Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: November 8, 1775

November 8, 1775

Congress provides guidelines to the Secret Committee, receives Committee reports, and gives instructions to the three delegates heading“northward.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That the Secret Committee appointed to contract for the importation of arms, ammunition, &c. be empowered to export to the foreign West Indies as much provision, or any other produce, (except horned cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry) as they may deem necessary for the importation of arms, ammunition, sulphur, and salt petre.

Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to confer with Samuel Kirkland. The Committee appointed: Thomas Cushing, George Wythe, and Samuel Ward.

The Committee of Claims reported than nine claims were due.

Ordered, That the above accounts be paid.

The Congress considered the report of the Committee to whom were referred the letters from the convention of New York and the state of that colony and passed eleven Resolutions.

Eliphalet Dyer having, on account of his indisposition, excused himself from going northward, the Congress elected Robert R. Livingston as his substitute.

The Congress then resumed the consideration of the instructions reported to the said Committee, which being debated by paragraphs, were agreed to as follows:

Instructions to R. R. Livingston, Robert Treat Paine, and John Langdon

The Congress expect that you repair, with as much dispatch, as the necessary preparations for your journey will admit, to Ticonderoga, in order to consult with General Schuyler what number of forces will be necessary in Canada, and of the best and most efficacious method for procuring or continuing such forces in the northern department during the ensuing winter, of engaging the inhabitants of the colony of Canada to accede to the Association of the United Colonies, and of protecting them for the future against their and our enemies.

If, upon such a conference, it shall be judged necessary, you are authorized to direct Mr. Livingston, the deputy commissary general, to furnish the necessary provisions for an Army of three thousand men for six months.

You are also authorized to offer two months’ pay as a bounty to such officers and soldiers as shall re-inlist, to be paid upon their taking the fortress at St. John’s and Montreal, and you are to make use of every argument, to induce them to re-inlist, or at least to stay until they can be relieved, and to assure them, that the Congress have taken care to supply them with proper clothing.

You are to direct the fortresses at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, to be put into such a posture of defense, as the state of our affairs may require.

You are to advise the general to purchase of such officers and soldiers, who have arms and are sick, their arms for the use of those who have none, or bad ones and are well.

Ammunition, it is hoped since the late capture, will not be wanting, if it should, Congress will send the first that shall arrive.

If there should be occasion of reinforcements, you are empowered, in concert with General Schuyler, to raise any number that can be procured in Canada, New York, or any of the New England Governments, in order to possess themselves of Montreal and Quebec.

The Congress desire you to exert your utmost endeavors to induce the Canadians to accede to a union with these colonies, and that they form from their several parishes, a provincial Convention, and send Delegates to this Congress. And as, in the present unsettled state of that country, a regular election can hardly be expected, the Congress will acquiesce in the choice of such parishes and districts, as are induced ∥willing∥ to join us.

You may, and are hereby empowered to assure them, that we shall hold their rights as dear as our own, and on their union with us, exert our utmost endeavors to obtain for them, and their posterity, the blessings of a free government, and that security to their persons and property, which is derived from the British Constitution.

And you may, and are hereby empowered further to declare, that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and shall never molest them in the free enjoyment of their religion.

In case General Schuyler has not yet raised the regiment recommended to him to be raised in Canada, or in case he cannot proceed to Canada, you are to use all the means in your power to perfect the raising of a regiment of Canadians, to join the continental forces, and you are, for that purpose, to take with you blank commissions, which, taking the advice of the general Officers in that department, you are to fill up with the names of such persons as have the most merit and the best qualifications for the service.

Congress direct you to acquaint General Schuyler, that they approve of his appointment of Captain Dimon, to be a Brigade Major, and have ordered him a commission accordingly.

The Congress moreover are desirous that you should take an accurate view of the state of our fortifications upon Hudson’s river, and make a report of it as soon as it can conveniently be done.

It the circumstances of the Army should be such, that a ton of powder may be spared, you are to direct that quantity to be sent back to New York, and all such cannon and military stores as shall not be wanted in Canada, or in the fortifications on the lakes, to be sent to Albany, there to remain until the Congress give farther directions concerning them; and for this purpose, you are herewith furnished with a list of the ordnance and military stores, which were at those places when taken.

You are to inform the general that the pay of some of the officers is raised, and to take with you from the minutes, the additional establishment.

You are to direct all such officers and soldiers as shall re-inlist, to be paid all arrears that may be due to them, according to the rolls to be sent by governor Trumbull, who in the mean time will be requested by Congress to send the rolls to the General, ascertaining how long the men have been in service.

The disposition of the prisoners is approved of by the Congress, but the officers are not to be permitted to reside in or near any sea port.

You are authorized to assure Major Brown and Major Livingston, that Congress have a just sense of their important services, and will take the first proper opportunity to reward them.

You are also to acquaint the General, that General Montgomery’s request, as to the pay of the company of artillery by him appointed. is complied with.

A Committee will be appointed to procure as much hard money as will be necessary to be transmitted to the deputy pay master general in the northern army, to be used in Canada.

On motion made, Resolved, That the Committee appointed to make an estimate, &c. be authorized to contract for the making proper paper for a future emission of paper bills of credit.

On motion made, Resolved, That the president draw an Order on the Treasurers for the sum of 3,000 dollars, in favour of the committee of safety of this province, agreeable to the request of the honorable the Assembly, towards the expence of the battalion ordered to be raised in this province.

On motion made, Resolved, That all letters to and from the delegates of the United Colonies, during the sessions of Congress, pass, and be carried free of postage, the members having engaged upon their honor not to frank or enclose any letters but their own.

Ordered, That this be published.

On motion made, Resolved, That an order be drawn on the treasurers for the sum of 20,000 dollars in favor of Francis Lewis and Roger Sherman to enable them to pay for the clothing ordered to be purchased by them.

The other matters to this day referred, being postponed, and the order of the day renewed.

Adjourned to ten o’Clock tomorrow.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.