Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 29, 1776

May 29, 1776

A Congressional Committee presents Q and A for consideration. A Committee of Four delegates are charged with writing an urgent Address to the people. John Adams and Caesar Rodney support the formation of independent state governments and a continental confederation.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Letters from General Wooster, and William Palfrey, were read. A petition from Captain W. Budden was presented to Congress and read. Resolved, That midshipman John Draper be exchanged for Captain William Budden.  A letter from Levi Hollingsworth, and Thomas Richardson, to the committee of safety of Pennsylvania, and a memorial from sundry members of the general assembly of Rhode Island, were presented to Congress, and read and Ordered, To lie on the table.

The committee appointed to confer with General Washington, Major General Gates and Brigadier General Mifflin, reported in a question and answer format.

Q. In what proportion of numbers should the enemies force be opposed? A. Two to One.

Q. What number of the enemy may it be supposed will be sent to attack Canada?  A. Ten thousand, and as the whole force at present directed for Canada, when it arrives there will not exceed 10,000 men, therefore upon the question:

Q. What are the proportions to be furnished by the different Provinces out of the Militia for the defense of Canada? A. Massachusetts 4,500; Connecticut 2,000; New Hampshire 1,000; New York 1,500, Indians 1,000.  Total 10,000.

Q. What number of the enemy may it be supposed will attack New York?  A. Twelve thousand five hundred, and as the Continental force now at New York for the defense of that place and the communication with Albany does not exceed 10,000 Men.

Q. What are the proportions to be furnished by the different Provinces out of the Militia, for the defense of N. York, &c.? A. Massachusetts  2,000; Connecticut  5,500; New York 3,000;  New Jersey 3,300; Pennsylvania 1, 200.  Total 15,000.

Q. What force is necessary for protection of the four New England Provinces?  A. The eleven regiments raised and ordered to be raised in those Colonies, are in the opinion of the Committee sufficient.

Q. Should a flying Camp be immediately established in the middle Colonies? A. Unanimously approved of.

Q. How many should the flying Camp consist of? A. Ten thousand men.

Q. From whence and in what proportions are the Troops to come that are to form the flying Camp? A. Pennsylvania 6,000; Maryland 3,400; Lower Counties 600. Total 10,000.

Q. Is the present establishment sufficient for the Southern Colonies?  A. The present force is sufficient, except in South Carolina and Georgia, where it appears to this Committee that an additional force is necessary.

Q. For how long time is the Militia to be engaged?  A. To the first of December unless sooner discharged by Congress.

Q. When is the Militia pay to commence?  A. From the days of their marching from home.

The Committee are of opinion that an address be published, to impress the minds of the people with the necessity of their now stepping forward to save their Country, their freedom and property.

That it be earnestly recommended to the Assemblies, Conventions and Committees of Safety in the United Colonies to fall upon the most effectual means of removing the grain and Meal from Stocks, such parts of their respective Provinces as are invaded, or are in imminent danger of being invaded by the enemy.

It is the opinion of this Committee that 1) two Provincial Brigadier’s General be employed in the Canada department. One from Massachusetts and one from Connecticut, 2) four provincial Brigadiers General be employed in the New York department, one from Massachusetts, one from Connecticut, one from New York and one from New Jersey, 3) three Brigadiers General be employed for the Flying Camp. Two from Pennsylvania and one from Maryland, 4) the said brigadiers general be appointed by the respective colonies above mentioned. 

Further organizational recommendations were made to Congress.  That a Resolve be passed for punishment of Spies found in any of the Continental Camps.  And That the Flying Camp be under the Command of such Continental General officers as the Commander in Chief shall direct.

That the Commander in Chief be authorized to form and fix such Magazines of provisions and Military Stores as he may judge necessary.

That the General be authorized to direct the building as many Fire rafts and Gallies as may be necessary and suitable for the immediate defense of the port at New York and Hudson’s river.

Resolved, That an animated address be published to impress the minds of the people with the necessity of their now stepping forward to save their country, their freedom and property. That a committee of four–Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, Samuel Adams, and Edward Rutledge– be appointed to prepare the address.

 Resolved, That the further consideration of the report be postponed until tomorrow.

The Committee of Claims reported claims were due to seven people.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

John Adams to Benjamin Hichborn (Boston Lawyer)

You are shocked by Accounts from the Southward of a Disposition in a great Majority, to counteract Independence. Read the Proceedings of Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia, and then judge. The Middle Colonies have never tasted the bitter Cup-they have never Smarted-and are therefore a little cooler-but you will see that the Colonies are united indissolubly. Maryland have passed a few eccentric Resolves but these are only Flashes, which will soon expire. The Proprietary Governments are not only incumbered with a large Body of Quakers, but are embarrassed by a proprietary Interest-both together clog their operations a little: but these clogs are falling off, as you will Soon see.

Unanimity in this Time of Calamity and Danger is of great Importance. You ask my sentiments of the political System to be adopted. My opinion I am very certain will not be followed. We have able Men in the Colony, but I am much afraid they will not be heard. I hope a Governor, and Lieutenant Governor will be chosen: and that they will be respectable for their Fortune, as well as abilities and Integrity if such can be found. The Judges I hope will be made independent both for the Duration and Emoluments of office. There is nothing of more importance than this: but yet-there is nothing less likely to be done.  How the Representation will be Settled I cannot guess. But I really hope they will not attempt any material alteration in the Qualifications of Voters. This will open a Door for endless disputes- and I am much afraid for numberless Corruptions.

I wish I could be at Home, at this important Period. But you will remember that all the other Colonies have Constitutions to frame- and what is of infinitely great Delicacy, Intricacy, and Importance, the Continent has a Constitution to form….I have been here four Months, during which Time I have never once been on Horseback, and have found but little Time to walk. Such uninterrupted Attention to Cares and Perplexities of various Kinds, is enough to destroy a more robust Body than mine….

The Moment I can see every Colony in Possession and actual Exercise of all the Powers of Government, and a Confederation well settled for all the Colonies under a Congress with Powers clearly defined and limited; and Sufficient Preparation and Provisions made for Defense against the Force which is coming against Us; that Moment I shall return to my family; from which I have been too long divorced.

Caesar Rodney to Thomas Rodney

The Colonies of North-Carolina and Virginia have both by their Conventions for Independence by a Unanimous Vote, and have Instructed their members to move and Vote for it in Congress reserving to Each Colony the exclusive right to frame government for it’s Self. The Convention of North-Carolina has appointed a Committee (of its own Body) to draw up and Report to them a plan of Government. South Carolina and all the New-England Colonies have declared off some time Since. When these things are known to the people they will no doubt have great weight with them.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.