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Letter from the President of Congress to the Assemblies of the several States: Requesting that they will at once, and without a moment' s delay, bend all their attention to raising their quotas of the American Army



Philadelphia, September 24, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: You will perceive by the enclosed resolves, which I have the honour to forward in obedience to the commands of Congress, that they have come to a determination to augment our army, and to engage the troops to serve during the continuance of the war. As an inducement to inlist on these terms, the Congress have agreed to give, besides a bounty of twenty dollars, a hundred acres of land to each soldier; and in case he should fall in battle, they have resolved that his children, or other representatives, shall succeed to such land.

The many ill consequences arising from a short and limited inlistment of troops, are too obvious to be mentioned. In general, give me leave to observe, that to make men well acquainted with the duties of a soldier, requires time; and to bring them under proper subordination and discipline, not only requires time, but has always been a work of much difficulty. We have had frequent experience that men of a few days' standing will not look forward, but as the time of their discharge approaches grow careless of their arms, ammunition, &c˙, and impatient of all restraint; the consequence of which is, the latter part of the time for which the soldier was engaged is spent in undoing what the greatest pains had been taken to inculcate at first. Need I add to this, that the fall of the late General Montgomery before Quebeck, is undoubtedly to be ascribed to the limited time for which the troops were engaged, whose impatience to return home compelled him to make the attack contrary to the conviction of his own judgment? This fact alone furnishes a striking argument of the danger and impropriety of sending troops into the field under any restriction as to the time of their inlistment. The noblest enterprise may be left unfinished by troops in such a predicament, or abandoned at the very moment success would have crowned the attempt.

The heavy and enormous expense consequent upon calling forth the Militia, the delay attending their motions, and the difficulty of keeping them in camp, render it extremely improper to place our whole dependence upon them. Experience hath uniformly convinced us of this, some of the Militia having deserted the camp at the very moment their services were most wanted. In the mean time, the strength of the British army, which is great, is rendered much more formidable by the superiour order and regularity which prevail in it. Under these circumstances, and in the situation of our affairs, it is evident that the only means left us of preserving our liberties is the measure which the Congress have now adopted, and which I am ordered most earnestly to recommend to you to carry into immediate effect. Without a well-disciplined army, we can never expect success against veteran troops; and it is totally impossible we should ever have a well-disciplined army without our troops are engaged to serve during the war. To attain, therefore, this most desirable end, I am to request you will at once, and without a moment' s delay, bend all your attention to raise your quota of the American army.

The times call for the greatest despatch and vigour of conduct. When the bloody standard of tyranny is erected


in a land of liberty, no good man, no friend to his country, can possibly remain an inactive spectator of her fall. Display, therefore, I most ardently entreat you, that virtue which can alone save her on this occasion. Let us convince our enemies that as we entered into the present contest for the defence of our liberties, so we are resolved, with the firmest reliance on Heaven for the justice of our cause, never to relinquish it, but rather to perish in the ruins of it. If we do but remain firm, if we are not dismayed at the little shocks of fortune, and are determined at all hazards that we will be free, I am persuaded, under the gracious smiles of Providence, assisted by our own most strenuous endeavours, we shall finally succeed agreeably to our wishes, and thereby establish the independence, the happiness, and the glory of the United States of America.

As the troops now in service belonging to the several States will be considered as part of their quota in the American army, you will please to take such steps as you judge necessary to ascertain what number of the troops, as well as what officers, will engage to serve during the war. I send by this express blank commissions, to be filled with such as you shall please to appoint. I also forward a number of the rules and articles of war, as altered by Congress and just published.

I have the honour to be, gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servant,

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

To the Honourable Assembly of New-Hampshire.

[Same to Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut Assemblies, New-York Convention, New-Jersey Assembly, Pennsylvania Convention, Delaware Government, Maryland Convention, Virginia Assembly, NorthCarolina Convention, South-Carolina Assembly, Georgia Convention]