Resolutions and Recommendations of the Continental Congress, 1776
May 10-15, 1776
Friday, May 10, 1776
A letter of the 7, from General Washington, and
A letter of the 3, from Thomas Cushing, Esq. being received, and read:
Resolved, That they be referred to the committee on the state of the eastern colonies.
A letter from Monsieur Docaisor of the 6 of April, being laid before Congress and read:
Resolved, That it be referred to the Secret Committee.
The committee to whom were referred the consideration of the letter from General Washington, of the 5th, and the papers enclosed, brought in their report, which was read and agreed to: Whereupon,
Resolved, That a copy of the resolutions passed the first day of April last, establishing the mode of settling the public accounts, be transmitted to the General:
That the resolution of Congress, of the 17th of January last, allowing ten shillings=one dollar and one third of a dollar to the officers, in lieu of expences for inlisting each soldier, being a general regulation, extends to the troops raised in the eastern department; and that the general be directed to make that allowance for all the troops inlisted since the time of passing the said resolution:
That, as the road recommended by General Washington to be opened between the town of Newbury, on Connecticut river, and the colony of Canada, will facilitate the march and return of the troops employed in that quarter, and promote the public service, the General be directed to prosecute the plan he has formed, respecting the said road:
That ten tons of gun powder be sent to New York:
That 400,000 dollars be sent to the pay master general for the use of the army in New York and the Massachusetts bay:
That the commanding officers in the different departments and posts, shall make monthly returns to the commander in chief of the continental army, of the number and state of the troops, and the military stores in their respective departments:
That this Congress has hitherto exercised, and ought to retain the power of promoting the officers in the continental service according to their merit; and that no promotion or succession shall take place upon any vacancy, without the authority of a continental Commission.
The Congress then resumed the consideration of the report from the committee of the whole, which being read was agreed to as follows:
Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to prepare a preamble to the foregoing resolution:
The members chosen, Mr. J[ohn] Adams, Mr. [Edward] Rutledge, and Mr. R[ichard] H[enry] Lee.
Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to sell to Colonel David Potter, and Captain Daniel Maskell, 200 lbs. of powder, and 1,000 lbs. of lead for the use of the inhabitants of Bridge town, Cumberland county, in New Jersey.
The committee to whom were referred General Washington’s letter of the 25 and 26 of April, the case of Alexander Ross, and the letter from General Lee, brought in their report, which was read. Also,
The Committee to whom was referr’d General Washington’s Letter of the 25th and 26th of April, the case of Mr. Ross, and the Letter from Genl. Lee, have had the same under Consideration, and beg Leave to report as their Opinion:
R. 13. .Resolved that all Vessels which sailed from the Port or Harbour of Boston whilst the Town of Boston was in Possession of the Enemy, having on board Effects belonging to the Enemies of American Liberty, be liable (together with the said Effects) to seizure and confiscation. And that if any of the said Vessels have been already taken they, together with their said Cargo, be decreed forfeited and be confiscated in the same Manner and in the same Proportions as have been heretofore resolved by Congress.
R. 14. That it is essential to the Interest of these Colonies, that the Continental Agent in the respective Provinces where no Courts have been established for the Trial of Captures, have Power and be directed to dispose at Public Sale of such Articles, being of a perishable Nature, as shall be taken from the Enemies of America, and that the Money to arise from such Sale be liable to the Decree of the Court, when the said Court shall be established.
That the Inventory of the Ordinance Stores taken by Captain Manly be sent down to Genl Washington, and that he be requested to appoint a Person on the part of the Colonies to join one on the part of Captain Manly and his Crew, who shall, having first taken an Oath for that Purpose, proceed to Value the sd Stores so taken, and that if they cannot agree as to the Value, they call in a third person to determine the case, that the Report of such person be made to Congress, so soon as may be, and that the Value of the Shares that shall appear to belong to Captain Manly and his Crew be transmitted them.
W. 11. That the Pay of such of the Soldiers at New York as have been enlisted at 5 Dollars per month be raised to Six Ds. & 2/3d. vizt:
W. 13a. That the Commander in Chief for the time being in the N. York Department have Permission and be directed to call to the Assistance of that Colony (when Necessity shall require it,) such of the Militia of that and the Neighboring Colonies of Connecticut and N. Jersey as shall be sufficient for the Purpose intended.
W. 13b. That Letters be wrote to the Conventions of New Jersey N. York and the Assembly of Connecticut, to afford such Assistance to the Commandg Officer in the N. York Department as he shall apply for.
