Secretary of the United Colonies Continental Congress
September 5, 1774 - July 1, 1776
Secretary of the United States Continental Congress
July 2, 1776 - February 28, 1781
America's Four United Republics
The name of the lady who thus befriended Charles Thomson is unknown; but her act of kindness changed the whole course of his life. He was also aided in his education by his brother, Alexander, and he soon became a student in the academy of Dr. Francis Alison, at New London, Chester County, Pennsylvania. In a spirit of gratitude, Charles afterwards presented his brother with a farm in the vicinity of New Castle.
It has been to many a Cause of Wonder, how it comes to pass that the English have so few Indians in their Interest, while the French have so many at Command; and by what Means, and for what Reasons those neighboring Tribes in particular, who, at the first Arrival of the English in Pennsylvania, and for a long Series of Years afterwards, shewed every Mark of Affection and Kindness, should become our most bitter Enemies, and treat those whom they so often declared they looked upon as their Brethren, nay as their own Flesh and Blood, with such barbarous Cruelties.
"Walked a little about town; visited the market, the State House, the Carpenters' Hall, where the Congress is to sit; then called at Mr. Mifflin's, a grand, spacious and elegant house. Here we had much conversation with Charles Thomson, who is, it seems, about marrying a lady, a relation of Mr. Dickinson's, with five thousand pounds sterling. This Charles Thomson is the Sam Adams of Philadelphia, the life of the cause of liberty, they say." -- The Life And Works Of John Adams, Vol. 2, p. 358.
The confusion in our city and province, and indeed through the whole colonies, is unspeakable by reason of the late Stamp Act. The courts of justice and the offices of government are all shut; numbers of people who are indebted take advantage of the times to refuse payment and are moving off with all their effects out of the reach of their creditors. Our ports are shut, except to such vessels as were cleared before the 1st inst. Thus credit is gone, trade and commerce at a stand. That peace which we ardently wished by one fatal act only presents us with a prospect of confusion and beggary."Four years later Thomson still would be actively opposing any British taxation. To Franklin, he wrote November 26, 1769, commenting on England's policy of taxation:
"How much farther they may proceed is uncertain, but from what they have already done, the colonies see that their property is precarious and their liberty insecure. It is true the impositions already laid are not very grievous; but if the principle is established, and the authority by which they are laid admitted, there is no security for what remains. The very nature of freedom supposes that no tax can be levied on a people without their consent given personally or by their representatives. It was not on account of the largeness of the sum demanded by Charles I. that ship money was so odious to the commons of England. But because the principle upon which it was demanded left them nothing they could call their own. The continuation of this claim of the Parliament will certainly be productive of ill consequences, as it will tend to alienate the affections of the colonies from the mother country—already it has awakened a spirit of enquiry. The people by examining have gained a fuller knowledge of their rights and are become more attentive and watchful against the encroachments of power, at the same time they are become more sensible of the resources they have among them for supplying their real wants. Resentment as well as necessity will drive them to improve them to the utmost, and from the genius of the people and the fertility of the soil, it is easy to foresee that in the course of a few years they will find at home an ample supply of all their wants. In the meanwhile their strength, power, and numbers are daily increasing, and as the property of land is parcelled out among the inhabitants and almost every farmer is a freeholder, the spirit of liberty will be kept awake and the love of freedom deeply rooted; and when strength and liberty combine it is easy to foresee that a people will not long submit to arbitrary sway."7
"that if the other colonies would unite with them to stop all importations from Great Britain and the West Indies until that act should be repealed, it would prove the salvation of North America and her liberties; but should they continue their exports and imports, there was reason to fear that fraud, power, and the most odious oppression would triumph over justice, right, social happiness and freedom." - Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1878, p. 24
"The liberty party were in a peculiar position. They had to be very shrewd and cautious. They could win applause and distinction neither by violent action nor by violent speech. They had opportunities neither for 'tea parties' nor orations on the eternal rights of man. The child of liberty which they were nursing could bear no noise. If they were to build up their party with recruits from Quakers, Episcopalians, and Germans, they must move slowly and with cold and calculating sagacity." -- Pennsylvania: Colony and Commonwealth, p. 299.
