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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 42 of 53, 20 August - 3 September 1776


chosen, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Hooper.
A Committee of the whole on the Articles of Confederation. Mr. Morton reported that the Committee had gone through the same, and agreed to sundry Articles which he was ordered to submit to Congress.
Ordered that Eighty Copies of the Articles of Confederation, as reported from the Committee of the whole, be printed under the same Injunctions as the former Articles, and delivered to the Members under the like Injunctions as formerly.
Thus We see the whole Record of this momentous Transaction. No Motions recorded. No Yeas and Nays taken down. No Alterations proposed. No debates preserved. No Names mentioned. All in profound Secrecy. Nothing suffered to transpire: No Opportunity to consult Constituents. No room for Advice or Criticisms in Pamphlets, Papers or private Conversation. I was very uneasy under all this but could not avoid it. In the Course of this Confederation, a few others were as anxious as myself. Mr. Wilson of Pennsylvania, upon one Occasion moved that the debates should [be] public, the Doors opened, galleries erected, or an Adjournment made to some public Building where the People might be accommodated. Mr. John Adams seconded the Motion and supported it, with Zeal. But No: Neither Party were willing: some were afraid of divisions among the People: but more were afraid to let the People see the insignificant figures they made in that Assembly. Nothing indeed was less understood, abroad among the People, than the real Constitution of Congress and the Characters of those who conducted the Business of it. The Truth is, the Motions, Plans, debates, Amendments, which were every day brought forward in those Committees of the whole House, if committed to Writing, would be very voluminous: but they are lost forever. The Preservation of them indeed, might for any thing I recollect be of more Curiosity than Use.
A Petition from Prudehome La Junesse was read and referred to the Board of War.
The Committee to whom part of the Report from the Committee on Spies was recommitted, having brought in a report, the same was taken into Consideration whereupon
Resolved, That all Persons, not Members of, nor owing

Allegiance to any of the United States of America, as described in a Resolution of Congress of the 24th. of June last, who shall be found lurking as Spies, in or about the fortifications or Encampments of the Armies of the United States, or of any of them, shall suffer death, according to the Law and Usage of Nations by Sentence of a Court Marshall, or such other punishment as a Court martial shall direct.
Ordered that the Above resolution be printed at the End of the Rules and Articles of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration whereupon resolved as in the Journal.
Resolved that the Letter from General Washington read Yesterday, and that of the 12th, with the Papers inclosed, be referred to the Board of War.
Resolved that a Committee of three be appointed to revise the Resolutions of Congress, respecting the place where Prizes are to be carried into, and to bring in such farther resolutions as to them shall seem proper: the Members chosen Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Morris and Mr. J. Adams.
Letters from Generals Washington and Schuyler with Papers inclosed, referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a Report, which was read: ordered to lie on the Table.
The Committee to whom the Letter from General Washington of the 18th was referred, brought in a report which was read: ordered to lie on the Table.
A Committee of the whole on the Form of a Treaty: Mr. Nelson in the Chair.
A Letter from Brigadier General Lewis: also a letter from the Committee of Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, inclosing a memorial from the Officers Prisoners there, were read and referred to the Board of War.
A Letter of the 21. from General Washington inclosing a Copy of a Letter from him to Lord Howe, together with his Lordships Answer was read:
Resolved That the same be referred to the Board of War, with orders to publish the General's Letter to Lord Howe, and his Lordships Answer.
Three Letters of the 22 and 23 from General Washington with sundry Papers inclosed; a Letter from William Finnic, deputy Quarter

Master general of the southern department, were read, and referred to the Board of War.
A Letter of the 22d. from Colonel James Wilson, was read, and referred to Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin and Mr. John Adams.
A Letter of the 23d from General Mercer, was read and referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved. See the several Resolutions in the Journal.
The Committee to whom the Letter from Colonel Wilson was referred brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Congress came to the following resolutions: which see in the Journal.
A Committee of the whole, on the Plan of foreign Treaties. Mr. Nelson reported that the Committee had gone through the same and reported sundry Amendments.
Resolved that the Plan of Treaties, with the Amendments, be referred to the Committee who brought in the original Plan, in order to draw up Instructions, pursuant to the Amendments made by the Committee of the whole. That two Members be added to that Committee. The Members chosen Mr. Richard Henry Lee and Mr. Wilson.
A Petition from the deputy Commissary General was read, and referred to the Board of War.
Delegates from Virginia produced new Credentials. George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esqrs.
A Letter of the 27th. from R. H. Harrison, the Generals Secretary, and one of the 28th. from General Mercer, both giving an Account of an Action on Long Island on the 27th. were read and referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration, whereupon Resolved. See the several Resolutions in the Journal.
Resolved That the Committee, to whom the Plan of Treaties with the Amendments, was recommitted, be impowered to prepare such farther Instructions as to them shall seem proper, and make report thereof to Congress.
A Memorial from Mr. Kosciusko

was read and referred to the Board of War.
A Letter of the 31. of August from General Washington, inclosing the determination of a Council of War, and the reasons for quitting Long Island, and a Copy of a Letter from Lord Sterling: Also, one of the 23d from General Gates, with sundry Papers inclosed: one from sundry field Officers in the Army at Ticonderoga, dated the 19th of August, with the Proceedings between a Court Martial and brigadier General Arnold.
Also a Letter of the 23d, from Captain John Nelson, and one from Benjamin Harrison junior, deputy Pay master General, with his Weekly Account, were read and referred to the Board of War.
Congress being informed, that General Sullivan was come to Philadelphia, with a design to communicate a Message from Lord Howe:
Ordered that he be admitted and heard before Congress.
A petition from Michael Fitzgerald; one from John Weitzell and one from James Paul Govert, were read and referred to the Board of War.
General Sullivan being admitted, delivered a Verbal Message he had in Charge from Lord Howe, which he was desired to reduce to Writing and then he withdrew.
Resolved that the board of War be directed to prepare and bring in a plan of military Operations for the next Campaign.
General Sullivan, having reduced to Writing the verbal message from Lord Howe, the same was read as follows:
"The following is the purport of the message of Lord Howe to Congress by General Sullivan.
That, though he could not at present treat with Congress as such, yet he was very desirous of having a Conference, with some of the members, whom he would consider for the present only as private


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 42 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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