Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: March 13, 1776

March 13, 1776

“The Prospect for peace is as little as possible; yet so pleasing is the Hope that I can’t altogether give it up.” Thus writes Matthew Tilghman to Anna Maria Tilghman.  This letter summarizes the mood of Congress: prepare for even more war, but hope for a peace that is becoming  no longer realistic.  John Jay rejects loyalty oaths.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter [The Essex Letter] from the committee of Essex, New Jersey, of February 7th, and one from Mr. J. Macpherson, of February 12th, were read.  

Resolved, That 1) the expenses of the aids de camp’s horses “when travelling in the public service,” shall be charged to the United Colonies, 2) bills be paid for the conduct of the war in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and 3) the Secret Committee be directed to supply Maryland with 500 lb. of powder.

Resolved, That a committee of 7– Thomas Johnson, James Duane, Joseph Hewes, Elbridge Gerry, Robert Morris, Samuel Ward, and George Wythe– suggest the best ways and means of raising the necessary supplies to defray the expenses of the war.

Congress approved the recommendation of the Committee of Claims to reimburse Benjamin Franklin for expenses incurred at the Oration for General Montgomery.

The Committee to whom the memorial from the Indian traders at Montreal was referred, brought in their report.

Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to consider a) memorials from the merchants, traders, and others of Philadelphia, b) a letter from the committee of Northampton, c) the letters from General Washington, and d) the condition of trade.

William Livingston’s request to propose a resolution for appointing a fast was granted.

Resolved, That the marine committee be directed to purchase the armed vessel now in the river Delaware, on the most reasonable terms for the service of the continent.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

William Hooper to Joseph Trumbull

Your Success in taking possession of Dorchester Heights exceeds the expectations of us all. With the small quantity of powder you had in possession, & the probability that such a measure would bring on a general attack, we imagined a delay would have been unavoidable, but…to men animated with the glorious cause in which they are engaged, dangers & difficulties are visionary, & their Strength and courage increase in proportion to what they are brought to oppose….

It is said that they [the British Ambassadors] have instructions to bring about a negotiation with the several assemblies of the provinces, nay to condescend to treat with Counties, Towns, particular associations but to avoid, if possible any Correspondence with the continental Congress lest by any act of theirs they should recognize the legality of that body.  We are told however that rather than return re infecta they are to make propositions to the Continental Congress….The King objected to treat with the Congress let the consequence be what it would, choosing rather to part with us than hold us upon what he calls an ignominious condition. He was told that matters were too far gone, to suffer punctilios to delay the carrying the measures into Execution. The haughty monarch relented and the matter & manner are left without limitations to these Ambassadors….

Your old friend General Thomas is ordered to Canada, You will part with him with reluctance, should the Troops continue to the Eastward. You will miss him but this disposal of him has been unavoidable. Lee goes to South Carolina or rather to the Seat of War wherever he finds it in the Southern Colonies. Brigadier General Armstrong is to take the same route. I fancy they will find a spirit prevailing amongst our people which they do not expect.

Matthew Tilghman to Anna Maria Tilghman

I have received but one Letter & that from C Carroll since I came up. Wish very much to hear you are all well….I have some Comfort in thinking that you are happily placed with your Sister [Margaret, wife of Charles Carroll] & that your Mama is in a place of Safety; ’tis all I have except that I am as happy myself as I can be in this City.  But the dreadful prospect of Affairs deprives me of any other Satisfaction than what I can derive from the above Considerations.

The Prospect for peace is as little as possible; yet so pleasing is the Hope that I can’t altogether give it up.

John Jay to Alexander McDougall

The Resolution of Congress restraining military officers from offering oaths by Way of Test to the Inhabitants [March 9, 1776] I hope has reached you.  I can’t account for your Convention’s submitting to this usurpation on the Rights of their Constituents.  To impose a Test is a sovereign Act of Legislation, and when the army become our Legislators, the People that Moment become Slaves.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.