Papers of John Adams, volume 5

To James Warren

To James Warren

Board of War Resolutions, 15 August 1777 JA Continental Congress, Board of War


Board of War Resolutions, 15 August 1777 Adams, John Continental Congress, Board of War
Board of War Resolutions
15 August 1777

Resolved that a Copy of that Part of Coll Richardson's Letter1 which relates to Thomas Cockayne and George Walton and Thos Lightfoot2 of Sussex County in the State of Delaware be transmitted to Governor President McInlay,3 and that the Governor Presidt he be desired forthwith to take order for the Apprehension and Confinement of the said Cockayne and Walton, and Lightfoot and that Coll Richardson be ordered to afford every assistance in his Power to Governor President McInlay and the officers whom he shall employ in this necessary Service.4

Resolved that Peter and Burton Robinson be remanded to the Delaware State, whenever Governor Presidt McInlay shall order or request it.5

MS in JA's hand (PCC, No. 147, I, f. 345).


Col. William Richardson of the 5th Maryland Regiment had been ordered from his state into Delaware as a result of the congress' receiving information about disaffection in Delaware's Sussex co. In a letter of 9 Aug. to the Board of War, Richardson reported that one of his officers had seized a sloop from New York with papers on board revealing correspondence between men unfriendly to the United States setting forth an apparent intention to distribute 199 allegedly counterfeit Continental bills of the $30 denomination. Among the seized papers were letters from a Thomas Robinson to his brother Burton, mentioning another brother Peter, and to George Walton, Thomas' sentiments being plainly anti-American. There was also a letter from Walter Franklin of New York to his agent Thomas Cockayne, both men Quakers, instructing the agent to purchase lands from one George Adams. Cockayne was seized with the counterfeit bills in his possession. Although nothing in Franklin's letter suggests that the bills were fraudulent, the fact that they were all of one denomination may have aroused suspicion. According to Richardson, Thomas Lightfoot received and furnished the bills to Cockayne. Richardson, believing that Peter and Burton Robinson could get no proper trial in tory-infected Sussex co., packed the two men off to the congress for its disposition of them ( JCC , 8:528–531; PCC, No. 78, XIX, f. 143–160).

275 2.

“And Thomas Lightfoot” was inserted above the line in a hand unknown to the editors. The same hand substituted in both resolutions the term “president” for “governor.”


President John McKinly had been chosen by the General Assembly in Feb. 1777 (John A. Munroe, Federalist Delaware, 1775–1815, New Brunswick, N.J., 1954, p. 91).


Preceding this resolution in the Journals is one that called for sending Richardson's letter to the Executive Council of Pennsylvania and suggesting that the council have Lightfoot arrested. In response, the council pointed out that Lightfoot was not a resident of Pennsylvania ( JCC , 8:643; Penna. Colonial Records , 11:269). It is likely that Lightfoot's name was written into JA's draft when the response of the council became known; it acted on the day the congress passed its resolutions—15 Aug.


Preceding this resolution in the Journals is one drafted by Samuel Chase which would have remanded the Robinsons to Delaware at once. When it failed to pass, JA's resolution was offered as a substitute. Another resolution noting the prevalence of tories in Sussex co. and permitting the trial of such persons in any other county failed to pass (PCC, No. 147, I, f. 346; JCC , 8:643–644).