"As the Quakers, who are principled against war, saw the storm gathering, and therefore wished to keep aloof from danger, were industriously employed to prevent anything being done which might involve Pennsylvania farther in the dispute, and as it was apparent that for this purpose their whole force would be collected at the ensuing meeting, it was necessary to devise means so to counteract their designs as to carry the measures proposed and yet prevent a disunion, and thus, if possible bring Pennsylvania's whole force undivided to make common cause with Boston. The line of conduct Mr. D. had lately pursued opened a prospect for this. His sentiments were not generally known. The Quakers courted and seemed to depend upon him. The other party from his past conduct hoped for his assistance, but were not sure how far he would go if matters came to extremity, his sentiments on the present controversy not being generally known. It was therefore agreed that he should attend the meeting, and as it would be in vain for Philadelphia or even Pennsylvania to enter into the dispute unless seconded and supported by the other colonies, the only point to be carried at the ensuing meeting was to return a friendly and affectionate answer to the people of Boston, to forward the news of their distress to the southern colonies, and to consult them and the eastern colonies on the propriety of calling a congress to consult on measures necessary to be taken. If divisions ran high at the meeting, it was agreed to propose the calling together the Assembly in order to gain time." -- Collections of the New York Historical Society for the year 1878, p.66
"The meeting was large, but was composed of the most heterogeneous materials. The proprietary party had sent its representatives ;—many of the leading men among the Friends, and the sons of nearly all the officers of government were present; and all awaited with great apparent excitement the opening of the meeting." -- Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Vol. I, p. 66.
"The letter received from Boston was read, after which Reed addressed the assembly with temper, moderation, but in pathetic terms. Mifflin spoke next and with more warmth and fire. Thomson succeeded, and pressed for an immediate declaration in favor of Boston, and making common cause with her; but being overcome with the heat of the room and fatigue (for he had scarce slept an hour two nights past), he fainted and was carried into an adjoining room. Great clamor was raised against the violence of the measures proposed. Dickinson then addressed the company. In what manner he acquitted himself I cannot say. After he had finished the clamor was renewed; voices were heard in different parts of the room, and all was in confusion: a chairman was called for to moderate the meeting and regulate debates; still the confusion continued. As soon as Thomson recovered, he returned into the room. The tumult and disorder was past description. He had not strength to attempt opposing the gust of passion or to allay the heat by anything he could say. He therefore simply moved a question that an answer should be returned to the letter from Boston; this was put and carried. He then moved for a committee to write the answer; this was agreed to, and two lists were immediately made out and handed to the chair. The clamor was then renewed on which list a vote should be taken. At length it was proposed that both lists should be considered as one, and compose the committee. This was agreed to, and the company broke up in tolerable good humor, both thinking they had in part carried their point." -- 12 Collections of the New York Historical Society for the year 1878, p.71
"This being the day when the cruel act for blocking the harbor of Boston took effect, many of the inhabitants of this city, to express their sympathy and show their concern for their suffering brethren in the common cause of liberty, had their shops shut up, their houses kept close from hurry and business; also the ring of bells at Christ Church were muffled, and rung a solemn peal at intervals, from morning till night; the colors of the vessels in the harbor were hoisted half-mast high; the several houses of different worship were crowded, where divine service was performed, and particular discourses, suitable to the occasion, were preached by F. Alison, Duffield, Sprout, and Blair. Sorrow, mixed with indignation, seemed pictured in the countenance of the inhabitants, and indeed the whole city wore the aspect of deep distress, being a melancholy occasion." -- Passages from the Remembrances of Christopher Marshall, p. 6.
The union, effected among the colonies, by means of corresponding committees, was a death-blow to the authority of Britain; the Americans were sensible of the advantage, and as soon as the co-operation of all parts of the continent was ensured, advanced bolder claims, diffused broader principles of government, and assumed with less disguise, the part and mien of defiance. The references made in their declaration to the rights of nature, the intimation that like their ancestors, they proceeded before the adoption of other measures, to state their grievances and their rights, and their frequent exhortations to arms, all prove that plans of revolution and resistance were already meditated and digested. Motives of common safety, when they had once assumed an hostile position, cemented the jarring interests of the colonies, and for the time subdued their inveterate jealousies.
