Congress, Carpenter's Hall, Parliament discussed on History That Doesn't Suck
I trust you recall last year's first Continental Congress from the last episode. I won't rehash that 1774 gathering, but we'll remind you that, among its actions, this collective body representing the separate colonies rejected most of parliament's authority and listed several grievances in its declaration and resolves, and enacted economic sanctions through its continental association. The delegates also decided before going their separate ways in October 1774 that they would only hold a second Congress if things really went poorly. And that event, they would meet in about half a year, starting on May 10th, 1775. Well, between king George the third in parliament, each separately describing New England as being in a state of rebellion that winter, then the botched attempt to seize munitions at Salem last February, I guess you could say things were going poorly. The second Continental Congress was definitely on. This further botched attempt to seize munitions at conquered. That turned into a battle, was just the cherry on top. There's a sad irony to this. Only a few months back, on February 27th, one day after that ugly business in Salem, parliament accepted prime minister lord Frederick north's conciliatory proposition. This proposed to let each colony tax itself. So long as a colony raised the funds to cover civil judicial and military needs, parliament wouldn't interfere. But alas. This olive branch is too little too late. Especially after the battle of Lexington and Concord. A second Continental Congress is definitely happening. So, back to Philadelphia. We're not at Carpenter's hall this time, though still on chestnut street. Only a block or two away. At the Pennsylvania state House. You might know this building by a different name. A name that will come later after, well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. That's a story for a later episode. Let's just say you might know this place as independence hall. But to set the stage for this Congress, I'll add that the state House shares a lot stylistically with Carpenter's hall. While the state House is a bit older, both are built in the Georgian style and have a white trim around their windows and white doors. Both are primarily built to red brick, though independence hall lacks that beautiful checkering of black and bricks we saw at Carpenter's hall. Another difference. The state House has a large bell tower at its top, but don't picture it looking quite as nice as it will in the 21st century. It has no clock in 1775. Also, the wooden towers ride. Of course, the choice to move buildings for this Congress has nothing to do with either buildings gorgeous facades. Rotting steel is standing. It's because the state House slash independence hall is bigger. And they'll need the space. This second Congress will have more in new delegates than the last one, including some friends of ours from past episodes. Like Boston's popular, wealthy merchant, John Hancock. Within the first month, he'll replace Peyton Randolph as president of the Congress. We also have Boston born, but now Philly dwelling doctor Benjamin Franklin. An inventor renaissance man and the author of the 1754 join or die political cartoon. Ben's also recently widowed and returned from Britain, where he served as an agent, or perhaps diplomat rather for Pennsylvania and other colonies. Let's also take note of a young red headed virginian we've met on a few past occasions. Between this Congress, which will last several years, and the early decades of the republic to come, he has a number of significant roles yet ahead. This is Thomas Jefferson. Well, it sounds like we have our who, why, where and when. Let's go ahead and convene this Congress. Per last year's arrangement, the second Continental Congress officially begins on May 10th, 1775. War is in the air and militias are training across the colonies, but let's be clear. This still does not mean talk of independence. Not just yet. Perhaps those Massachusetts men, particularly the Adams cousins, John and Sam might like to have such conversations. At least, a future letter from John Adams to James Warren, and doctor Benjamin rushes later writings indicate that. But by and large, independence is not yet on the minds or at least not openly on the lips of patriots. Thus far, this is a Civil War and local to New England at that. What more will become remains to be seen, though recent events are pressing Congress to make decisions. After 5 days in various reports on the battle of Lexington and Concord, the second Continental Congress responds to news of British troops heading to New York by instructing the colony to permit them, but be ready to defend itself. Been only days later, on May 18th, this August body learns that in the early still dark hours of May 10th, a little over 100 new englanders, primarily from a group known as the green mountain boys, seized fort ticonderoga on Lake champlain southwestern shore. This is a messy development for several reasons. One. This military operations co commanders, Ethan Allen, and the later to become infamous Benedict Arnold. Both want the glory and control of the narrative. Two. The fort surrounding area, called the New Hampshire grants, is disputed territory, claimed by New York and New Hampshire. In three, rumor has it that Ethan claimed the fort. Quote, in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress. This second Congress, which only first convened hours after the fall of the fort. Certainly never gave him such authority. Yet, here we are. Perhaps preparing for this Civil War to spread is wise. Before the month is through, Congress organizes a ways and means committee to examine the acquisition of munitions. As early June passes, talk of a colonial army grows among the delegates, with the Congress voting on June 10th to recommend to the various colonies to procure or prepare munitions or send such support to the quote unquote American army in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Still, does this Continental Congress really want to take the monumental step of creating a united colony's Continental Army. It's a major proposition. My God's forgiveness spare British North America from this deadly path and open the way to reconciliation with the king. On June 12th, 1775, Congress calls for the colonies to fast prey and repent for this very purpose. Quote this Congress therefore considering the present critical alarming and calamitous state of these colonies. Do earnestly recommend that Thursday, the 20th day of July next, be observed by the inhabitants of all the English colonies on this continent. As a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer. That we may, with united hearts and voices, unfairly confess and deplore our many sins. And offer up our joint supplications to the all wise, omnipotent, and merciful, disposer of all events. Humbly beseeching him to forgive our iniquities to remove our present calamities to avert those desolating judgments with which we are threatened, and to bless our rightful sovereign, king George the third. Ha. Rightful sovereign. Seems that, for all the growing support, some delegates still don't want to charge into a fight. But this talk of reconciliation and waiting things out doesn't fly for the Massachusetts delegates. They have war on their hands already. John Adams has personally seen the militias gathering at the Cambridge common hoping to keep the British Army from again advancing out of Boston in the wake of the battle of Lexington and Concord. They need this Continental Congress to do as the president of the Massachusetts provincial Congress, James Warren, has requested to organize its own Continental Army from across the colonies. And despite this Congress's many divisions, its sectionalism and various opinions, John Adams is determined to see it done.