Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 10, 1776

May 10, 1776

Buried in the daily routine of committee meetings and reading letters and reports is an item of considerable importance: Congress recommends that each colony become a state by forming their own government.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That a letter dated May 7 from General Washington and one dated May 3 from Thomas Cushing be referred to the committee on the state of the eastern colonies.

Resolved, That a letter from Monsieur Docaisor of April 6, was read and referred to the Secret Committee.

The Committee to whom were referred the letter and enclosures from General Washington of May 5 brought in their report, which was read and agreed to.

Resolved, That a copy of the resolutions establishing the mode of settling the public accounts etc., be transmitted to the General.

That, as the road recommended by General Washington to be opened between the town of Newbury, on Connecticut river, and the colony of Canada, will facilitate the march and return of the troops employed in that quarter, and promote the public service, the General be directed to prosecute the plan he has formed, respecting the said road.

That ten tons of gun powder be sent to New York.  And That 400,000 dollars be sent to the pay master general for the use of the army in New York and Massachusetts.

That the commanding officers in the different departments and posts, shall make monthly returns to the commander in chief of the continental army, of the number and state of the troops, and the military stores in their respective departments.

That this Congress shall retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy, without the authority of a continental Commission.

The Congress then resumed the consideration of the report from the committee of the whole, which being read was agreed to as follows:

Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.

Resolved, That a committee of three– John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Richard Henry Lee– be appointed to prepare a preamble.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to sell to Colonel David Potter, and Captain Daniel Maskell, 200 lbs. of powder, and 1,000 lbs. of lead for the use of the inhabitants of Bridge town, Cumberland county, in New Jersey.

The committee to whom were referred General Washington’s letter of the 25 and 26 of April, the case of Alexander Ross, and the letter from General Lee, brought in their report, which was read.

The committee appointed to take into consideration the state of the eastern department colonies, brought in their report, which was read. Particular attention was given to the recruitment and retention of troops.

The Congress then resolved itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider the state of the United Colonies; and, after some time spent thereon, Benjamin Harrison reported that the committee have not had sufficient time to finish their enquiries.

Resolved, That this Congress will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the state of the United Colonies.

Resolved, That the Committee of Secret Correspondence be directed to lay their proceedings before Congress on Monday next, withholding the names of the persons they have employed, or with whom they have corresponded.

The committee appointed to consider the propriety of exchanging seamen, delivered a favorable report, which was agreed to.

The committee, to whom was referred the letter from Mr. Abraham Livingston, offering to cancel the contract he had made with a committee of the convention of New York, for supplying the forces in that colony with provisions, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration; and thereupon,

Resolved, That Mr. Livingston, in voluntarily resigning a contract which might have been so profitable to him, has exhibited an example of public spirit, and the Congress accept the resignation of his contract.

Resolved, That George Morgan, Agent under the commissioners for Indian affairs in the middle department, be directed to purchase the Indian goods, said to be at Fort Pitt, for the use of the United Colonies.

The Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom was referred the case of Alexander Ross. Resolved, That he be discharged from confinement.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Hancock to George Washington

By the enclosed Resolves you will perceive the Sense of Congress upon some Parts of your Letters. [May 6 concerning the British peace commissioners and several resolves of May 10 with respect to the Continental Army]. The others are under the Consideration of different Committees. As soon as I am authorized, I will do myself the Pleasure of immediately transmitting the Result….

The 400,000 Dollars for the Use of the Army under your Command, shall be forwarded on Monday.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.