Author: Second Continental Congress


Declaration of Independence (1776)

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, adopted the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Virginia delegate Thomas Jefferson in committee with John Adams, of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston, of New York, and Roger Sherman, of Connecticut. The Declaration followed a resolution, made by Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee on June 7, that the Congress declare independence. The resolution was adopted on July 2, and the Declaration of Independence listed the Congress’s grievances with George III. Some spelling has been modernized.


Olive Branch Petition (1775)

This letter, or what became known as the Olive Branch Petition, was written by John Dickinson, delegate from Pennsylvania, and adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 8, 1775, during the American Revolution (1775–1783). It was addressed to King George III and served as an appeal for the redress of colonial grievances. The Virginia delegates who signed it were Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Jefferson.


Journals of the Continental Congress (March 29, 1779)

In this resolution, passed March 29, 1779, the Continental Congress offers to compensate slaveholders in Georgia and South Carolina up to $1,000 for each slave enlisted in the Continental army, and declares that slaves who served until the end of the war would “be emancipated.” The two states did not respond favorably to the offer, as George Washington later discusses with John Laurens.