June 23, 1776

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In Philadelphia, the Provincial Conference of Committees urges the people to “select qualified patriots to the Convention, who shall know the ideas and sentiments of their constituents, and, above all, assure the timid and fearful of the high purpose of the Congress.”

In Charleston, South Carolina, Commodore Peter Parker notifies General Sir Henry Clinton that he would land on the mainland tomorrow on the flood tide if the wind was from the south.  Parker and his fleet were thwarted by a sandbar for nearly two weeks.

Meanwhile, John Adams writes to Cotton Tufts about the dramatic events going on in Philadelphia as the colonies debate the declaring independence.  Adams had argued long and hard for months, and perhaps even he was surprised but the slow yet steady progress his arguments (as well as events) had made upon the others.  “You mention Independence and Confederation. These Things are now become Objects of direct Consideration. Days, and Times, without Number, have been spent upon these Subjects, and at last a Committee is appointed to prepare a Draught of Confederation, and a Declaration that these Colonies [are] free States, independent of all Kings, Kingdoms, Nations, People, or States in the World. . . .”  As we have seen in prior posts, Adams has requested that Thomas Jefferson take on the job of writing the initial draft of the Declaration.  “There has been the greatest Scarcity of News for the last Fortnight, which has ever happened since the War commenced. . . . I make it a constant Practice to transmit to my Family, all the News Papers, where I presume you get a Sight of them. You will find by them, the Course of political Causes and Effects in this Colony. The Assembly [were] necessitated to rescind their Instructions, and [became] so obnoxious, and unpopular, among the Inhabitants their own Constituents for having ever passed them, as to be obliged to die away, without doing any Thing else, even without Adjourning, and give Place to a Conference of Committees and a Convention. Every Part of the Colony is represented in this Conference which is now sitting, and is extremely unanimous, spirited, zealous, and determined. You will soon see Pensilvania, one of the most patriotic Colonies.”  John Adams and cousin Sam deserve some credit for this, having helped to encourage a mob to gather and angrily replace the Pennsylvanian delegates who voiced the timid proposals of reconciliation.  “New Jersey is in a similar Train. The Delaware Government the same.  Maryland is a little beside itself I think, but presently it will blaze out like a Fire ship or a Volcano.”  Adams is every day hectoring Maryland delegate Samuel Chase to get his colony in line.  However, they felt powerless to act, since the Maryland Convention had adjourned on May 25 without determining their position.  Samuel Chase has returned to Maryland to persuade the colony’s leader to call their convention back into session and to endorse independence.  Although he has been able to drum up considerable support, the members of the provincial convention have now ordered the Maryland delegates in Philadelphia to return to Maryland to attend the convention, but not to leave congress until they receive a guarantee that they will not take up the question of independence until they return.  This may be a hard sell, as congress has already agreed to take up Richard Henry Lee’s resolution, and those seeking independence, such as Adams, smell victory in the air and are in no mood to delay.

Adams continues  to describe New York and its lack of gravitas.  “New York still acts in Character, like a People without Courage or sense, or Spirit, or in short any one Virtue or Ability. There is neither Spunk nor Gumption, in that Province as a Body. Individuals are very clever. But it is the weakest Province in point of Intellect, Valour, public Spirit, or any thing else that is great and good upon the Continent. It is incapable of doing Us much good, or much Hurt, but from its local situation. The low Cunning of Individuals, and their Prostitution plagues Us, the Virtues of a few Individuals is of some Service to Us. But as a Province it will be a dead Weight upon any side, ours or that of our Enemies.”

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June 22, 1776

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A plot to assassinate George Washington is discovered!

A dozen men were arrested in New York, including the Mayor, David Matthews, and two soldiers from Washington’s own Life Guard, one of which is Thomas Hickey.  The plot was to kill Washington and his officers the moment the British fleet appeared at New York.  Upon learning of the plot, patiriot mobs hunted down the Loyalists, and many were beaten, tarred and feathered, burned with candles, or made “to ride the rail,” which involved forcing a man to straddle a sharp fence rail held on the shoulders of two men, with other men on either side taking a grip on his legs to keep him straight, and to parade the victim through the street.

