Continental Congress - HISTORY
The Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in the summer of , shortly after the war with the British had begun. It was preceded by the First . When the Second Continental Congress met in the Pennsylvania Statehouse in Philadelphia for the first time on this day in , fighting had. Its last act was to set a date for another Congress to meet on May 10, , Before that Second Continental Congress assembled in the Pennsylvania State The Congress “adopted” the New England military forces that had converged.
Although it had no explicit legal authority to govern,  it assumed all the functions of a national government, such as appointing ambassadors, signing treaties, raising armies, appointing generals, obtaining loans from Europe, issuing paper money called "Continentals"and disbursing funds. The Congress had no authority to levy taxes, and was required to request money, supplies, and troops from the states to support the war effort. Individual states frequently ignored these requests.
According to one historian, commenting on the source of the Congress' power: The appointment of the delegates to both these congresses was generally by popular conventions, though in some instances by state assemblies. But in neither case can the appointing body be considered the original depositary of the power by which the delegates acted; for the conventions were either self-appointed "committees of safety" or hastily assembled popular gatherings, including but a small fraction of the population to be represented, and the state assemblies had no right to surrender to another body one atom of the power which had been granted to them, or to create a new power which should govern the people without their will.
The source of the powers of congress is to be sought solely in the acquiescence of the people, without which every congressional resolution, with or without the benediction of popular conventions or state legislatures, would have been a mere brutum fulmen; and, as the congress unquestionably exercised national powers, operating over the whole country, the conclusion is inevitable that the will of the whole people is the source of national government in the United States, even from its first imperfect appearance in the second continental congress.
Declaration of Independence Congress was moving towards declaring independence from the British Empire inbut many delegates lacked the authority from their home governments to take such an action.
Advocates of independence in Congress moved to have reluctant colonial governments revise instructions to their delegations, or even replace those governments which would not authorize independence.
On May 10,Congress passed a resolution recommending that any colony lacking a proper i. On May 15 Congress adopted a more radical preamble to this resolution, drafted by John Adamsin which it advised throwing off oaths of allegiance and suppressing the authority of the Crown in any colonial government that still derived its authority from the Crown. That same day the Virginia Convention instructed its delegation in Philadelphia to propose a resolution that called for a declaration of independence, the formation of foreign alliances, and a confederation of the states.
The resolution of independence was delayed for several weeks as revolutionaries consolidated support for independence in their home governments. John Hancock and John Jay were among those who served as president.
Second Continental Congress
It also acted as the provisional government of the 13 colony-states, issuing and borrowing money, establishing a postal service, and creating a navy. Although the Congress for some months maintained that the Americans were struggling for their rights within the British Empireit gradually cut tie after tie with Britain until separation was complete.
The Congress also prepared the Articles of Confederationwhich, after being sanctioned by all the states, became the first U. Declaration of Independence, oil on canvas by John Trumbull, ; in the U.
Second Continental Congress
Architect of the Capitol The Articles placed Congress on a constitutional basis, legalizing the powers it had exercised since To underline this distinction, the Congress that met under the Articles of Confederation is often referred to as the Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress. Blog Second Continental Congress Before adjourning in late Octoberthe First Continental Congress had provided for reconvening at a later time if circumstances dictated.
The skirmishes at Lexington and Concord in Apriland the gathering of an American army outside of Boston provided sufficient impetus to assemble the delegates at the State House in Philadelphia. The first meeting convened on May 10,the same date as the American capture of Fort Ticonderoga. The Second Continental Congress was presided over by John Hancockwho replaced the ailing Peyton Randolph, and included some of the same delegates as the first, but with such notable additions as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Joseph Galloway, the Pennsylvania conservative, was not in attendance. All of the colonies sent delegates, although the Georgia delegation did not arrive until fall. As time passed, the radical element that included John AdamsSamuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee began to eclipse the more conservative faction represented by John Dickinson.
Nonetheless, many of the delegates expected at the outset, that the rupture between colony and mother country would be healed. Congress lacked the legal authority to govern, but boldly assumed that responsibility. Major contributions included the following: On June 15, Congress assumed control of the army encamped outside of Boston. John Adams labored hard among his fellow Northerners to gain support for George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
Adams realized that many people in the South and wealthy Americans in all areas harbored deep reservations about the new armed conflict, and reasoned that the appointment of a prominent Southerner to head the military effort would generate a broader base of support for the struggle.
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