number of infantry, had no bayonets.
Of the militia
Chap. LXIX.} 1776. July 1.
who had been called for, only about a thousand had joined the camp; and with this force the general was to defend extensive lines against an army, near at hand, of thirty thousand veterans.
An express from Lee
made known, that fifty three ships with Clinton
had arrived before Charleston
, of which the safety was involved in doubt.
A more cheering letter which Chase
had forwarded by express fiom Annapolis
, brought the first news of the unanimity of the Maryland
convention, whose vote for independence was produced and read.
The order of the day came next, and congress resolved itself ‘into a committee of the whole to take into consideration the resolution respecting independency.’
For a few minutes, perfect silence prevailed; every one felt the responsibility of acting finally on the most important question ever agitated in the assembly.
In the absence of the mover of the resolution, the eyes of every one turned towards its seconder, John Adams
; and the new members from New Jersey
requested that the arguments used in former debates might be recapitulated.
He had made no preparation for that morning; but for many months independence had been the chief object of his thoughts and his discourse, and the strongest arguments ranged themselves before his mind in their natural order.
Of his sudden, impetuous, unpremeditated speech no minutes ever existed, and no report was ever made.
It is only remembered that he set forth the justice, the necessity, and the advantages of a separation from Great Britain
; he dwelt on the neglect and insult with which their petitions had been treated by the king;