Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 15, 1776

May 15, 1776

John Adams writes, and Congress adopts after much debate over three days, the Preamble to the Resolution that each colony adopt a state constitution. Adams then urges the adoption of a Confederation.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the committee of safety of Pennsylvania request the committee of safety of Delaware suspend exchanging Lieutenant Ball for Captain Budden, till farther orders.

The Congress agreed to the draft of the preamble brought in by the committee.

Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the lords and commons of Great Britain, has, by a late act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown; And whereas, no answer, whatever, to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been or is likely to be given; but, the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies; And whereas, it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good Conscience, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted, under the authority of the people of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defense of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies; therefore, resolved, &c.

Ordered, That the said preamble, with the resolution passed on May 10, be published.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to sell to Edward Keasby, 100 lb. of powder, for the use of the inhabitants of Salem county, in New Jersey.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to James Warren

This Day the Congress has passed the most important Resolution, that ever was taken in America.  It is, as nearly as I can repeat it, from Memory, in these Words….[Adams repeats the Resolution and then adds why the Resolution was so important.] “Resolved that it be recommended to the several assemblies and Conventions, to institute such Forms of Government as to them shall appear necessary, to promote the Happiness of the People….”

I Shall make no Comments, upon this important and decisive Resolution.
There remains however a great deal of Work to be done besides the Defense of the Country. A Confederation must be now pushed with all the Address, Assiduity, Prudence, Caution, and yet Fortitude and Perseverance, which those who think it necessary are possessed of. It is the most intricate, the most important, the most dangerous, and delicate Business of all. It will require Time.

Stephen Hopkins to Nicholas Cooke [Governor of Rhode Island]

I observe that you have avoided giving me a direct answer to my Queries concerning Dependence or Independence, however the copy of the Act of Assembly which you have sent me, together with our instructions leave me little room to doubt what is the opinion of the Colony I came from.  I suppose that it will not be long before the Congress will throw off all connection as well in name as in substance with Great Britain, as one thing after another seem gradually to lead them to such a step, they having, within a few days, past a resolve earnestly to recommend to all the Colonies who at present are not under a perfect form of Government to take up and form such, each Colony for themselves which I make no Doubt most of them will very soon do.

I am very glad you have given me a Colleague and am well pleased with the Gentleman whom you have appointed. [William Ellery, whom the Rhode Island Assembly was elected by the Rhode Island Assembly on May 4, 1776, to replace Samuel Ward.]

This is a time when the very great danger that all America is exposed to should make everybody sensible that the most firm Union in all its parts should be carefully studied and effected.

Commissioners to Canada to John Thomas

We submit to You, the propriety of immediately inoculating all our Troops….We are sir greatly concerned for your Health; It will be almost impossible for you to escape catching the small pox & therefore wish you would immediately inoculate.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.