Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 24, 1776

May 24, 1776

Congress receives, and acts on, several Committee Reports dealing with the war effort. John Hancock writes to General Schuyler about the importance of securing Canada for “the Preservation of American Liberty.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from Mrs. Abi. Grant was laid before Congress and read, requesting permission to return to her husband and family in London, and to take on board necessary stores for the voyage.  Resolved, That her request be granted, and that the president give her a passport to the place where she shall choose to embark.

The Committee for superintending the treasury, to whom was referred the account and claim of Captain Herman Allen, of Lieutenant Colonel Warner’s battalion, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration and settled.

The Committee, to whom was referred the petition of Joseph Trumbull, commissary general, brought in their report, which was considered and agreed to.

The Committee appointed to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, brought in their report; which, after consideration was agreed to: Whereupon, the commanding officer in Canada, General Schuyler, was issued several directives since the United Colonies were “fully convinced of the absolute necessity of keeping possession of that country, and that they expect the forces in that department will contest every foot of .”

Resolved, That Robert R. Livingston be added to the committee of conference who brought in the foregoing report; and that they be directed to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, touching the most proper posts, and measures to be taken for effectually preventing the enemy’s communication with the upper country from Canada, and such other measures as shall tend to secure the frontiers.

General Washington attended Congress, and, after some conference with him, was directed to attend again tomorrow.

A letter of the 26 of April from the convention of North Carolina, with a list of prisoners sent by them to Pennsylvania was read.  Resolved, That the said letter and list be delivered to the committee of safety of Pennsylvania, and that the prisoners be properly and safely secured and provided for, agreeable to the resolutions of Congress, at the expense of the United Colonies.

The Committee of Claims reported the claims that were due.  Ordered, That the said accounts be paid.

Sundry resolutions, passed by the convention of Maryland, were laid before Congress, and read.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Joseph Hancock to the Commissioners to Canada

You will perceive that every Step has been taken to procure hard Money….

I have forwarded to General Schuyler by this Conveyance the Sum of sixteen Hundred & sixty two Pounds one Shilling & three Pence in hard Money, which was all that was in the Treasury. General Washington arrived here yesterday Afternoon in good Health, the Congress having requested his Attendance in order to consult him on the Operation of the approaching Campaign, and such other Matters as should be necessary.

[On May 16th, Congress appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and William Livingston a committee of three to consider letters describing numerous difficulties facing the American invading forces. On the 18th, it added five more delegates to the committee on receiving more dismal news. This committee submitted a report on May 21. Congress passed the resolves which Hancock forwarded to Schuyler on May 22]

John Hancock to Philip Schuyler

The Congress have this Day come to the enclosed Resolutions, which I am commanded to forward to you by Express, as containing Matters of the highest Importance to the Welfare of these United Colonies. [See the report of a committee on May 23 to confer with Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin]

It must no Doubt have occurred to you, Sir, that should our Enemies get Possession of any one Province, which may not only supply them with Provisions &c, but from which they may harass the adjacent Country, the Preservation of American Liberty would be rendered thereby much more difficult and precarious. It is this Circumstance which at present gives perhaps a greater Weight to the War in Canada, than in any other Part of America; as the Danger of our Enemies getting Footing there is much greater. The Consequences, too, in Case they succeed in that Province, would be much more fatal; as we must expect, if that Event takes Place, to have all the Canadians and Indians join against us.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.