Portrait of John Hancock.

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

Second Continental Congress Facts

May 10, 1775–1781

Facts About Second Continental Congress

Key facts and important details about the Second Continental Congress for kids doing research and students studying for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

The Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on May 10, 1775.

Like the First Continental Congress, delegates from each colony except Georgia initially attended the Second Continental Congress. Delegates from Georgia were seated on July 20, after Congress declared independence.

By the time Congress had convened, hostilities between Great Britain and the American Colonies had already begun at the Battles of Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts, in April 1775.

Congress created the Continental Army on June 14, 1775, and named George Washington as Commander-in-Chief.

Congress authorized the first printing of American money, $1 million in bills of credit, on June 22, 1775.

Even though a state of war existed between Great Britain and the American Colonies, the Congress originally did not intend to declare independence.

Congress passed the Olive Branch Petition on July 5, 1775 and sent it to the King of England on July 8. British leaders rejected the petition, a final attempt at reconciliation with Great Britain.

Even though Congress assumed the powers of a national government, it had no legal authority to do so.

As the move toward separation from Great Britain accelerated, Congress had to delay a formal declaration until individual delegates were empowered by their home colonies to vote for independence. Congress passed a resolution on May 10, 1776 urging each state to do so.

Congress passed a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776.

Congress approved the formal Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Congress met in various cities during the course of the Revolutionary War, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Maryland, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and York, Pennsylvania.

As Congress went about managing the war effort, it also addressed the huge task of trying to establish a national government that would be acceptable to thirteen separate states. Congress passed the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777 and sent the document to the separate states for ratification. It took more than three years for the all of thirteen colonies to ratify the document. The new nation was formed and the delegates to the Second Continental Congress officially met as the Congress of the Confederation on March 2, 1781, the day after Maryland delegates became the last to sign the Articles of Confederation.

The Congress of the Confederation continued to manage the war and served as the seat of power after the war until a new government was established with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Second Continental Congress Quick Facts
  • Coverage May 10, 1775–1781
  • Author
  • Keywords second continental congress
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date January 18, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 11, 2021
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