Constitutional Convention

Second Continental Congress: March 28, 1776

March 28, 1776

Congress returns to the daily business of making sure that the war effort is adequately funded and officers appointed.  Oliver Walcott interprets the Boston success as an expression of an American “Republican spirit,” and Robert Treat Paine emphasizes the importance of being industrious in order to be free.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers, in favor of Mr. William Barrel, of Philadelphia for tent cloth sent by him to Colonel Mifflin, for the use of the army under the command of General Washington; the money being paid in consequence of the General’s letter of February13th.

Resolved, That the Marine Committee be empowered to purchase, on the most reasonable terms, for the use of the continent, the ship Molly, to join Captain Barry, on his cruise along the coast between New York and Virginia.

A memorial from Thomas Walker of Canada was presented to Congress, read, and Ordered, To lie on the table.

Two letters, of the 27th of February from the committee of safety of New Jersey, were read.  Congress saw no reason to alter the requisition of the 15th, and that the committee of safety should expedite the march of the troops to New York.

The Congress elected Rudolphus Ritzema to be a colonel of the third battalion of New York, compensated Jeremiah Dugan for his services in Canada and promoted him “to command a body of three hundred rangers” led by military officers approved by the Commissioners going to Canada.

Resolved, That two engineers be employed, and that William Finney be appointed a deputy quarter master, in the Southern Department.

Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers in favor of James Mease, Commissary for the use of the Pennsylvania battalions, he to be accountable.

Congress responded with force to the news that some prisoners in the city jail have not only meditated an escape but are near carrying their plan into execution.

Resolved, That an order for 1,000 dollars be advanced to Mr. Samuel Fairlamb, for the use of the fourth Pennsylvania battalion, he to be accountable.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Oliver Wolcott to Samuel Lyman

You mention it as a matter of public Concern, that the Commissioners might perhaps delude the Colonies.  I hope there is no danger of an Event of this Nature.  G. Britain will proceed doubtless upon their usual Governmental Maxims–Violence and Corruption–but neither I hope will succeed against America….Some few Americans may wish to support a Monarchy which is lavish in its Bounties, hoping to Share in the oppressions of Power.  Some may be timid and fearful of entering upon untried Scenes and others who have supported the Distinctions of an Aristocracy may fear the Prevalency of a Republican Spirit.  But God has evidently Appeared to Vindicate the Rights of this People… The Expulsion of the Troops from Boston is a great Event, it has brought a Disgrace on the British Arms which they had not to so such a Degree suffered for a long Time.

Robert Treat Paine to the Maryland Convention

The Congress taking into consideration the urgent importance to the safety, freedom & wealth of the united Colonies, that the manufacture of salt petre & gunpowder should be established in all of them, in addition to their former resolves on that subject, have passed those herewith transmitted & appointed the Committee therein mentioned.  In pursuance of this trust the Committee enclose you the resolves, & …urge upon you the immediate & vigorous execution of them.

The erecting public works as mentioned in the resolves, will be the first step to promote this useful business, if prosecuted with skill & diligence it will ensure the making salt petre in large quantities & will also afford the best method for suitable persons to learn the process & from thence be sent abroad to teach those who have not opportunity of learning from these public works; for it is thought an object of the greatest concern that private families should be induced to make it….

It is hoped this effort of the Congress will have the desired effect, without which we have reason to fear, it will ere long be said of us, that we are become Slaves because we were not industrious enough to be free.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.