Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: November 9, 1775

November 9, 1775

The Rule of Secrecy is reinforced, the negative British proclamation of August 26th to the petition for reconciliation is ordered to be published, and the petition from Nova Scotia to join the Union is postponed. Joseph Hewes ponders: “it would seem as if the proclamation had deterred our friends from writing on the subject of politics.” The Secret Committee signs contracts for ammunition.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That every member of this Congress considers himself under the ties of virtue, honor and love of his Country not to divulge directly or indirectly any matter or thing agitated or debated in Congress before the same shall have been determined, without leave of the Congress; nor any matter or thing determined in Congress which a majority of the Congress shall order to be kept secret and that if any member shall violate this agreement he shall be expelled this Congress and deemed an enemy to the liberties of America and liable to be treated as such and that every member signify his consent to this agreement by signing the same.

[Editor’s Note.  The Editor of the Journal of Congress says this secrecy agreement was “signed by eighty-seven delegates.”]

A letter from the Agents Richard Penn and Arthur Lee respecting the delivery and reception of the petition to Britain was read.

Ordered, That the substance of the letter be published.

Congress postponed the appointment of a commander of a particular fortresses until next Wednesday. 

Resolved, That the president draw an order on the treasurers in favor of the delegates of Georgia towards the expense of the battalion ordered to be raised there.

Congress resumed the consideration of the report of the Committee appointed to consider the application from the Inhabitants of Nova Scotia and, after some debate, postponed further consideration until tomorrow.

Adjourned to ten o’Clock tomorrow.

Joseph Hewes to James Iredell (Author of “Principles of an American Whig”)

I can say but little on the score of politics-the present appearance is much against us and our cause. We have had no accounts from England later than the 26th of August. We are told our Petition will be disregarded; that we shall be declared rebels, and our estates confiscated; we are threatened with ships of war, troops, Russians, Hanoverians and Hessians. God knows how it will end. Some officers from General Gage’s army have been detected in enlisting men in the Province of New York to go to Boston; some of these recruits have been examined on oath, and declared that each of them was promised two hundred acres of land, not in the woods, but cleared cultivated land with houses thereon, that they were to be put in possession at the end of the war, when the rebels were subdued, which they were taught to believe would soon happen. We are in daily expectation of further intelligence from England, several vessels being expected here; the last ships that have arrived brought the king’s proclamation. You will see it in the newspapers; it is remarkable those ships brought very few letters from private persons-it would seem as if the proclamation had deterred our friends from writing on the subject of politics.

Secret Committee Minutes of Proceedings

At a meeting of the Committee of Secrecy, present Samuel Ward, Thomas Willing, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas McKean, Josiah Bartlett. A Contract was entered into between John Langdon of the town of Portsmouth in the Colony of New Hampshire Merchant of the one part & the said Committee of the other part-That a voyage or voyages shall be forthwith undertaken for the speedy procuring twenty five tons of good gunpowder, or in case any part of the gunpowder cannot be had as much Saltpetre with a proportionate quantity of Sulphur as will make the quantity that may be deficient.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.