Draft of Resolutions on Lord Drummond’s Peace Proposals
[22? August 1776]
Resolved that the articles inclosed by Ld. Drummond to Ld. Howe whereby it is proposed ‘that it shall be ascertained by calculation what supply towards the general exigency of the state each separate colony shall furnish, to be encreased or lessened in proportion to the growth or decline of such colony, and to be vested in the king by a perpetual grant, in consideration whereof Great Britain should relinquish only her claim to taxation over these colonies’ which the said Ld. Drummond suggests ‘the colonies were disposed not many months ago to have made the basis of a reconciliation with Gr. Britain’ were the unauthorized, officious and groundless suggestions of a person who seems totally unacquainted with either the reasonings or the facts which have attended this great controversey; since from it’s first origin to this day there never was a time when these states intimated a disposition to give away in perpetuum their essential right of judging whether they should give or withold their money, for what purposes they should make the gift, and what should be it’s continuance.1
Resolved that tho’ this Congress, during2 the dependance of these states on the British crown with unwearied supplications sued for peace and just redress, and tho’ they still retain a sincere disposition to peace, yet as his Britannic majesty by an obstinate perseverance in injury and a callous indifference to the sufferings and the complaints of these states, has driven them to the necessity of declaring themselves independent, this Congress bound by the voice of their constituents which coincides with their own Sentiments3 have no power to enter into conference or to receive any propositions on the subject of peace which do not as a preliminary acknowledge these states to be sovereign and independent: and that whenever this shall have been authoritatively admitted on the part of Great Britain they shall at all times and with that earnestness which the love of peace and justice inspires be ready to enter into conference or treaty for the purpose of stopping the effusion of so much kindred blood.
Resolved that the reproof given by Genl. Washington to Ld. Drummond for breach of his parole, and his refusal to give him a pass thro’ these states on so idle an errand and after a conduct so dishonorable, be approved by this house and that it be submitted to the General to take such measures as his prudence will4 suggest to prevent any evil which may happen to these states by Lord Drummond’s further continuing a communication with their enemies.
Dft (DLC). Deletions and substitutions in the text, largely omitted here, are included in the text printed in JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , v, 767, note.
Thomas, styled Lord Drummond, eldest son of the 7th Earl of Perth, was a resident of New York City at the outbreak of the Revolution; a loyalist volunteer, he was captured and then released on parole (Sir J. B. Paul, The Scots Peerage, Edinburgh, 1904–1914, vii, 58; W. M. MacBean, Biographical Register of St. Andrew’s Society of New York, N.Y., 1922, p. 124). Drummond twice approached Gen. Washington in 1776 with peace plans submitted on his own initiative but with the sanction of the British commanders; see Washington’s Writings, ed. Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, “Letterpress Edition,” N.Y., 1892–1899 description ends iii, 419–24, iv, 350, and notes there. On 18 Aug. 1776 Washington transmitted to Congress an exchange of correspondence between himself and Drummond, including the latter’s sketch of proposals for conciliation, which will be found in Force, Archives, 5th ser., I, 1027. These papers were read on 22 Aug. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , v, 696), and a committee must have been appointed to report on the matter. This does not appear in the Journals because, as Hancock informed Washington on 24 Aug.,
“The Congress having considered the Matter thoroughly, are of Opinion to decline taking any public or farther Notice of his Lordship, or his Letters; and particularly as you have so fully expressed their Sentiments on the subject in your Letter to him. It was the Consideration of this Point that induced Congress to detain the Express till now” (Burnett, Letters of Members, ii, No. 91).
TJ, with the aid of Adams, must have prepared the present Resolutions as a public answer to Drummond’s scheme between 22 and 24 Aug., but Congress then determined to take no notice of it. See also JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , v, 710, 766.
1. The following passage was here deleted: “the reservation of which right has been of such distinguished advantage to rights which the people of Gr. Britain and Ireland have been ever too wise to relinquish.”
3. Preceding six words interlined in John Adams’ hand.