Portrait of John Hancock.

John Hancock served the longest term as President of the Second Continental Congress.

Second Continental Congress External Links

May 10, 1775–1781

External Links for Second Continental Congress

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Second Continental Congress

Times had taken a sharp turn for the worse. Lexington and Concord had changed everything. When the Redcoats fired into the Boston crowd in 1775, the benefit of the doubt was granted. Now the professional imperial army was attempting to arrest patriot leaders, and minutemen had been killed in their defense. In May 1775, with Redcoats once again storming Boston, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia.

Second Continental Congress

It was on May 10, 1775, the day that had witnessed the capture of the powerful fortress at the base of the Adirondacks by the intrepid Allen, that the Second Continental Congress met in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. It was composed of the best brains of the land. Most of the old members of the preceding Congress were present, but some of the strongest men in the body now took their seats for the first time. Among these were Thomas Jefferson, a youthful Virginian whose powers were beginning to unfold; Benjamin Franklin, the only American who enjoyed a world-wide fame; and John Hancock, who was chosen president in defiance of the king's proscription.

Second Continental Congress

Smoke from the battles of Lexington and Concord (Apr. 19, 1775) had scarcely cleared when the Second Continental Congress met on the appointed day in Philadelphia. Armed conflict strengthened the radical element, but only gradually did the delegates swing toward independence.

The Continental Congress Broadside Collection

The Continental Congress Broadside Collection, consisting of 256 titles, includes material relating to the work of Congress, dating from 1774 to 1788. Items are predominantly extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, committee reports, proclamations, treaties, and other congressional proceedings. These broadsides provide a significant supplement to the Journals of the Continental Congress. Some of the broadsides trace the evolution of congressional measures at specific stages of consideration and differ significantly from the modified resolutions finally adopted by Congress. Some items contain manuscript annotations not recorded elsewhere that offer insight into the delicate process of creating consensus. In many cases, multiple copies bearing manuscript annotations are available to compare and contrast. Not every major topic considered by Congress is represented by this collection; the bulk of the material dates from 1781 to 1788.

Journals of the Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The Second Continental Congress ran from May 10, 1775, to March 2, 1789. The Journals of the Continental Congress are the records of the daily proceedings of the Congress as kept by the office of its secretary, Charles Thomson. The Journals were printed contemporaneously in different editions and in several subsequent reprint editions. None of these editions, however, includes the "Secret Journals," confidential sections of the records, which were not published until 1821.

Letters of Delegates to Congress

The twenty-six volumes of the Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789 aims to make available all the documents written by delegates that bear directly upon their work during their years of actual service in the First and Second Continental Congresses, 1774-1789. This work builds on an earlier eight-volume edition of Letters of Members of the Continental Congress edited by Edmund C. Burnett. The Ford Foundation and the United States Congress, through the American Revolution Bicentennial Office of the Library of Congress, provided funding and additional support for the completion of this project.

Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, Selected Documents

Original text of selected documents from the Journals of the Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress

War breaks out in Massachusetts on 19 April 1775. Many delegates are already en route to Philadelphia, where Congress convenes on 10 May 1775. Notable additions include Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Lyman Hall, the lone delegate representing a single parish in Georgia. In Massachusetts, the Provincial Congress, formed when military governor Thomas Gage dissolved the legislature in 1774, needs advice. Arguing that "General Gage hath actually levied war" against them, Massachusetts patriots hope Congress will suggest a mechanism for creating a civil government to manage the colony.

Second Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that met beginning in May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after shooting in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774, also in Philadelphia. The second Congress managed the colonial war effort, and moved slowly towards independence, adopting the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. By raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties, the Congress acted as the de facto national government of what became the United States.

Second Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress was a body of representatives appointed by the legislatures of several British North American colonies which met from May 10, 1775 to March 1, 1781. The First Continental Congress had sent entreaties to the British King to stop the Intolerable Acts and had created the Articles of Association to create a coordinated protest of the Intolerable Acts; in particular, a boycott had been placed on British goods. That Congress had provided that the Second Continental Congress would meet on May 10, 1775 to plan further responses if the British government had not repealed or modified the Intolerable Acts.

Declaration of Independence

Text of the Declaration of Independence

Continental Congress, 1774-1781

The Continental Congress was the formal means by which the American colonial governments coordinated their resistance to British rule during the first two years of the American Revolution. The Congresses balanced the interests of the different colonies and also established itself as the official colonial liaison with Great Britain. As the war progressed, the Congress became the effective national government of the country, and, as such, conducted diplomacy on behalf of the new United States.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Second Continental Congress External Links
  • Coverage May 10, 1775–1781
  • Author
  • Keywords second continental congress
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date March 29, 2020
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 13, 2018

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