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INV-23790 JOHN HANCOCK Manuscript Document Signed (“John Hancock”) as President of the Continental Congress, 2 pages, 8 x 12½ in., “In Congress” [Philadelphia], November 19 & 21, 1776. 1776-11-19

“Congress deem it necessary upon every principle of propriety to remind the several States how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate & vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of troops for the new Army…”

Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Long Island at the end of August 1776 resulted in the British occupying New York City less than three weeks later. The news for the Americans only got worse, as they had to retreat from White Plains on October 28, and Hessian mercenaries captured Fort Washington, in northern Manhattan on November 16.

With the Redcoats in hot pursuit, the Continental Army retreated across New Jersey throughout December, eventually crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for safety. Washington had split his troops (the other group commanded by General Charles Lee) in hopes of taking a stand before Philadelphia. With Washington’s command in jeopardy and the British headed towards the seat of Congress, Hancock stresses the urgent need for troops and supplies.

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