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Britain and the colonies. A similar resolution was entered into in relation to South Carolina. On the 8th of November, a draft of instructions was agreed to for R. R. Livingston, Robert Treat Paine, and J. Langdon, who were appointed to proceed to Ticonderoga, to consult with General Schuyler on the necessary operations in that quarter, and to exert their utmost endeavors to induce the Canadians to accede to a union with the colonies; to form, from their several parishes, a provincial convention ; and to send delegates to Congress. At this time, likewise, all letters to and from the delegates of the United Colonies, during the sessions of Congress, were authorized to pass and be carried free of postage, the members having engaged upon honor not to frank or endorse any letters but their own. On the 10th of November, a similar privilege, without exception, was extended to all letters to and from the commander-inchief of the Continental army, or the chief commander in
in the northern military department. On the same day, it was resolved to raise two battalions of marines. On the 11th of November, a resolution was entered into, authorizing the repair of the fortifications, &c., of Quebec, in case it should be taken from the British. On the 16th of November, it was resolved that no member of Congress should absent himself from that body without leave ; and a rule was adopted, that every member should remain in his seat whilst any paper was reading or question was putting On the 23d of November, Congress authorized the consid-eration of a plan for carrying on a trade with the Indians. On the 25th of November, resolutions were passed, directing seizures, and the capture, under commissions obtained from the Congress, together with the condemnation, of British vessels employed in a hostile manner against the colonies; the mode of trial and of condemnation was pointed out, and the shares of the prizes were apportioned. On the 28th of November, Congress adopted rules for the regulation of the navy of the United Colonies. On the 29th of November, Congress was informed of General Montgomery's having, with the Continental troops, taken possession of Montreal on the 12th of that month. The same day an emission of bills of credit was resolved on, to the amount of three millions of dollars.
On the 2d of December, an exchange of prisoners was
declared proper. On the 4th of December, it was recommended to the Convention of Virginia, if found necessary, to establish a liberal form of government in that colony, during the continuance of the dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, having first called a full and free representation of the people to determine upon it. This recommendation was occasioned by Lord Dunmore's proclamation, declaring his intention to execute martial law in that province. On the 6th of December, Congress expressed a determination to retaliate for any undue severities exercised towards persons favoring, aiding, or abetting, the cause of American liberty. This was produced by a proclamation of rebellion, issued from the court of St. Jaines on the 230 of August, 1775. On the 13th of December, a report was sanctioned for fitting out a naval armament, to consist, in the whole, of thirteen ships, five of thirty-two guns. On the 22d of December, officers were appointed to command the armed vessels, other legislative provisions, respecting pay, &c., having been previously made.
On the 6th of January, 1776, a regulation was adopted relative to the division of prizes and prize-money, taken by armed vessels, among officers and men. On the 9th of January, it was resolved that no postage should be paid for any letters to or from private soldiers, while engaged in actual service in defence of the United Colonies, and that they should be franked by some person authorized for that purpose. On the 11th of January, Congress ordained that persons refusing to receive the Continental bills of credit in payment, or who should obstruct and discourage the currency or circulation thereof, should, on conviction, be deemed, published, and treated, as an enemy of the country, and be precluded from all trade and intercourse with the inhabitants of the colonies. On the 27th of January, resolutions were entered into for carrying on trade with the Indians, and for procuring the necessary supply of goods for that purpose. On the 30th of January, it was resolved that no apprentice should be enlisted within the colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties on Delaware, or Maryland, as a soldier in the army or navy of the United Colonies, without the previous consent of his master or mistress, in writing ; all those enlisted in a contrary manner were ordered to be discharged, on application, and a reimbursement of expenses incurred
for enlistment; and every person under the age of twentyone years, who had enlisted in the army or navy, was, within twenty-four hours thereafter, entitled to his discharge on refunding the amount of money and articles with which he had been supplied. It was, at the same time, recommended to creditors, who had claims against persons in the army or navy for less than thirty-five dollars, not to arrest the debtors until their terms of service had expired.
On the 17th of February, a standing committee of five was appointed for superintending the treasury, and Congress directed the emission of the further sum of four million dollars in bills of credit. On the 27th of February, the middle and southern colonies were divided into two military departments, in the following manner: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the lower counties on Delaware, and Maryland, to constitute one; Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, to constitute another ; the former to be put under the command of a major-general, two brigadiergenerals, and a proper staff; the latter under a major-general, three brigadier-generals, with a suitable staff.
