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THE WRITINGS OF

THOMAS JEFFERSON.

CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANEOUS

WRITINGS.

1776-1779.

TO THOMAS NELSON.

PHILADELPHIA, May 16, 1776. Dear Nelson, I arrived here last Tuesday after being detained hence six weeks longer than I intended by a malady of which Gilmer can inform you. I have nothing new to inform you of as the last post carried you an account of the naval engagement in Delaware. I inclose a vote of yesterday on the subject of government as the ensuing campaign is likely to require greater exertion than our unorganized powers may at present effect. Should our Convention propose to establish now a form of government perhaps it might be agreeable to recall for a short time their delegates. It is a work of the

From the original in the American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester, Mass.

VOL. 11.-1

J

most interesting nature and such as every individual would wish to have his voice in. In truth it is the whole object of the present controversy; for should a bad government be instituted for us in future it had been as well to have accepted at first the bad one offered to us from beyond the water without the risk & expence of contest. But this I mention to you in confidence, as in our situation, a hint to any other is too delicate however anxiously interesting the subject is to our feelings. In future you shall hear from me weekly while you stay, and I shall be glad to receive Conventional as well as publick intelligence

from you.

P. S.-In the other colonies who have instituted government they recalled their delegates, leaving only one or two to give information to Congress of matters which might relate to their country particularly, and giving them a vote during the interval of absence.

I am at present in our old lodgings tho' I think, as the excessive heats of the city are coming on fast, to endeavor to get lodgings in the skirts of the town where I may have the benefit of a freely circulating air. Tell Page & McClurgh that I received their letters this morning and shall devote myself to their contents. I am here in the same uneasy anxious state in which I was the last fall without Mrs. Jefferson who could not come with me. I wish much to see you here, yet hope you will contrive to bring on as early as you can in convention the great questions of the session. I suppose they will tell us what to say on the subject of independence, but hope respect will be expressed to the right of opinion in other colonies who may happen to differ from them. When at home I took great pains to enquire into the sentiments of the people on that head, in the upper counties I think I may safely say nine out of ten are for it. Adieu. My compliments to Mrs. Nelson.

May 19. Yesterday we received the disagreeable news of a second defeat at Quebec. Two men of war, two frigates and a tender arrived there early on the 6th instant. About 11 o'clock the same day the enemy sallied out to the number of a thousand. Our forces were so dispersed at different posts that not more than 200 could be collected at Headquarter's. This small force could not resist the enemy. All our cannon, 500 muskets & 200 sick men fell into their hands. Besides this one of their frigates got possession of a batteau with 30 barrels of powder & an armed vessel which our crew was forced to abandon. Our army was to retreat to the mouth of the Sorel.

Genl. Arnold was to set off from Montreal to join them immediately, upon whose rejoining them, it was hoped they might return as far as Dechambeau. General Wooster has the credit of this misadventure, and if he cannot give a better account of it than has yet been heard, I hope he will be made an example of. Generals Thomas and Sullivan were on their

'The Virginia Convention passed the instruction for independence the day before this was written.

way with reinforcements.

Arnold had gone up to Montreal on business, or as some say, disgusted by Wooster.

The congress having ordered a new battalion of riflemen to be raised in Virginia, Innis wishes much to be translated to it from the Eastern shore which was so disagreeable to him that he had determined to have resigned.

1

REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON CANADIAN AFFAIRS."

C. C.

[May 21, 1776.] R. 1. post

Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs pon'd in the Northern department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department to act against the enemies of the Colonies, that they particularly endeavor to engage them to undertake the reduction of Niagara, engaging on behalf of Congress to pay them 1331 dollars for every prisoner they shall take and bring to headquarters, or to the said Commissioners.

R. 2. post

Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs pon'd in the Middle department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department, that they particularly endeavor to engag

On May 14, 1776, a letter of the 11th from general Washington inclosing sundry papers; a letter of the 3d from general Schuyler; and a letter of the 9th from Daniel Robertson, were laid before Congress and read : Resolved, That they be referred to a committee of three. The members chosen, Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. J. Adams.” On May 16th letters from the Commissioners of Congress in Canada, and from Washington, were referred to the same Committee. They presented the above report May 21st, which was read the same day, and consideration postponed. It was again considered on the 22d, and sundry resolutions adopted. Cf. Journal of Congress. This report is printed from the original in Jefferson's handwriting, which is headed “ Report on Indians."

to undertake the reduction of Detroit upon the same terms offered the Indians who shall go against Niagara.

Resolved that the Commissioners in each of the R. 3. postsaid departments be directed to employ one or more

poa'd able partisans whom the Congress will liberally reward for their exertions in the business to be committed to them.

Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee R.4.referred that there be raised for the Service of the United to N. J. & P. Colonies one battalion of Germans.'

for

R. 5.

R. 7.

Resolved that the companies of riflemen from Virginia and Maryland be regimented and that the regiment be compleated to the original number of the Pennsylvania battalion. Resolved that the Pennsylvania battalion of rifle

R. 6. a men be compleated to their original establishment. Resolved that two Companies of the forces now in

R. 6. b the Delaware counties be ordered to Cape May.

Resolved that the Committee appointed to Contract for cannon

be directed to procure a number of brass or iron field pieces to be made or purchased immediately (and sent to Canada.] ·

R. 8. Come. Resolved that a proper assortment of Medicenes be already ap

pointed to sent to Canada.

procure

medec.? Resolved that Mr. James Mease be directed to purchase & forward to the Quarter Master general in New York as much cloth for tents as he can procure. Resolved that proper persons be appointed by R. 10. Comd.

to the Come. Congress to purchase such articles as may be wanted of which Mr. for the use of the soldiers in Canada & send the Shearman is

Chairman same to Albany, that they may be forwarded to the

' This paragraph is stricken out. • The words in brackets are stricken out.

R. 9.

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