Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: October 31, 1775

October 31, 1775

Four letters from General Schuyler are read. The difficult issue of “the trade of these Colonies” considered and postponed until tomorrow.  Thomas Jefferson fears for the future of Canada, John Adams asks James Warren: “What think you of a North American Monarchy?… It is whispered about in Coffee Houses, &c and there are [those] who wish it,” and Samuel Adams ponders on what it takes to keep a country free.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Sundry letters from General Schuyler dated the 6th, 13th, 14th, and 19th, with sundry papers enclosed, were read.

The Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to consider the trade of these colonies, and after some time spent therein, the president resumed the chair, and Samuel Ward reported, that they had come to certain resolutions which he was ready to report, but not having come to a conclusion, wished to continue sitting.

Resolved, That the report of the Committee be referred until tomorrow and that this matter be the first thing taken up, and that it be not interrupted by any new motion.

Resolved, That the consideration of the appointment of field officers for the Jersey battalions be postponed to Friday next.

A Member from Pennsylvania laid before the Congress a resolve of their Assembly, in the following words:

Resolved, that the Congress be requested to order a sufficient sum of money to be put into the hands of the Committee of Safety of this province, to be immediately applied in raising a battalion.

Resolved, That the consideration be referred to Friday next.

Adjourned to ten o’clock tomorrow.

Thomas Jefferson to John Page

We have nothing new from England or the camp before Boston. By a private letter this day to a gentleman of Congress from General Montgomery we learn that our forces before St. John’s are 4000 in number besides 500 Canadians the latter of whom have repelled with great intrepidity three different attacks from the fort. We apprehend it will not hold out much longer as Monsr. St. Luc de la Corne and several other principal inhabitants of Montreal who have been our great enemies have offered to make terms…. He has been our most bitter enemy. He is acknowledged to be the greatest of all scoundrels.

John Adams to James Warren

What think you of a North American Monarchy? Suppose We should appoint a Continental King, and a Continental House of Lords, and a Continental House of Commons, to be annually, or triennially or Septennially elected? And in this Way make a Supreme American Legislature? This is easily done you know by an omnipotent Continental Congress. And when once effected, His American Majesty may appoint a Governor for every Province, as his Britannic Majesty used to do, and Lt Governor and secretary and judge of Admiralty. Nay his Continental Majesty may appoint the Judges of the supreme Courts &c too-or if his American Majesty should condescend to permit the provincial Legislatures, or assemblies [to] nominate two three or four Persons out of whom he should select a governor, and 3 or 4 Men for Chief Justice &c out of whom he should choose one, would not this do nicely?

To his Continental Majesty, in his Continental Privy Council, Appeals might lie from all Admiralty Cases, and from all civil Causes [possessed?] at least, of a certain Value, and all Disputes about Land, that is about Boundaries of Colonies, should be settled by the Continental King and Council, as they used to be by the British K. and Council. What a magnificent System?
I assure you this is no Chimera of my own. It is whispered about in Coffee Houses, &c and there are [those] who wish it.

Samuel Adams to Elbridge Gerry

It is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People to have an Army kept up among them over which they have no Control. There is at present a Necessity for it. The Continental Army is kept up in our Colony for our Security. But History affords us abundant Evidence of established Armies making themselves the Masters of those Countries which they were designed to protect….

After every other Consideration, Virtue is the surest Means of securing the State. Our brave Ancestors laid an excellent Foundation for the establishing and perpetuating virtuous Principles in the Country, when they created a public Seminary of Learning, even before they had cut down the Woods in Cambridge, and they early made Laws for the Support of Grammar Schools. A better Foundation could no Men lay. I hope you will improve the Golden opportunity which you now have of restoring the ancient Purity of Manners in our Country. Everything that we esteem valuable depends upon it. For, Freedom or Slavery, says an admired Writer, will prevail in a Country according as the Disposition and Manners of the Inhabitants render them fit for the one or the other.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.