On the 9th of March, it was resolved, that no oath, by way of test, should be exacted of the inhabitants of the colonies by military officers. On the 14th of March, a resolution was passed recommending a general disarming of disaffected persons throughout the culonies. On the 16th of March, the 17th of May following was appointed a day of general humiliation, fasting, and prayer. On the 21st of March, Congress recommended to the several provincial assemblies to exert their utmost endeavors to promote the culture of hemp, flax, and cotton, and the growth of wool, in the United Colonies; to take the earliest measures for erecting and establishing, in each colony, a society for the improvement of agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce ; and forthwith to consider of the ways and means of introducing and improving the manufactures of duck, sail-cloth, and steel. On the 23d of March, resolutions were adopted authorizing the fitting out of private armed vessels, to cruise against the enemies of the United Colonies.
On the 1st of April, a resolution was passed for the institution and establishment of a treasury office of accounts, to be kept in the place where Congress might hold its sessions, and to be under the direction and superintendence of the
standing committee for the treasury. It was resolved, moreover, that an auditor-general, and a competent number of assistants and clerks, should be appointed, for stating, arranging, and keeping of the public accounts. On the 2d of April, the form of a commission for private armed vessels was agreed upon. On the 3d of April, instructions to the commanders of private armed vessels were considered and adopted. They authorized the capture of all ships and other vessels belonging to the inbabitants of Great Britain, on the high seas, or between high-water and low-water marks, except vessels bringing persons who intended to settle and reside in the United Colonies, or conveying arms, ammunition, and warlike stores, for the use of such inhabitants of America as were friendly to the cause of liberty. On the 6th of April, several resolutions of a commercial nature were agreed to, authorizing exportations and importations, with certain exceptions, of the merchandise and products from and to countries other than such as were subject to the king of Great Britain ; and it was recommended to the assemblies of the different colonies that officers should be appointed to superintend the execution of such regulations as might be made concerning trade. On this occasion, the importation of slaves was expressly prohibited. On the 16th of April
, it was recommended to the council of safety of Maryland to cause the person and papers of Governor Eden to be seized and secured, in consequence of a belief that he had been carrying on a correspondence with the British ministry highly dangerous to the liberties of America. On the 17th of April, a bounty of eight dollars was allowed to the owner of every vessel for each able seaman, imported and discharged in American ports, over and above the ship's company. On the 19th of April, letters directed to any general in the Continental service, commanding in a separate department, were allowed to be carried free of postage.
On the 6th of May, it was resolved that ten millions of dollars be raised, for the purpose of carrying on the war, for the year 1776; and measures were taken for treating with the Indians. On the 9th of May, a resolution passed for the emission of five millions of dollars in bills of credit, in part of the ten millions of dollars voted for the service of the 1776. On the 10th of May, it was resolved to recommend 10 the respective assemblies and conventions of the United
Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs had been established, to adopt such a government as should, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and of America in general. A preamble to this resolution, agreed to on the 15th of May, stated the intention to be totally to suppress the exercise of every kind of authority under the British crown.
On the 7th of June, certain resolutions respecting independency were moved and seconded. On the 10th of June, it was resolved, that a committee should be appointed to prepare a declaration to the following effect: “ That the United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” On the preceding day, it was determined that the committee for preparing the declaration should consist of five; and they were chosen accordingly, in the following order : Mr. Jefferson, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman, and Mr. R. R. Livingston. On the 11th of June, a resolution was passed to appoint a committee to prepare and digest the form of a Confederation to be entered into between the colonies, and another committee to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers. On the 12th of June, it was resolved, that a committee of Congress should be appointed, by the name of a board of war and ordnance, to consist of five members. On the 25th of June, a declaration of the deputies of Pennsylvania, met in provincial conference, expressing their willingness to concur in a vote declaring the United Colonies free and independent states, was laid before Congress, and read. On the 28th of June, the committee appointed to prepare a declaration of independence brought in a draft, which was read and ordered to lie on the table.
On the 1st of July, a resolution of the Convention of Maryland, passed the 28th of June, authorizing the deputies of that colony to concur in declaring the United Colonies free and independent states, was laid before Congress and read. On the same day, Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the resolution respecting independency. On the 2d of July, a reso