Tuesday 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. John Adams.1
William Ellery Esqr. appeared a Delegate from Rhode Island, in the place of Governor Ward, and being an excellent Member, fully supplied his place.
The Committee appointed to prepare a Preamble, thought it not necessary to be very elaborate, and Mr. Lee and Mr. Rutledge desired me as Chairman to draw something very short which I did and with their Approbation.2
1. For the letters in question see JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:352, note. Washington’s letter is printed in his Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick description begins The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, Washington, 1931–1944; 39 vols. description ends , 5:32–37. Further letters were referred to this committee on 16 and again on 18 May, all relative to the northern campaign, and on the latter date the committee was enlarged. Its tangled history is summarized, with full references, in an editorial note in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– . description ends , 1:295–296. A portion of its report of 21 May is in JA’s hand ( PCC, No. 19, VI; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:377).
2. This had been brought in as a “draught” on 13 May and postponed (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:351), though curiously JA overlooked the relevant passage in the Journals under that date and thus mistakenly says below that it was “reported” (he should have said “taken into consideration”) on the 15th. No MS version of the famous preamble has been found except that which was spread on the Journal as finally adopted; it was printed, with the resolution of 10 May, in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 22 May.