James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Bradford, 20 May 1776—Summary

From William Bradford

Letter not found.

20 May 1776. In “A Memorandum Book and Register, for the months of May & June 1776,” now in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, William Bradford wrote on 20 May:

“… went to the town meeting1 where notwithstanding the badness of the day ther was a great number of inhabitants & it was resolved 1. That the present Government was inefficient 2. That the Assembly could not legally form a new one: 3. That a Convention be chosen for that purpose; & several others of the like nature: this gives the Coup de Grace to the King’s authority in this province. In the afternoon I gave Mr. Maddison an account of this meeting, of our defeat at Quebec2 & several other articles of intelligence.”

1“A very large number” of Philadelphians assembled in the State House at the call of the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties. The gathering declared that since the provincial legislature still desired a reconciliation with England it was not fitted to carry out the 15 May resolution of the Second Continental Congress, asking each colony to establish a government adequate “to the exigencies of their affairs.” Therefore the “town meeting” resolved to bypass the legislature and call upon the people of the province to elect a Convention for the purpose of deciding how the recommendation of Congress could be made a reality in Pennsylvania (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed., American Archives, 4th ser. (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1837–46). description ends , 4th ser., VI, 517–19).

2The arrival of British reinforcements in the St. Lawrence River early in May was the final blow which led the patriot army to abandon its siege of Quebec and withdraw from Montreal. This bad news reached Congress on 18 May (Journals of the Continental Congress, IV, 362).

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