Page:American Historical Review, Volume 12.djvu/546

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536
C. H. Van Tyne

was as important for Congress to try to reconcile these differences as to direct the armies or provide a naval force. That this is not perverting the logic of such action may be plainly seen in the case (September 30, 1775) where Congress is asked to settle the dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania "until the matter shall be determined by the King and Council, to whom both sides have submitted the dispute."[1] Congress urged the people of the two colonies not to endanger the union, but it refused to take any measures that would seem an assumption of sovereignty.[2]

Again, the states called upon Congress, the assembling-place of all of the states, to assume responsibility which the state did not dare assume alone, but which was necessary for the common defense.[3] Again the colonies asked Congress about establishing new governments,[4] and much has been made of the fact that Congress recommended the establishment of such forms as seemed best; but the advice cannot be twisted into a sovereign command, for the thing is to be done "during the continuance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies."[5] A body regarding itself as sovereign does not speak thus. Later, when affairs were nearer a climax (May 10, 1776), Congress recommended the formation of permanent governments, but it is noticeable that in this case the states acted at their leisure,[6] and Maryland resented the interference of Congress[7] and refused to obey. Congress was again rebuffed when it ordered the committee of observation of Baltimore to seize Governor Eden's secretary. The committee acted without the authorization of the Maryland council of safety, and was severely reprimanded for obeying "other than those intrusted with the proper authority by this Province".[8] Congress was constantly steering between the Scylla of sovereignty, and the Charybdis of inefficiency.

It was in Congress that independence was resolved upon, and

  1. Journals of Congress, III. 283, 287, 295, 453, 487. Congress evidently was not looked upon as having sovereign authority.
  2. Ibid., IV. 283.
  3. New Jersey asks, June 24, 1776, about seizing Governor Franklin, ibid., V. 473. Sometimes the approval of Congress is asked for more selfish ends. Ibid., II. 25; III. 274. As to seizing Dunmore, there was a significant dispute. Ibid., 482.
  4. Ibid., II. 77; III. 298.
  5. Ibid., 319, 326.
  6. Delaware and Pennsylvania acted in September, 1776; Maryland in November, 1776; North Carolina in December, 1776; Georgia in February, 1777; New York in April, 1777.
  7. Force, American Archives, fourth series, V. 1588. Note also the attitude of Duane, Journals of Congress, VI. 1075; and of Wilson, ibid., 1075–1076.
  8. Ibid., IV. 286; Force, American Archives, fourth series, V. 1564, 1566, 1590.