Second Continental Congress

Continental CongressCongressSecond
The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies in America which united in the American Revolutionary War. It convened on May 10, 1775 with representatives from 12 of the colonies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, succeeding the First Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The Second Congress functioned as a de facto national government at the outset of the Revolutionary War by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and writing treatises such as the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms and the Olive Branch Petition.

George Washington

WashingtonGeneral WashingtonGeneral George Washington
List of American Revolutionary War battles. British Army during the American War of Independence. List of Continental Forces in the American Revolutionary War. Print sources. Primary sources. Online sources. George Washington Resources at the University of Virginia Library. Original Digitized Letters of George Washington Shapell Manuscript Foundation. The Papers of George Washington, subset of Founders Online from the National Archives. Copies of the wills of General George Washington: the first president of the United States and of Martha Washington, his wife (1904), edited by E. R. Holbrook. George Washington Personal Manuscripts.

American Revolution

RevolutionRevolutionary WarRevolutionary
The Founding Fathers were strong advocates of republican values, particularly Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, which required men to put civic duty ahead of their personal desires. Men had a civic duty to be prepared and willing to fight for the rights and liberties of their countrymen. John Adams wrote to Mercy Otis Warren in 1776, agreeing with some classical Greek and Roman thinkers: "Public Virtue cannot exist without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics."

Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual UnionConfederationArticles
The signers and the states they represented were: Roger Sherman (Connecticut) was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the United States: the Continental Association, the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. Robert Morris (Pennsylvania) signed three of the great state papers of the United States: the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.

Continental Congress

CongressContinental CongressmanDelegate to the Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, at Pennsylvania's State House in Philadelphia shortly after the start of the Revolutionary War. Initially, it functioned as a de facto national government by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties. The following year it adopted a resolution for independence on July 2, 1776, and two days later approved the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration, and John Adams was a leader in the debates in favor of its adoption. Afterward, the Congress functioned as the provisional government of the United States of America through March 1, 1781.

Congress of the Confederation

Confederation CongressCongressContinental Congress
Based on preliminary articles with the British negotiators made on November 30, 1782, and approved by the "Congress of the Confederation" on April 15, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was further signed on September 3, 1783, and ratified by Confederation Congress then sitting at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on January 14, 1784. This formally ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the thirteen former colonies, which on July 4, 1776, had declared independence.

Independence Day (United States)

Independence DayFourth of July4th of July
By a remarkable coincidence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two signatories of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as presidents of the United States, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, Jefferson even mentioning the fact. (Only one other signatory, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, survived them, dying in 1832 .) Although not a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who was elected as president, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third President who died on the anniversary of independence.

Constitutional Convention (United States)

Constitutional ConventionPhiladelphia ConventionConstitutional Convention of 1787
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.

United States Capitol

U.S. CapitolCapitolCapitol Building
The east side paintings include The Baptism of Pocahontas by John Gadsby Chapman, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir, The Discovery of the Mississippi by William Henry Powell, and The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn. The paintings on the west side are by John Trumbull: Declaration of Independence, Surrender of General Burgoyne, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission. Trumbull was a contemporary of the United States' founding fathers and a participant in the American Revolutionary War; he painted a self-portrait into Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Benjamin Franklin

Ben FranklinFranklinFranklin, Benjamin
On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed a three-member committee composed of Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to design the Great Seal of the United States. Franklin's proposal (which was not adopted) featured the motto: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" and a scene from the Book of Exodus, with Moses, the Israelites, the pillar of fire, and George III depicted as pharaoh. The design that was produced was never acted upon by Congress, and the Great Seal's design was not finalized until a third committee was appointed in 1782.


Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PACity of Philadelphia
Philadelphia's importance and central location in the colonies made it a natural center for America's revolutionaries. By the 1750s, Philadelphia had surpassed Boston to become the largest city and busiest port in British America, and second in the British Empire after London. The city hosted the First Continental Congress (1774) before the Revolutionary War; the Second Continental Congress (1775–76), which signed the United States Declaration of Independence, during the war; and the Constitutional Convention (1787) after the war. Several battles were fought in and near Philadelphia as well.

George III of the United Kingdom

George IIIKing George IIIGeorge III of Great Britain
The grievances in the United States Declaration of Independence were presented as "repeated injuries and usurpations" that he had committed to establish an "absolute Tyranny" over the colonies. The Declaration's wording has contributed to the American public's perception of George as a tyrant.

French Revolution

RevolutionRevolutionary FranceRevolutionary
In 1793, as war broke out in Europe, the Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson favoured France and pointed to the 1778 treaty that was still in effect. George Washington and his unanimous cabinet, including Jefferson, decided that the treaty did not bind the United States to enter the war. Washington proclaimed neutrality instead. Under President John Adams, a Federalist, an undeclared naval war took place with France from 1798 until 1799, often called the "Quasi War". Jefferson became president in 1801, but was hostile to Napoleon as a dictator and emperor.

