Experiencing the Second Continental Congress
By Jordyn Brunner
Grade 8 Perkins Middle School
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Sally DeForest Chapter
I was hungry as I rode into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after a long horse ride from Lexington, Massachusetts, my home town. The inns were already busy as the delegates from other colonies were gathering. After tending to the horses and getting my room, I went to the tavern for food. As we entered the tavern, many of the delegates looked tired and concerned.
“I was hoping to hear that we had made peace with Britain,” one of the delegates said as he shook his head. “Now it looks like it won’t happen. Speaking of violence, tell me about the Battles at Lexington and Concord.”
I answered, “We kept our weapons safe from one-hundred British troops marching from Boston, all thanks to Paul Revere. He courageously warned us that the British were coming by sea. This allowed us to be set and ready. In Lexington, the British met us. Although we do not know who fired first, the battles began and our minutemen came through. As the British retreated, our minutemen surprised them, and we were successful.”
After talking about ourselves for a little while longer, we decided that we needed to be well rested for tomorrow. It was getting late, so we went to our rooms to get ready for bed. As I settled into bed, I went to sleep anxious about the meeting I was to attend tomorrow.
The next morning, the fifty-six delegates met. We were now the Second Continental Congress. The delegates came from all of the thirteen colonies. There were many different opinions in the room. The meeting began with a disagreement about whether we should try peaceful methods or not. Due to the violence and fear of losing our people, we decided that we would try peace one more time, hoping to show our loyalty to the king. John Dickinson, from Pennsylvanna, came up with the Olive Branch Petition. It discussed our freedom and rights and asked for the king to be kinder to us.
I stood up to talk. “I come from Massachusetts, so you all know what I have experienced in Lexington and Concord. I do not believe the Olive Branch Petition will work. I don’t care if we send it, but we better start preparing for war if it is not successful.”
Many of us thought that the idea was smart. As a group, we decided that we needed a stronger army, with a strong, quick-minded leader. We would also need a lot of weapons to help advance our chances of winning. We also decided that the army would consist of people from all colonies.
A delegate stood up and said, “ I think I know the perfect person. I nominate George Washington, from Virginia, as the commander of our army.”
The delegates voted and George Washington was unanimously elected to lead the first Continental Army. This was a huge job because most of the men that would be a part of the Continental Army would be inexperienced, poorly trained, and under-supplied.
After electing Washington, another delegate stood to speak. “If we are willing to fight, we need to let Britain know we are now an independent nation. We need a committee to write a document stating we are no longer under British rule.”
Looking into the future, if the king did grant us freedom, a committee of five was chosen to write a declaration that stated our grievances with England. These five people consisted of Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, John Adams from Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman from Connecticut, and Robert Livingston from New York. They had a lot of work ahead of them.
After all of this was settled, we decided we would meet again in the near future to discuss problems that may come up. As we left, there was a feeling of optimism and hope. We all knew what was ahead would be hard and challenging, but we were determined to work together to obtain our goal.
Deverell, William, and Deborah Gary White. United States History: Beginnings to 1877, Holt McDougal, 2021. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, www.hmhco.com/ui/#/discover/SS_18E_USH1877