved, That the militias be engaged to the first day of December next, unless sooner discharged by Congress.

That three Major Generals, and two Brigadier Generals, be added to the continental establishment of general officers, and that the vacancies in the offices of adjutant general, and quarter master general, be filled up.

That the general assembly of Massachusetts, the governor and assembly of Connecticut, the conventions of New York and New Jersey, and the several conventions of such other of the United Colonies, in which there are any lead mines, be requested to transmit to Congress, with all convenient dispatch, the state and condition of the lead mines in their respective colonies, and use the most speedy means to procure their being wrought to effect.

That it be earnestly recommended to the assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety in the United Colonies, to remove the stocks, grain, and meal, from their respective colonies, as are invaded, or are in imminent danger of being invaded.

That two provincial brigadiers general be employed in the Canada department; one from Massachusetts and one from Connecticut.

That four provincial brigadiers general be employed in the New York department; one each from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

That three provincial brigadiers general be employed for the flying camp; two from Pennsylvania, and one from Maryland appointed by the respective colonies.

That the commander in chief be authorized to form and fix such magazines of provisions and military stores, as he may judge necessary.

Resolved, That tomorrow be assigned for electing the three continental majors general and the two brigadiers general, and for filling up the vacancies in the offices of adjutant general, and quarter master general.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be empowered to export produce of these colonies to the foreign West Indies, sufficient to pay for arms procured by the Committee of Secret Correspondence.

Resolved, That this Congress will, tomorrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole to further consider the report of the Committee of Conference.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Josiah Bartlett to Mary Bartlett

We have received certain intelligence that Britain is Determined to use her utmost endeavors this year to Subdue us. The Congress have Determined to oppose them with all their power and have agreed to send 8 Regiments of Militia of 750 men each to join our army in Canada: one of the Regiments is to be raised in the western parts of our Province, four in Massachusetts, 2 in Connecticut, & one in N.Y.- and 25 thousand men more are to be raised between New Hampshire & Maryland viz in Mass, Conn, N.Y., N.J., Penn & Maryland for the Defense of the Sea Coasts.

It is said that Canada & New York will be their principal objects, though it is likely they will make attacks on some other places. I hope the Americans will play the man for their country & for their all, and that kind Providence will give us success & victory that the wickedness and villany of our Enemies will fall on their own heads, and that America may be forever separated from the Tyranny of Britain.

John Hancock to George Washington

I am extremely sorry it is not in my Power to wait on you in Person to execute the Commands of Congress. But being deprived of that Pleasure by a severe Fit of the Gout, I am under the Necessity of taking this Method to acquaint you, That the Congress have directed me in their Name, to make the Thanks of that body to you, for the unremitted Attention you have paid to your important Trust; and in particular for the Assistance they have derived from your military Knowledge & Experience, in adopting the best Plans for the Defense of the United Colonies.

Tomorrow Morning I will do myself the Honor of sending you, all such Resolves of Congress, as any Ways relate to the operations of the ensuing Campaign.
Having therefore fully accomplished that View of Congress in requesting your Attendance in this City, I am commanded to inform you that they submit to your Choice the Time of returning to Head Quarters; well knowing you will repair thither, whenever the Exigency of Affairs shall render your Presence there necessary.
With the most ardent Wishes, that you may be crowned with Success equal to your Merit and the Righteousness of our Cause….

[Editor’s Note. See the resolutions with respect to military matters passed by Congress between May 22 and June 3, Journal of Congress.]

John Adams to Abigail Adams

The last Evening, [Samuel]Adams, Paine and Gerry and myself, by Agreement waited on the President at his House, in order to accompany him to the Generals, to request that Gates and Mifflin might be sent immediately, to take the Command at Boston…. This Conversation would make a Figure in History.  It turned upon the general State of Affairs in the military Departments, and the Characters of the principal Officers in the Army.  I don’t think it prudent to commit to Writing the Particulars.

There is so much of Accident in the Appointment of Officers, even where they are chosen by the People or their Representatives, and their Characters are of such vast Importance, after they are appointed, and in Times like these when there are so many Jealousies, Envies, and Distrusts abroad from whence so many Calumnies arise, that it is absolutely necessary to support the Characters of Officers whenever you can, to be silent when you cannot, until you are furnished with sufficient Evidence of their Faults and Guilt, and then censure, and punish.

Josiah Bartlett to John Langdon

The Circumstances of affairs in Canada and the certainty of a large body of Hessians &c being hired and designed soon to attack the United Colonies has so engrossed the attention of Congress to be prepared for them, that it is not possible to get them to attend to smaller matters…. In short Sir, this will be the trying year, and if possible they must be hindered from getting any Foothold this Season; if that can be done, I think the day will be our own, and we be forever delivered from our British Tyranny….

I shall enclose a paper containing the Virginia and North Carolina Resolves concerning Independence. This province, New Jersey, and the Delaware Counties will soon take up Government, entirely under the people. New York and Maryland it is thought will soon follow. The constitution of Government that South Carolina has formed for themselves you have no doubt seen. Virginia, North Carolina & Georgia were forming theirs when the last accounts left them.

The address of the City of London to the King on American Affairs presented to him the 22nd of March & by his Answer we see he will have absolute submission or nothing.

John Adams to Patrick Henry

I esteem it an Honor and an Happiness, that my opinion so often coincides with yours. It has ever appeared to me, that the natural Course and order of Things, was this-for every Colony to institute a Government-for all the Colonies to confederate, and define the Limits of the Continental Constitution-then to declare the Colonies a sovereign State, or a Number of confederated Sovereign States-and last of all to form Treaties with foreign Powers. But I fear We cannot proceed Systematically, and that We shall be obliged to declare ourselves independent States before We confederate, and indeed before all the Colonies have established their Governments.  It is now pretty clear, that all these Measures will follow one another in a rapid Succession, and it may not perhaps be of much Importance, which is done first.

We all look up to Virginia for Examples and in the present Perplexities, Dangers and Distresses of our Country it is necessary that the Supreme Councils of the Colonies should be almost constantly sitting. Some Colonies are not sensible of this and they will certainly Suffer for their Indiscretion. Events of such magnitude as those which present themselves now in such quick succession, require constant Attention and mature Deliberation….

The Decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal Liberty, than has prevailed in other Parts of the Earth, must be established in America. That Exuberance of Pride, which has produced an insolent Domination, in a few, a very few opulent, monopolizing Families, will be brought down nearer to the Confines of Reason and Moderation, than they have been used. This is all the Evil, which they themselves will endure. It will do them good in this World and every other. For Pride was not made for Men only as a Tormentor.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.