Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: March 4, 1776

March 4, 1776

Congress continues its regular daily pattern of 1) paying monetary claims made against the united Colonies, 2) relying on the recommendations of fully operating committees especially in response to letters received, 3) adequately preparing for war. Thus what should Congress do in time of war is a regular theme. Paine’s Common Sense is still on the must read list.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That John Alsop be appointed to the Committee of Claims, in place of Francis Lewis, who is absent.  That William Whipple be appointed to the committee in place of Josiah Bartlett, “who desires to be excused from that service.”

That in case of the absence of any of the standing members of the Committee of Claims, the delegates of the colony to which he belongs be empowered to nominate one of their number to act in his stead of said standing member, until his return.

A number of letters and papers being received were read, viz.

A letter from the convention of New York, dated the 28th February, enclosing a recommendation for field officers of the four battalions to be raised in that colony was postponed until Tuesday.

A memorial from Montreal merchants respecting Indian trade be referred to a committee of five: James Wilson, John Adams, William Livingston, Lewis Morris and Matthew Tilghman.

Resolved, That February letters from General Wooster, General Arnold, General Schuyler, and General Lee be referred to the committee appointed to prepare instructions for the Commissioners going into Canada.

The committee appointed to examine and report on the number and circumstances of the permits granted for exporting produce, &c. delivered their report.  Congress Resolved, That the restraint be taken off, which was laid by a resolve of the 26th of last month, upon the vessels loading or loaded with Produce for Great Britain, Ireland, or the British West Indies, in consequence of permissions granted for arms and ammunition, &c. imported into these colonies.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed, with all possible expedition, to send, under a guard, ten tons of salt petre Powder to Cambridge, for the use of the army under the command of General Washington.

The committee to whom the memorial from sundry inhabitants of Northumberland, and the petition from the inhabitants near Pittsburg were referred, presented their  report, which was read and ordered to lie on the table for the perusal of the members.

Resolved, That Colonel Belestre, Major Longeuil, and Captain Lotbinière, three of the Canadian prisoners who are at Bristol, in Pennsylvania, be brought to Philadelphia to confer with the Committee on Prisoners and await the orders of Congress.

A letter from the Committee of Safety for Pennsylvania, was read, and referred until tomorrow.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Samuel Ward to Henry Ward

An Appendix to Common Sense you will find enclosed.  I wish the Author had gone more largely into the Subject but upon the whole I think it has been in the middle Colonies of immense Service and doubt not but it will [be] so with you.  Carter can print the Appendix separately to complete the Work.

You have long since expected that the Enemy would exert every Nerve to crush us…. The Act of Parliament for seizing American Ships &c and compelling the Mariners in them to enter into the Kings Service; for seizing other Vessels coming to or returning from trading with us, giving the Crown & privy Council a Power to give to the Courts of Admiralty any new Rules or Orders for condemning our Property and many other tyrannical Purposes confirm your Opinion.

Some of their Troops may be expected very soon. The Congress is taking Measures for the Defense of all Parts of the Continent….I hope the Enemy may meet a proper Reception in any Quarter.

A Committee is appointed by Congress to contract for the making of Arms [February 23, 1776].  This is a Matter of immense Importance, We have but about 1300 imported here in all; one third of which belonged to Maryland, the other two were furnished to the Troops destined for Canada; I think every Colony should make the most exact Scrutiny what Smiths can do anything towards making Guns or Locks and keep them constantly employed in that Business solely; this Matter deserves the utmost Attention of Government.

This moment a Vessel is arrived from Europe with twenty five Tons of Powder, ten Tons salt petre and five hundred Stands of Arms. How kindly Providence proportions our Supplies to our Wants, let us be thankful for them, make a wise and brave use of them and at the same time take every proper Measure for procuring further Supplies.

John Jay to Robert R. Livingston

The Committee for Canada was appointed before I reached this place.  It consists of Doctor Franklin, Mr. Chase & a Mr. Carrol from Maryland.  Had I been here I should have proposed you, though I must confess I think you can employ your Time more to the advantage of your Health in many other ways. Your Country has no Demands upon you till that be reestablished.  Let me entreat you therefore to confine your Attention to it.  (Mr. Lynch continues very ill, though better than he has been.)

Twenty Seven Tons of Powder, some Salt petre & 300 Arms arrived here Yesterday.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.