DescriptionAmerican Revolution unusual manuscript Document in an unknown hand, seven pages, 6" x 7", Philadelphia[?], September 5, 1774 to October 1775, appearing to be a journal kept by someone attending the proceedings of the First and Second Continental Congress. Otherwise, it is possible that this manuscript was penned by someone who followed the Congress' activities closely through daily dispatches at the time. It records the names of all the members of the First Continental Congress which convened on September 5, 1774; several key events including the appointment of George Washington as Commander in Chief; concluding with the death of Peyton Randolph. Of particular interest is a two-page declaration at the front of the journal warning Great Britain that she should tread lightly in her dispute with her colonies. It reads in full:
"To all People, Nations, Tongues and Languages, under the whole Heaven, from the Rising of the Sun, to the Place here he goeth down. (wrote previous to the late War - or in the first of it) Know ye, that the Dwellers in the Western Regions, called America, are the most free, noble, and potent People that are lighted by the Sun. - each new Day beholds their Increase -- their Population, and Progress in Science, Wealth and Power, are unequalled in the Records of Time -- their right Hand extendeth to the South, and their left Hand reacheth to the North; their Front meetteth the Morning Sun in the East, and their Rear measureth his going down in the West; they command between the Poles, and none their Prowess can withstand. -- In these unsullied Realms Plenty Springeth out of the Ground, Liberty cometh down from Heaven, and the People shout for Joy in the Prospect of their Glory yet to come! -- Harken! ye distant Nations, that turn an evil eye towards this free, intrepid People; and covet their Bread provoke them not to Wrath by your Injustice, lest when their Hand is lifted up ye fall beneath their Stroke; Britain! be wise and quench the Fire of their Jealousy, by Repentance and brotherly Kindness, lest you be consumed by the Flame which your Folly has kindled. -- Their left Hand will soon be stronger than your right, and you will tremble beneath the Weight of their Arm -- therefore cease from your Robbery and Plunder, and which all Diligence cultivate their Friendship, by which alone you can live, and hope for golden Days to come -- The Americans are the Strong Tower to which Britain must flee in every Hour of Calamity; if they Succour her not, the Sword of her Enemies will one day devour her, and all her glory will depart like a Dream and Magnificence, will no more be found, but in the dark Volume of an ancient Story. -- O! Britons, rouse from your lethargic Dreams, put away your Pride of false Greatness, depart from all Iniquity, listen to the still Voice of Reason, and next to the Favour of Heaven, seek the good Will of America -- She is the atlantean Prop on which you must lean for Support, or your paralytic State will crumble to Dust, never to be gathered up again. --Great George! as you would see many and good Days, and leave an unshaken Throne to your Heirs, let your Soul bless the Inhabitants of America, and your Heart and Ears ever be open to their Cry --"
A dramatic declaration of purpose and resolve that captures the bold optimism among British colonists in North America. We have yet to find any record of this piece ever being published. The journal is written in a style suggesting it was to be read aloud to others. It was most certainly written prior to 1776 when reconciliation with Great Britain was still considered a possibility in the minds of most colonists. Thomas Paine's Common Sense would transform the discourse radically and swing public opinion toward outright independence.
The succeeding pages give a somewhat informal record of several key aspects of the proceedings including "A List of the Grand American Continental Congress held at Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, September 5, 1774." The list notes the presence of delegates John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom, Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Ward, Eliphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman, Silas Deane, Isaac Low, John Alsop, John Jay, James Duane, William Floyd, Henry Wisner, Samuel Boerum, James Kinsey, William Livingston, Stephen Crane, Richard Smith, Jospeh Galloway, John Dickinson, Charles Humphreys, Thomas Mifflin, Edward Biddle, John Morton, George Ross, Caesar Rodney Thomas McKean, George Read, Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, William Paca, Samuel Chase, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, Richard Caswell, Henry Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsen, John Rutledge and Edward Rutledge. As not all of the delegates listed were present on September 5, 1774, the document was certainly written at a somewhat later date. Beneath the list, the author has noted that on "October 26, 1774 the Congress broke up, after having passed a Number of Spirited Resolves, wrote Several Letters, &c." The author also appears to have intended to compile a similar list of the Second Continental Congress as a nearly blank page bears just two lines at top: "A List of the Grand American Continental Congress held at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775"
The balance of the journal includes a summary of military appointments including "George Washington, Esq: (of Virginia) left the Congress (being appointed General and Commander in chief of all the Forces of the Unites American Colonies. John Sullivan Esq. (of New Hampshire) left the Congress being appointed Brigadier General. Thomas Mifflin, Esq. (of Philadelphia) left the Congress being appointed" Washington was appointed to his command by Congress on June 15, 1775. The journal also includes two death notices, including Simon Boreum and Payton Randolph.
Who kept this ad-hoc journal is open to debate and we have not been able to identify the handwriting. It is quite likely that the author was transcribing his list from a newspaper or from a broadside. The heading "A List of the Grand American Continental Congress held at Philadelphia" closely corresponds with the title broadside editions of the 1774 Continental Association, issued on October 20, 1774. Also the order, in which the names of the delegates correspond exactly to the order on these broadsides articulate this possibility. In any event, this is an excellent relic of the early days of the American Revolution with a previously unknown patriotic speech. An amazing piece of history, rarely seen in the market. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection.
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