By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
"I was married to my second wife on a Thursday; on the next Monday, I came to town to pay my respects to my wife's aunt and the family. Just as I alighted in Chestnut Street, the door-keeper of Congress (then first met) accosted me with a message from them requesting my presence. Surprised at this, and not able to divine why I was wanted, I however bade my servant put up the horses, and followed the messenger myself to the Carpenters' Hall, and entered Congress. Here was indeed an august assembly, and deep thought and solemn anxiety were observable on their countenances. I walked up the aisle, and standing opposite to the President, I bowed, and told him I waited his pleasure. He replied, 'Congress desire the favor of you, sir, to take their minutes.' I bowed in acquiescence, and took my seat at the desk."
"Charles Thomson, as is well known, was elected Secretary upon the first day of the meeting of the Congress of 1774, and he retained his office until the end. But although this was the case, the original Journal covering the first five days of the Congress is not in his hand. For some reason, he seems not to have taken up the duties of his office until the l0th of September. Then he examined what had been recorded during his absence, and made sundry additions, corrections, and erasures. The entry of his own election read originally 'Charles Thomson, Secretary.' This he changed to read, as we find it in the printed Journal, 'Mr. Charles Thomson was unanimously elected Secretary,' and the hand is unmistakable."
"I must declare and avow, that in all my reading and study,—and it has been my favorite study: I have read Thucydides, and have studied and admired the master states of the world,—that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia."
John Trumbull, in his "Elegy on the Times," refers to this assembly in the following lines:
"Now meet the fathers of this western clime,Nor names more noble graced the rolls of fame,
When Spartan firmness braved the wrecks of time,
Or Rome's bold virtues fanned the heroic flame.
"Not deeper thought the immortal sage inspired,
On Solon's lips when Grecian senates hung;
Nor manlier eloquence the bosom fired
When genius thundered from the Athenian tongue."
None seemed willing to break the eventful silence until a grave looking member, in a plain dark suit of minister's gray, and unpowdered wig arose. All became fixed in attention on him. As he proceeded, he evinced such unusual force of argument, such novel and impassioned eloquence as soon electrified the house. Then the excited inquiry passed from man to man, who is it? who is it? The answer from the few who knew him was, it is Patrick Henry!
"No longer" [he says], "did America exhibit the appearance of rival colonies, piquing themselves on separate rights, and boasting the relative advantages of different charters, and different constitutions; all such sentiments were buried in oblivion; the same grievances, although not felt by all, were complained of by all; and the same remedy, without apparent previous communication, was generally recurred to, with the only difference of more or less violence according to the genius of the people, or the temper of the favorite leaders." -- Adolphus' History of England, Vol. 2, p. 129.
In a letter to Hon. Mellen Chamberlain, December 23, 1884, Theodore F. Dwight, Chief of Bureau of Rolls and Library in the Department of State, Washington, wrote the following account of the Journals:
As to the several Journals: Charles Thomson, as you know, was the 'perpetual Secretary' of the Continental Congress; and, from all I can gather, he was a man of the strictest probity, and was most conscientious in the discharge of his important trusts. It would be interesting to discover how much influence he exerted in the first councils. I am confident it was considerable. To him we owe the preservation of all the records of the Continental Congress,—not only the Journals, but all those fragments now so precious, e. g. the original motions, the reports of committees, the small odds and ends, which are the small bones of history. They are all in this room, and at my elbow as I write. One of them, for instance, is the original of Lee's motion reproduced, but without proper explanation, by Force, in the American Archives. You allude to it.
