That they shall have the Care and direction of all Prisoners of War,agreable to the orders and directions of Congress;
That they shall have the care and direction keep and preserve in
the said Office in regular Order, all original Letters and papers, which shall
come into said Office by Order of Congress or otherwise, and shall also cause
all draughts of Letters and dispatches to be made or
transcribed in books to be set apart for that purpose and shall cause fair
Entries in like manner to be made and registers preserved of all other
business, which shall be transacted in said Office.
That before the Secretary of any Clerk of the War Office shall enter on his
Office, they shall respectively take and subscribe the following Oath, a
Certificate whereof shall be filed in the said Office.
I, A.B. do solemnly swear, that I will not directly or indirectly divulge
any matter or Thing, which shall come to my Knowledge as Secretary of the Board
of War and Ordinance, (or Clerk of the Board of War and Ordinance) established
by Congress, without the Leave of the said Board of War and Ordinance, and that
I will faithfully execute my said Office, according to the best of my Skill and
Judgment. So help me God.
That the said Board of War be authorised to
hire suitable Appartments and provide Books,
Papers and other Necessaries at the Continental Expence, for carrying on the Business of the said
Thursday June 15.
Congress having proceeded to the Election of a Committee
to form the Board of War and Ordinance, the following Members were chosen
Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Sherman,
Mr. Harrison, Mr. Wilson and Mr. E.
Richard Peters Esqr. was elected
Secretary of the said Board.
From this time, We find in Almost every days Journal References of various
Business to the Board of War, or their Reports upon such Things as were
referred to them.
Fryday June 28. 1776
Delegation appeared from
New Jersey. Mr. William Livingston
and all others who had hitherto resisted Independence were left out.
Richard Stockton, Francis Hopkinson and
Dr. John Witherspoon were new Members.
Monday July 1. 1776.
Resolution of the Convention of
Maryland, passed the 28th. of June was laid before Congress and
read: as follows: That the Instructions given to their Deputies in December
last, be recalled, and the restrictions therein contained, removed, and that
their Deputies be authorised to concur with the other Colonies, or a Majority
of them, in declaring the
United Colonies free and independent States: in forming a
Compact between them; and in making foreign Alliances &c.
Resolved that Congress will resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to
take into Consideration the Resolution respecting Independency.
That the Declaration be referred to said Committee.
The Congress resolved itself into a Committee of the whole. After some time
The President resumed the Chair and Mr. Harrison reported,
that the Committee had come to a Resolution, which they desired him to report
and to move for leave to sit again.
The Resolution agreed to by the Committee of the whole being read, the
determination thereof, was at the Request of a Colony postponed till
I am not able to recollect, whether it was on this day, or some
preceeding day, that the greatest and most solemn debate was had on the
question of Independence. The Subject had been in Contemplation for more than a
Year and frequent discussions had been had concerning it. At one time and
another, all the Arguments for it and against it had been exhausted and were
become familiar. I expected no more would be said in public but that the
question would be put and decided. Mr. Dickinson however was
determined to bear his Testimony against it with more formality. He had
prepared himself apparently with great Labour and
ardent Zeal, and in a Speech of great Length, and all his Eloquence, he
combined together all that had before been written in Pamphlets and News papers
and all that had from time to time been said in Congress by himself and others.
He conducted the debate, not only with great Ingenuity and Eloquence, but with
equal Politeness and Candour: and was answered in the
No Member rose to answer him: and after waiting some
hopes that some one less obnoxious than myself, who was still
been all along for a Year before, and still was represented and believed to be
the Author of all the Mischief, I determined to speak.
It has been said by some of our Historians, that I began by an Invocation to
the God of Eloquence. This is a Misrepresentation. Nothing so puerile as this
fell from me. I began by saying that this was the first time of my Life that I
had ever wished for the Talents and Eloquence of the ancient Orators of
Rome, for I was very sure that none of them ever had before him
a question of more Importance to his Country and to the World. They would
probably upon less Occasions than this have begun by solemn Invocations to
their Divinities for Assistance but the Question before me appeared so simple,
that I had confidence enough in the plain Understanding and common Sense that
had been given me, to believe that I could answer to the Satisfaction of the
House all the Arguments which had been produced, notwithstanding the Abilities
which had been displayed and the Eloquence with which they had been enforced.
Mr. Dickinson, some years afterwards published his Speech. I
had made no Preparation beforehand and never committed any minutes of mine to
writing. But if I had a Copy of Mr. Dickinsons before me I
would now after Eight and Nine and twenty Years have elapsed,
endeavour to recollect mine.
Before the final Question was put, the new Delegates from
New Jersey came in, and Mr. Stockton, one
of themDr. Witherspoon and Mr.
very respectable Characters, expressed a
great desire to hear the Arguments. All was Silence: No one would speak: all
Eyes were turned upon me. Mr. Edward Rutledge came to me and
, Nobody will speak but you, upon this Subject. You have
all the Topicks
so ready, that you must satisfy the
New Jersey. I answered him laughing, that it had so much the Air
of exhibiting like an Actor or Gladiator for the Entertainment
the Audience, that I was ashamed to repeat what I had said twenty times before,
and I thought nothing new could be advanced by me. The
New Jersey Gentlemen however still insisting on hearing at least
a Recapitulation of the Arguments and no other Gentleman being willing to
speak, I summed up the Reasons, Objections and Answers, in as concise a manner
as I could, till at length the Jersey Gentlemen said they were fully satisfied
and ready for the Question, which was then put and determined in the
July . 1776. Resolved
that Dr. Franklin, Mr. J.
Adams and Mr. Jefferson be a Committee to
prepare a device for a Seal for the
United States of America.
Mr. Jay, Mr. Duane and
Mr. William Livingston of
New Jersey were not present. But they all acquiesced in the
Declaration and steadily supported it ever afterwards.
Monday July 15. 1776.
Letter from Mr. Jay
and two Letters from the
New York of the 11th with sundry Papers inclosed
, among which were the following Resolutions
In Convention of the Representatives of the
State of New York White Plains July 9. 1776
Resolved Unanimously, that the Reasons assigned by the Continental Congress
for declaring the
United Colonies free and independent States, are cogent and
conclusive, and that while We lament the cruel Necessity, which has rendered
that Measure unavoidable, We approve the same and will at the Risque of our Lives and fortunes join with the other Colonies
in supporting it.
Resolved Unanimously, That the Delegates of this State, in the Continental
Congress, be and they hereby are authorised to concert and adopt all such
measures as they may deem conducive to the happiness and Welfare
Extract from the Minutes Robert Benson Secretary
This was a the Convention, which formed the
New York, and Mr. Jay and Mr.
Duane had Attended it as I suppose for the Purpose of getting a Plan
adopted conformable to my Ideas, in the Letter to Mr. Wythe
which had been published in the Spring before. I presume this was the Fact,
because Mr. Duane after his return