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The Congress met according to adjournment.
The president laid before the Congress a letter from the prov: Convention of Massachusetts, Wch was read and is as follows:
IN PROV. CONGRESS, Watertown, May 16, 1775.
Resolved, That Doctr Benjamin Church be ordered to go immediately to Philada and deliver to the president of the Honble American Congress there now sitting, the following application to be by him communicated to the members thereof: and the sd Church is also directed to confer with the ad Congress, respecting such other matters as may be necessary to the defence of this colony and particularly the state of the army therein.
May it please yr Honours.
That system of colony administration, which in the most firm, dutiful and loyal manner has been in vain remonstrated against by the representative body of the united colonies, seems still, unless speedily and vigourously opposed by the collected wisdom and force of all America to threaten ruin and destruction to this continent.
For a long time past, this colony has, by a corrupt administration in Great Britain and here, been deprived of the exercise of those powers of Government, without which a people can be neither rich, happy or secure. The whole continent saw the blow pending, which if not warded oh, must inevitably have subverted the freedom and happiness of each colony; the principles of self defence, roused in the breasts of freemen by the dread of impending slavery, caused to be collected the wisdom of America, in a Congress composed of men, who through time must in every land of freedom be revered among the most faithful assertors of the essential rights of human nature.
This colony was then reduced to great difficulties, being denied the exercise of civil government according to our charter, or the fundamental principles of the English constitution and a formidable navy and army (not only inimical to our safety, but flattered with the prospect of enjoying the fruit of our industry) were stationed for that purpose in our Metropolis. The prospect of deciding the question between our Mother country and us, by the sword, gave us the greatest pain and anxiety; but we have made all the preparation for our necessary defence that our confused state would admit of; and as the question equally affected our sister colonies and us, we have declined though urged thereto by the most pressing necessity to assume the reins of civil government, without their advice and consent; but have hitherto borne the many difficulties and distressing embarrassments necessarily resulting from a want thereof.
We are now compelled to raise an Army, which with the assistance of the other colonies, we hope under the smiles of heaven, will be able to defend us and all America from the further butcheries and devastations of our implacable enemies.But as the sword should in all free states be subservient to the civil powers and as it is the duty of the Magistrates to support it for the peoples necessary defence, we tremble at having an army (although consisting of our countrymen) established here without a civil power to provide for and controul them.
We are happy in having an opportunity of laying our distressed state before the representative body of the continent, and humbly hope you will favour us with your most explicit advice respecting the taking up and exercising the powers of civil government, wch we think absolutely necessary for the Salvation of our country and we shall readily submit to such a general plan as you may direct for the colonies, or make it our great study to establish such a form of government here, as shall not only most promote our advantage but the union and interest of all America.
As the Army now collecting from different colonies is for the general defence of the right of America, we wd beg leave to suggest to yr consideration the propriety of yr taking the regulation and general direction of it, that the operations may more effectually answer the purposes designed.
Signed, JOS: WARREN
President P. T.
Ordered to lye on the table.
The above letter referring to Doct. Church, on motion, agreed that he be introduced.
After he withdrew, an express arriving from Massachusetts bay, the president laid before the Congress Letters from the conventions of Massachusetts bay, and New Hampshire, also a letter from Govr Trumbull, all which were read.(1)
(1) None of these communications can be identified in the Papers of the Continental Congress. Back
Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1779
Vol. II Pages 76-78 Edited from the original records in the Library of Congress
by Worthington Chauncey Ford; Chief, Division of Manuscripts.
Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1905.