The Journals of Congress are, with some very few exceptions, entirely in the handwriting of Thomson. He seems to have been present at every session. The series of the archives of the Congress very properly begins with what he termed the 'Rough Journal,' beginning with the proceedings of September 5, 1774, and ended with the entry of March 2, 1789, and was probably written while Congress was sitting, the entries being made directly after each vote was taken. It is contained in thirty-nine small foolscap folio volumes. The second of the series is a fair copy of the 'Rough Journal,' from September 5, 1775, to January 20, 1779,—in ten volumes folio. From this copy, it is stated in a record in the Bureau, 'the Journals were printed ; and such portions as were deemed secret were marked or crossed by a committee of Congress,— not to be transcribed.' In this he has amplified some entries, and given more care to the style and composition of his sentences.
This explanation will account for the 'two Public Journals.' The ' Rough Journal' should be regarded as the standard. No. 3 of the series of archives is the 'Secret Domestic Journal,' comprising entries from May 10, 1775, to October 26, 1787 ; the fourth number is a Secret Journal, foreign and domestic, comprising entries from October 18, 1780, to March 29, 1786 (the foregoing two numbers form two volumes). No. 5 is in three volumes, and is called 'Secret Journal of Foreign Affairs,' November 29, 1775, to September 16, 1788. No. 6 is in three volumes, and is designated 'An Imperfect Secret Journal'; it contains entries made from the Journal of Congress, September 17, 1776, to September 16, 1788. No. 7 is a small quarto volume, containing but few entries, called the 'More Secret Journal.' No. 8 is a folio, Secret Journal A, 1776-1783 : the contents of this volume appear to be merely minutes of proceedings, which were afterwards entered on the Public Journals.
How a little time spreads the mantle of oblivion over the most important events! It is now a matter of doubt at what hour or how the Declaration was given to the people; perhaps few remain who heard it read on that day; of those few, I am one, being in the lot adjoining to our old mansion in Chestnut Street, that then extended to Fifth. I distinctly heard the words of that instrument read to the people (I think from the State-house steps, for I did not see the speaker). * * * I think it was Charles Thomson's voice. It took place a little after twelve at noon, and they then proceeded down the street (I understood) to read it at the Court house. It was a time of fearful doubt and great anxiety with the people, many of whom were appalled at the boldness of the measure, and the first audience of the Declaration was neither very numerous, nor composed of the most respectable class of citizens. -- Potter's American Monthly, Vol. 6, p. 269.
As soon as the rebels learned that the British fleet was at the head of the Chesapeake, a motion was made in the Congress for an adjournment to some place 'at least one hundred miles from any part of God's Kingdom where the British mercenaries can possibly land,' which, after some rapturous demonstrations, was carried nem. con. Immediately the Congress commenced the retreat, leaving old nosey Thomson to pick up the duds and write promises to pay (when Congress should return) the Congress debts. In the flight, as in the rebellion, Hancock, having a just apprehension of the vengeance which awaits him, took the initiative and was the first to carry out the letter of the motion of his associates.
"His first answer was—'I won't'—I replied, you won't, Mr. Thomson, what language is this? I tell you, I want them for my State—to which he again answered, 'I won't,' but added, 'till I have given every member present one.' Mr. Thomson then descended from the platform; I reached out my hand to take another copy; he snatched it from me and said, 'You shan't have it.' This repeated insult brought instantly to my mind his former conduct, and provoked me to say he was a most impudent fellow, that I had a good mind to kick him; he turned about, doubled his fist and said, 'You dare not.' I recollected the time and place, and let him pass on. When he had humored himself, he returned with many spare Journals in his hand, and gave me one. I barely asked him if he might not as well have done this at first."
I saw him at the afternoon sessions [wrote Thomson], so far unmindful of his station and dignity as to rise and debate questions as a delegate, then sit down, and, as President, hear himself replied to, and at one time in one of such debates, so far forget himself as to answer from the chair an honorable member from North Carolina by singing aloud, 'Poor little Penny, poor little Penny, sing tan-tarra-ra-ra,' and at another time when he was reading a report brought in by an honorable member from Massachusetts Bay, which was under debate, to stop in the middle of a sentence and exclaim, 'Solomon Grundy! Did you ever see such a Solomon Grundy?' which'raised such indignation that the honorable member left the room, and soon after Congress adjourned.- Potter's American Monthly, Vol. 6, p. 264.
