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Franklin Approves!

This Day In Founding Fathers History – 28 January 2013

On this day in 1780, the Continental Congress was in session. A committee had been appointed to receive and summarize the communications of the Minister Plenipotentiary of France. The committee reported to Congress: “The minister of France informed the committee, that he had it in command from his king to impress upon the minds of Congress, That the British cabinet have an almost insuperable reluctance to admit the idea of the independence of these United States, and will use every possible endeavor to prevent it.” It was summarized how the British crown was trying to instigate war with France, preventing any aide getting to the United States, and conducting negotiations and treaties with other countries. “He [the king] desires to be informed, as far as Congress may deem proper, what force the United States can bring into the field next campaign? On what resources they rely for their maintenance, and necessary appointments? And what shall be the general plan of the campaign, on supposition either of having, or not having, the aid of ships of war? He gives it as his opinion, that an application for clothing may be made to his most Christian Majesty with prospect of success; and although measures have been taken for sending arms and warlike stores to America, yet it would be prudent in Congress not to neglect any other means for procuring those supplies, or supplies of clothing.” 1

In 1782 on this day, the Continental Congress was in session. The report respecting the disputed New Hampshire Grants (also called the Benning Wentworth Grants) had been referred to a grand committee, and the committee’s report was presented to Congress this day: “Congress having resolved…that in case they should recognize the independence of the people of Vermont they would consider all the lands belonging to New Hampshire and New York respectively without the limits of Vermont aforesaid as coming within the mutual guaranty of territory contained in the Articles of Confederation and that the United States will accordingly guarantee such lands and the jurisdiction over the same against any claims or incroachments from the inhabitants of Vermont aforesaid…required as an indispensable preliminary to the recognition of the independence of the people inhabiting the territory aforesaid and their admission into the federal Union the relinquishment of all demands of lands or jurisdiction…

That in case the inhabitants residing in the district limits aforesaid shall within two months one month from the date hereof by an authenticated Act recognize the above described boundaries to be the limits and extent of their claim and shall accede to the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the States…and shall thereupon appoint Delegates on their behalf with full powers, instructions and positive orders immediately to repair to Congress and to sign the said Articles of Confederation and afterwards to represent them in the United States in Congress Assembled, their said Delegates shall be admitted to sign the same and thereupon the inhabitants of the above described District shall be acknowledged a free sovereign and independent State, by what name soever they shall choose to be called, and shall be considered as a component part of the federal Union and entitled to the advantages thereof.

But in case they do not immediately desist from attempting to exercise jurisdiction over the lands guaranteed to New Hampshire and New York aforesaid and shall not within the time above limited comply with the terms specified in the foregoing propositions, Congress will consider such neglect or refusal as a manifest indication of designs hostile to these United States and the forces thereof will be employed against them accordingly that all their former pretensions and applications heretofore made for admission into the federal Union were fallacious and delusive, and that thereupon the forces of these States will be employed against them accordingly.

Resolved, That it be and hereby it is earnestly recommended to the States of New Hampshrie and New York respectively to pass acts of indemnity in favour of all such persons residing without the limits above described who shall have taken part with the inhabitants residing within the same against the government of either of those States, upon their quietly and peaceably submitting themselves to the Government and Jurisdiction of those respective States to which they severally belong.” 2

1 “Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Friday, January 28, 1780,” Library of Congress Online
2 “Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Monday, January 28, 1782,” Library of Congress Online