General Court to John Adams and Robert Treat Paine
The Committee of both Houses appointed to consider a Letter from General Washington to the President of the Council dated Decr: 18th:2 beg leave to report that we think it expedient that the honorable John Adams, and Robt. Treat Paine Esqrs: two of the Delegates to the Continental Congress now in this State be desired to attend this Court, that from them we may learn the general State of Continental Affairs, and that some Person be dispatched immediately to desire Mr. Paine to attend this Court for the purpose abovemention’d as soon as may be.
The said Committee beg leave to sit again
John Winthrop per order
Read, and Accepted.
Sent down for Concurrence
John Avery Dpy. Secy.
Read, and Concurred
J Warren Speaker
A true Copy3
Attest Jno: Avery Dpy. Secy.
MS (MHi:Robert Treat Paine Papers), signed attested copy; addressed: “To Honble: Robt: Treat Paine Esq Taunton”; docketed: “John Avery Dpty Secry Jany. 1777.”
1. According to the MS record, the Council did not hear a report from the joint committee until 3 Jan., and a blank space is left where the report would normally appear. But marginal notes indicate that Paine and JA were to be consulted. The House Journal, however, shows that concurrence in the joint committee report was voted on 2 Jan. The next day the House voted concurrence to a report that the joint committee confer with the two men rather than have the two attend the General Court. On 4 Jan. the joint committee reported that it had conferred with JA; Paine had not yet arrived in Boston. In its report the committee urged the General Court to order the towns to fill their proportion of the fifteen battalions which Massachusetts was expected to furnish (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. A.1a, Reel No. 13, Unit 1, p. 415, 418; Mass., House Jour. description begins Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715-], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919-. (For the years for which reprints are not yet available, the original printings are cited, by year and session.) description ends , 1776–1777, 2d sess., p. 210–211).
2. Washington painted a gloomy picture of the army’s situation: men from the Flying Camp (a reserve unit intended to have mobility) had returned home on the expiration of their enlistment, field strength had been reduced to a “mere handful,” assistance from the militia was not forthcoming despite his pleas, and Gen. Lee had been captured by the British (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 , 6:394–396).
3. No copy has been found in the Adams Papers.