The Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, at Philadelphia's State House, passing the resolution for independence the following year on July 2, 1776, and publicly asserting the decision two days later with the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia drafted the declaration, and John Adams was a leader in the debates in favor of its adoption. John Hancock of Massachusetts was the president during those debates. To govern during the American Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress continued, meeting at various locations, until it became the Congress of the Confederation when the Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.
CongressContinental Congressman from DelawareDelegate to the Continental Congress
American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1998). Miller, John C. Triumph of Freedom, 1775-1783 (1948) ISBN: 0-313-20779-8. Full text of Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. Interactive Flash Version of John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson was his leading opponent, arguing for agrarianism and smaller government. Hamilton was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis. He was orphaned as a child and taken in by a prosperous merchant. When he reached his teens, he was sent to New York to pursue his education. He took an early role in the militia as the American Revolutionary War began. In 1777, he became a senior aide to General Washington in running the new Continental Army. After the war, he was elected as a representative from New York to the Congress of the Confederation. He resigned to practice law and founded the Bank of New York.
Constitutional ConventionPhiladelphia Convention1787 Constitutional Convention
Thomas Jefferson was abroad, serving as the minister to France. John Adams was in Britain, serving as minister to that country, but he wrote home to encourage the delegates. Patrick Henry refused to participate because he "smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy." Also absent were John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Many of the states' older and more experienced leaders may have simply been too busy with the local affairs of their states to attend the Convention, which had originally been planned to strengthen the existing Articles of Confederation, not to write a constitution for a completely new national government.
MonroePresident MonroePresident James Monroe
Upon Elizabeth's death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur, who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur. Monroe's health began to slowly fail by the end of the 1820s. On July 4, 1831, Monroe died from heart failure and tuberculosis, thus becoming the third president to have died on Independence Day. His death came 55 years after the United States Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and 5 years after the death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Monroe was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family's vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery.
MACommonwealth of MassachusettsMass.
Anti-Parliamentary activity by men such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775. The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the eponymous Massachusetts towns. Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city. The event is still celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day.
Robert R. LivingstonRobert LivingstonChancellor Livingston
Robert Robert Livingston (November 27, 1746 (Old Style November 16) – February 26, 1813) was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat from New York, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was known as "The Chancellor", after the high New York state legal office he held for 25 years. He was a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Roger Sherman. Livingston administered the Oath of Office to George Washington when he assumed the presidency in 1789.
JayChief Justice John Jayfirst Chief Justice of the United States
In 1774, at the close of the Continental Congress, Jay returned to New York. There he served on New York City's Committee of Sixty, where he attempted to enforce a non-importation agreement passed by the First Continental Congress. Jay was elected to the third New York Provincial Congress, where he drafted the Constitution of New York, 1777; his duties as a New York Congressman prevented him from voting on or signing the Declaration of Independence. Jay served on the committee to detect and defeat conspiracies, which monitored British Actions.
FranklinBen FranklinFranklin, Benjamin
A Loyalist, William and his father eventually broke relations over their differences about the American Revolutionary War. The elder Franklin could never accept William's position. Deposed in 1776 by the revolutionary government of New Jersey, William was arrested at his home in Perth Amboy at the Proprietary House and imprisoned for a time. The younger Franklin went to New York in 1782, which was still occupied by British troops. He became leader of the Board of Associated Loyalists—a quasi-military organization, headquartered in New York City. They initiated guerrilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city.
Donald Trump of New York is the 45th and current president. He assumed office on January 20, 2017. In July 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Thirteen Colonies, acting jointly through the Second Continental Congress, declared themselves to be 13 independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. Recognizing the necessity of closely coordinating their efforts against the British, the Continental Congress simultaneously began the process of drafting a constitution that would bind the states together. There were long debates on a number of issues, including representation and voting, and the exact powers to be given the central government.
LafayetteMarquis de LafayetteGeneral Lafayette
He addressed the Virginia House of Delegates where he called for "liberty of all mankind" and urged emancipation of slaves, and he urged the Pennsylvania Legislature to help form a federal union (the states were then bound by the Articles of Confederation). He visited the Mohawk Valley in New York to participate in peace negotiations with the Iroquois, some of whom he had met in 1778. He received an honorary degree from Harvard, a portrait of Washington from the city of Boston, and a bust from the state of Virginia.
George Mason IVaddressedMason
He also wrote a constitution for the state; Thomas Jefferson and others sought to have the convention adopt their ideas, but they found that Mason's version could not be stopped. During the American Revolutionary War, Mason was a member of the powerful House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly but, to the irritation of Washington and others, he refused to serve in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, citing health and family commitments. Mason was in 1787 named one of his state's delegates to the Constitutional Convention and traveled to Philadelphia, his only lengthy trip outside Virginia.
