July 25, 1776

220px-John_Dickinson_portrait

Congress is in the midst of discussing the first draft of John Dickinson’sArticles of Confederation.”  Among other things, they discuss the boundaries of the thirteen states.  Thomas Jefferson believed all Indian lands should be immediately bought and that Congress should in no way fix borders.  Others, Samuel Chase and James Wilson among them, disagreed, setting the stage for later debate.

John Adams, concerned about his family and their smallpox inoculations, requests permission to resign his post and to return home.  “I find myself, under a Necessity of applying to the Honourable the general Court for Leave to return home. I have attended here, So long and So constantly, that I feel myself necessitated to ask this Favour, on Account of my Health, as well as on many other Accounts.  I beg Leave to propose to the Honourable Court an Alteration in their Plan of Delegation in Congress, which it appears to me, would be more agreable to the Health, and Convenience of the Members and much more conducive to the public Good, than the present. No Gentleman can possibly attend to an incessant Round of thinking, Speaking, and writing, upon the most intricate, as well as important Concerns of human Society, from one End of the Year to another, without Injury both to his mental and bodily Strength. I would therefore humbly propose, that the Honourable Court would be pleased to appoint Nine Members to attend in Congress, Three or Five at a Time. In this Case, four, or Six, might be at home, at a Time, and every Member might be relieved, once in three or four Months. In this Way, you would always have Members in Congress, who would have in their Minds, a compleat Chain of the Proceedings here as well as in the General Court, both Kinds of which Knowledge, are necessary, for a proper Conduct here. In this Way, the Lives and Health, and indeed the sound Minds of the Delegates here, would be in less Danger than they are at present, and, in my humble Opinion the public Business would be much better done.  This Proposal, however, is only Submitted to the Consideration of that Honourable Body, whose Sole Right it is to judge of it.  For myself, I must intreat the General Court to give me Leave to resign, and immediately to appoint Some other Gentleman in my Room. The Consideration of my own Health, and the Circumstances of my Family and private Affairs would have little Weight with me, if the Sacrifice of these was necessary for the Public: But it is not, because those Parts of the Business of Congress, for which, (if for any) I have any Qualifications, being now nearly compleated, and the Business that remains, being chiefly military and commercial, of which I know very little, there are Multitudes of Gentlemen in the Province, much fitter for the public Service here, than I am.”

George Washington, finding himself spending hours every day attending to official correspondence, requests assistance from Congress.  “Disagreeable as it is to me, and unpleasing as it may be to Congress to multiply Officers, I find myself under the unavoidable necessity of asking an Increase of my Aid de Camps—The augmentation of my Command—the Increase of my Correspondance—the Orders to give—the Instructions to draw, cut out more business than I am able to execute in time, with propriety. The business of so many different departments centering with me, & by me to be handed on to Congress for their information, added to the Intercourse I am obliged to keep up with the adjacent States and incidental occurrences, all of which requiring confidential (& not hack) writers to execute, renders it impossible in the present state of things for my family to discharge the several duties expected of me with that precission and dispatch that I could wish—what will it be then when we come into a more active Scene, and I am called upon from twenty different places perhaps at the same Instant?  Congress will do me the justice to believe, I hope, that it is not my Inclination or wish to run the Continent to any unnecessary expence. and those who better know me, will not suspect that shew, and parade can have any Influence on my Mind in this Instance. A Conviction of the necessity of it, for the regular discharge of the trust reposed in me is the Governing motive for the application, and as such is Submitted to Congress.”  It will not be until he is joined by young Alexander Hamilton that Washington finds somebody who he trusts enough to turn his official correspondences over to.

Join Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Take our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire,” which includes tickets to Independence Hall, or learn about Washington at our Valley Forge Tour.  Or, if you are a big history buff, you may think about joining us for one of our American Revolution Vacation Packages, which include several-day trips dedicated to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  Or, if the Civil War is your thing, join us for our Gettysburg Tour.

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