Charles Thomson signed Military Commission as Secretary of the The Continental Congress
The deplorable condition of Congress, that existed during the Secretary Thomson and President Laurens altercation, was a fair indication of the state of affairs throughout the whole country. In April, 1779, a paper dollar was worth five cents, and in many respects this year marked the lowest ebb in politics and morals that was reached during the war. Robert Morris truly said:
"We are disputing about liberties, posts and places at the very time we ought to have nothing in view but the securing of those objects and placing them on such a footing as to make them worth contending for among ourselves hereafter. But instead of this, the vigor of this and several other States is lost in intestine divisions; and unless the spirit of contention is checked by some other means, I fear it will have a baneful influence on the measures of America."
Spanish Milled Silver Dollar
May 10, 1775
March 1, 1778
September 1, 1778
March 1, 1779
September 1, 1779
March 18, 1780
© Stan Klos 2008
In October, 1780, Thomson wrote to John Jay the following account of the extremities of the country:
Upon this our enemies took courage and flattering themselves that Congress must sink under these embarrassments, they set every engine to work to continue and increase them, by counterfeiting the currency, multiplying their emissaries to decry its credit, tampering with our army and at the same time prosecuting the war with a greater degree of vigor than they had done from the commencement of it. To the honor of our country, I must inform you that history cannot produce such instances of fortitude, patience and perseverance as were exhibited by our virtuous army. Though exposed to hunger and nakedness amidst the rigors of a most inclement winter they struggled through with unparalleled firmness, and notwithstanding the tempting bribes and offers of the enemy, and the incredible hardships our soldiers suffered, the desertions were comparatively few. -- Collections of the New York Historical Society for the year 1878, P- 33
I would just observe, that if old established nations, populous, rich, and powerful, whose governments are fixed, whose revenues are settled, who have armies raised and fleets equipped, whose towns are fortified and whose arsenals and magazines are stored with implements and necessaries for war, if such nations find themselves under difficulties for want of money by one or two years' war with a nation weakened and greatly exhausted, what wonder if a young Commonwealth, whose inhabitants are poor and thinly scattered over a large extent of country, which was just emerging from the difficulties of settling a wilderness, and which being without arms, ammunition or military stores and without any established government, what wonder if such a nation, under such circumstances forced into a war with one of the most powerful nations in the world should, after carrying on that war for six years with no other revenue than the voluntary contributions of the people, find itself embarrassed in its finances and under a necessity of applying for aid to other nations whose interest it is to humble the power with which it is contending. -- Collections of the New York Historical Society for the year 1878
I wish in my heart that you were not only Secretary of Congress, but Secretary also for Foreign Affairs. I should then have better sources of information than gazettes and reports.
|1782 Great Seal of the United States designed by Charles Thomson|
By 1784, a now fully experienced as the USCA Secretary under the Articles of Confederation, had to contend with Congress launching the constitutional provision that enabled the USCA to govern the nation by a committee.
Among other regulations, a Journal was to be kept, published monthly, and forwarded to the several States. The Committee met at Annapolis on June 4th and elected Mr. S. Hardy chairman. As it was necessary for Thomson to return to Philadelphia, he was granted a leave of absence, while Messrs. Bankson and Remsen were appointed to act as clerks in his place. The Committee then adjourned to meet again on June 26th, but it was not possible to get representatives present from nine States until July 8th. Efforts were then made to have the Committee assemble either at Trenton or Philadelphia. On August 3rd, three of the members returned home, and it appears that nothing was accomplished even as late as October 1st, for Thomson wrote on that date: "But it does not appear to me that any Committee will be formed before the meeting of Congress, which is to be at Trenton on the 30th of this month."
