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With the British Headed His Way, John Hancock Implores the States to Send Supplies and Troops to the Flagging War Effort
[Philadelphia] 1776 - Manuscript Document Signed ("John Hancock") as President of the Continental Congress, 2 pages, 8 x 12 1/2 in., "In Congress" [Philadelphia], November 19 & 21, 1776. "Congress deem it necessary upon every principle of propriety to remind the several States how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate & vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of troops for the new Army."Washington's defeat at the Battle of Long Island at the end of August 1776 resulted in the British occupying New York City less than three weeks later. The news for the Americans only got worse, as they had to retreat from White Plains on October 28, and Hessian mercenaries captured Fort Washington, in northern Manhattan on November 16.With the Redcoats in hot pursuit, the Continental Army retreated across New Jersey throughout December, eventually crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for safety. Washington had split his troops (the other group commanded by General Charles Lee) in hopes of taking a stand before Philadelphia. With Washington's command in jeopardy and the British headed towards the seat of Congress, Hancock stresses the urgent need for troops and supplies. Transcript In Congress Nov. 19, 1776Resolved, That Letters be immediately sent to the Councils of Safety, Conventions or Legislatures of Pennsylvania, & the States to the Southward thereof, desiring them forthwith to lay up Magazines of military Stores, ammunition & Salt provisions in the safest & most convenient places in the said States respectively, for the use of such Continental Troops & Militia as it may be necessary to bring into the Field in the ensuing winter for the defence of these States.Congress deem it necessary upon every principle of propriety to remind the several States how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate & vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of troops for the new Army, as the time of Service for which the present Army was enlisted is so near expiring that the Country may be left in a Condition in a great measure defenceless, unless quickly supplied by new levies.By order of Congress - In Congress Nov. 21, 1776As the Necessity of obtaining an Army immediately to oppose the Designs of the Enemy is so evident & pressing as to render it proper to give all possible Facility to that Business.Resolved, that each State be at Liberty to direct the recruiting Officers to enlist their Men either for the War, or three years, upon the respective Bounties offered by Congress, without presenting enlisting Rolls for both Terms according to a former Resolution, keeping it always in View that in the opinion of Congress, the public Service will be best promoted by Inlistments for the War, if the recruiting Business is not retarded thereby. By Order of Congress John Hancock Presdt.Historic BackgroundBetween these two Congressional resolutions, Lord Cornwallis captured Fort Lee, New Jersey, (November 20, 1776) leaving the British a large store of gunpowder and munitions (as well as the fort's women and children). Combined with the fall of Fort Washington four days earlier, the American war effort was in shambles and the British had regained navigational control of the strategic Hudson River. With Washington's troops lacking food and supplies, disease, desertion, and expiring tours of duty had thinned the ranks. Here, Hancock and the Congress recognize the dire situation and attempt to shore up the war effort. With American troops dispirited and in full retreat, men were reluctant to leave their farms and businesses to join the army for any time at all, and very very few were willing to sign up for the uncertain duration of the war.Ultimately, Washington and his ragtag army retreated across the Delaware River to the safety of Pennsylvania. Thinking the campaign season over for the winter, the British removed to winter quarters in Trenton and Man. (See website for full description)
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Last Found On: 2015-07-07           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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