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WASHINGTON, D. C.
PUBLISHED BY THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON

1923

307757

CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON
PUBLICATION NO. 299

PAPERS OF The Department of HistoRICAL RESEARCH J. FRANKLIN JAMESON, EDITOR

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PREFACE.

The first volume of these Letters of Members of the Continental Congress extended from the beginnings of the sessions of that Congress to July 4, 1776, the period to which the maximum of attention has been directed and which has been most largely illustrated already by the publication of letters. After that date, and especially after the close of the year 1776, when Force's Archives comes to an end, letters not heretofore printed increase in number and importance as compared with those which have been printed. For the year 1777 there are still certain collections of materials in which large numbers of letters of members are found, such as the Journals of the New York Provincial Congress, the Archives of Maryland, the North Carolina State Records, and Staples's Rhode Island in the Continental Congress, as well as collections of the correspondence of some of the most assiduous writers among the delegates, such as Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, and Samuel Adams; but these printed collections pertain to only a few states or a few individuals. Upon the whole the material is found to be widely scattered and more meagerly printed. In the present volume, for instance, about one-third of the materials of the period from July 5 to December 31, 1776, has not been found in print, while for the year 1777 the quantum of materials not hitherto printed is considerably greater than the printed. Taking the volume as a whole, fully half the materials found in it appears now, it is believed, for the first time.

For the most part these new materials are pretty evenly distributed over the whole period. There are, however, a few items that call for special notice. One of the most important of these is the series of letters to Joseph Trumbull, who had been commissary-general of stores and provisions since July, 1775, and was chosen commissary-general of purchases in June, 1777. There are some fifty of these, some of them possessed by the Connecticut Historical Society, others by the Connecticut State Library, and they were written mainly by three members of Congress, William Williams (Trumbull's brother-in-law), Eliphalet Dyer (his father-in-law), and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. These letters are particularly enlightening upon certain phases of the problem of supplying the army, and are also not without value for the light which they cast upon other matters, such as the personalities of those chiefly concerned. Closely related to this group, indeed sometimes concerned with the same subject, are some letters to Joseph Trumbull's brother, Jonathan Trumbull, jr., paymaster-general of the northern army, and about a dozen

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