Treaty of Paris1783 Treaty of ParisTreaty of Paris of 1783
Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States' existence as free, sovereign, and independent states, remains in force. Peace negotiations began in April 1782 and continued through the summer. Representing the United States were Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and John Adams. David Hartley and Richard Oswald represented Great Britain. The treaty was signed at the Hotel d'York (at present 56 Rue Jacob) in Paris on September 3, 1783, by Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Hartley. Regarding the American Treaty, the key episodes came in September 1782, when French Foreign Minister Vergennes proposed a solution that was strongly opposed by his ally, the United States.
Founding FathersFounding FatherFounding Father of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers, were a group of philosophers, politicians, and writers who led the American Revolution against the Kingdom of Great Britain. Most were descendants of colonists settled in the Thirteen Colonies in North America. Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were members of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence.
Coercive Actsactsamong other actions
As tensions escalated, the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, leading in July 1776 to the declaration of an independent United States of America. Relations between the Thirteen Colonies and the British Parliament slowly but steadily worsened after the end of the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War) in 1763. The war had plunged the British government deep into debt, and so the British Parliament enacted a series of measures to increase tax revenue from the colonies.
George ClintonGovernor George ClintonClinton
He also served as governor of New York from 1777 to 1795 and from 1801 to 1804. Along with John C. Calhoun, he is one of two vice presidents to hold office under two presidents. Clinton served in the French and Indian War, rising to the rank of lieutenant in the colonial militia. He began a legal practice after the war and served as a district attorney for New York City. He became Governor of New York in 1777 and remained in that office until 1795. Clinton supported the cause of independence during the American Revolutionary War and served in the Continental Army despite his gubernatorial position.
The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America. The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America. In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence.
VACommonwealth of VirginiaVa.
On May 15, 1776, the Convention declared Virginia's independence from the British Empire and adopted George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was then included in a new constitution. Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, drew upon Mason's work in drafting the national Declaration of Independence. When the American Revolutionary War began, George Washington was selected to head the colonial army. During the war, the capital was moved to Richmond at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who feared that Williamsburg's coastal location would make it vulnerable to British attack.
Elbridge Gerry (MA)Eldridge GerryGerry, Elbridge
Born into a wealthy merchant family, Gerry vocally opposed British colonial policy in the 1760s, and was active in the early stages of organizing the resistance in the American Revolutionary War. Elected to the Second Continental Congress, Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of three men who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 who refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not then include a Bill of Rights.
Charles C. PinckneyCharles PinckneyPinckney
The Revolutionary War had convinced many in South Carolina, including Pinckney, that the defense of the state required the cooperation of the other colonies. As such, Pinckney advocated a stronger national government than that provided by the Articles of Confederation, and he represented South Carolina at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Pinckney advocated that African American slaves be counted as a basis of representation.
Tom PainePainePaine, Thomas
However, in 1781, he accompanied John Laurens on his mission to France. Eventually, after much pleading from Paine, New York State recognized his political services by presenting him with an estate at New Rochelle, New York and Paine received money from Pennsylvania and from Congress at Washington's suggestion. During the Revolutionary War, Paine served as an aide-de-camp to the important general, Nathanael Greene. In what may have been an error, and perhaps even contributed to his resignation as the secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Paine was openly critical of Silas Deane, an American diplomat who had been appointed in March 1776 by the Congress to travel to France in secret.
CongressConfederation CongressContinental Congress
This formally ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the thirteen former colonies, which on July 4, 1776, had declared independence. In December 1783, General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, journeyed to Annapolis after saying farewell to his officers (at Fraunces Tavern) and men who had just reoccupied New York City after the departing British Army. On December 23, at the Maryland State House, where the Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber, he addressed the civilian leaders and delegates of Congress and returned to them the signed commission they had voted him back in June 1775, at the beginning of the conflict.
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the United States. It was drafted by the Second Continental Congress from mid-1776 through late 1777, and ratification by all 13 states was completed by early 1781. The Articles of Confederation gave little power to the central government. The Confederation Congress could make decisions, but lacked enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures.
American historyU.S. historyUnited States history
George Washington – a renowned hero of the American Revolutionary War, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention – became the first President of the United States under the new Constitution in 1789. The national capital moved from New York to Philadelphia in 1790 and finally settled in Washington DC in 1800. The major accomplishments of the Washington Administration were creating a strong national government that was recognized without question by all Americans.
This is a timeline of United States history, comprising important legal and territorial changes as well as political, social, and economic events in the United States and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of the United States.