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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

VIII. American Political Writing, 1760–1789

§ 14. The Journal of the Continental Congress

Of publication and writing of certain sorts, on the other hand, there was a considerable volume. The Journal of the Continental Congress, published from time to time, with the exception of such parts as were thought to require secrecy, is an invaluable record of proceedings, although it contains no report of debates. Numerous reports, resolutions, and other state papers of importance were, however, printed separately in broadside or pamphlet form for the use of members of Congress or for wider distribution. The acts and resolutions of the state legislatures, so far as such bodies were able to meet, were also printed, together with occasional proclamations and other public documents.

The letters of American statesmen, particularly Washington, Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Jay, and Patrick Henry, published long afterwards in collected editions, existed for the most part only in manuscript; but their quasi-public character, together with their circulation from hand to hand often gave to them, to an extent much greater than would be the case today, though within limited circles, the essential character of publications. Larger audiences, but still local, were reached by sermons, many of which especially those of the New England clergy, dealt much with the war and the political issues of the time. Comparatively few of these, however, were printed contemporaneously. Of great importance to an understanding of the revolutionary struggle are the journals and letter-books of soldiers and officers, both American and British, and the controversial narratives and defences of Burgoyne, Cornwallis, Clinton, and others regarding the conduct of military affairs; but few of these are predominantly political in character, almost none were printed in America at the time, and the publication of nearly all of those by American authors dates from years long subsequent to the war.