In order to protect General Washington, his headquarters were changed to City Hall.  Henry Knox and his wife were moved into Number 1 Broadway, while Martha Washington remained at the Mortier house beyond the city.

In La Prarie Canada, General Baron Frederick Riedesel reported to the Duke of Brunswick that the British had recovered Canada and only the lack of shipping prevented a rapid advance into the rear of the American colonies.

In Philadelphia, Congress printed the first American money.

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June 19, 1776

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In Canada, Benedict Arnold notifies General John Sullivan of his garrison’s successful movement out of Montreal, along with some spirits and molasses seized in that town.

In Boston Harbor an armed Connecticut vessel along with several schooners seize two British ships and take 200 sailors prisoner.

Captain Charles Pond wrote the following letter to General George Washington:  I have the Pleasure of Informing His Excellency of our taking two Prises one A Ship of 250 Tons Burthen the Sloop 35 Tons Bound to Sandy hook the Ship from Glasgow with one Compy of the 42d Regt Who was taken by one of Admiral Hopkins’s fleet who took the Soldiers on Board & Sent the Ship for Rhode Island Soon after was Taken by the Cerberus Frigate & Sent her under Convoy of the Above Sd Sloop for Sandy hook. Remaining on Board the Ship 5 Commission’d officers with 2 Ladies & 4 Privates, Prisoners Total 20.  Stores on Board the Ship Crawford 13 tierces of Beef 11 Do of Pork, 3000 Wt of Bread 4 Puncheons of Rum, 100 barrels of Coal, 10 firkins of Butter 1 Cask of Cheese.  On Board the Sloop 15 Cask of Molasses 2 Chests of Dry Goods 1 Tierce & 1 Barrel of Cags of Powder 1 Case of flints, Some Salt Petre.  The Ship is part of the way In the Inlet but at Present is Aground Pray Send Direction About the Prisoners as I am Short handed.”

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June 16, 1776

george-washington-writing-at-his-desk-by-candlelightIn Quebec, Canada, Benedict rnold’s men fought a rear guard action against the British and continued their retreat.

General Washington writes to General Schuyler regarding numerous matters:  “The Account of Mr Deane is variant from Col. Kirkland’s, but Yet they both seem to agree in the most material Point, Vizt That some Parts of our Frontiers are to feel the Effects of the Savage Resentment which the Friends of Government have been industrously trying to call forth against Us. You have done well in Your Message to the six Nations; the sooner a Conference can be held the better, & I think the most Vigorous Exertions necessary to secure a Post as You mention where Fort Stanwix formerly stood, & below that, as intimated in my last—If You can Effect these, I am hopefull all their Attempts in that Quarter will be unavailing.

I have ordered a Ton of Powder, half a Ton of Lead, five Thousand Flints, some Cannon, Intrenching Tools & a Dozen Whip Saws & files to be immediately sent You, which You will receive in two or three Days, with a List of them & Every other Article sent from hence at this Time.  I have inclosed You Copy of an Invoice of Goods now in the Hands of Mr Robert Henry in Albany, which he offered the Quarter Master Genl this Week on moderate Terms, as the Quarter Master informs Me—It certainly will be proper that You purchase them or such of them, as will suit the Army in Canada, & It will be less troublesome & expensive than sending Articles from hence, supposing they can be procured. I wish You to get Every Thing You want & that Can be had Either in Albany or Its Vicinity rather than to send here for them, I am really so immersed in Buisiness & have such a Variety of Things to attend to, That I scarcely know which way to turn Myself, Perhaps if You make a strict Inquiry, You may Obtain not only more Goods, but Other Necessaries.  The Indians are here, just returned from Philadelphia—I will communicate to them Your Wishes for their Return & Give Direction that Every Mark of Respect be shewn them by those who go with them.  I have requested the Paymaster, to procure, if possible, as Much hard Money as will discharge Mr Blake’s Claim.  How he will succeed I cannot tell; If he can get It, It shall be forwarded as soon as a proper Conveyance can be had. In Regard to a Person to superintend the Building of Gondolas & other Carpenters to carry on the Work I refer You to my Letter of the 9th & shall only add, that they cannot be now had, Every one Qualified for the Buisiness being Employed here.  The Intelligence contained in General Sullivan’s Letter is extremely pleasing & I sincerely wish his most sanguine Hopes may be more than answered. If the Affection of the Canadians can be Engaged & he seems to have no Doubt of It, It will be of much Importance & probably the Means of our retreiving our Misfortunes in that Quarter.  I find from General Arnold’s Letter to General Sullivan, Col. Bedel, Majr Butterfield & Captn Young are gone to the Sorel for Trial.9 If their Conduct was as bad & Infamous as represented, It will surely meet with an Exemplary Punishment. Men who will not discharge the Duty they owe their Country from Principle, must be influenced to It by Other Motives, or at least prevented from betraying our most Valuable Rights by a Cowardly & disgraceful Behaviour.