R. 6b. That two of the Companies of the Force now in the Delaware Govt. be ordered to Cape May.
G. 6. That Dr. Potts be taken into the Pay of the Continent and be employed in the Canada Department or at Lake George as the Genl shall think fit. But that this Recommendation be not considered so as to supersede Dr. Stringer. That the Pay of Dr. Potts be Dollars per Mo.
The committee appointed to take into consideration the state of the eastern department º colonies,º brought in their report, which was read.
That a Recommendation be immediately sent to the Colony of Massachusetts to assist the Officers of the five Continental Regiments now in that Colony in compleating their Enlistment, that they endeavour to prevail on their People to enlist, and those already enlisted to re-enlist for 3 years, unless sooner discharged, and then to receive a mo. pay; and as an Enducement thereto they allow to the soldiers who shall agree to serve for that term the following Articles: 1 Felt hat, 1 pr. yarn Stockings, 1 pr. Shoes.
That Genl. Washington be desired to send such Genl. Officer as he can spare from the Army at New York to command in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.
That Genl. Washington be desired to continue Mr. Burbeck the Engineer at Boston, for the Purpose of fortifying that Port and Harbour.
The Congress then resolved itself into a committee of the whole house, to take into their farther consideration the state of the [United] Colonies; and, after some time spent thereon, the president resumed the chair, and Mr. [Benjamin] Harrison reported, that the committee have had under their farther consideration the matter referred to them, but not having yet had time to finish their enquiries, desire leave to sit again.
Resolved, That this Congress will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the state of the United Colonies.
Resolved, That the Committee of Secret Correspondence be directed to lay their proceedings before Congress on Monday next, withholding the names of the persons they have employed, or with whom they have corresponded.
The committee appointed to consider the propriety of exchanging seamen, brought in their report, which was agreed to: Whereupon,
Resolved, That Lieutenant Ball, of the Roebuck, and the three seamen that were taken with him, and are now prisoners in the lower counties º on Delaware,º be exchanged for Captain Budden and his son, Seth Davis, and Samuel Conyers:
That six of the seamen now prisoners in the city of Philadelphia, to be named by the committee of safety º of Pennsylvania,º may be given up in exchange for the following persons, viz. Mr. Lightbody, James Hage,---- Fortescue, a pilot boy; William Martin, Jacob Wilson, and John Durry:
That the said exchange of prisoners be conducted by such proper person as the committee of safety of Pensylvania may appoint for that purpose.
The committee, to whom was referred the letter from Mr. Abraham Livingston, offering to cancel the contract he had made with a committee of the convention of New York, for supplying the forces in that colony with provisions, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration; and thereupon,
Resolved, That Mr. Livingston, in voluntarily resigning a contract which might have been so profitable to him, has exhibited an example of public spirit, and the Congress accept the resignation of his contract.
Resolved, That the committee appointed to devise ways and means for retaking Moses Kirkland, be empowered to send an express to the southward, and desire the committees or councils of safety of the southern colonies, to use their utmost endeavors to have him apprehended, and that they offer a reward of one hundred dollars, in addition to the hundred already offered, for apprehending and securing said Kirkland.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the committee of safety of Pennsylvania, to examine into the conduct of the gaoler, who had the charge and custody of Moses Kirkland, and if they find him culpable, that they have him removed.
Resolved, That George Morgan, Esq. Agent under the commissioners for Indian affairs in the middle department, be directed to purchase the Indian goods, said to be at Fort Pitt, for the use of the United Colonies.
The Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom was referred the case of Alexander Ross; Whereupon,
Resolved, That he be discharged from confinement.
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock to Morrow.
Saturday, May 11, 1776
A petition from John Jacobs, in behalf of himself and others, being before Congress, and read:
Resolved, That it be referred to a committee of 3.
The members chosen, Mr. J[ohn] Adams, Mr. Lee, and Mr. [Edward] Rutledge.
The Congress took into consideration the report of the committee on the Eastern department º state of the eastern coloniesº ; Whereupon,
Resolved, That the two batallions, directed by the assembly of Rhode Island to be raised, be taken into continental pay; the batallion ordered to be raised in November last, from the time they were armed, cloathed, and fit for duty; and the one since ordered to be raised, from the present time; provided they be armed, cloathed, and fit for service; and that, if they be not so armed and appointed, they be taken into continental pay, as soon as they shall be armed and mustered:
Resolved, That the remainder of the report be referred to a committee of the whole Congress.
