Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 11, 1776

May 11, 1776

Congress focuses on the war effort especially with respect to Indian Affairs. Richard Henry Lee gives a lesson in prudence to Colonel Charles Lee.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A petition from John Jacobs, in behalf of himself and others, was referred to a committee of 3: John Adams, Richard Henry Lee, and Edward Rutledge.

Congress considered the report of the committee on the Eastern department and after some debate, settled the issue of arming of the Rhode Island battalions. Resolved, That the remainder of the report be referred to a committee of the whole Congress.

Resolved, That the standing committee for Indian Affairs execute the resolution of May 6th, for holding a treaty with the Indians, in the different departments, as soon as practicable.

That the 20th day of July be fixed on for holding a treaty, at Pittsburg, with the Indians, in the middle department; and that the standing committee be directed to inform the Agent, and desire him to notify the Indians, and invite them to attend at the time and place mentioned: and also, that the said committee inform the commissioners, and desire them to attend.

Resolved, That John Harvey be appointed a commissioner for the Indian affairs in the middle department.

Certain resolutions of the board of officers in Philadelphia, and a petition from the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, were presented to Congress, read, and referred to Congress.

A memorial from Caunier de la Berthaudure was presented to Congress, and read, and Ordered, To lie on the table.

Resolved, That two sets of trepanning instruments be sent to Virginia for the use of the surgeons of the continental troops there; and that two sets of trepanning instruments, and 100 lb. of Peruvian bark, be sent to North Carolina, for the use of the continental troops in that colony.

The Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the report of the committee of the state of the colonies in the eastern department, and the resolves of the officers, and petition of the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia.  After some time spent thereon, Benjamin Harrison reported that the committee have not come to a conclusion.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to send 500 lb. of powder to the committee of safety of Delaware government, for the use of their militia.

Congress approved the report of The Committee of Claims on claims due.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock on Monday.

Richard Henry Lee to Charles Lee

I find a spirit prevailing here, which leads its possessors to regard with a jealous eye, every instance of deviation (in a military or naval Commander) from the line of instructions, and every undertaking productive of expense which is not warranted by express order of Congress. Thus animated, I find some Gentlemen expressing dissatisfaction at your having promised forage and rations to such Cavalry as might be assembled in Virginia, & likewise because of the boats you had ordered to be built for the security of the Rivers. You know my friend that the spirit of liberty is a jealous spirit, and that Senators are not always wise and candid, but that frequently they are governed by envy, enmity, and a great variety of bad passions.

Upon these considerations, may it not be prudent when it can be done, without danger, to the common cause previously to obtain the Consent of Congress, where much deviation from the usual routine of business is requisite, and especially where expense is created thereby. Such is the opinion entertained of you, that when you press a thing as necessary, if it is in the power of Congress, I am inclined to think a majority of that Body will readily adopt the measure….

I fancy the Hessian, Hanoverian, & Highland Commissioners, will shortly give us a different kind of treaty from the one that has been expected. We have no very late authentic accounts from Canada, but those we have, do not remove all hope of Quebec being ours before assistance can reach it.

The Proprietary Colonies do certainly obstruct and perplex the American Machine-Those who wish delay, and want nothing done, say, let the people in the Colonies begin, we must not go before them- Though they well know the language in the Country to be, Let the Congress advise. In fact, the other Colonies must do what is right, and on giving proper and positive orders to their Servants in Congress, the Proprietary men will be obliged to pursue the right road….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.