|Charles Thomson signed Broadside as Secretary of the The United States|
in Congress Assembled at the Annapolis session in 1784
Pursuant to the order of Congress, I prepared three commissions for our ministers for negotiating treaties with the commercial powers of Europe, one empowering them to negotiate additional treaties of commerce with France, conformable to the instructions given, another doing the same with the United Netherlands, and a third for the like purpose with Sweden. These, I forwarded yesterday, together with the duplicate of the instructions given May 30th and October 29th, 1783, the answer of Congress of October 29th, to the letter from the Burgomasters and Senate of the imperial free city Hamburg, the act of November 1st, 1783, the act of March 16th, 1784, on the letters of November 1st and December 25th from Doctor Franklin, the instructions of the 7th and nth of last month and those given on the 3rd instant, which comprehend the whole business now before them; and for their further information, I have forwarded to them a copy of the Journal of the last session of Congress up to May 28th, and a newspaper containing the ordinance for putting the treasury into commission, and the appointment and powers of the Committee of the States.
I acknowledge, my dear sir, the beauties and agreeable situation of Annapolis, and will admit that the graces and charms of its nymphs are not excelled by those of the inhabitants of Calypso's isle. And were you and your associates in pursuit only of love and pleasure, I would allow there is no place where you could more properly fix your habitation. But these are not the objects of the patriot's pursuit. The dance, the ball, and continued round of pleasure are not the means of promoting the interests of his country, guarding its rights, and advancing its happiness and prosperity. I confess, therefore, I should not be sorry if some kind of monster, I care not whether in the form of a mosquito, or a fever and ague were to drive you from that enchanting place into the walks of politics, and force you to turn your attention to the concerns of this young and rising empire which demands your care.
Can it be possible that gentlemen will take such a rash step as to dissolve the Committee and leave the United States without any head or visible authority? Have they considered what may be the consequences? At this moment, if I am rightly informed, there is a war carrying on between the people of Connecticut and Pennsylvania at Wyoming. The frontiers are in a state of anxiety respecting the disposition of the Indians Who is to convene the States if the Committee is dissolved? If Annapolis is become inconvenient or dangerous on account of the sickly season approaching, could not the Committee have adjourned to this place or to Trenton?Thomson's letters to our foreign ministers contain much valuable information on the state of the country. On June, 18, 1784, he wrote to John Jay:
"I have the pleasure to inform you that on the 7th of May Congress elected you Secretary of Foreign Affairs. I do not know how you will be pleased with the appointment but this I am aware of, that your country stands in need of your abilities in that office. I feel sensibly that it is not only time, but highly necessary for us to think and act like a sovereign as well as a free people, and I wish this sentiment were more deeply impressed on the members of every State in the Union. The opportunities you will have of corresponding not only with the executives, but with the several legislatures, in discharging the duties of your office, will I trust, greatly contribute to raise and promote this spirit. And this is a reason why I wish you were here to enter on the business. On the same day that you were elected to the office for foreign affairs, Congress appointed Mr. Jefferson in addition to Mr. J. Adams and Mr. B. Franklin for the purpose of negotiating commercial treaties with the powers of Europe."
My Dear Friend: The renewal of our ancient correspondence and receipt of your letter excited those sensations which real friends feel on meeting unexpectedly after a long separation. As Mr. Jefferson, who I hope is by this time safe arrived, will explain matters to you and make you fully acquainted with the state of our affairs, I shall no longer conceal from you the circumstance of the omission of the signature of letter on June 7th last, which procured me the favor of hearing from you oftener than I had done. The letter was to have been signed by the President as the latter was on the point of sailing, and the captain only waiting for the dispatch. I copied the letter in Congress and delivered it to the President, who sealed it up in a hurry without putting his name toit. So that my letters to you are all private, and this will explain the reason why they generally contain nothing of public affairs.
