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An executive Council shall be appointed by the Congress out of their own body, consisting of twelve persons; of whom, in the first appointment, one third, viz. four, shall be for one year, four for two years, and four for three years; and, as the said terms expire, the vacancies shall be filled by appointments for three years ; whereby one third of the members will be changed annually. This Council, of whom two thirds shall be a quorum in the recess of Congress, is to execute what shall have been enjoined thereby ; to manage the general Continental business and interests; to receive applications from foreign countries; to prepare matters for the consideration of the Congress; to fill up, pro tempore, continental offices, that fall vacant; and to draw on the general treasurer for such moneys as may be necessary for general services, and appropriated by the Congress to such services.
No colony shall engage in an offensive war with any nation of Indians without the consent of the Congress, or grand Council above mentioned, who are first to consider the justice and necessity of such war.
A perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, is to be entered into as soon as may be with the Six Nations; their limits to be ascertained and secured to them; their land not to be encroached on, nor any private or colony purchases made of them hereafter to be held good ; nor any contract for lands to be made, but between the great Council of the Indians at Onondaga and the general Congress. The boundaries and lands of all the other Indians shall also be ascertained and secured to them in the same manner, and persons appointed to reside among them in proper districts; and shall take care to prevent injustice in the trade with them; and be enabled at our general expense, by occasional small supplies, to relieve their personal wants and distresses. And all purchases from them shall be by the Congress, for the general advantage and benefit of the United Colonies.
As all new institutions may have imperfections, which only time and experience can discover, it is agreed, that the general Congress, from time to time, shall propose such amendments of this constitution as may be found necessary; which, being approved by a majority of the colony Assemblies, shall be equally binding with the rest of the articles of this Confederation.
Any and every colony from Great Britain upon the continent of North America, not at present engaged in our association, may, upon application and joining the said association, be received into the Confederation, viz. Ireland, the West India Islands, Quebec, St. John's, Nova Scotia, Bermudas, and the East and West Floridas; and shall thereupon be entitled to all the advantages of our union, mutual assistance, and commerce.
These articles shall be proposed to the several provincial Conventions or Assemblies, to be by them considered ; and, if approved, they are advised to empower their delegates to agree to and ratify the same in the ensuing Congress. After which the union thereby established is to continue firm, till the terms of reconciliation proposed in the petition of the last Congress to
the King are agreed to; till the acts since made, restraining the American commerce and fisheries, are repealed; till reparation is made for the injury done to Boston, by shutting up its port, for the burning of Charlestown, and for the expense of this unjust war; and till all the British troops are withdrawn from America. On the arrival of these events, the colonies will return to their former connexion and friendship with Britain ; but, on failure thereof, this confederation is to be perpetual.
CORRESPONDENCE AND INTERVIEW
WITH LORD HOWE.
Near the beginning of the year 1776, Lord Howe was appointed to command the British fleet in North America, and on the 3d of May was declared joint commissioner with his brother, General William Howe, for the purpose of endeavouring to effect a reconciliation with the colonies, conformable to the terms of an act of Parliament. In the first part of July, Lord Howe arrived at Staten Island, where he found his brother with the British army. He had previously prepared a Declaration, announcing the object of his mission, which he designed for distribution in the colonies, accompanied with circular letters to the royal governors. Copies of these papers were forwarded to Congress, by whose order they were immediately published. Lord Howe likewise wrote a private letter to Dr. Franklin, then a member of Congress, which he answered.'
Meantime, as Congress took no steps to meet the advances of the British commissioners, in their proposals for a reconciliation, they commenced military operations, and the battle of Long Island was fought. General Sullivan was taken prisoner in this action, and conducted on board Lord Howe's ship. At his request, General Sullivan went to Philadelphia on parole, having in charge certain verbal communications to Congress, tending to open the way to some method of effecting the objects of the commissioners. After maturely considering the subject, Congress resolved to send a committee of their members to hold a conference with Lord Howe. The persons selected for this mission were Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge.. .
In regard to the previous correspondence mentioned above, the following memorandum was afterwards written by Dr. Franklin.
“These letters were published in London, to show the insolence of the insurgents, in refusing the offer of pardon upon submission, made to them by the British plenipotentiaries. They undoubtedly deserve the attention of the public for another reason, the proof they afford that the commerce of America is deemed by the ministry themselves of such vast importance, as to justify the horrid and
expensive war they are now waging to maintain the monopoly of it; that being the principal cause stated by Lord Howe; though their pensioned writers and speakers in Parliament have affected to treat that commerce as a trifle. And they demonstrate further, of how much importance it is to the rest of Europe, that the continuance of that monopoly should be obstructed, and the general freedom of trade, now offered by the Americans, prevented; since by no other means the enormous growing power of Britain both by sea and land, so formidable to their neighbours, and which must follow her success, can possibly be prevented.” – EDITOR..