Tuesday August 27. 1776. A Letter of the 23d from General Mercer, was read and referred to the Board of War.
The Board of War brought in a report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Resolved. See the several Resolutions in the Journal.1
The Committee to whom the Letter from Colonel Wilson was referred brought in a Report, which was taken into Consideration; whereupon Congress came to the following resolutions: which see in the Journal.2
A Committee of the whole, on the Plan of foreign Treaties. Mr. Nelson reported that the Committee had gone through the same and reported sundry Amendments.
Resolved that the Plan of Treaties, with the Amendments, be referred to the Committee who brought in the original Plan, in order to draw up Instructions, pursuant to the Amendments made by the Committee of the whole. That two Members be added to that Committee. The Members chosen Mr. Richard Henry Lee and Mr. Wilson.
A Petition from the deputy Commissary General was read, and referred to the Board of War.
Delegates from Virginia produced new Credentials. George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esqrs.3
1. JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 5:706. These resolves provided for clothing the Continental troops raised in Virginia, &c.
2. Col. James Wilson, an officer in the “flying camp” at Amboy, had written to Pres. Hancock, 22 Aug. 1776, proposing that Congress offer rewards to the officers of the German mercenary troops encamped on Staten Island if they would desert the British service (Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1110). The first proposal of this kind had been made in Congress on 21 May (see under that date in JA’s Autobiography, above), and Congress had more recently put into effect an ingenious scheme to suborn the German troops themselves (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 5:640, 653–655). The report of the present committee, written by Jefferson and brought in on 27 Aug., recommended that free land be offered to officers on a graduated scale according to their rank; it is printed in Jefferson’s Papers, ed. Boyd description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– . description ends , 1:509–510. On this whole curious episode see L. H. Butterfield, “Psychological Warfare in 1776: The Jefferson-Franklin Plan to Cause Hessian Desertions,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs., 94 (1950):233–241.
3. The Virginia delegates’ new credentials were produced on 28, not 27, Aug., JA having once again overlooked a date caption in the Journals.