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Report of the Committee appointed to confer with Lord Howe


The Committee appointed to confer with Lord Howe, agreeable to the order of Congress, brought in a Report in writing, which was read, as follows:

"In obedience to the orders of Congress, we have had a meeting with Lord Howe. It was on Wednesday last, upon Staten-Island, opposite to Amboy, where his Lordship received and entertained us with the utmost politeness.

"His Lordship opened the conversation, by acquainting us, that, though he could not treat with us as a Committee of Congress, yet, as his powers enabled him to confer and consult with any private gentlemen of influence in the Colonies, on the means of restoring peace between the two countries, he was glad of this opportunity of conferring with us on that subject, if we thought ourselves at liberty to


enter into a conference with him in that character. We observed to his Lordship, that, as our business was to hear, he might consider us in what light he pleased, and communicate to us any propositions he might be authorized to make for the purpose mentioned; but that we could Consider ourselves in no other character than that in which we were placed, by order of Congress. His Lordship then entered into a discourse of a considerable length, which contained no explicit proposition of peace, except one, namely, that the Colonies should return to their allegiance and obedience to the government of Great Britain, The rest consisted principally of assurances, that there was an exceeding good disposition in the King and his Ministers to make that government easy to us, with intimations, that, in case of our submission, they would cause the offensive acts of Parliament to be revised, and the instructions to Governours to be reconsidered: that so, if any just causes of complaint were found in the acts, or any errours in government were perceived to have crept into the instructions, they might be amended or withdrawn.

"We gave it as our opinion to his Lordship, that a return to the domination of Great Britain was not now to be expected. We mentioned the repeated humble petitions of the Colonies to the King and Parliament, which had been treated with contempt, and answered only by additional injuries; the unexampled patience we had shown under their tyrannical Government, and that it was not till the last act of Parliament which denounced war against us, and put us out of the King' s protection, that we declared our independence; that this declaration had been called for by the people of the Colonies in general; that every Colony had approved of it, when made, and all now considered themselves as independent States, and were settling, or had settled, their Governments accordingly; so, that it was not in the power of Congress to agree for them, that they should return to their former dependent state; that there was no doubt of their inclination to peace, and their willingness to enter into a treaty with Great Britain that might be advantageous to both countries; that though his Lordship had, at present, no power to treat with them as independent States, he might, if there was the same good disposition in Britain, much sooner obtain fresh powers from thence, for that purpose, than powers could be obtained by Congress, from the several Colonies, to consent to a submission.

"His Lordship then saying, that he was sorry to find that no accommodation was like to take place, put an end to the conference.

"Upon the whole, it did not appear to your Committee, that his Lordship' s commission contained any other authority than that expressed in the act of Parliament, namely, that of granting pardons, with such exceptions as the Commissioners shall think proper to make, and of declaring America, or any part of it, to be in the King' s peace, upon submission; for, as to the power of inquiring into the state of America, which his Lordship mentioned to us, and of conferring and consulting with any persons the Commissioners might think proper, and representing the result of such conversations to the Ministry, who, provided the Colonies would subject themselves, might, after all, or might not, at their pleasure make any alterations in the former instructions to Governours, or propose in Parliament any amendment of the acts complained of, we apprehended any expectation from the effect of such a power would have been too uncertain and precarious to be relied on by America, had she still continued in her state of dependence."

Ordered, That the foregoing Report, and also the Message from Lord Howe, as delivered by General Sullivan, and the Resolution of Congress in consequence thereof, be published by the Committee who brought in the foregoing Report.

Ordered, That the said Committee publish Lord Drummond' s Letters to General Washington, and the General' s Answers.