A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

Journals of the Continental Congress --SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 1775

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Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789

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The Congress met according to adjournment.

The committee appointed to draught a commission to the general, reported the same, which, being read by paragraphs and debated, was agreed to and is as follows:


The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina; To George Washington, Esq.

We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be General and Commander in chief, of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said Army for the Defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof: And you are hereby vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service.

And we do hereby strictly charge and require all Officers and Soldiers, under your command, to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the exercise of their several duties.

And we do also enjoin and require you, to be careful in executing the great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised, and provided with all convenient necessaries.

And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and discipline of war, (as herewith given you,) and punctually to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shall receive from this, or a future Congress of these United Colonies, or committee of Congress.

This commission to continue in force, until revoked by this, or a future Congress.

By order of the Congress.1

[Note 1: 1 The original is in the Library of Congress. It was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, 11 December, 1775, together with the Congress pledge and list of officers of this day. At the Washington Headquarters, Morristown, New Jersey is a paper which purports to be this commission, or its earliest form. It was found in a shoemaker's shop by David Ames Wells, and he gave it to George Washington Childs, from whom it passed to Ferdinand J. Dreer, who presented it to the Headquarters. It is of doubtful value.]

Dated, Philada. June 17, 1775.

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Ordered, ∥That the same be fairly transcribed,∥ to be signed by the president, and attested by the secretary, and delivered to the General.

Resolved unanimously upon the question, Whereas, the delegates of all the colonies, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, in Congress assembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington, Esq. to be General and commander in chief, of such forces as are, or shall be, raised for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty; this Congress doth now declare, that they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him, the said George Washington, Esqr., with their lives and fortunes in the same cause.

The Congress then proceeded to the choice of the Officers in the army by ballot: when

Artemus Ward, Esq. was chosen first major-general and second in command.

Horatio Gates, Esq. was unanimously chosen adjutant general.

Resolved, That Horatio Gates, now chosen adjutant general, shall have the rank of a Brigadier general.

Charles Lee, Esq. was unanimously chosen second Major general to be third in command.

Resolved, that this congress will on Monday resolve itself into a committee of the whole to take into consideration the state of America.

Adjourned till Monday next at 9 o'Clock.