Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 27, 1776

May 27, 1776

1)The Secret Committee and The Committee on Indian affairs are given instructions, 2) the Commissioners to Canada lament the “deplorable state” of the war effort there, and 3) John Adams praises Abigail for her being a shining “stateswoman.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from George Morgan, of the 16th to Lewis Morris, was laid before Congress, and read. Resolved, That it be referred to the standing committee on Indian affairs.

A petition of Samuel De Lucena was presented to the Congress, and read. Resolved, That the same be referred to the Sulphur and Salt Petre Committee.

A petition from the committee of the county of Monmouth, in the colony of New Jersey, was presented to Congress, and read. Ordered, To lie on the table.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to send, as soon as possible, one ton of powder, lent for the defense of the western frontiers; 800 lb. of which to be lodged in Fort Pitt, and 600 lb. to be lodged with the committee of West Augusta, and 600 lb. with the committee of Westmoreland, to be used only in case that country is attacked.

Resolved, That the standing Committee for Indian affairs, be directed to prepare a speech, to the Indians, and to procure such articles as they judge proper for presents to the Indians.

The delegates from Virginia and North Carolina laid before Congress certain instructions they have received from their convention. [The Journal does not disclose the instructions]

Resolved, That the sum of 30,000 dollars be transmitted to the Assembly of Massachusetts, to be by them exchanged for silver and gold, for the Canada expedition, agreeable to a former resolution of Congress.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Commissioners to Canada to John Hancock

We have reason to believe that there is not that good understanding & free communication of sentiments between the General Officers, which we think essential for the good of the service. General Thomas is now at Chambly under the Small pox; being taken with that disorder, he left the Camp at Sorel, & wrote to General Wooster to come and take the Command. When the interest of our Country, and the safety of your Army is at Stake we think it a very improper time to conceal our sentiments either with respect to persons or things. General Wooster is in our opinion unfit, totally unfit, to Command your Army & conduct the war; we have hitherto prevailed on him to remain in Montreal, his stay in this Colony is unnecessary & even prejudicial to our Affairs, we would therefore humbly advise his recall.

In our last we informed you of the deplorable state of the Army. Matters have not mended since we went to the Mouth of Sorel last week, where we found all things in confusion, there is little or no discipline among your Troops nor can any be kept up, while the practice of Enlisting for a twelve Month continues. The General Officers are all of this Opinion. Your Army is badly paid and so exhausted is your Credit, that even a Cart cannot be procured without ready Money or force…. The Army is in a distressed condition, and in want of the most Necessary articles. Meat, Bread, tents, Shoes, Stockings, Shirts &c. The greatest part of those who fled from Quebec left all their baggage behind them, or it was plundered by those whose times were out, & have since left Canada. We are informed by Colonel Allen that the Men, who from pretended indisposition had been excused from doing duty, were the foremost in the flight, and carried off such burthens on their backs as hearty & stout Men would labor under….

We cannot find words strong enough to describe our Miserable Situation, you will have a faint Idea of it if you figure to yourself an Army broken and disheartened, half of it under inoculation or under other diseases, Soldiers without pay, without discipline and altogether reduced to live from hand to mouth, depending on the scanty & precarious Supplies of a few half Starved cattle & trifling quantities of flour which have hitherto been picked up in different parts of the Country. Your Soldiers grumble for their pay; if they receive it, they will not be benefitted as it will not procure them the necessaries they stand in need of. Your Military chest contains but eleven thousand paper Dollars. You are indebted to your Troops treble that sum and to the Inhabitants above 15000 dollars. You have no adjutant General, a most important Officer, General Thomas appointed a Man totally unfit for the Office, as we are informed by General Thompson & Colonel Sinclair….

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I have three of your Favors, before me-one of May 7, another of May 9 and a third of May 14th. The last has given me Relief from many Anxieties. It relates wholly to private Affairs, and contains such an Account of wise and prudent Management, as makes me very happy. I begin to be jealous, that our Neighbors will think Affairs more discreetly conducted in my Absence than at any other Time.

Whether your Suspicions concerning a Letter under a marble Cover, are just or not, it is best to say little about it. [John Adams, Thoughts on Government] It is an hasty hurried Thing and of no great Consequence, calculated for a Meridian at a great Distance from N. England. If it has done no good, it will do no harm. It has contributed to set People a thinking upon the subject, and in this respect has answered its End. The Manufactory of Governments having, since the Publication of that Letter, been as much talked of, as that of salt Petre was before….

I think you shine as a Stateswoman, of late as well as a Farmeress. Pray where do you get your Maxims of State, they are very apropos….

The Affairs of America are in so critical a State, such great Events are struggling for Birth, that I must not quit this station at this Time. Yet I dread the melting Heats of a Philadelphia Summer, and know not how my frail Constitution will endure it. Such constant Care, such incessant Application of Mind, drinking up and exhausting the finer Spirits upon which Life and Health so essentially depend, will wear away a stronger Man than I am. Yet I will not shrink from this Danger or this Toil. While my Health shall be such that I can discharge in any tolerable manner, the Duties of this important Post, I will not desert it….

The Generals Washington, Gates, and Mifflin are all here, and We shall derive Spirit, Unanimity, and Vigor from their Presence and Advice. I hope you will have some General Officers at Boston soon. I am, with constant Wishes and Prayers for your Health, and Prosperity, forever yours.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.