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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0001-0011

Author: Adams, John
Author: Continental Congress
Date: 1776-08-27

X. Draft Preamble of Committee Report on Inducing Foreign Officers to Desert

Whereas it is probable, that among the Officers of the foreign Troops, now in the Service of the King of Great Britain, there may be many, of liberal Minds, possessed of just Sentiments of the Rights of human Nature and the inestimable Value of Freedom; who may be prompted, by the Feelings of Humanity, and a just Indignation at the disgracefull service to which they are devoted by an infamous Contract between two arbitrary sovereigns and at the Insult offered to them by compelling them to War against an innocent People, who never offended them, nor the Nation to which they belong, but are only contending for their just Rights; to <abandon> renounce So dishonourable a service. Therefore Resolved that all such Officers who shall <forsake> abandon the Service
Dft in JA's hand (DLC:Jefferson Papers).
1. On 26 Aug. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and JA were appointed a committee to consider a letter of 22 Aug. from Col. James Wilson of the Flying Camp at Amboy, N.J. (JCC, 5:705). The letter noted previous efforts to encourage desertion and called for a new appeal that, unlike the others, would make a distinction between officers and men in the inducements proffered (PCC, No. 78, XXIII, f. 301). The committee met and produced a report that has not been found, since it was probably used as a printer's copy, and that was adopted on 27 Aug. The resolution of the congress took the form of an address to the officers of the foreign troops, calling on them to desert and offering land in varying amounts according to rank (JCC, 5:707–708). The appeal was immediately translated into German, printed, and distributed, probably under the direction of Franklin, but only a single copy of that document has been found. For Christopher Ludwick's efforts among Hessians, see Jonathan Bayard Smith to JA, 28 Aug., note 2 (below).
Although American attempts to encourage desertion have been well chronicled by L. H. Butterfield in “Psychological Warfare in 1776: The Jefferson-Franklin Plan to Cause Hessian Desertion” (Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs., 94 [1950]:233–241), some acknowledgment of JA's contribution to the appeal made to foreign officers is in order. The preamble printed here was not rejected but was substituted, with minor changes in word order, for the preamble in Jefferson's draft of the appeal. The latter called attention to the earlier appeal of 14 Aug., which had been directed to foreign soldiers { 17 } generally, and offered the “blessings of peace, liberty, property and mild government, on their relinquishing the disgraceful office on which they had been sent hither” (Jefferson, Papers, 1:509–510; JCC, 5:653–655). JA's language, beginning with the words “there may be many, of liberal Minds” continuing to “to renounce So dishonourable a service,” was adopted instead (JCC, 5:707–708). JA rekindled some of the fire that marked the earlier appeal to German soldiers.