Inclosed You have an Extract of a Letter I received by last Nights Post from General Ward, from which we may reasonably Conjecture that the rest of the Transports which sailed with the One taken, will not be long before they arrive10—It seems Evident they expected to find General Howe at Boston & I am hopefull some Others under this Idea will fall into our Hands. There are also Accounts in Town of two or three Valuable Prizes more being taken to the Eastward, one with several light Cannon, Another a West India Man homeward bound with a Quantity of Dollars & sugars—But I fear, tho’ the Accounts seem particular, that they want Confirmation, as General Ward mentions Nothing of them.”

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June 10, 1776

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Congress stops short of declaring “total independence” from Britain, but calls for a committee to prepare a declaration based on the premise “That these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they all are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and all political connection between them and the state of Gret Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved,” as stated in the Virginia proposal.

George Washington writes to John Hancock, addressing the threats to Philadelphia as well as the internal threats to the cause in general.  “To Congress I also submit the Propriety of keeping the two Continental Battalions (under the Comd of Colonels Shae & McGaw) at Philadelpa when there is the greatest probability of a speedy attack upon this place from the Kings Troops. the Incouragements given by Govr Tryon to the disaffected, which are circulated no one can well tell how—the movements of these kind of People which are more easy to perceive than describe —the confident report which is said to have come immediately from Govr Tryon, & brought by a Frigate from Hallifax that the Troops at that place were Imbarking for this, added to a thousand Incidental Circumstances trivial in themselves but strong from comparison, leaves not a doubt upon my Mind but that Troops are hourly expected at the Hook.  I had no doubt when I left this City, for Philadelphia, but that some measures would have been taken to secure the suspected, & dangerous Persons of this Government before now, and left Orders for the Military to give every aid to the Civil Power—But, the Subject is delicate, & nothing is done in it—we may therefore have Internal, as well as external Enemies to contend with.”

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June 9, 1776

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In Loudon County, Virginia, small tenant farmers petition the Convention for relief.  Unable to sell their harvests of wheat to foreign markets, many become destitute.

John Adams writes to William Cushing, a judge before he once used to argue:  “It would give me great Pleasure to ride this Eastern Circuit with you, and prate before you at the Bar, as I used to do. But I am destined to another Fate, to Drudgery of the most wasting, exhausting, consuming Kind, that I ever went through in my whole Life. Objects of the most Stupendous Magnitude, Measures in which the Lives and Liberties of Millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before Us. We are in the very midst of a Revolution, the most compleat, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the History of Nations. A few Matters must be dispatched before I can return. Every Colony must be induced to institute a perfect Government. All the Colonies must confederate together, in some solemn Compact. The Colonies must be declared free and independent states, and Embassadors, must be Sent abroad to foreign Courts, to solicit their Acknowledgment of Us, as Sovereign States, and to form with them, at least with some of them commercial Treaties of Friendship and Alliance. When these Things shall be once well finished, or in a Way of being so, I shall think that I have answered the End of my Creation, and sing with Pleasure my Nunc Dimittes, or if it should be the Will of Heaven that I should live a little longer, return to my Farm and Family, ride Circuits, plead Law, or judge Causes, just as you please.”

