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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3


From Mark Bird

18 May 1776

From David Cobb

20 May 1776
Extract from the Minutes of the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
Monday, May 20, 1776

A letter from General Lee, dated Williamsburg, 10 May with three papers enclosed, was laid before Congress, and read:1

Resolved, That the said letter with the papers enclosed be referred to a committee of five:

The members chosen, Mr. R H Lee, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Middleton,2 Mr. Paine, and Mr. Wolcott.3


Printed in Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:368.


The committee on this letter reported back to Congress on May 21 and recommended immediately undertaking an expedition against Detroit while suspending one against Niagara. Congress, however, resolved to postpone any further consideration until the arrival of General Washington. Washington had suggested both of these targets in a letter to John Hancock on Apr. 19 (Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:373; The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, 4:87).


Arthur Middleton (1742–1787) trained for the law in England but upon his homecoming to South Carolina turned to planting. He was active in provincial politics, followed his father, Henry Middleton, as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776–1777 and 1781–1782) and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Between his terms in Congress, Middleton served in the army and was held a prisoner by the British from May 1780 to July 1781 ( DAB ).


Oliver Wolcott (1726–1797), graduated from Yale in 1747 and following military service in the Seven Years War was sheriff of Litchfield County, Conn., for 20 years. Wolcott was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776–1778 and 1780–1783). He was one of the commissioners of Indian affairs for the northern department in 1775 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence the following year. He divided his time between Congress and the army, being commander of the 14 Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York in 1776 and in command of a brigade that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne in 1777. After the war he was lieutenant governor (1786–1796) and governor (1796–1797) of Connecticut ( DAB ).