Second Continental Congress: May 25, 1776
May 25, 1776
Congress 1) receives the usual petitions and memorials, 2) selects a special committee to meet with General Washington et al., and 3) agrees “to engage the Indians in the service of the United Colonies.” John Duane and Oliver Walcott want to return home and John Hancock expresses his concerns about Canada.
Link to date-related documents.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Petitions from the committee of the county of Lincoln and from John Wilcocks, and John and Peter Chevalier, were presented and read. Resolved, That the Secret Committee 1) sell to the petitioners, 75 lbs of gun powder and 2) deliver to the committee of safety of Pennsylvania, half a ton of powder.
Resolved, That 20,000 dollars be drawn on the treasurers for the Pennsylvania battalions.
A petition from James M’Knight was presented to Congress, read, and Ordered, To lie on the table.
A memorial from the committee of inspection and observation of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, was presented to Congress and read and Ordered, To lie on the table and That a copy be delivered to Robert Morris, and the Assembly of Pennsylvania.
Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers in favor of the delegates of Virginia, for the sum of 65,000 dollars for the use of battalions.
Resolved, That a committee to consist of one member from each of the colonies, be appointed– Benjamin Harrison, Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, James Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, William Whipple, Roger Sherman, Stephen Hopkins, William Livingston, George Read, Matthew Tilghman, Joseph Hewes, Arthur Middleton, and Lyman Hall– to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, to plan military operations for the ensuing campaign.
Resolved, That the disposition of the prisoners, made by the committee of safety in Pennsylvania, be approved.
Congress considered the report of the committee on letters from General Washington, of May 11th, General Schuyler, of May 3rd, and Captain Daniel Robertson, of May 9th. Resolved, That Lieutenant Colonel Burbeck be dismissed.
That a letter be written to the president of the convention of Virginia, requesting that they will immediately forward to Philadelphia such quantity of lead as can be spared.
That one battalion of Germans be raised for the service of the United Colonies:
That General Schuyler increase the number of betteaus to two hundred.
That four of the prisoners taken at St. Johns, and assumed to have enlisted in the continental Army, be dismissed and returned to their corps at Lancaster.
A number of Deputies, from four of the Six Nations of Indians, having arrived in town, notified Congress that they are desirous of an audience. Resolved, That they be admitted to an audience on Monday at 11 o’Clock.
Resolved, That notice be given to the colonels of the Association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, that Congress wish they would draw out their battalions in general review, on Monday morning, and that Congress, with the generals in town, propose to attend the review at 9 o’Clock.
Resolved, That the arms, ammunition, and military stores, taken by armed vessels in the pay of the United Colonies, be at the disposal of the General or commander in chief of the American forces.
The committee, to whom the resolutions of the Convention of South Carolina, respecting the battalions raised, brought in their report, which was read.
Resolved, That the several reports on General Washington’s letters, not yet considered, and his letters that were referred to a committee of the whole, be committed to the committee appointed to confer with him.
Two members of the committee to whom the letter from Colonel Hand was referred, were absent, thus two replacements were chosen: James Wilson and Oliver Wolcott.
The committee to whom was referred the letter from Charles Miller to the commissary general, brought in their report, which was agreed to.
The committee appointed to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates, and Brigadier General Mifflin, about Canada brought in their report.
It is highly expedient to engage the Indians in the Service of the United Colonies. That the Commissioners in the Middle Department be directed to use their best Endeavors to procure the Assistance of the Indians under their Care, that they prevail upon them to undertake the Reduction of Detroit.
That the Commander in Chief be authorized and instructed to employ in the Continental Armies a Number of Indians upon such Terms as he shall think most beneficial for the United Colonies.
Adjourned to 9 o’Clock on Monday next.
James Duane to John Jay
The late Resolution of Congress recommending the Assumption of Government will induce you to give your Attendance for a few days at our own Convention. If this should be the Case it will [be] of advantage to you to be informed of the Temper and proceedings of the neighboring Colonies on this great Revolution.
You recollect the Maryland Instruction which, upon any Measure of Congress to this Effect, required the Delegates of that Colony to repair to their provincial Convention. These Gentlemen accordingly declared that they should consider their Colony as unrepresented until they received the directions of their principals who were then sitting at Annapolis. Yesterday the Sense of that Convention was made public; they approve of the Conduct of their Delegates in Dissenting from the preamble & the Resolution-they repeat & enforce their former Instructions-declare that they have not lost sight of a Reconciliation with Great Britain; & that they will adhere to the Common Cause & support it on the principles of the Union as explained at the time of entering on the War. So much for Maryland. [See Carter Braxton to Landon Carter, May 17; and Thomas Stone to James Hollyday, May 20, 1776]
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania is averse to any Change. The people of this Town assembled last Monday in the State house yard & agreed to a set of Resolutions in favor of a Change. Another body are signing a Remonstrance against the Acts of that Meeting and in Support of the Assembly. The Committee for the County of Philadelphia have unanimously Supported the Assembly & protested against any Change. It is supposed the other Counties will follow the Example & take a part in the dispute….
I expect Mr Alsop this Evening & shall in that Case set out on Monday to visit my Family. It is more than 9 months since I have seen my Children; & I have spent but about ten days in that time with Mrs. Duane. [Duane left Congress on May 31, 1776, and did not return until April 1777]
Oliver Wolcott to Laura Wolcott
Mr. Huntington is now gone Home. He will Return in about a Fortnight. Mrs. Sherman is here and Mr. Sherman intends to go home with her as soon as Mr. Huntington comes back. [Huntington returned to Philadelphia around June 25 and Wolcott left about June 28]…. In about Two Months I may probably Return but which I may Vary upon Circumstances…. G. Britain mean or rather the King of it to exert his utmost force against this Country and has infamously hired Mercenaries to Subdue us but I trust in God he will be defeated. I have No Apprehension that more than 30,000 at most including those already here will be employed in the Land Service. By the blessing of God I am Well. My Love to my Children and Friends.
John Hancock to Philip Schuyler
[I] transmitted all the hard Money that was in the Treasury, amounting to sixteen Hundred & sixty two Pounds, one Shilling, & three pence, which I hope you will duly receive. 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.
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.
[There] was [n]ever a Time or Situation that called for more Vigorous & decisive Measures than the present in Canada. Our Enemies seemed determined to prosecute their Plans against us with the greatest Violence: while their Schemes are kept so enveloped in Darkness that there is no Possibility of finding them out.
This much only we may be sure of-that they will aim the most deadly Blows at our devoted Country. It is our Duty therefore to shield and protect her from all Evil, but especially in those Parts where she is the most vulnerable. Whether or not the Province of Canada, is this Part, I shall leave to you to determine….
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.