Adams Papers

Committee Report on Abraham Clark’s Motion, 27 February 1777

Committee Report on Abraham Clark’s Motion

[27 February 1777]

Resolved That General Washington’s Proclamation of the Day of  1 does not interfere with the Laws or civil Government of any State: but considering the Situation of the Army was prudent and necessary.

MS in JA’s hand (PCC, No. 36, I, f. 5); docketed: “brot. in 27 Feby. 1777 ordered to lie.”

1The spaces for the day and the month are left blank. Dated 25 Jan., the proclamation, in an effort to separate friend from foe, ordered those who had accepted pardons from the Howes to repair to headquarters or to any general officer so that arrangements might be made for them to withdraw within enemy lines. The proclamation was printed in both Philadelphia and Baltimore (Washington, 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 , 7:61–62). Feeling that Washington by this order contravened state laws for punishing traitors, Abraham Clark of New Jersey moved on 6 Feb. that the proclamation should in no way affect such laws or interfere with the legislative powers of the states. JA was made chairman of a five-man committee to consider Clark’s motion (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 7:95). Writing some days after the committee reported in favor of the proclamation, Clark asserted that the committee, realizing that its report would meet opposition, favored having it tabled as a way of killing the issue. He added that it would never be taken from the table unless he made the effort (Clark to Elias Dayton, 7 March, in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:292). The congress did nothing further on the issue.

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