June 15, 1776


In Burlington, New Jersey, the New Jersey Provincial Congress brands Governor William Franklin an “enemy to the liberties of this country.”  William Franklin is Benjamin Franklin’s illegitimate son.

In New Hampshire, the Provincial Congress instructs its delegation to join the other colonies by “Solemnly Pledging our Faith and Honor, that we will on our parts support the measures with our lives and fortunes.”

George Washington writes to Colonel James Clinton regarding the situation in New York:  “You are to repair to Fort Montgomery, and take upon you the Commd of the Posts in the Highlands. use every means in your power to provide your Regiment with Arms fit for Service—one step towards which, endeavour to Imploy an Armourer or two, or more, as the case may require.  Use every possible diligence in forwarding the Works at Forts Montgomery & Constitution, agreeable to late direction’s given to Mr Bedlow, who will furnish you with the same, as it is proposed by the Provincial Congress of New York to recall their Commissioners ⟨from⟩ those Posts & leave the care of them altogether to the Commanding Officer of the Continental Forces and his Orders.  As these are, or may become Posts of infinite importance especially the lower one, I cannot sufficiently Impress upon you the necessity of putting them into a fit Posture of Defence without delay. I have desired that a Battalion, or at least five hundred of the York Militia, may be ordered to reinforce those Garrisons, as well for the purpose of defence as to assist in the Work—these are also to be under your Command.  The whole are to be kept close to duty & not suffered to be absent on Furlough but in cases of real necessity, ⟨and⟩ then not more than two at a time ar⟨e to⟩ be absent from a Company at once.  Review the Men, Inspect the A⟨rms⟩ &ca & make a Report of the State of th⟨ings⟩ so soon as you get to these Posts. ⟨Your⟩ Lieutt Colo., Livingston, is to be sent ⟨to⟩ this place in order to proceed to long ⟨Is⟩land to take charge of the remainde⟨r of⟩ your Regiment posted towards the Ea⟨st⟩ end thereof.  Inform me if there are Barr⟨acks⟩ or Houses convenient to the Fort Mont⟨go⟩mery & Constitution in which the Militi⟨a⟩ ordered there can be lodged. make ⟨Week⟩ly returns of your Strength, and advi⟨se⟩ me regularly of all occurrances ⟨of any⟩ kind of Importance. Given under my hand at He⟨ad⟩ Quarters near the City of Ne⟨w⟩ York this 14th day of June 1776.”

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June 9, 1776


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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June 7, 1776


Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces to Congress three resolutions, total independence from Britain, the formation of foreign alliances, and preparation of a plan of colonial confederation.  This is a dramatic and world changing moment!  John Adams seconds the resolutions, which is as follows:  “Resolved That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.  That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming   foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to   the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.  Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee tha[t] the first Resolution be postponed to this day three weeks and that in the mean time least any time should be lost in case the Congress agree to this resolution a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration to the effect of the said first resolution.”

In Newburyport, Massachusetts, the American privateer U.S.S. Yankee Hero was attacked by HMS Melford and a small group of ships, commanded by Captain John Burr.  Outnumbered 4 to 1 the Yankee Hero surrendered after a two-hour fight.

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May 6, 1776


In Providence, Rhode Island, Governor Cooke sends General George Washington a copy of an act discharging inhabitants of the colony from allegiance to the King.

In Williamsburg, Virginia, the House of Burgesses meets for the last time.  In its place, the General Convention of Delegates from the counties and corporations convenes and elects Edmund Pendleton President.

In the Plains of Abraham, Quebec, American troops under General John Thomas with 250 men, had 200 sick soldiers captured, and was defeated at the Plains of Abraham by General Guy Clinton with 900 men.  The Americans fled westward in panic leaving 200 sick behind.

John Adams writes to John Winthrop about the question of independence(Original spellings retained):  “Our People, you Say are impatiently waiting for the Congress to declare off from Great Britain. What my own Sentiments, are upon this Question, is not material. But others ask to what Purpose should We declare off? Our Privateers are at Liberty, our Trade is open, the Colonies are Sliding into New Governments, a Confederation may be formed but why should We declare We never will be reconciled to Great Britain, again, upon any Terms whatsoever.  You ask how it would be relished by the Congress, if our Colony Should declare off. I am happy to hear that our Colony is disusing a certain Name in all Commissions, Acts, and Law Proscesses and I should like very well, if they would choose a Governor, or at least ask leave of Congress to do it. But I cannot advise them to make any public Declarations, Seperate from our Sister Colonies. The Union, is our Defence, and that must be most tenderly cherished. If our Colony has an Inclination to instruct their Delegates in Congress, no reasonable objection can be made to this. They may if they think proper, instruct their servants, never to vote for any Subjection to Parliament in any Case whatsoever never to vote for submitting to any Crown officer, Whether Governor, Mandamus Councillor, secretary, Judge of Admiralty, Commissioner or Custom House officer &c. &c. if this is their sentiment—or never to vote for acknowledging any Allegiance, or subjection to the Crown of Great Britain, or King of Great Britain. But if they do all this I hope you will allow us to make Peace as an independent State.  It is my opinion, sir, that We shall have but little Difference of Sentiment among the Colonies upon these great Questions in a few Weeks.