Resolved, That the standing committee for Indian affairs be directed to take measures for carrying into execution the resolution of the 6th, for holding a treaty with the Indians, in the different departments, as soon as practicable.
That the 20th day of July be fixed on for holding a treaty, at Pittsburg, with the Indians, in the middle department; and that the standing committee be directed to inform the Agent, and desire him to notify the Indians, and invite them to attend at the time and place mentioned: and also, that the said committee inform the commissioners, and desire them to attend.
Resolved, That John Harvey be appointed a commissioner for the Indian affairs in the middle department.
Certain resolutions of the board of officers in Philadelphia, and a petition from the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, were presented to Congress, and read:
Resolved, That they be referred to a committee of the whole Congress.
A memorial from Caunier de la Berthaudure was presented to Congress, and read:
Ordered, To lie on the table.
Resolved, That two sets of trepanning instruments be sent to Virginia for the use of the surgeons of the continental troops there; and that two sets of trepanning instruments, and 100 lb. of Peruvian bark, be sent to North Carolina, for the use of the continental troops in that colony.
The Congress then resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the report of the committee of º the state of the colonies inº the eastern department, and the resolves º of the officers,º and petition º of the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia;º to them referred; and, after some time spent thereon, the president resumed the chair, and Mr. [Benjamin] Harrison reported, that the committee have had under consideration the matters to them referred, and have come to a resolution thereon; which he was ready to deliver in, but that not having yet come to a conclusion, desired him to move for leave to sit again.
The report from the committee of the whole being read,
Resolved, That consideration thereof be postponed to Monday next.
Resolved, That this Congress will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the report of the committee on º the state of the coloniesº in the eastern department, and the resolves from the board of officers, and the petition from the committee of the privates of the associators of the city and liberties of Philadelphia.
Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to send 500 lb. of powder to the committee of safety of Delaware government, for the use of their militia.
The Committee of Claims reported, that there is due,
On account rendered by the committee for the upper district of Frederic county, in Virginia, of expences incurred by Captain John Nelson’s company of rifflemen, the sum of £ 530 15 4=1415.4 dollars, and that the same ought to be paid to Michael Fackler, and that the said company ought to be charged with the sum of £ 381 0 3=1016 dollars, the amount of riffles and goods, &c. furnished for their use, the remainder, being for provisions and waggonage, to be charged to the continent.
To Andrew M’Nair for attendance and for candles, &c. the sum of £ 68 4 6=181.9 dollars, in full of his account to 30th of April last:
To Robert Erwin, waggon master, for five teams that went to Canada, a ballance of £ 262 7 0= 699.6 dollars:
To Walter Drummond, for nursing several persons belonging to Captain Benezet’s company, the sum of £ 10 3=27 dollars:
To George Loudon, for 34 days waggonage for the 6th Batallion, the sum of £ 41 1 4=117.5 dollars.
Ordered, That the said accounts be paid.
Adjourned to 10 o’ Clock on Monday.
Monday, May 13, 1776
A letter from General Washington, of the 9th was laid before Congress and read:
Resolved, That it be referred to the Committee on Qualifications.
Sundry petitions were presented to Congress and read, viz. One from Benjamin Church, accompanied with one from Benjamin Church, Samuel Church and Edward Church, and a certificate from three Doctors º respecting the health of Dr. B. Church;º one from John Connolly and John Smith, accompanied with a letter from Dr. [Thomas] Cadwalader:
Resolved, That they be referred to the Committee on Prisoners.
A letter from George Morgan Esq. May 3 [at Pittsburg,] was read, and referred to the standing Committee on Indian affairs.
Resolved, That Mrs. Connolly the wife of John Connolly have leave to visit her husband in gaol.
Agreeable to order, the committee of Secret Correspondence laid before Congress a state of their proceedings.
The committee appointed to prepare a preamble to the resolution of Congress passed the 10th instant, brought in a draught, which was read, and postponed till to morrow.
A letter of the 4th from Edmund Pendleton, president of the committee of safety of Virginia, was laid before Congress, and read.
The Committee of Claims reported, that there is due,
To A. C. Hanson, for the expences of two gentlemen, a private soldier, and a servant, on an expedition to New York, the sum of £ 28 12 10=76.4 dollars:
To Rachel Stille, for boarding prisoners now in Trenton, and including Captain Chase’s bill of £ 3 3 10= [8.5] dollars, and also a bill for waggonage, amounting to £ 2 9= [ ] dollars, the sum of 290.9 dollars.
