Samuel Ward and Silas Deane capture the frustration of the delegates, the variety of opinions repeatedly expressed, and factions being formed, over the last several days concerning the preparation for war, defending New York, and the need to keep reconciliation with Britain an important option.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Samuel Ward reported that the committee of the whole had made progress in the business of the state of America, but not having come to a conclusion, requested permission “to sit again.”
Adjourned till to Morrow at 9 o’Clock.”
Samuel Ward’s Diary
Col. Hancock chosen president. Resolved, into a Committee of the Whole house. Report respecting New York read. Mr. Ross for a full Consideration of the whole Continent. Mr. Wilson for considering the state of N. York in the first place.
Col. Bland speaks to Order.
Mr. Chase–in his old strain recurs to the old affair of the right of regulating Trade.
Mr. Paca–follows him in the same Strain.
Mr. Pendleton–answers him in particular.
Col. Harrison for letting the Motion Lie, & Consider, at large, in order to end the affair.
Mr. Wilson, again for arming New York, speaks earnestly.
Mr. Dickinson in his old Way lengthy, and concludes in his old Way with a Fable.
Mr. Mifflin animadverts with spirit on him and exposes his reasoning &c.
Mr. Johnson, on a reconciling plan and offers a Motion.
Col. Lee for a different mode of expression in the Motion and is severe on Dickinson.
Mr. Jno. Rutledge–against any Concession whatever, that Lord North has given Us his Ultimatum with which We cannot agree- Treats Dickinson’s plan with the utmost Contempt–and is so severe that Chase rises to explain himself.
Col. Lee up again.
Mr. Stone of Maryland–so disagreeable that one half of the Congress withdraw.
Mr. Lynch up.
Adjd. at Four o’Clock.
Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane
Edmund Pendleton’s Proposed Resolutions
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee that the Members of the present Congress ought to bind themselves & their Constituents by every tie which Wisdom, prudence & common danger suggest in a firm and Indissoluble league & union to stand by & support each other in defense of American liberty & procuring by all possible means a reconciliation with Our mother Country. And therefore that no terms of Accommodation which may be proposed from Great Britain to any Colony Separately, ought to be accepted or treated by the Assembly of such Colony, but such treaty shall only be made & agreed to in a Representation of all in General Congress.
At the same time waving all resentment for the unmerited & unprovoked severities they have experienced from the British Ministry & Parliament, & influenced by the most sincere & Ardent desire to return to their Connection & intercourse of Affection with that their Parent state, from which misrepresentations & evil Counsels have unhappily divided Us; that terms of Accommodation ought once more to be proposed through the Medium of Our common Sovereign, and therefore
Resolved As the Opinion of this Committee that a dutiful & a Local Address ought to be presented to our King reiterating Our sincere Allegiance to his Crown & dignity, and our unshaken fidelity to his Royal person, Family and Government….
To declare in the most Explicit terms that the foundation of the present unhappy dispute between the British Ministry & Parliament & America, is a Right claimed by the former to tax the Subjects of the latter without their consent–and not an inclination on Our part to set up for independence, which we utterly disavow & wish to restore a Constitutional Connection upon the most solid & reasonable Basis.
From a persuasion that the Negative of our Sovereign to all our Laws & the Power in Parliament of Regulating foreign trade for the Common benefit of the whole, are sufficient to preserve that connection & give the Parent State all her necessary weight in the Empire, we cheerfully “consented to the Operation of all such Acts of Parliament as are bona fide confined to the Regulations of trade for common benefit excluding every Idea of taxation Internal or external for raising revenue in America….”
Once More To beseech his Majesty to Interpose his Royal Influence for Opening a treaty of Accommodation between his Subjects there & here in Order to a lasting reconciliation & tranquility, before it is too late, & Our common Enemies shall have availed themselves of the unnatural conflict. And in Order to this desirable end, that the Troops may be withdrawn from Us & the several Acts of Parliament formerly Objected to and those of the last Session on the disagreeable Subject, repealed; when we on our part will do away [with] all associations & other things disgusting to our brethren in Britain & then we may treat on terms becoming freemen & friends & lay the foundation of a lasting & reasonable Connection: But if Our fate is determined & there is no choice left us but absolute Submission to the Mandates of a British Ministry Or resistance, We are determined to embrace the latter & pursue it to the last Period of Our breath-appealing to Heaven for the Justice & Rectitude of Our intentions; and Trusting in the Almighty & as Vigorous exertions of all the Means he shall be pleased to Afford Us, for Our Protection & defense.
Resolved, That this Committee highly approve of the Conduct of the people in the Massachusetts Bay in their Spirited & Successful Opposition to the Troops under General Gage who on the l9th of April marched into the body of their Country to ravage & Oppress them; And are of Opinion that all America ought to join in Supporting that Province in such Opposition and their necessary defense against all future Attempts of the like nature….
Resolved, That for raising, Arming & Maintaining the Men so to be embodied, a sum of money ought to be raised by a Continental contribution….
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.