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Letter from the Committee of Philadelphia



Philadelphia, March 5, 1776.

The Committee for the City and Liberties of Philadelphia have always been attentive to the important duty enjoined upon them by the resolution of the late Provincial Convention, to call another Convention when they may judge it necessary. But though many circumstances have occurred which seemed to invite a general conference, yet the Committee have been willing to hope that security against every impending evil would have been procured, without subjecting the Province to the trouble and expense, at this uncomfortable season of the year, of appointing Deputies, and attending in Convention. They would have been happy could they have found their expectation so fully answered as the exigence of the times required. On a review of the proceedings of the late sessions of Assembly, from a prospect of the very vigorous measures resolved upo' n by the British Administration, which the latest accounts assure us may every day be expected to take place; alarmed at the appearance of intrigue, by the appointment of Commissioners (as it is given out) to treat with the Colonies, though we have reason to believe they are invested only with an insulting power to pardon, (perhaps to corrupt and divide,) the Committee judged they could not acquit themselves to their own consciences, to you, and to the American interest, had they not given the Province an immediate opportunity of a conference, in which they might speak the unrestrained language of determined freemen, and act with that vigour which has ever been the characteristick of Pennsylvania, when free from the influence of partial counsels. The Committee were of opinion, at a late meeting, that a Provincial Convention ought to be called.

Among other subjects, which they proposed for consideration, they had the following in view:

As the opposition given to the present measures arises chiefly from the members representing the three interior Counties, who constitute a majority of the House, though two of them are inferior to several other of the Counties which have not half their number of members, the proceedings of the Assembly might more properly be said to be the proceedings of those three Counties than of the Province in general; to concert means therefore of effecting a more full and equal Representation, the Committee thought an object worthy your immediate attention; conducive to the strength and dignity of the House of Assembly; and essentially necessary to the safety of this Province in particular, and the United Colonies in general.

As the present unequal Representation is the ground of every other complaint, the Committee had this principally in view. There are others which are attended with immediate danger, and, we thought, required immediate remedy. To name them will be sufficient:

Our Military Association labours under the imperfections and injustice of the "Rules and Articles," though almost a year has been employed in framing and correcting them.

The providing of Arms, &c˙, has been first intrusted, and since continued, (notwithstanding remonstrances,) to persons who have in some instances so far neglected the duty as that they have it yet almost to begin.

The, Military measures of the Province are under the direction of a Committee of Safety, many of the members not having the authority of the people, notwithstanding a power of so great importance ought not to be intrusted to others than their immediate Representatives.

The appointment of gentlemen as Delegates from this Province in Congress, who are not of the Assembly, and the instructions given to them, by which they are bound to disclose every, even military movement, and are prevented from the free exercise of their judgments as the necessity of the times may require, appear unsafe, as well as dishonourable; to have a direct tendency to countenance the illiberal insinuations of our enemies; to create jealousies and divisions among ourselves; and to mislead the neighbouring Colonies into a false opinion of the sense of this Province.

These, gentlemen, are the objects the Committee had in view to recommend to your attention. They also wished to confer with you on the means of giving the aid of the back Counties to the exposed parts of this Province on the navigable waters, should they be actually invaded, and their trade suspended, agreeable to your virtuous resolution at the


late Convention. These being provided for, we doubt not the Province would sustain its part in the present unhappy, yet noble contest, with dignity to itself, and safety to the whole. And we rely that the united representation of the Deputies of the Province on that occasion convened, or such other means as their wisdom might have proposed, would have been effectual to give full relief.

But, gentlemen, we have further to inform you that, after having passed the vote for holding a Convention, the Committee had the pleasure of a conference with several of the members of the House; and they found, with great satisfaction, that those gentlemen indulged themselves in the hopes that a full and equal representation would be obtained, in consequence of petitions now before the honourable House, from several of the Counties, and that the other matters would be attended to. The Committee, therefore, have ordered us, their Committee of Correspondence, not to forward, for the present, their letters for calling the Convention; and have instructed us to communicate to you the foregoing information; and, also, that they have prepared petitions, to be signed by the inhabitants of this city, concurring in the prayer for a more equal representation, the event of which we wait.

By order of the Committee, and in their behalf, we are, gentlemen, your friends, &c.