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 Office.
Thursday June 15. 1776.
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. Rutledge.
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
a new 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.
A 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 tomorrow.
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 same Spirit.
No Member rose to answer him: and after waiting some
time, in hopes that some one less obnoxious than myself, who was still
had 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 Greece and 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. Hopkinson
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 saidlaughing
, Nobody will speak but you, upon this Subject. You have all the Topicks
so ready, that you must satisfy the Gentlemen from New Jersey. I answered him laughing, that it had so much the Air of exhibiting like an Actor or Gladiator for the Entertainment
of 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 Affirmative.
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.
A Letter from Mr. Jay
and two Letters from the Convention of 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 of America.
Extract from the Minutes Robert Benson Secretary
This was a the Convention, which formed the Constitution of 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