Intolerable Acts

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.

Lee Resolution

resolution of independenceresolutiona resolution
On June 10, Congress decided to form a committee to draft a declaration of independence in case the resolution should pass. On June 11, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were appointed as the Committee of Five to accomplish this. That same day, Congress decided to establish two other committees to develop the resolution's last two parts.

First Continental Congress

FirstContinental Congress1st Continental Congress
Conservatives such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, and Edward Rutledge believed their task to be forging policies to pressure Parliament to rescind its unreasonable acts. Their ultimate goal was to develop a reasonable solution to the difficulties and bring about reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. Others such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, and John Adams believed their task to be developing a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies.

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de LafayetteLafayetteGeneral Lafayette
Thomas Jefferson Letter, 30 November 1813 From the Collections at the Library of Congress. "Lafayette Triumphant: His 1824–1825 Tour and Reception in the United States". Thomas Jefferson Letter, 30 November 1813 From the Collections at the Library of Congress.

Timeline of Baltimore to 1799

Reconstruction begins of old American Revolutionary War fortifications at Fort Whetstone at end of southern peninsula between Basin (modern Inner Harbor) and Northwest Branch of Patapsco River on its north side to Middle and Ferry (now Southern) Branches on its south side. Star-shaped Fort McHenry, renamed for James McHenry, third Secretary of War under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.

Continental Association

Articles of Associationassociationboycott of British goods
John Sullivan. 3. Nathaniel Folsom. 4. Thomas Cushing. 5. Samuel Adams. 6. John Adams. 7. Robert Treat Paine. 8. Stephen Hopkins. 9. Samuel Ward. 10. Eliphalet Dyer. 11. Roger Sherman. 12. Silas Deane. 13. Isaac Low. 14. John Alsop. 15. John Jay. 16. James Duane. 17. Philip Livingston. 18. William Floyd. 19. Henry Wisner. 20. Simon Boerum. 21. James Kinsey. 22. William Livingston. 23. Stephen Crane. 24. Richard Smith. 25. John De Hart. 26. Joseph Galloway. 27. John Dickinson. 28. Charles Humphreys. 29. Thomas Mifflin. 30. Edward Biddle. 31. John Morton. 32. George Ross. 33. Caesar Rodney. 34. Thomas McKean. 35. George Read. 36. Matthew Tilghman. 37. Thomas Johnson, Junr. 38.

Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes

VergennesComte de VergennesCharles Gravier
Vergennes' rivalry with the British, and his desire to avenge the disasters of the Seven Years' War, led to his support of the Thirteen Colonies in the American War of Independence. Historians believe that, because of financial strains for France, this commitment contributed to the French Revolution of 1789. As early as 1765, Vergennes predicted that the loss of the French threat in North America would lead to the Americans "striking off their chains". In 1775 the first fighting broke out, and in July 1776, the colonists declared independence. Long before France's open entry into the war, Vergennes approved of Pierre Beaumarchais's plan for secret French assistance.

President of the United States

PresidentU.S. PresidentUnited States President
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.

British America

English AmericaAmerican coloniesAmerica
British America included the British Empire's colonial territories in America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America described the remainder of Great Britain's continental American possessions. That term was used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.

Treaty of Alliance (1778)

Treaty of Alliance1778 Treaty of Alliancealliance
As a result, John Adams began drafting conditions for a possible commercial treaty between France and the future independent colonies of the United States, which declined the presence of French troops and any aspect of French authority in colonial affairs. On September 25 the Continental congress ordered commissioners, led by Benjamin Franklin, to seek a treaty with France based upon Adams draft treaty that had later been formalized into a Model Treaty which sought the establishment of reciprocal trade relations with France but declined to mention any possible military assistance from the French government.

Independence National Historical Park

Independence MallIndependence Mall EastIndependence Hall area
Although the measure amounted to a virtual declaration of war by the British, Congress did not have immediate authority to declare independence until each individual colony authorized its delegates to vote for independence. On June 11, Congress appointed the "Committee of Five," consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, to draft an official declaration of independence. Congress unanimously adopted its final version of the Declaration on July 4, marking the formation of the United States of America.

Robert Morris (financier)

Robert MorrisMorrisMr. Morris
The President's House, as it became known, would serve as the residence of the president until 1800, when President John Adams moved to the White House in Washington, D.C. In 1765, the Parliament of Great Britain imposed the Stamp Act, a tax on transactions involving paper that proved widely unpopular in British North America. In one of his first major political acts, Morris joined with several other merchants in pressuring British agent John Hughes to refrain from collecting the new tax. Facing colonial resistance, Parliament repealed the tax, but it later implemented other policies designed to generate tax revenue from the colonies.