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Resolved, That a Committee of three be appointed to draw up a Declaration, pursuant to the Report of the Committee, and lay the same before Congress.
The Members chosen, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Wilson.
Resolved, That it be an instruction to said Committee to receive and insert a clause or clauses, that all seamen and mariners on board of merchant-ships and vessels, taken and condemned as prizes, shall be entitled to their pay, according to the terms of their contracts, until the time of condemnation.
The Committee to whom the Letters and Queries from Mr. Mease were referred, brought in their Report; which was read.
Ordered, To lie on the table.
Resolved, That Mr. Whipple be appointed a Member of the Marine Committee, and of the Committee for receiving the applications and examining the qualifications of gentlemen applying for offices in the Continental service.
The Committee to whom the Letters from General Washington, of the 14th and 26th of February last, and the Letter from Lord Stirling, of the 25th of the same month, were referred, brought in their Report, which was read; and the same being taken into consideration,
Resolved, That the first part thereof be recommitted.
Resolved, That the value of the Passage-boat York be made good to Michael Kearney, Jun., the owner thereof, it appearing that she was impressed into the Continental service, and employed in taking the Ship Blue-Mountain Valley, and, for that reason, afterwards seized and detained by order of Captain Parker, Commander of the British ship-of-war Phenix; and that Lord Stirling be desired to appoint proper persons to value the said boat, and report such valuation to Congress.
Resolved, That a Member be elected for the Secret Committee, in the room of Mr. Bartlett, who is absent.
The ballots being taken and examined, Mr. R. H. Lee was elected.
Adjourned till ten oclock, to-morrow.
Wednesday, March 20, 1776.
A Letter from Lord Stirling, of the 16th, was laid before Congress, and read.
Resolved, That three Members be elected for the Committee appointed to consider the propriety of a War Office, in the room of three who are necessarily absent by reason of sickness.
The Members chosen, Mr. Duane, Mr. R. H. Lee, and Mr. Johnson.
Resolved, That the sum of 3,000 Dollars be advanced to Colonel Magaw, for the purpose of purchasing Fire-Arms for his Battalion, he to be accountable.
Resolved, That Colonel Magaw be directed to have a Pike or Spear made, and to lay the same before Congress, with an account of the cost.
The Congress resumed the consideration of the Instructions and Commission to the Deputies or Commissioners appointed to go to Canada; which being debated by paragraphs, were agreed to, as follows:
GENTLEMEN: You are, with all convenient despatch, to repair to Canada, and make known to the people of that country the wishes and intentions of the Congress with respect to them.
Represent to them that the arms of the United Colonies, having been carried into that Province for the purpose of frustrating the designs of the British Court against our common liberties, we expect not only to defeat the hostile machinations of Governour Carleton against us, but that we shall put it into the power of our Canadian brethren to pursue such measures for securing their own freedom and happiness, as a generous love of liberty and sound policy shall dictate to them.
Inform them that, in our judgment, their interests and ours are inseparably united; that it is impossible we can be reduced to a servile submission to Great Britain without their sharing our fate; and, on the other hand, if we shall obtain, as we doubt not we shall, a full establishment of our rights, it depends wholly on their choice whether they will participate with us in those blessings, or still remain subject to every act of tyranny which British Ministers shall please to exercise over them. Urge all such arguments as your prudence shall suggest, to enforce our opinion concerning the mutual interest of the two countries, and to convince them of the impossibility of the war being concluded to the disadvantage of these Colonies, if we wisely and vigorously co-operate with each other.
To convince them of the uprightness of our intentions towards them, you are to declare, that it is our inclination that the people of Canada may set up such a form of Government as will be most likely, in their judgment, to produce their happiness; and you are, in the strongest terms, to assure them, that it is our earnest desire to adopt them into our Union, as a sister Colony, and to secure the same; general system of mild and equal laws for them and for ourselves, with only such local differences as may be agreeable: to each Colony respectively.
Assure the people of Canada that we have no apprehension that the French will take any part with Great Britain; but that it is their interest, and we have reason to believe their inclination, to cultivate a friendly intercourse with these Colonies.
You are from this, and such other reasons as may appear most proper, to urge the necessity the people are under of immediately taking some decisive step, to put themselves; under the protection of the United Colonies. For expediting such a measure, you are to explain to them our method of collecting the sense of the people, and conducting our affairs regularly by Committees of Observation and Inspection in the several districts, and by Conventions and Committees of Safety in the several Colonies. Recommend these modes to them. Explain to them the nature and principle; of Government among freemen; developing, in contrast to these, the base, cruel, and insidious designs involved in the late act of Parliament for making a more effectual provision for the government of the Province of Quebeck. Endeavour to stimulate them, by motives of glory as well as interest, to assume a part in a contest by which they must be deeply affected, and to aspire to a portion of that power by which they are ruled, and not to remain the mere spoils and prey of conquerors and lords.
You are further to declare, that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion; and, to the clergy, the full, perfect, and peaceable possession and enjoyment of all their estates; that the government of everything relating to their religion and clergy shall be left entirely in the hands of the good people of that Province, and such Legislature as they shall constitute; provided, however, that all other denominations of Christians be equally entitled to hold offices, and enjoy civil privileges, and the free exercise of their religion, and be totally exempt from the payment of any tithes or taxes for the support of any religion.
Inform them that you are vested, by this Congress, with full powers to effect these purposes; and, therefore, press them to have a complete representation of the people assembled in Convention, with all possible expedition, to deliberate concerning the establishment of a form of Government, and a union with the United Colonies. As to the terms of the union, insist on the propriety of their being similar to those on which the other Colonies unite. Should they object to this, report to this Congress the objections, and the terms on which alone they will come into our Union. Should they agree to our terms, you are to promise, in the names of the United Colonies, that we will defend and protect the people of Canada against all enemies, in the same manner as we will defend and protect any of the United Colonies.
You are to establish a free press, and to give directions for the frequent publication of such pieces as may be of service to the cause of the United Colonies.
You are to settle all disputes between the Canadians and the Continental Troops, and to make such regulations relating thereto, as you shall judge proper.
You are to make strict and impartial inquiry into the cause of the imprisonment of Colonel Du Fee, Lieutenant-Colonel Nefeu, Major St. George Du Free, and Major Gray, officers of the Militia, and of John Fraser, Esquire, late a