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Letter from the President of Congress to the Massachusetts Assembly



Philadelphia, July 16, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: Since I had the honour of addressing you on the 4th of June, at which time I transmitted sundry resolves of Congress requesting you to call forth your Militia, our affairs have assumed a much more serious complexion. If we turn our attention towards the Northern Department, we behold our Army reduced by sickness and obliged to flee before an enemy of vastly superior force. If we cast our eyes to Head Quarters, we see the British Army reinforced under Lord Howe, and ready to strike a blow which may be attended with the most fatal consequences, if not timely resisted. The situation of our country at this season calls, therefore, for all the vigour and wisdom among us; and if we do not mean to desert her at this alarming crisis, it is high time to rouse every spark of virtue, and, forgetting all inferior considerations, to exert ourselves in a manner becoming freemen.

The intelligence received this day from General Washington points out the absolute, the indispensable necessity of sending forward all the troops that can possibly be collected, to strengthen both the Army in New York and that on this side of Canada. I do therefore once more, in the name and by the authority of Congress, request and beseech you, as you regard the liberties of your country and the happiness of posterity, and as you stand engaged by the most solemn ties of honour to support the common cause, to strain every nerve to send forward your Militia, agreeably to the former requisitions of Congress. This is a step of such infinite moment, that, in all human probability, it will be the salvation of America. And as it is the only effectual step that can possibly be taken at this juncture, you will suffer me again most ardently to entreat your speedy compliance with it. In short, the critical period is arrived that will seal the fate not only of ourselves, but of posterity. Whether they shall arise the generous heirs of freedom, or the dastardly slaves of imperious task masters, it is in your power now to determine; and, as freemen, I am sure you will not hesitate a moment about the choice.

I have the honour to be, gentlemen, &c˙,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.

[The same to Massachusetts Assembly, Connecticut Assembly, and Convention of New Jersey.]


In Congress, July 16, 1776.

Resolved, That Letters be written to the States of Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Jersey, setting forth the situation of our affairs in the New York department, and pressing them immediately to comply with the requisition of Congress of the 3d June. That the situation of our Army at New York be stated to the State of Connecticut, and that it be earnestly desired of that State immediately to send all the Militia thereof which can be spared into New York, to reinforce the Army there, and continue in service until the proportions requested of the several States arrive.