Congress encourages the production and distribution of salt peter. A Committee of Three prepares to head northward and a Committee of Five is selected to enquire into the state of the colony of Virginia. John Hancock keeps the Generals informed.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers in favor of Robert R. Livingston, Robert Treat Paine, and John Langdon, the Committee appointed to travel northward.
Resolved, That the goods bought for the northern army be sent by land to Dobb’s ferry, and that the president write to the convention of New York, and desire them to have a vessel ready to transport them immediately to Albany.
Resolved, That the medicines purchased for the army at Cambridge, be sent by land.
Resolved, That a Committee of Five be appointed to inquire into the state of the colony of Virginia, to consider whether any, and what provisions may be necessary for its defense, and report to Congress. The members chosen: Samuel Adams, Thomas Lynch, James Wilson, Samuel Ward, and Thomas Johnson.
Resolved, That all letters to and from the commander in chief in the continental army, or the chief commander in the army in the northern department, be postage free.
Resolved, That the commander of the New Jersey battalions march six companies of said battalions, as soon as they are completed, to garrison the fort on Hudson’s river, in the highlands, in the Colony of New York.
Resolved, That the president write to Governor Cooke, and request that he send to the Committee of Safety of New York, one ton of powder, for the defense of City and Colony.
Resolved, that three claims be paid.
The Committee appointed to consider farther ways and means of promoting the manufacture of salt petre, brought in their report, which was read in these words:
It appears to your Committee, that skillful persons sent to Virginia, and employed there in a public salt petre work, under the inspection of gentlemen who will superintend it, may, with sufficient assistance, produce a considerable quantity of that article; and that a farther supply of it may be procured from the other colonies, if the assemblies, conventions, and councils of safety will appoint proper persons in their respective colonies, whose business it shall be to employ and set to work such and so many of their countrymen, as they shall judge fit, to collect earth from which nitrous salt may be extracted, and to manufacture it into salt petre.
Congress, considered the report encouraging the production and distribution of saltpeter.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the Assemblies, Conventions, and committees of Safety, of the thirteen United Colonies, to appoint certain persons within each of the said colonies, whose business it shall be to employ and set to work so many persons as they may think proper, both to work up such earth as is now fit for making salt petre, and to collect together and place in beds or walls under sheds, all such earth and composition of materials as are suitable to produce salt petre, after being duly exposed to the air, in order to increase the produce of it, and that the delegates of the respective colonies be directed to send this resolve, together with the resolve of
last session respecting salt petre, to their respective colonies, and cause them to be printed and made public there.
The Congress resumed consideration of the report of the Committee on Nova Scotia.
Resolved, That two persons be sent to Nova Scotia to enquire into the state of that colony, the disposition of the inhabitants towards the American cause etc., and transmit the intelligence to General Washington.
Resolved, That General Washington be directed in case he should judge it practicable and expedient to send into that colony a sufficient force to take away the cannon and warlike stores and to destroy the docks, yards and magazines, and to take or destroy any ships of war and transports there belonging to the enemy.1
Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or insisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required: that they be insisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.1
Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.
Resolved, That tomorrow be assigned for taking into consideration the Report of the Committee on the disputes between the people of Connecticut and Pennsylvania on the waters of Susquehannah.
Adjourned to ten o’Clock tomorrow.
John Hancock to Philip Schuyler
The Congress have taken into Consideration your several Letters and the Accounts received from Canada, and have appointed three of their own Body a Committee to repair immediately to Ticonderoga and confer with you & to execute several Matters agreeable to Instructions given them, a Copy of which I here enclose. The gentlemen [Editor’s Note. Robert Treat Paine, R. R. Livingston, and John Langdon] propose setting out on their Journey tomorrow Morning.
John Hancock to George Washington
By order of Congress I have the Honor to forward you the Enclosed Resolutions this moment come into. The suddenness of this order and your Zeal for the Service supersedes all necessity of Recommending this measure to your particular Notice, have only to Add that Congress leave the Appointment of the persons to you.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.