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April 21, 1776


British Governor James Wright of Georgia arrived in Nova Scotia, Halifax, aboard the HMS Scarborough.

Meanwhile Abigail Adams writes to her husband John, letting him know of her dissatisfaction with his recent letters, as well as her concern over his well-being.  “I have to acknowledg the Recept of a very few lines dated the 12 of April. You make no mention of the whole sheets I have wrote to you, by which I judge you either never Received them, or that they were so lengthy as to be troublesome; and in return you have set me an example of being very concise. I believe I shall not take the Hint, but give as I love to Receive; Mr. Church talk’d a week ago of setting of for Philadelphia. I wrote by him; but suppose it is not yet gone; you have perhaps heard that the Bench is fill’d by Mr. Foster and Sullivan, so that a certain person2 is now excluded. I own I am not of so forgiveing a disposition as to wish to see him holding a place which he refused merely from a spirit of envy… I heard yesterday that a Number of Gentlemen who were together at Cambridge thought it highly proper that a Committee of Ladies should be chosen to examine the Torys Ladies, and proceeded to the choise of 3 Mrs. Winthrope, Mrs. Warren and your Humble Servant.  I could go on and give you a long list of domestick affairs, but they would only serve to embariss you, and noways relieve me. I hope it will not be long before things will be brought into such a train as that you may be spaired to your family.  Your Brother has lost his youngest child with convulsion fits. Your Mother is well and always desires to be rememberd to you. Nabby is sick with the mumps, a very disagreable disorder.—You have not once told me how you do. I judge you are well as you seem to be in Good Spirits.—I bid you good Night, all the Little flock Send Duty; and want to see P——a.  Adieu. Shall I say remember me as you ought.”

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April 3, 1776

UnknownIn Philadelphia, the Continental Congress gave privateers permission to “by force of arms, attack, subdue, and take all ships and other vessels belonging to the inhabitants of Great Britain.”

Mercy Otis Warren, the sister of James Otis and future biographer of the Revolution, wrote the following to John Adams:  “The sudden departure of the plunderers of Boston and the removal of the Continental troops from Cambridge occasions a temporary calm in the eastern region; but if the storm should again burst upon this quarter, I fear we shall be too destitute of skillful navigators, to oppose its fury with success: though we have still a few left among us whose tried courage and experience has set danger at defiance.  You Sir, have felt too much for the distresses of the Massachusetts, to wonder at the concern of any individual of a Colony, already wasted by fire, sword, pestilence, and rapine. The first scene has been opened here, but time alone must determine when the tragedy will end. The danger which threatens from foreign invaders, with an concurrence of circumstances, that prevents the energy of colonial operations, and renders internal peace, precarious are too many for my pen to enumerate, and too obvious to a gentleman of your judgment and sagacity to make it necessary.  May the great guardian of the universe, who stoops to survey the rise of Empire, and beholds from his lofty throne the squabbles of the emmets of a day, inspire with vigour and unanimity the patriots of America. May he make the decision of the present contest, the establishment of virtue, liberty, and truth, fixed on too firm a basis to be undermined by future despots!  Do you think, Sir, sinse the spirits were hurled from the etherial regions, there was ever a more sudden reverse of hope and expectation, than that experienced by the miserable group—the unhappy wretches lately transported from Boston to Halifax? Surely they must “grin horribly, a ghastly smile,” if ever they recover from their first astonishment so far as to attempt to smile again.  Yet so pitiable is their condition, that it must excite the compassion of the hardest heart, more especially for their feeble connexions. Women, children, soldiers, sailors, governors, councellors, flatterers, statesmen, and pimps, huddled promiscuously, either into fishing boats, or Royal barks, which ever first offered the means of escape to the panic which struck multitudes.  It is not difficult to say how far they would compassionate us in a similar situation. We have had too many proofs of their inhumanity to be at any loss; but this is not our rule of action.  You may laugh if you please and those disposed to exalt in the triumph may even enjoy it, but I am not afraid to say I most sincerely pity them,—yet I may smile when I see some observations on the event.”

