Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: October 23, 1775

October 23, 1775

Peyton Randolph dies and Delaware re-elects Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, and George Read. James Duane to Robert Livingston: “I sincerely Join with you in dreading a Separation from Great Britain which can be acceptable to very few.”

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Resolved, That Congress will attend Peyton Randolph’s funeral as mourners, with a crape round their left arm, according to the association. That Congress continue in Mourning for the space of one month.

That a Committee of three is appointed to superintend the funeral: Henry Middleton, Stephen Hopkins, and Samuel Chase.

That the Committee wait on the Revd Mr Jacob Duché, and request him to prepare a proper discourse to be delivered at the funeral.

The delegates for Delaware Government having been re-appointed by their Assembly, on the 21st, produced the credentials of their re-appointment, which were read and approved. Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, and George Read were re-elected and only one needed to be present to meet the quorum requirement.

Adjourned to ten o’clock tomorrow.

John Adams to James Warren

Yesterday, that eminent American, and most worthy Man The Honorable Peyton Randolph Esqr our first venerable President, departed this Life in an Apoplectic Fit. He was seized at Table having but a few Moments before set down with a good deal of Company to dinner. He died in the Evening, without ever recovering his senses after the first Stroke.

As this Gentleman Sustained very deservedly One of the first American Characters, as he was the first President of the united Colonies, and as he was universally esteemed for his great Virtues and shining Abilities, the Congress have determined to show his Memory and Remains all possible Demonstrations of Respect. The whole Body is to attend the Funeral, in as much Mourning as our Laws will admit. The Funeral is to be tomorrow. I am the more pleased with this Respect on Account of an Impropriety, which you know was unfelt….

Mr. Randolph was as firm, stable and consistent a Patriot as any here-the Loss must be very great to Virginia in Particular and the Continent in general.

I sometimes wonder that a similar Fate does not befall more of the Members. Minds so engaged and Bodies so little exercised are very apt to fall.

James Duane to Robert Livingston

I sincerely Join with you in dreading a Separation from Great Britain which can be acceptable to very few. If all wisdom is not banished from the King’s Councils the petitions of America can no longer be disregarded; and I must flatter myself that the last from our Congress being altogether unexceptionable, even to the most despotic Court, will produce a Conference and Accommodation on a constitutional and permanent basis.

I hoped before this to have had some Subject for a Letter; but we have no News from England but what the Prints furnish, and the whole amounts to no more than Surmise and Conjecture. If Administrations was disposed to Peace, I think they would come to no Conclusion without the advice of Parliament, in Support of whose usurped Authority this cruel and unnatural war has been prosecuted. I therefore expect nothing decisive till their next Sessions. In the meantime I hope the winter will put a Stop to the Ravages of the King’s Ships which are employed in carrying on a pitiful predatory war against defenseless Towns and Coasts, disgraceful to the British Fleet. As to the Army they are confined in narrow Limits and kept in a State of Inaction by a Superior Power- so that no danger is to be apprehended from them without a very great Reinforcement.

Upon the whole the Aspect of American Affairs is as favorable as we had any Reason to expect, though we must all deplore the precious Blood which has been shed by Englishmen and Countrymen during this horrid Conflict.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.