John Hancock Letter to
New Jersey Convention
July 16, 1776

In this John Hancock letter, the President of Congress writes a request to the New Jersey patriots to send more soldiers to join General Washington as quickly as possible. The letter shows the serious condition the Army was in and almost has a sound of desperation. Hancock says that their descendants will be the "Slaves of imperious Task-Masters" if they do not rise to the occasion without delay. Note that this letter was written only a few days after the Declaration of Independence, on which document Hancock's name appears most prominently.

John Hancock letter to the New Jersey Convention

philadelphia, July 16th, 1776.


Since I had the Honour of addressing on the fourth of June, at which Time I transmitted sundry Resolves of Congress requesting you to call forth your Militia, our Affairs have assumed a much more serious Complexion. If we turn our attention towards the Northern Department, we behold an Army reduced by Sickness, and obliged to flee before an Enemy of vastly superior Force. If we cast our eyes to Head-Quarters, we see the British Army reinforced under Lord Howe, and ready to strike a Blow, which may be attended with the most fatal Consequences, if not timely resisted. The situation of our Country at this Season, calls therefore for all the Vigour and Wisdom among us; and if we do not mean to desert her at this alarming Crisis, it is high Time to rouse every Spark of Virtue; and forgetting all inferior Considerations, to exert ourselves in a Manner becoming Freemen.

John Hancock

The Intelligence received this Day from General Washington, points out the absolute, the indispensible Necessity of sending forward all the Troops that can possibly be collected, to strengthen both the Army in New York, and that on this side of Canada. I do' therefore, once more, in the Name, and by the Authority of Congress, beseech and request you, - as you regard the Liberties of your Country, and the Happiness of Posterity; and as you stand engaged by the most solemn Ties of Honour to support the Common Cause - to strain every Nerve to send forward your Militia, agreeably to the former Requisitions of Congress. This is a step of such infinite Moment, that, in all Human Probability, it will be the Salvation of America - and as it is the only effectual Step, that can possibly be taken at this Juncture, you will suffer me again most ardently to entreat your speedy Compliance with it.

In short, the Critical Period has arrived, that will seal the Fate, not only of ourselves, but of Posterity. Whether they shall arise the generous Heirs of Freedom, or the dastardly Slaves of imperious Task-Masters, it is now in your Power to determine. And as Freemen, I am sure, you will not hesitate about the Choice.

I have the Honour to be

Your most obed't
very hble Ser't

john Hancock Presid't.

Red stars

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