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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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clusion of foreign and external power; that doubts have arisen as to the authority of this Congress to form such a government, which doubts can of right be removed by the people only; that the Congress ought to continue in the exercise of such powers, as are clearly delegated to them, and in the mean time give the people an opportunity to remove the above doubts, either by declaring their respective representatives in Congress to be invested with the necessary powers for establishing a new government, or else to elect another body for the purpose; and that an order should he issued, by the Congress, to the committees of the several counties, for calling the people together to express their sentiments on the subject, by the usual mode of elections.

This report, by taking a middle `round between the principles of the two motions, and compassing the objects of both, was approved and accepted.

But before there was time to gain the sense of the people on this affair, a new topic of discussion came before the House.  By a letter, dated June 8th, the New York representatives in the Continental Congress wrote as follows to the Provincial Congress.

‘Your delegates have expected; that the question of independence will very shortly be agitated in Congress.  Some of us consider ourselves as bound by our instructions not to vote on that question, and all wish to have your sentiments thereon.  The matter will admit no delay.  We have, therefore, sent an express, who will wait your orders.’

This letter, the journals state, was read with closed doors.  A letter from the President of the Virginia Convention had, also, been very recently received, enclosing the resolves of that body, on the 22d of May, instructing the Virginia delegates in the Continental Congress to bring forward and sustain a proposition for independence.  The New York delegates were still acting under their original instructions, which had not been changed, and which empowered them only to consent and determine on such measures, as should be ‘effectual for

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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 93. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to


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