XI. Committee Assignments

9 February – 27 August 1776

  • Samuel Chase, JA, John Penn, George Wythe, Edward Rutledge (JCC, 4:123).To consider letters from Washington, Schuyler, and Jonathan Trumbull.Reported and report tabled: 16 Feb.; Dft in Chase's hand (JCC, 4:154–155; PCC, No. 19, VI, f. 189–191).Other duties assigned 5–7 March: to consider additional letters from Washington and one from Lord Stirling (JCC, 4:185, 188–189). Letters discussed in committee of the whole, 13 March (same, 4:200–201).
  • George Wythe, JA, Samuel Chase (JCC, 4:147).To consider letters from Schuyler, Wooster, and Arnold.Other duties assigned 15 February: to consider additional letters from Schuyler and Wooster and one from Lee (same, 4:151).Reported and resolutions adopted: 17 Feb.; Dft not found (same, 4:157–159).
  • Thomas McKean, JA, Lewis Morris (JCC, 4:172, 173).To consider a letter from Lee and one from the Convention of New Jersey.Reported: 28 Feb.; Dft not found (same, 4:175).Report on New Jersey rejected: 1 March (same, 4:181, note 3).
  • James Wilson, JA, William Livingston, Lewis Morris, Matthew Tilghman (JCC, 4:182).To consider a memorial from Montreal merchants on Indian trade.Reported: 13 March; Dft not found (same, 4:200–201).Resolution adopted: 20 March (same, 4:219).
  • Benjamin Franklin, JA, Samuel Chase (JCC, 4:219–220). To confer with Major Elias Wrixon about his becoming chief engineer in Canada.Reported: 30 March, Dft not found (same, 4:242).Wrixon appointed: 12 April (same, 4:275).Wrixon declined: 29 April (same, 4:316).
  • James Duane, George Wythe, JA, Roger Sherman, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Johnson, William Whipple (JCC, 4:293–294). { 18 } To ascertain the value of gold and silver coins in relation to Spanish milled dollars.Reported and report tabled: 22 May; Dft in the hand of Wythe and others (JCC, 4:381–383; PCC, No. 26, f. 1–5).Report recommitted and Thomas Jefferson added to the committee: 24 July (JCC, 5:608).
  • Richard Henry Lee, JA, John Jay, Carter Braxton, Thomas Johnson (JCC, 4:298).To consider letters from the Committee of Safety of Maryland, Dr. Robert Boyd, the Committee of Inspection of Lancaster, Penna., the Commissioners to Canada, Washington, Schuyler, and the Committee of Inspection of West Augusta, Va.Reported and resolutions adopted: 23 April; Dft in Jay's hand (JCC, 4:301–303; PCC, No. 21, f. 21–22).
  • Richard Henry Lee, JA, Joseph Hewes (JCC, 4:307).To consider two letters from Washington.Reported and resolutions adopted: 26 April; Dft not found (same, 4:311–312).
  • William Livingston, Thomas McKean, Roger Sherman, JA, Carter Braxton, James Duane (JCC, 4:321).To consider counterfeited bills of credit.Reported and report tabled: 7 June; Dft in Livingston's hand (JCC, 5:426; PCC, No. 26, f. 7–10). See also JCC, 5:475–476.
  • Thomas McKean, George Wythe, JA (JCC, 4:324).To consider Peter Simon's petition.Reported and resolutions adopted: 22 May; Dft not found (same, 4:374–375).
  • JA, [Richard Henry?] Lee, Edward Rutledge (JCC, 4:347).To consider the petition of John Jacobs and others.Report not found.
  • JA, Roger Sherman, William Floyd, William Livingston, John Morton (JCC, 4:368).To consider South Carolina's resolutions with respect to battalions raised in that colony.Reported: 25 May; Dft not found (same, 4:393).Report recommitted: 7 June (same, 5:425).Resolutions adopted: 18 June (same, 5:461–463).
  • JA, William Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Roger Sherman (JCC, 4:369–370).To consider letters from Washington containing copies of treaties between Britain and German states furnishing mercenaries, from William Palfrey (see No. VIII, above), and John Langdon and a petition from Boston; to publish parts of the treaties; to prepare an address to foreign mercenaries. { 19 } Extracts from the treaties published in a supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette, 24 May, and in other Pennsylvania newspapers (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:57, note 66).
  • Benjamin Harrison, Richard Henry Lee, JA, James Wilson, Edward Rutledge (JCC, 4:383–384).To consult with Washington, Gates, and Mifflin on means for advancing the American cause in Canada.Reported and resolutions adopted: 24 May; Dft in Harrison's hand (JCC, 4:387–388; PCC, No. 19, VI, f. 169–171).Robert R. Livingston added to the committee: 24 May (JCC, 4:388).Other duties assigned 24 May: to confer on measures to prevent enemy “communication with the upper Country from Canada” (same, p. 388–389).Reported and resolutions adopted: 25 May; Dft in Rutledge's hand (same, p. 394–396; PCC, No. 19, VI, f. 173–174).Reported further and resolutions adopted: 29 May; Dft in Lee's hand (JCC, 4:399–402; PCC, No. 19, VI, f. 185–188).
  • Benjamin Harrison, Richard Henry Lee, JA, James Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, William Whipple, Roger Sherman, Stephen Hopkins, William Livingston, George Read, Matthew Tilghman, Joseph Hewes, Arthur Middleton, Lyman Hall (JCC, 4:391). (Subsequently, Committee of Conference.)To consult with Washington, Gates, and Mifflin on military planning for the forthcoming campaign and to consider reports on Washington's letters not yet dealt with and those referred to the committee of the whole (same, p. 391, 393).Reported and resolutions adopted: 30 May; Dft not found (same, p. 406–407).Reported and report referred to committee of the whole: 31 May; Dft in Duane's hand (same, p. 408; PCC, No. 19, VI, f. 197–199).Subsequent reports from the committee of the whole on 1, 3, 4, and 5 June (JCC, 4:410–411, 412–414, 416; 5:417–419).
  • Benjamin Harrison, JA, Joseph Hewes, Robert Morris, William Whipple (committee on fortifying harbors; see No. IX, above) (JCC, 4:406).To consider a letter from a gentleman in Bermuda to a gentleman in Philadelphia.Reported and report tabled: 6 June; Dft not found (same, 5:421).
  • JA, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Rutledge, James Wilson, Robert R. Livingston (JCC, 5:417).To consider how to deal with those giving intelligence and provisions to the enemy. (Subsequently, Committee on Spies.)Reported and resolutions adopted: 24 June; Dft not found (same, p. 475–476).Other duties assigned 14 June: to revise the articles of war for the consideration of the congress (same, p. 442). { 20 } Reported and report discussed: 7, 19 Aug., 19, 20 Sept.; Dft not found (same, p. 636, 670, 787, 788–807).
  • JA, Edward Rutledge, Joseph Hewes (JCC, 5:429).To consider compensation owing to the secretary of the congress for his services.Reported and resolution adopted: 14 June; Dft not found (same, 5:442).
  • Benjamin Franklin, JA, Thomas Jefferson (JCC, 5:517–518).To recommend a design for a seal for the United States.Reported and report laid on the table: 20 Aug. (same, p. 689–691); Dfts printed in Jefferson, Papers, 1:494–497.
  • JA, Benjamin Harrison, Robert Morris (JCC, 5:572).To report a resolution subjecting to confiscation on the seas the property of British subjects, especially those in the West Indies.Reported and report tabled: 19 July; Dft not found (same, p. 591). Resolution adopted: 24 July (same, p. 605–606).
  • Thomas Jefferson, James Wilson, Roger Sherman (JCC, 5:609).To consider a petition from Samuel Holden Parsons concerning the murder of his brother.JA added to the committee on 16 Aug., the subject of the committee's deliberations having been mentioned to him in a letter from Parsons (same, 5:661; see also Parsons to JA, 24 July, and JA to Parsons, 3 Aug., below).Reported and resolutions adopted: 21 Aug.; Dft not found (JCC, 5:692–693).
  • Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Edward Rutledge, JA, William Hooper (JCC, 5:672).To consider a letter from Washington, of 18 Aug. enclosing his correspondence with Lord Drummond.Reported and report tabled: 22 Aug. (same, p. 696); Jefferson's Dft printed in Jefferson, Papers, 1:501–502, one phrase of six words contributed by JA.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Robert Morris, JA (JCC, 5:694).To revise the resolutions and propose additional ones concerning places into which prizes could be carried.Report not found.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.