To Robert Erwin, waggon master, for waggonage of powder from Egg harbour to Philadelphia, the sum of £ 92 12 9=247 dollars:
To Frederic Bicking, for paper for the continental bills of credit, the sum of £ 416= 1109.3 dollars:
To Gunning Bedford, deputy muster master general, for his pay and expences to the 17th of April last, the sum of £ 170 16 9=455.6 dollars:
Ordered, That the said accounts be paid.
The Congress resumed the consideration of the report from the committee of the whole; and, after some debate, the determination thereon, at the request of a colony, was postponed till to morrow.
The several matters to this day referred, being farther postponed,
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock to Morrow.
Tuesday, May 14, 1776
A letter from General Washington, of the 11 May enclosing sundry papers; a letter of the 3rd from General Schuyler, a letter of the 9 from Daniel Robertson, º were laid before Congress, and read:º
Resolved, That they be referred to a committee of three:
The members chosen, Mr. W[illiam] Livingston, Mr. [Thomas] Jefferson, and Mr. J[ohn] Adams.
The committee to whom the petition of Dr. Benjamin Church, now confined in gaol in Norwich, in the colony of Connecticut, and also a petition from Benjamin, Samuel, and Edward Church, together with a certificate from physicians, respecting the dangerous state of the aforesaid Dr. Church, were referred, brought in their report, which was read and agreed to: Whereupon,
Resolved, That Dr. Benjamin Church be sent to the colony of Massachusetts bay, and that the council of the said colony be requested to take a recognizance from him, with two good sureties, in such penalty as they shall think sufficient, not being less than one thousand pounds, lawful money, for his appearance before such court as shall be erected for his trial, and at such time and place as such court shall direct, and to abide the judgment of the same; and that they be farther requested, to take his parole, not to hold any correspondence with the enemies of the United Colonies, or at any time, to depart out of the same colony, without their license; and that, upon the performance thereof, the said Dr. Benjamin Church be set at Liberty.
The colony of Rhode Island, having appointed two delegates to represent that colony in Congress, the Credentials of their appointment were laid before Congress, and read, as follows:
The governor and Company of the English Colony of
(L.S.) Rhode island and Providence Plantations, in General Assembly convened.
To Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery, Esqs. Greeting:
Whereas this Assembly, reposing special Trust and Confidence in your Abilities and Integrity, have appointed you, the said Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery, Delegates, to represent this Colony in General Congress; you are, therefore, hereby empowered to join with the Delegates of the other United Colonies, in Congress, at Philadelphia, as soon as conveniently may be, or at such Time and Place as shall be agreed upon by the Major Part of the Delegates from the said Colonies.
You are also authorized and empowered to consult and advise with the Delegates of the said Colonies in Congress, upon the most proper Measures for promoting and confirming the strictest Union and Confederation between the said United Colonies, for exerting their whole Strength and Force to annoy the common Enemy, and to secure to the said Colonies their Rights and Liberties, both civil and religious, whether by entering into Treaties with any Prince, State, or Potentate, or by such other prudent and effectual Ways and Means as shall be devised and agreed on: And, in Conjunction with the Delegates from the said United Colonies, or the Major Part of them, to enter into and adopt all such Measures, taking the greatest Care to secure to this Colony, in the strongest and most perfect Manner, its present established Form, and all the Powers of Government, so far as relates to its internal Police and Conduct of our own Affairs, civil and religious.
You are also instructed and directed, to exert your utmost Abilities, in carrying on this just and necessary War, in which we are engaged against cruel and unnatural Enemies, in the most vigorous Manner, until Peace shall be restored to the said Colonies, and their Rights and Liberties secured upon a solid and permanent Basis.
You are also empowered, to join with the Major Part of the Delegates to the said United Colonies, in adjourning, from Time to Time, and to such Place or Places as shall be thought proper for and during One Year.
You have it in express Charge to make immediate Application to Congress to put the Colony Brigade upon the Continental Establishment; and to defray the Expences of it, from the first Enlistment of the Troops, as that Number is indispensably necessary for the Defence of the Colony, which is utterly unable to support them.
And as it may happen, that from Sickness or other necessary Causes, one of you may be absent from Congress, in all such Cases the other is hereby as fully empowered to represent the Colony, as though both were present and agreed in Sentiment.
May 4th, 1776.
In Behalf of the General Assembly, I have hereunto set my Hand, and caused the Seal of the Colony to be affixed, the Sixth Day of May, in the Year of Our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Six.
NICHOLAS COOKE, Governor.
By his Honor’s Command,
HENRY WARD, Secretary.