I am sensible you must have been for a considerable time past greatly at a loss for want of official communications, and though I often wished to give you some, yet I forbore for reasons which if ever I shall be so happy as to have a personal interview I can express, which I am persuaded you will deem satisfactory. But this inconvenience will be obviated if Mr. Jay, who with his family arrived at New York the 24th of July, and who as I mentioned to you in a former letter, is appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs, accepts that office as I hope he will. Though I must confess my hope is founded more on my wishes than on any solid reason. I have written and informed him of his appointment and urged his acceptance, but have not yet received his answer.Colonel Harmer, who arrived with the Marquis de Lafayette after a fine passage of thirty-five days, delivered me on the 8th instant your letter of the I4th of June, with a copy of that of the I3th of May, which I had received before, announcing the exchange of the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace ; on this happy completion of our hazardous enterprise I most sincerely congratulate you. It is an event which I have devoutly wished, and yet I cannot but say, the prospect of it has often excited many uneasy apprehensions. From the first appeal to arms, and through the whole contest, I never had a doubt of the issue, but I was afraid it would come upon us before we were prepared to receive it, and before we had acquired national principles, habits and sentiments which would enable us to improve it to advantage and to act becoming our station and dignity.
I need not mention to you who know so well the peculiar circumstances of America at the commencement of this revolution. The several colonies were distinct and separate governments, each jealous of another, and kept apart by local interests and prejudices. Being wholly dependent on Great Britain, they were secluded from all negotiations with foreign courts and almost from all intercourse with foreign nations. Having never been much taxed, nor for any length of time they had no funds whereon to ground public credit. Those who know the difficulty which old established nations experience in their attempts to introduce new arrangements either in government, police, or finance, will readily conceive what we have had to encounter, more especially when it is considered that the ancient governments being dissolved, the people were thrown into a state of nature, that property being equally divided, and the feudal system unknown in this country, there were no individuals to whom the people were accustomed to look up and who could influence their conduct or opinions. And even when new governments were adopted, the ideas of liberty which prevailed, threw the whole power into the hands of the people, and the rotation which took place in the legislatures and executives of the several states afforded little opportunity of acquiring national sentiments.
Notwithstanding all this, we have made considerable progress in the short space of eight years, the time elapsed since we became a nation.and I am happy to think that the people every day become more and more impressed with the necessity of honorably discharging our debts, supporting public credit, and establishing a national character. And though Rhode Island still holds out and refuses her assent to the impost of five per cent, yet as all the other states have agreed to the measure, I have strong hopes that she may be induced to come into it, or that some means will be devised to overcome the obstacle which her refusal throws in the way. In like manner, I am persuaded the people of these states will quickly find it to be their interest as well as of absolute necessity to be faithful in the observance of treaties and to avoid internal contentions and divisions. There is no doubt but Great Britain will watch for advantages, if not to recover what she has lost, at least to be revenged for what she has suffered. And that everything will be attempted and every artifice used which malice can suggest to break our connection with France and sow dissensions among the states. The easy access which foreigners have to these states and the ready reception they meet with afford favorable opportunities of putting their arts in practice. And it is worthy of observation that it is strangers lately come among us whom we know nothing of, joined with men who to say the least of them, were lukewarm in our cause and of doubtful characters, who are now most active in sowing jealousies of France from an affected regard for our liberty, and a zeal to preserve this country from foreign influence. I think it therefore highly necessary both for France and America to be on their guard and not to suffer themselves to be duped by the arts of their common enemy.
The atrocious unprovoked outrage lately committed in this city by one Longchamps, a vagabond Frenchman, seems to carry strong marks of a premeditated design to embroil us with France, and what makes this still more probable, is the palliating account given of this affair in a paper newly set up here as if for the purpose, entitled the Courier de I' Amerique, which is conducted by Boniod and Gaillard, who came to this place last fall about the same time as Longchamps. The whole complexion of this paper evidences a marked inveteracy against France and a strong desire to excite fears and jealousies, or at least to give an unfavorable impression of her. I am glad to find that the zeal of the authors has hurried them into a palpable manifestation of their design, and that suspicions are already raised which I trust will guard against the influence of the poison they mean to convey.
I send you the Courier de I' Amerique as far as published, and some other papers of the day, which will explain the circumstances of the outrage committed by Longchamps and the measures taken by the government, and in consequence thereof, I must inform you that the judges have not yet given an answer to the last letter of the President. The question whether Longchamps can be legally delivered up by Council according to the claim made by the late Minister of France, was publicly argued by lawyers before the Judges, who still have it under advisement. In the meanwhile, Longchamps is confined in prison. The matter is laid before the legislature who have now under consideration a bill which I have no doubt they will pass, effectually securing the rights and immunities of public ministers and punishing the violators of them.
