Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: March 7, 1776

March 7, 1776

A considerable part of the day is taken up 1) reading several letters on military affairs, including one from George Washington, 2) settling claims against “the continent,” and 3) deciding military appointments and the distribution of arms.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from General Washington of the 9th February, and a letter from General Schuyler, 23 February, were read.  A letter from Lord Stirling, with Affidavits, relative to the capture of the Amboy Packet, was laid before Congress [and read].  Resolved, That the same be referred to the committee to whom the letters from General Washington were referred.  The committee to whom the letter from the committee of safety of New Hampshire was referred, brought in their report, which was read.

The Committee of Claims reported that there were a number of claims that were due. Ordered, That the accounts be paid, including a reimbursement to Connecticut for money advanced on behalf of “the continent.”

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to retain so many of the arms yesterday ordered to be delivered to Colonel Wayne, as will be necessary for the guard that is to attend the powder to Cambridge.

The Congress having received information, that Isaac Melchior, on the evening of Saturday last, treated the president of this Congress with great rudeness, and made use of several disrespectful and contemptuous expressions towards him and of this Congress, Ordered, That the said Isaac Melchior attend the Congress tomorrow morning at eleven o’clock, to answer for his conduct.

Resolved, That Edward Hand be promoted to Colonel, and James Chambers lieutenant colonel, of the battalion of riflemen in the army at Cambridge.  That William Winds be promoted to be Colonel, and Matthias Ogden be appointed lieutenant colonel, of the first New Jersey battalion.

Resolved, That the Committee appointed to provide medicine chests be directed to provide supplies the first and third New Jersey battalions.

Resolved, That tomorrow morning be assigned for electing the field officers of the four battalions ordered to be raised in the colony of New York, for the defense of said colony.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to John Thomas

The Congress have determined to send you to Canada.  They have advanced you one Step, by making you a Major General. Table.  [See John Hancock to John Thomas, March 6, 1776]

Your Friends the Delegates from your native Province were much embarrassed, between a Desire to have you promoted and placed in so honorable a Command, on the one Hand, and a Reluctance at losing your Services at Roxbury or Cambridge on the other.  But all agreed that you ought to be placed where you could do the most service, and Canada was thought by all to be very important and by some the most important Post in America.

You will have excellent Advice and assistance in the Committee we are sending Dr Franklin, Mr Chase, Mr Carroll and his Relation.  Mr Walker, Mr Price and Mr Bondfield, will be in Canada too, as soon as you.  General Wooster and Arnold will give you the best Information.

The Department to which you are destined has been in Great Confusion, and every Gentleman who has come from thence has given a different account….I wish I could write you a Volume…and to explain to you everything which has been opened here relative to that Province would fill one.  But these Hints must suffice.

John Hancock to Philip Schuyler

I have had the honor to Receive your several Letters of the 10th, 13th, 15th, 20th, 21st, 23d, 26th, & 27th February which were immediately Communicated to Congress.  

I am extremely sorry to find you Recover health so slowly, I hope that your Attention to public Affairs will not make you neglect the Care necessary for perfecting your Recovery. The Congress have the most Anxious Concern for you, knowing the important services you can render to your Country at this critical Conjuncture.

As there is Reason to Apprehend that our Enemies intend to direct their operations in the ensuing Campaign against the middle & Southern Colonies, the Congress have thought proper in order to prepare for their Defense, to Divide those Colonies into two Departments, one to Comprehend New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware Government & Maryland, under the Command of a Major General and Two Brigadier Generals, and the other, the Colonies to the Southward, under the Command of a Major General & four Brigadier Generals….

With Regard to Canada, the Congress have superseded the orders formerly Given to General Lee, & Directed him to take the Command in the Southern Department, and have promoted Brigadier General Thomas to the Rank of a Major General, & ordered him to Repair to the Province of Canada & Take the Command of the Continental Forces there.

But still they Rely greatly on your Efforts for perfecting the work so conspicuously begun & so well Conducted under your orders last Campaign…. For this Reason I am directed to inform you it is the Desire of Congress you should for the present or until you Receive further orders fix your head Quarters at Albany, there without being exposed to the fatigues of the Camp, until your health is perfectly Restored, you will be in a Situation to direct the proper Arrangements for Supplying the Army in Canada, & to superintend the operations necessary for the Defense of New York & Hudson’s River (the Security of which is a matter of the last importance) & also the affairs of the whole middle Department. The Generals under you will Receive & Execute your orders, & in case of Necessity you will be Ready to bring down to their aid the whole force of the Colony.  [See Hancock’s letters to Charles Lee and to William Alexander, March 1, and to John Thomas, March 6, 1776.]

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.