The committee, to whom the letter from General Washington of the 5th, and the letter from Captain Delaplace of the 2d, &c. were referred, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration; Whereupon,
Resolved, That as a number of arms, fit for use, maybe bought of the owners, who may incline to sell them, General Washington be desired to employ such an agent as he hath proposed, to go into any of the colonies for that purpose:
That a copy of the letter from Captain Delaplace be sent to Major General Schuyler, and that he be desired to enquire how the things, therein mentioned to have been left by him [De la place] at Ticonderoga, were disposed of, and what was the value thereof, and report the matter, as it shall appear to him, to Congress:
That the case of Captain Delaplace is not distinguishable from that of other prisoners of war, who are obliged to refund the expences of their maintenance.
Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to deliver to Colonel Jacob Ford, Junr. three tons of salt petre, to be by him manufactured into gun powder for the use of the United Colonies, on the same terms as others have agreed to manufacture it:
That the said committee be directed to sell to Joseph Ellis, 400 lb. of powder, and a quantity of iron ball, sufficient for 900 lb. of powder, for the defence of the colony of New Jersey:
That the said committee be directed to deliver to Colonel Bird, 200 lb. of powder, to prove the cannon he has made for the United Colonies.
That the committee appointed to contract for the making cannon, be directed to employ proper persons to attend and see the cannon proved:
That an order for 2000 dollars be drawn on the treasurer, in favour of said committee appointed to contract for the making of cannon; they to be accountable.
The Congress resumed the consideration of the report from the committee of the whole: Whereupon,
Resolved, That the five batallions, now in Massachusetts bay, be recruited to their full complements, and that three additional batallions be raised in the eastern department, for the service of the continent, the recruits to be taken into continental pay, so soon as they shall be armed and mustered.
A letter from General Lee of the 7th, enclosing sundry papers, was laid before Congress, and read:
Resolved, That the same be referred to the committee to whom a former letter of General Lee, was referred.
Martin Strobach, lieutenant of marines on board the Hornet sloop, finding the service by sea to disagree with him, and apprehending he can be of more use in the land service, begs permission to be discharged from the present: service he has engaged in, that he may apply for a lieutenancy in the Pensylvania artillery company, where there is a vacancy, which he is encouraged to make application for:
Resolved, that leave be granted to discharge him.
The Congress agreeable to the order of the day, resolved itself into a committee of the whole Congress, to take into their farther consideration, the report, of the committee on the eastern department, the resolves from the officers, and petition from the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, and, after some time spent thereon, the president resumed the chair, and Mr. [Benjamin] Harrison reported, that the committee of the whole Congress have had under consideration the matters to them referred, and have come to sundry resolutions; but, not having come to a conclusion, desired him to move for leave to sit again.
The report from the committee of the whole, being read, was agreed to: whereupon,
Resolved, That an additional Major General and Brigadier General be appointed in the continental army:
Resolved, That General Washington be directed to order a major general forthwith to take the command in the eastern department, and also that he order a brigadier general on that service.
Resolved, That the election of the major general and brigadier general be postponed till to morrow.
Resolved, That this Congress will, to morrow, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their farther consideration the resolves of the officers and the petition from the committee of privates of the military association of the city and liberties of Philadelphia.
The Congress took into consideration the report of the committee, to whom the letter from the committee of safety of New Hampshire, and other papers from that colony, were referred; and, thereupon,
Resolved, That one batallion be raised in New Hampshire for the service of the United Colonies, and paid and subsisted upon the same terms as the continental troops in the eastern department; the said batallion to be taken into continental pay, so soon as they shall be armed and mustered.
Resolved, That, the Secret committee be directed to send to General Washington, the muskets that are at Newport.
The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock to Morrow.
Wednesday, May 15, 1776
Resolved, That the committee of safety of Pensylvania be desired to write to the committee of safety of Delaware government, to suspend the execution of the resolve of Congress, for exchanging Lieutenant Ball for Captain Budden, till farther orders.
The Congress took into consideration the draught of the preamble brought in by the committee, which was agreed to as follows:
Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the lords and commons of Great Britain, has, by a late act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown; And whereas, no answer, whatever, to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been or is likely to be given; but, the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies; And whereas, it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good Conscience, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted, under the authority of the people of the colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies; therefore, resolved, &c.
Ordered, That the said preamble, with the resolution passed the 10th instant, be published.
Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to sell to Edward Keasby, 100 lb. of powder, for the use of the inhabitants of Salem county, in New Jersey.
The several matters to this day referred, being postponed,
Adjourned to 10’ Clock to Morrow.