Meanwhile, George Washington wrote to General Benedict Arnold and told him that he was sending arms and men to him in Quebec in case the British were to turn there, but probably not enough of either.  “I have Dispatch’d two Company’s of Colonel Knox’s Regiment of Artillery to you from hence Two Mortars &c. as you will see at foot hereof if any thing else is wanting that Cannot be had in Canada & in my power to Send, they Shall be forwarded with all possible expedition upon my being informed thereof—the Chief part of the troops are marched from hence towards Newyork. I will Set off to morrow, if the enemy will not find us full employment & it is necessary you may expect a detachment from thence to your assistance—I am very Sorry that the Gentlemen of Newyork & other Officers Should think themselves neglected in the new arrangement—it is true that I reserved places in this Army for those Officers who went from hence under your Command—the Congress have Since informd me, that they woud be provided for, in the Army raisd for Canada. I was not acquainted with the Gentlemen who Complain, nor with their Circumstances, there is Little doubt but their merits will be rewarded in due time—I am very Sensible of the many difficulties you have had to encounter[.] Your Conduct under them, does you great honour—as General Thomas will take the burthen off your Shoulders, I hope you will Soon gather Strenght Sufficient to assist in finishing the important work you have with So much glory to yourself, & service to your Country hitherto Conducted—as I am informed that there is a Furnace Somwhere near you, Where Shells & Shot of any Size Can be Cast, I woud reccomend to General Thomas to have what quantity of each that May be wanting immediatly prepared, the roads are So very bad that it is impossible to Send you any great number of these necessary articles from hence, I have appointed Capt. Lamb who is Prisoner in Quebec to be Second Major in the Regiment of Artillery Commanded by Col. Henry Knox, the Gentlemen of this familly return you their Compliments and I remain yrs…”

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April 2, 1776


In Philadelphia, the Continental Congress established a permanent treasury office and proposed the appointment of an auditor general.

In Quebec, General David Wooster finally arrived and assumed command.

In South Carolina, the General Assembly empowered its new president, John Rutledge, to design and have made a Great Seal of South Carolina.

George Washington replies to the thanks of the Massachusetts General Court with the following address:  “I return you my most sincere, & hearty thanks for your polite address; and feel myself called upon by every principle of Gratitude, to acknowledge the honor you have done me in this Testimonial of your approbation of my appointment to the exalted station I now fill; & what is more pleasing, of my conduct in discharging Its important duties.  When the Councils of the British Nation had formed a plan for enslaving America, and depriving her sons of their most sacred & invaluable privileges, against the clearest remonstrances of the constitution—of Justice—and of Truth; and to execute their schemes, had appealed to the sword, I esteemed It my duty to take a part in the contest, and more especially, when called thereto by the unsollicited Suffrages of the Representatives of a free people; wishing for no other reward than that arising from a conscientious discharge of the important trust, & that my services might contribute to the establishment of Freedom & peace, upon a permanent foundation; and merit the applause of my Countrymen & every virtuous Citizen.  Your professions of my attention to the civil constitution of this Colony, whilst acting in the line of my department, also demand my gratefull thanks—A regard to every provincial institution, where not incompatible with the common Interest, I hold a principle of duty, & of policy, and shall ever form a part of my conduct—had I not learned this before, the happy experience of the advantages resulting from a friendly intercourse with your Honorable body—their ready, and willing concurrence to aid and to counsel, when ever called upon in cases of difficulty and emergency, would have taught me the usefull lesson.  That the metropolis of your Colony, is now releived from the cruel and oppressive invasion of those who were sent to erect the Standard of lawless domination, & to trample on the rights of humanity, and is again open & free for Its rightfull possessors, must give pleasure to every virtuous and Sympathetic heart—and being effected without the blood of our Soldiers, and fellow Citizens, must be ascribed to the Interposition of that providence, which has manifestly appeared in our behalf thro the whole of this important struggle, as well as to the measures pursued for bringing about the happy event. May that being who is powerfull to save, and in whose hands is the fate of Nations, look down with an eye of tender pity & compassion upon the whole of the United Colonies—May he continue to smile upon their Councils and Arms, & crown them with success, whilst employed in the cause of virtue & of mankind—May this distressed Colony & Its Capitol, and every part of this wide, extended Continent, thro his divine favor, be restored to more than their former lustre and once happy state, and have peace, liberty & safety secured upon a solid, permanent, and lasting foundation.”

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