Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: June 5, 1776

June 5, 1776

1) Congress creates “a committee, to consist of one member from each colony… to consider the ways and means of establishing expresses between the several continental posts,” 2) Robert Morris writes that the king has “totally destroyed all hope of Reconciliation,” and 3) to Oliver Wolcott Canada is still “a Very important Object.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter of the 2d from Major General Putnam, with sundry letters and papers enclosed, was laid before Congress, read, and referred to the Committee on Prisoners.

A letter from the committee of Greenwich, New Jersey, dated June 3, was read, informing Congress that the master of a ship from Bermuda be permitted to exchange his cargo for provisions to help the help the people of Bermuda.  Approved.

Resolved, That a committee of five consider what is proper to be done with persons giving intelligence to the enemy, or supplying them with provisions: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Rutledge, James Wilson, and Robert R. Livingston.

Resolved, That the deputy commissaries general, deputy quarter masters general, deputy adjutants general, and deputy muster masters general, make regular returns and reports to Congress, and to the respective officers to whom they are deputies, at least once a month, and that the principals also make returns to Congress at the same periods.  That the pay master general, and the deputy pay masters general, make monthly returns to Congress of their expenditures, and the state of the military chests in their several departments:

Resolved, That the flying camp be under the command of such continental general officers as the commander in chief shall direct.

That expresses be established between the several continental posts.

Resolved, That the militia, when in service, be regularly paid and victualled in the same manner as the continental troops.

Resolved, That a pay master be appointed to each regiment. That it shall be the duty of the regimental pay masters to keep all the accounts of their respective regiments, and to observe such rules and orders as shall be given them in command by the general or commander in chief, and that each of them be allowed for this service dollars per month.

Resolved, That the aids de camp of the commander in chief rank as lieutenant colonels and of major generals rank as majors, but not to take rank of regimental or brigade majors.

That Robert Hanson Harrison, have the rank of lieutenant colonel in the continental army:

Resolved, That the assistant quarter masters general be allowed captain’s pay.

That the pay of the regimental surgeons be augmented to thirty three dollars and one third of a dollar a month.

Resolved, That a committee, to consist of one member from each colony, be appointed, to consider the ways and means of establishing expresses between the several continental posts: Josiah Bartlett, Mr. Samuel Adams, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, Francis Lewis, William Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, Cæsar Rodney, John Rogers, Carter Braxton, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Junior and Button Gwinnett.

The Congress elected Joseph Reed an adjutant general and Stephen Moylan quarter master general, to fill up the vacancies in those offices.

Resolved, That the election of majors general be postponed.

Resolved, That no person shall be appointed to any place of profit, unless the person to be appointed shall have a majority of the voices of the colonies represented at the time of Election.

The Congress elected two brigadiers general: John Whitecombe, and Hugh Mercer.

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

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Robert Morris to Silas Deane

I extracted from your letter of the 26th all the parts that related to the Public & laid them before Congress. Those extracts are Committed but no report is yet brought in. I am on the Committee and we are to meet tomorrow morning but whether they will determine to benefit by your useful hints or not I cannot yet tell.

You have mixed business & Politics in your letter which is a bad example and I must try to avoid it, therefore this letter must be Confined to the latter. This goes by William Bingham a Young Gentleman who has for some time acted as Secretary to the Committee of Secret Correspondence…. The papers he carries will give you the Public News, the worst part of which is an appearance of great division amongst ourselves especially in this Province; however I believe the King has put an effectual stop to those divisions by his Answer to an Address of the Lord Mayor & Aldermen &c … as His Majesty has there totally destroyed all hope of Reconciliation.

I confess I never lost hopes of reconciliation until I saw this Answer which in my opinion breaths nothing but Death & Destruction. Everybody sees it in the same light and it will bring us all to one way of thinking, so that you may soon expect to hear of New Governments in every Colony and in Conclusion a declaration of Independency by Congress. I see this step is inevitable and you may depend it will soon take place. Great Britain may thank herself for this Event, for whatever might have been the original designs of some Men in promoting the present Contest I am sure that America in general never set out with any View or desire of establishing an Independent Empire. They have been drove into it step by step with a reluctance on their part that has been manifested in all their proceedings, & yet I dare say our Enemies will assert that it was planned from the first movements. The Dogs of War are now fairly let loose upon us…. The Fortune of War being ever uncertain God only knows what may be the Event.

It appears to me We shall be able to baffle all attempts of our Enemy, if we do but preserve Union amongst ourselves. I don’t mean the Union of the Colonies, but union in each Colony. The former is safely fixed on a broad & firm basis, the latter had been greatly threatened. The necessity of assuming new Governments has been pretty evident for some time and the Contest is who shall form them & who upon such a Change shall come in for the Power. The divisions would probably have run very high particularly in this Province, had not His Majesty determined so peremptorily that there can be no reconciliation but through the door of abject Submission. This seems to bend all men’s minds one way and I have no doubt but Harmony will be restored & our united efforts exerted to defend our Country & its freedom in which God grant Success to an injured & oppressed People….

We have a Number of the Six Nation Indians now in this City upon the most Friendly terms and I hope shall be able to Continue them in our Friendship although I do very much suspect, that if we evacuate Canada, the Indians & Canadians will be prevailed on to Act against us….  

Oliver Wolcott to Roger Newberry (Connecticut Military Officer)

I am glad to be informed by you that People seem determined in supporting the mighty Cause upon the Decision of which the Fate of this and future Generations depend. Your Observations that a Regard ought to be had to the Expectations of the People are just, and as the Appeal is made to them as to the Justice and Propriety of public Measures, any Information to one who must think that his Services in some good Degree must depend upon an Observance of popular Opinions, will be advantageous not for the Reason for which this kind of Knowledge is often Sought for a personal Account, but to prevent him from adopting ineffectual and consequently pernicious Measures. You can easily conceive that in this long extended Continent Very different Customs prevail but I trust that there will be no further Augmentation in the Officers Wages, indeed I am sure there will not, though some of the Southern Colonies have enlarged them at a colonial Expense….Canada is a Very important Object, our possession of that Country is Very necessary, and I am sorry our Affairs there have not been more regarded.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.