From John Hancock
Philadelphia July 6th 1776.
The Congress, for some Time past, have had their Attention occupied by one of the most interesting and important Subjects, that could possibly come before them, or any other Assembly of Men.
Altho it is not possible to foresee the Consequences of Human Actions, yet it is nevertheless a Duty we owe ourselves and Posterity, in all our public Counsels, to decide in the best Manner we are able, and to leave the Event to that Being who controuls both Causes and Events to bring about his own Determinations.
Impressed with this Sentiment, and at the same Time fully convinced, that our Affairs may take a more favourable Turn, the Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve the Connection between Great Britain and the American Colonies, and to declare them free & independent States; as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you, and to request you will have it proclaimed at the Head of the Army in the Way, you shall think most proper.1
Agreeable to the Request of Congress, the Committee of Safety of this Colony have forwarded to you ten Thousand Flints; and the Flints at Rhode Island are ordered to be sent to you immediately.2
It is with great Pleasure I inform you, that the Militia of this Colony, of Delaware Government, and Maryland, are, and will be every Day in Motion to form the flying Camp; and that all the Militia of this Colony will soon be in the Jersey, ready to receive such Orders as you shall please to give them.3
I have wrote to Governor Cooke to engage immediately, and send forward as fast as possible, fifty ship Carpenters to General Schuyler for the Purpose of building Vessels on the Lakes. Fifty are already gone from hence on that Business.4
The Congress having directed the Arms taken on Board the Scotch Transports to be sent to you, I have wrote to the Agents in Rhode Island and Massachussetts Bay to forward them immediately.5
The enclosed Copy of a Letter from Mr Green I am directed to forward by Congress, with a Request that you will order such Parts of the Stores therein mentioned to New York as you shall judge proper.6 I have the Honour to be Sir, with perfect Esteem your most obedt & very hble Servt
John Hancock Prest
LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A.
Jacob Rush, who served as Hancock’s private secretary from January 1776 to November 1777, also wrote to GW on this date: “I beg Leave to acquaint you, at the Desire of Mr Hancock, that your Letter of the 4th and 5th Inst. was this Day received, and read in Congress. As the Dispatches, which are at this Time preparing for you, cannot be got ready for the Post, and Mr Hancock does not incline to detain him, I am to inform you, that he will send them by Express, as soon as possible after Congress rises” (DLC:GW). The younger brother of Pennsylvania delegate Benjamin Rush, Jacob Rush (1747–1820) became deputy secretary of Congress on 7 Nov. 1777 but resigned that post the following January.
1. There is an incomplete copy of the first printed version of the Declaration of Independence, a broadside published by John Dunlap of Philadelphia, in DLC:GW. About one-fourth of the document is missing at the bottom. The Declaration was read to the army at New York on the evening of 9 July (see General Orders, that date).
2. Congress approved these actions on 4 July (see the resolutions of 4–5 July in DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:509, 516). On that same date Congress also empowered the Board of War “to employ such a number of persons, as they shall find necessary, to manufacture flints for the continent” (ibid., 517).
3. On 3 July Congress requested the county committees of inspection in Pennsylvania to expedite the forwarding of their militia quotas for the flying camp, and on 4 July Congress passed a similar resolution regarding the Maryland and Delaware contingents (see Hancock to GW, 4 July, n.1, and the resolutions of 4–5 July in DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:508–9). On 5 July Congress approved a resolution presented by a committee that “all the associated militia of Pensylvania, (excepting the counties of Westmoreland, Bedford, and Northumberland) who can be furnished with arms and accoutrements, be forthwith requested to march, with the utmost expedition, to Trenton, (except the militia for Northampton county, who are to march directly for New Brunswick) in New Jersey; and that the said militia continue in service, until the flying camp, of ten thousand men, can be collected to relieve them, unless they shall be sooner discharged by Congress” (ibid., 516, 519–20; see also the broadside containing the committee’s report and Congress’s resolutions of 4–5 July regarding this matter in DLC:GW).
4. Congress ordered Hancock to write to Cooke about this matter on 5 July (see the resolutions of 4–5 July in DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:519). On this date Hancock wrote another letter to GW introducing Capt. Thomas Casdrop (Casdorp) who commanded the fifty carpenters sent from Philadelphia. “The present situation of the Ministerial Army on Staten Island having rendered it necessary to leave the rout of this Corps to the judgement or discretion of Capt. Casdrop,” Hancock wrote, “it is uncertain whether your Excellency will see him or not, therefore these lines are given to him meerly to procure the necessary assistance & dispatch if he shou’d find it safe & Convenient to call at New York in order to procure water Conveyance” (ALS, DLC:GW). Casdrop and his carpenters did go by way of GW’s headquarters at New York but were obliged to proceed to Albany by land (see GW to Schuyler, 17 July).
5. See Hancock to John Bradford and Daniel Tillinghast, 6 July, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 4:393–94. For Congress’s resolution of this date on this subject, see the copy of the resolutions of 6 July that Hancock enclosed with this letter (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:524).
6. In his letter of 28 June, Thomas Greene, a merchant in Providence, informs Robert Morris, chairman of the Congress’s Secret Committee, of the arrival at Providence “of Capt. Chace who brings for the Continent, by directions of the Secret Committee, upwards of 300 bolts of Duck Holland & Russia, 10 Guns 4 & 6 pounders, Eight Swivels[,] 26 Quarter Casks of Powder, one Ton of Lead in balls, 500 lb. of Sail Twine, 600 lb. of Salt Petre, some Salt about 500 bushells, about Twenty small Arms, Thirty Cutlasses & about 15,000 Flints, some Cash to the Amount of about 50 half Joes” (DLC:GW). Capt. Samuel Chase arrived at Providence on 28 June in a brig from Curaçao.