Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: November 13, 1775

November 13, 1775

Congress creates a Committee of Three to “prepare a declaration, in answer to sundry illegal ministerial proclamations” in circulation. Richard Henry Lee writes that the letters from Britain confirm that “the fixed determination of K and Court to leave undone nothing that they can do, to compel implicit obedience in America.” John Adams and Samuel Ward write that the King and Court is imposing “Absolute obedience.” John De Hart is not re-elected and Josiah Bartlett mails the Congressional salt peter resolves.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Letter from General Washington, with sundry papers enclosed, were read.

Resolved, That the Rules and regulations for the Army be published, with the additions and alterations lately made, and that the preamble or first article, giving the soldiers leave to sign or not to sign the same be omitted.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to prepare a declaration, in answer to sundry illegal ministerial proclamations that have lately appeared in America.

That the Committee consist of three: Richard Henry Lee, James Wilson, and William Livingston.

Resolved, That Wednesday next be assigned for the appointment of a Brigadier general for the Army in Massachusetts.

Resolved, That tomorrow be assigned for taking into consideration the Memorials respecting tea.

Richard Henry Lee to George Washington

Letters from London join in confirming it to be the fixed determination of K and Court to leave undone nothing that they can do, to compel implicit obedience in America. One very sensible letter that I have seen, mentions that General Amherst had recommended (& it was said it would be executed) to remove the Army this winter from Boston to Long Island, in order to get amply supplied by ravaging N. Jersey, N. York, and Rhode Island. Should this be attempted, I suppose you will be furnished with an opportunity of giving them a genteel parting salute. And besides, I should suppose that a winter favorable for us, would expose them to ruin from a timely, strong attack, of superior numbers on that naked Island. It seems that immense stores of Indian goods are sent to Canada in order to bribe the Indians to an early and vigorous attack on all our frontiers next Spring. God grant that Colonel Arnold’s success and Montgomery’s may frustrate this diabolical part of their infernal plan against the common natural rights of Mankind….

John Adams to John Thomas (Doctor and Soldier)

As Congress has made the Passage of Letters free, I hope to receive more frequent Intelligence from my Friends for the future…. The Sum total of all Intelligence from England is that the first Man is “unalterably determined, Let the Event and Consequences be what they will, to compel the Colonies to absolute Obedience.” Poor deluded Man.

Samuel Ward to Catharine Greene (Daughter)

I should often write to You but I am often engaged in Committees Morning & Evening that my Time is so taken up that I cannot indulge myself the Pleasure of writing to you & my other Children so often as I wish. Mr. Greene gave me some Encouragement that he would write to me, a good long Letter would be very acceptable and I shall probably stay here long enough to give you both Opportunities of writing to me. Some Gentlemen think We may at Christmas adjourn until Spring, others think We must sit the whole Winter, affairs grow every Day more serious. May divine Wisdom direct all our Measures.

By the last Ships We have Letters of 9th & 10th September. They all agree in this that the Administration is determined to push their Measures at all Events. One Letter says the King in a Conference which he lately had with a Person of Rank told him that he was unalterably determined let the Consequence be what it would to reduce the Colonies to absolute Obedience…. We are now all or very nearly all of one Mind, the only Question is how We shall best defend all Parts of the Continent & most effectually distress and annoy our Enemies. Many very important Plans are under Consideration, others will be taken into consideration very soon and from the Spirit with which Measures are now planned & pursued I have no Doubt but by the divine Blessing We shall be able to reduce our Enemies to Reason and establish the Rights and Liberties of this Country upon an equitable advantageous & permanent Basis….

Many Measures are taken by Congress to get a sufficient Quantity of Powder but I fear some of them may fail. The Want of that Article alone may ruin Us; every Measure therefore ought to be taken to obtain it…. The General Assembly is authorized by Congress to send out Vessels loaded with any produce except horned Cattle, Sheep, hogs & poultry to the foreign West Indies for Powder….

I wish Mr. Greene may acquaint your Uncle Greene & the People of Greenwich that every Expectation of an Accommodation is entirely over that our only Safety is under God in a brave Defense of our Lives & Property that they may take every possible Measure for their Defense.

John DeHart to the New Jersey Assembly

Your resolution of the 24th of January past having appointed me with others to attend the Continental Congress of the Colonies then intended to be held at Philadelphia in May following with lnstructions to propose and agree to every Constitutional measure for the accommodation of the unhappy differences then subsisting between our Mother Country & the Colonies, In obedience to the said resolution with the other Gentlemen I attended the said Congress but have not been able by any reasonable and constitutional measure to obtain that accommodation so ardently wished for by the House. On the contrary his Majesty seemeth to have turned a deaf Ear to all the supplications of his Loyal Colonists and his Ministers & Parliament have denounced vengeance against all those in America who refuse absolute submission to Acts of Parliament in all Cases whatsoever and have caused the Blood of Numbers of his Majesty’s most Loyal American subjects to be Spilled which with other arbitrary and Barbarous Actions hath compelled the Colonies to Arm in their Own defense and hath brought them to the verge of a Civil War with the parent State so that all prospect of procuring an accommodation by constitutional Measures seems to be nearly at an end.

The peculiar Circumstances of my family hath prevented me from attending the Congress for Sometime past and the same Still continuing renders it uncertain when I shall be able to attend. This and other reasons needless to be mentioned induces me earnestly to desire and request that the Honorable House will now be pleased to appoint another to attend the Continental Congress in my Stead.

Editor of the Journal of Congress on the Resignation of John De Hart

About this time James Kinsey also sought permission from the New Jersey Assembly to resign his seat in Congress. DeHart and Kinsey both insisted to the assembly that they wanted to leave Congress only because their service there had become a source of great personal inconvenience to them, but Gov. William Franklin of New Jersey dismissed this explanation and asserted that their resignations were “generally attributed to Apprehension of Danger.” Whatever the truth of the matter, the assembly accepted their resignations on November 22 and on the same day authorized any two of New Jersey’s three remaining delegates to represent the province in Congress. However, after taking into consideration the difficulties that might arise from requiring the presence of two delegates in Philadelphia, the assembly decided on November 30 to allow any one of them to constitute a quorum in Congress. DeHart was reelected to Congress in February 1776, but in June 1776, in the midst of debates on independence, he again resigned “on account of the situation of his family and affairs.”

Josiah Bartlett to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety

Enclosed I transmit to you the Letter Directed to the Speaker of our House of Assembly. I Suppose it Came from England Sent by the agents who presented the late Petition of Congress; By it you will be able to Guess what will be the fate of that Petition. I also Send you a Duplicate of the vote of Congress Concerning our Civil affairs, the first Copy of the vote was sent November 6th. Yesterday Captain Langdon Set off on his Journey to Canada so that I am left here alone to act in Behalf of our Colony, I Don’t Expect him here anymore During this Session of the Congress.
When the Congress will rise I Can’t Say But fear it Can’t till winter, if it can before Spring….

I am Directed by the Congress to Send you the Enclosed Resolves for making Salt Petre and I would Earnestly Recommend the putting them in practice. It appears from Several Experiments in this Colony that the Surface of the Earth that has been for some years kept from the rain will produce Salt petre….

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.