Congress 1) creates a Committee of Three to prepare an answer to George Washington’s Letters 4 and 5 and 2) increases the size of the membership of the Committee of Accounts to one from each colony. Congress reconsiders the Morris-Wilson letters, but postpones further consideration until tomorrow. Richard Smith provides a straight forward account of the day. John Adams captures the intricacies of the debates.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
The Congress resumed the consideration of General Washington’s letters Numbers 4 and 5, and after some debate
Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an answer: Thomas Lynch, Richard Henry Lee, and John Adams selected.
Congress settled two claims submitted by the Committee of Accounts, and increases the size of the membership to one from each colony, seven of them to be a quorum.
That the Committee consist of John Langdon, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Ward, Silas Deane, Francis Lewis, Richard Smith, Thomas Willing, Caesar Rodney, Thomas Johnson, Thomas Nelson, Christopher Gadsden, and Doctor Zubly.
That the former Committee deliver to the Committee now appointed, all the books, accounts, and papers in their hand.
The Delegates from Pennsylvania produced an account of the powder imported, and how it has been disposed of.
The Congress resumed the consideration of the letter and papers from Messrs. Morris and Wilson, of 14 September, and after some debate, postponed until tomorrow.
Adjourned to 9 o’Clock tomorrow.
John Adams’s Notes of Debates
An Uneasiness, among some of the Members concerning a Contract with Willing & Morris, for Powder, by which the House, without any Risk at all will make a clear Profit of 12,000£ at least. [Editor’s Note. A nine member Secret Committee was created on September 18 “to contract and agree for the importation and delivery of any quantities of gunpowder, not exceeding, in the whole five hundred tons.” The issue, according to Adams is the “Bargain,” “exorbitant?”]
S. Adams desired that the Resolve of Congress, upon which the Contract was founded might be read: he did not recollect it.
De Hart. One of the Contractors, Willing, declared to this Congress that he looked upon the Contract to be that the first Cost should be insured to them, not the 14£ a Barrell for the Powder.
R. R. Livingston. I never will vote to ratify the Contract in the sense that Morris understands it.
Willing. I am as a Member of the House, a Party to that Contract, but was not privy to the Bargain. I never saw the Contract, until I saw it in Dr. Franklin’s Hand. I think it ensures only the first Cost. My Partner thinks it ensures the whole….
J. Rutledge. Congress was to run no Risk only vs. Men of War and Customhouse officers. I was surprised this Morning to hear that Mr. Morris understood it otherwise. If he won’t execute a Bond, such as We shall draw, I shall not be at a loss what to do.
Johnson. An hundred Ton of Powder was wanted.
Ross. In Case of its Arrival Congress was to pay £14. If Men of War, or Custom house officers, should get it, Congress was to pay first Cost only as I understood it….
Willing. Sorry any Gentleman should be severe. Mr. Morris’s Character is such that he cannot deserve it. Lynch. If Morris will execute the Bond, well, if not the Committee will report.
Deane. It is very well that this matter has been moved and that so much has been said upon it.
Dyer. There are not Ten Men in the Colony I come from, who are worth so much Money as will be made clear by this Contract.
Ross. What has this Matter to the present debate, whether Connecticut Men are worth much or no. It proves there are no Men there whose Capital or Credit are equal to such Contracts. That is all.
Harrison. The Contract is made and the Money paid. How can We get it back?
Johnson. Let us consider the Prudence of this Contract. If it had not been made Morris would have got 19£, and not have set forward a second Adventure. Gadsden. Understands the Contract as Morris does, and yet thinks it a prudent one, because Morris would have got 19£.
J. Adams.—-&c. &c. &c.
Cushing. I move that We take into Consideration a Method of keeping up an Army in the Winter.
Gadsden. Seconds the Motion and desires that a Motion made in Writing some days ago, and postponed may be read as it was. As also Passages of G. Washington’s Letter.
S. Adams. The General has promised another Letter in which We shall have his Sentiments. We shall have it tomorrow perhaps….
J. Adams moved that the General’s Advice should be asked concerning Barracks &c. and that a Committee be appointed to draft a Letter. Lynch seconded the Motion.
A Committee was appointed. Lynch, J. Adams, and Colonel Lee.
Sherman moved that a Committee be appointed of one Member from each Colony, to receive, and examine all Accounts.
S. Adams seconded the Motion.
Harrison asked is this the Way of giving Thanks?
S. Adams. Was decent to the Committee for Riflemens Accounts, meant no Reflections upon them, was sorry that the worthy Gentleman from Virginia, conceived that any was intended. He was sure there was no foundation for it.
Paine. Thought that Justice and Honor required that We should carefully examine all Accounts, and see to the Expenditure of all public Monies….He was sorry that Gentlemen could not hear Methods proposed, to settle and pay Accounts in a manner that would give Satisfaction to the People, without seeming to resent them.
Harrison. Now the Gentlemen have explained themselves he had no Objection, but when it was proposed to appoint a new Committee in the Place of the former one, it implied a Reflection….
Nelson moved that 20,000 dollars be voted into the Hands of the other Committee to settle the Accounts.
S. Adams. Seconded the Motion, but still hoped that some time or other, a Committee would be appointed of one Member from each Colony, to examine all Accounts because he thought it reasonable.
Richard Smith’s Diary
A Committee of 3 named to draw an Answer to General Washington’s Letters. An Order passed for Payment of Accounts amounting to near 2000 Dollars. A Committee of 13, one from each Colony (myself for New Jersey) was named for Settling what Accounts may come this Session. De Hart moved to restrict all Conventions & Assemblies from issuing any more Paper Money and to recall what they have done without Permission from hence, he was not seconded. On reading Wilson & Morris’s Letters and other Papers Willing moved that the Congress would interfere in settling a temporary Line between Virginia & Pennsylvania. A Letter was read from the Delegates of those Two Colonies to the Inhabitants recommending Peace &c. Several Orders of the King in Council Dated in June last relative to this Line were read.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.