Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 22, 1776

Ceasar Rodney of Delaware wrote to his brother Thomas Rodney to explain why he thought the people of Philadelphia had "Acted rather unwisely."

Ceasar Rodney wrote, "They have Called a Town Meeting--by which they have determined to apply to the Committees of Inspection of the Several Counties throughout the province, to depute a Certain number of each of those Committees to meet together at Philadelphia, And there agree on, and order What number of Members Shall be Elected by the people in Each County within the province, to meet in Convention at Philadelphia, The Whole number for the Province to be One hundred. This Convention is to be Chose for the Special purpose of Laying the plan of Government-and when that is Done, and an Assembly Chose and Returned agreable to Such plan the Convention is to be disolved."

Rodney conceded, "This mode for Establishing a Government appears to be, and really is verry fair. Yet I think they are unwise, Because we are Certain that a verry powerfull force is Expected from England against us, some are Come, the rest will undoubtedly Arrive before Midsummer."

Expressing a common concern, Rodney explained, "We shall be Oblidged to Exert every Nerve, at every point, and we well know how necessary Regular Government is to this End--and by their Mode it will be impossible for them to have any Government for three months to Come, and during that time much Confusion." Paul Herbert Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Vol. 4: May 16-August 14, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1979), page 61.

The fear that a temporary lack of government might lead to chaos was not uncommon. In a May 17 sermon, Rev. John Witherspoon observed, to "the honour of this country," that "though government in the ancient forms has been so long unhinged, yet in some colonies not sufficient care taken to sibstitute another in its place, yet has there been, by common consent, a much greater degree of order and public peace, than men of reflexion and experience foretold or expected."
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