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May 26, 1776

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Edmund Pendleton, president of the Virginia Convention, warns Maryland that Lord Dunore’s fleet has “turned up the bay and passed the mouth of the York River.”

Captain Alexander Hamilton writes to the Provincial Congress of New York, permitting that he be permitted to offer similar commissions to other companies.  “I take the liberty to request your attention to a few particulars, which will be of considerable importance to the future progress of the company under my command, and I will be much obliged to you for as speedy a determination concerning them as you can conveniently give. The most material is respecting the pay. Our company, by their articles, are to be subject to the same regulations, and to receive the same pay as the Continental artillery. Hitherto, I have conformed to the standard laid down in the Journal of the Congress, published the 10th May, 1775, but I am well informed that by some later regulation the pay of the artillery has been augmented and now stands according to the following rates: captain, £10 13s. 4d.; captain-lieutenant, £8; lieutenants, each £7. 6s. 8d.; sergeants, £3 6s. 8d.; corporals, £3 1s. 4d.; bombadiers, £1s. 4d.; gunners £3; matrosses, £2 17s. 4d.; drummers and fifers, £3. By compairing these with my pay rolls, you will discover a considerable difference, and I doubt not you will be easily sensible that such a difference should not exist. I am not personally interested in having an augmentation agreeable to the above rates, because my own pay will remain the same that it now is; but I make this application on behalf of the company, as I am fully convinced such a disadvantageous distinction will have a very pernicious effect on the minds and behaviour of the men. They do the same duty with the other companies and think themselves entitled to the same pay. They have been already comparing accounts and many marks of discontent have lately appeared on this score. As to the circumstance of our being confined to the defence of the Colony, it will have little or no weight, for there are but few in the company who would not as willingly leave the Colony on any necessary expedition as stay in it; and they will not therefore think it reasonable to have their pay curtailed on such a consideration.  Capt. Beauman, I understand, enlists all his men on the above terms, and this makes it very difficult for me to get a single recruit, for men will naturally go to those who pay them best. On this account I should wish to be immediately authorized to offer the same pay to all who may incline to enlist.  The next thing I should wish to know is, whether I might be allowed any actual expenses that might attend the enlistment of men, should I send into the country for that purpose; the expense would not be great, and it would enable me to complete my company at once, and bring it the sooner into proper order and discipline. Also, I should be glad to be informed if my company is to be allowed the frock which is given to the other troops as a bounty. This frock would be extremely serviceable in summer while the men are on fatigue, and would put it in their power to save their uniform much longer.”

Nathaniel Greene writes to John Adams, proposing that Congress determine that money be provided in the cases of injured and killed soldiers.  “The peculiar situation of American affairs renders it necessary to adopt every measure that will engage people in the service. The danger and hardships that those are subject to who engage in the service, more than those who do not, is obvious to every body which has the least Acquaintance with service, tis that which makes it so difficult to recruit. The large force that is coming against America will make it necessary to Augment our forces. If I am to form a Judgment of the success of Recruiting from what is past, the time is too short to raise the Troops and be in readiness to meet the Enemy and as every Argument has been made use off upon the present plan of recruiting to engage people in the service there must be some new motives added to quicken the motions of the recruiting parties.  From the Approaching danger recruiting will grow more and more difficult. If the Congress was to fix a certain support upon every Officer and Soldier that got maim’d in the service or upon the families of those that were kild it would have as happy an influence towards engageing people in the service and inspire those engagd with as much courage as any measure that can be fixt upon. I think it is nothing more than common Justice neither. It puts those in and out of Army upon a more equal footing than at present. I have not time to add any thing more. Major Frazier now waiting—for this. The desperate game you have got to play and the uncertainty of War may render every measure that will increase the Force and strength of the American Army worthy consideration.”

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