It may not be amiss to acquaint you that from his own showing, it appears that Longchamps had been an officer in the French service; that in 1776, he came to America and went to our camp before Boston, where he -was cordially received ; that after being in our camp and about headquarters for some weeks, he took advantage of a pass given for the purpose of going into the country, to slip into Boston, which we were besieging; that he wanted permission of General Gage to come again into our camp, but for some reason that does not appear, it was not granted. In short, from many circumstances there is reason to suspect that at that time he either was or wished to be employed as a spy by the British General. Whether his late crime is the effect of sudden passion or the result of premeditated plan may possibly in time be manifested.
There is a circumstance in the conduct of Longchamps not mentioned in any of the papers, which it may not be improper to inform you of. On the 17th, he committed the first insult; on the 18th, he went to a justice of the peace and took an oath of allegiance to the State, after which he perpetrated the outrage of the 19th. His views in taking the oath have dow and children enjoy a pension from the Assembly of that State agreeably to a recommendation of Congress. I need not mention with what marks of cordiality and affection the Marquis de la Fayette, who came to this place last Monday, was received by all ranks of people. His stay was short, as he was anxious to see General Washington. He left town this morning and expects to be back in three or four weeks. Mr. Laurens is arrived at New York, but not yet come forward. I intended to have troubled Mr. Jefferson with a line by this opportunity, but my letter to you has insensibly become so long that I shall not have time. You will please to make my respectful compliments to him and to Mr. Adams. With sincere affection and esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your old friend, Charles Thomson.
"I have received your favor of the 2d in which you seem to think hard of your not receiving an answer to your letter on C.'s affair. I thought by this time your experience had taught you that there are mysteries in government which little folks are not to be permitted to pry into, and which are only to be communicated to such as are deeply skilled in what the wise King James used to call kingcraft."
Thomson maintained a secret correspondence with a few trusted friends, who transmitted to him on several occasions valuable information concerning the enemy. Mrs. Wright, the celebrated modeler in wax, was particularly active in this direction, and it was through intelligence given by her that the military store ships were captured. Thomson had an understanding with Rivington, the King's printer at New York, who informed him of a plot to poison General Washington while quartered on the Hudson River. Some authorities state that Thomson himself was poisoned while there, and owed his recovery to the excellence of his constitution. The time had now arrived for Thomson to sever his relations with Congress. The adoption of the Constitution brought other men into prominence, while many of the leading figures of the Revolutionary period retired from the cares of public life. Thomson was always treated in the most gracious manner by Congress. As no compensation was received for the first service, that body presented him with a silver urn, inscribed as their gift, and also as a compliment to his wife. Mrs. Thomson was consulted to learn what the present should be, and she chose an urn.
 The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century," by James Anthony Froude, Vol. I., p. 394.)
 Indeed, some of the most honored names in our history were redemptioners, such as Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress during the Revolution; Matthew Thornton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the parents of Major General Sullivan."—Scharf's History Of Maryland, Vol. i, p. 373.
 Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania," Vol. I, p. 568.
This institution was founded in 1749, as an academy and charitable school. In 1755, it was chartered as the College, Academy, and Charitable School of Philadelphia, and after a series of troubles during the Revolution, it was finally incorporated in 1791, as the University of Pennsylvania
 Journals of the Continental Congresss, July 12, 1776
 Winthrop Sargent, The Life and Career of Major John Andre, Adjutant-general of the British. New York: William Ahbatt, 1902.
 James McClure, Nine Months in York Town. York, PA: York Daily Record, 2001.
 Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 30 September 1777. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
 General John Burgoyne (24 February 1722 – 4 August 1792) was a British army officer charged with gaining control of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River valley. This would divide New England from the southern colonies ending the rebellion. On 17 October, 1777, during the Saratoga campaign he surrendered his army of 6,000 men to General Horatio Gates and the northern Continental Army.
 John Adams, 30 September, 1777, op. cit.