Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: March 1, 1776

March 1, 1776

What should Congress do when war is imminent?  1) Have a hands-on approach to the selection and deployment of military leaders and 2) make sure that the kind of international commerce taking place is in the interest of the United Colonies.  The specific question of what kind of war relief, if any, should be given to another colony is also considered. John Adams gives some thought to foreign alliances.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter, a petition, and sundry papers from the committee of safety of New Hampshire, were read and referred to a committee of three: George Wythe, Carter Braxton, and Benjamin Franklin.

A Petition from the inhabitants of Falmouth was read and referred to a committee of three: William Livingston, George Read and William Paca.  The Committee noted that the town had been reduced to “great distress” due its refusal to comply with British demands.  Thus, the inhabitants were “entitled to the Charitable Relief of their Brethren of America engaged in the same common Cause.” Congress shall determine the relief.

A letter from James Mease concerning his conduct as commissary, requesting directions from Congress, was read and referred to a committee of three: Edward Rutledge, Robert Treat Paine, and Joseph Hewes.

A Memorial of the merchants, traders and others, of the city of Philadelphia, was presented, read and referred to a committee of the whole.

Resolved, That a state of the accounts against the continent submitted by the Massachusetts Assembly, be referred for liquidation to the Committee of Claims.

Resolved, That an addition of 34 dollars per month be added to the pay of Joseph Reed, secretary to General Washington, on account of his extraordinary services.

Resolved, That Congress will, tomorrow, consider the letter from General Washington, of February 14th, along with Lord Drummond’s letter.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee treat with the owners of some medicines lately imported, and purchase them on the most reasonable terms for continental use.

Congress proceeded to appoint the general officers and staff for the middle and southern military departments.

Resolved, That Major General Lee be appointed to take the command of the continental forces in the southern department.

The Congress then proceeded to the election of six Brigadier Generals and assigned them to continental commands subject to further orders from Congress.

Adjourned to Monday next at 10 o’Clock.

John Hancock to William Alexander

I do myself the Honor of enclosing to you a Commission of Brigadier General in the Continental Army.  From the high Opinion the Congress entertain of your Zeal and Attachment to the American Cause, they flatter themselves you will do everything in your Power to discharge your Duty to your Country on this important Occasion. I have it in Charge from Congress to direct that you continue at New York, until further Orders.

Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston

The Congress have this moment determined that General Lee shall repair to the Southward to take upon him the Command of the forces in Virginia, North & South Carolina & Georgia which are included in the Southern district. We have also this moment appointed Six Brigadier Generals to rank as they stand below in the Continental Service after the others that have been heretofore appointed. Armstrong is to go to South Carolina, Moore to stay in No. Carolina, Lewis & Howe in Virginia till General Lee shall direct otherwise.

[William] Hooper is not yet returned from Boston.  I expect him every moment.  [John]Penn is now writing to the Council of Safety which Letter I shall sign for Hooper & myself.

An express is now waiting; he is sent to South Carolina by the delegates of that Province to inform them of this day’s appointments and of the Critical state of Mr. Lynch’s health who a few days ago had an apoplectic stroke.  

John Adams: Notes on Foreign Alliances

How is the Interest of France and Spain affected, by the dispute between B[ritain] and the C[olonies]?  Is it the Interest of France to stand neuter, to join with B. or to join with the C. Is it not her Interest, to dismember the B. Empire? Will her Dominions be safe, if B. and A[merica] remain connected? Can she preserve her Possessions in the W.I? She has in the W.I. Martinique, Guadeloupe, and one half of Hispaniola.  In Case a Reconciliation should take Place, between B. and A. and a War should break out between B. and France, would not all her Islands be taken from her in 6 Months?

The Colonies are now much more warlike and powerful than they were, during the last War. A martial Spirit has Seized all the Colonies. They are much improved in Skill and Discipline. They have now a large Standing Army. They have many good officers. They abound in Provisions. They are in the Neighborhood of the W.I. A British Fleet and Army united with an American Fleet and Army and supplied with Provisions and other Necessaries from America, might conquer all the French Islands in the W.I. in six Months.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.