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CHRONICLE OF THE REVOLUTION
The Second Continental Congress
The Horse America
 A post-independence cartoon.
 America as a horse bucking its British rider.
 
George Washington grew increasingly exasperated with the Continental Congress' inability to help him as he and the army were being chased from New York and through New Jersey in the fall of 1776. Congress, however, had more than a few problems of its own.

The Declaration of Independence had shown that representatives of the thirteen colonies could come to an agreement on a single vital issue. But always crucial to Congressional thinking was the problem of how to create an effective union, without creating an overpowering central government like England's.

The Articles of Confederation were introduced in Congress in July of 1776 as a means to this end. For the next year, the issue of how the states would govern themselves was arduously debated in Philadelphia before it was finally passed in 1777. Another 4 years went by before these same articles were ratified by all the states.

Scholar Richard Norton
arrow Watch Scholar Richard
Norton Smith on
Washington and the
Continental Congress
 
Conducting and financing the war, establishing a foreign policy and finding allies to the cause were paramount considerations to the 2nd Continental Congress.

To finance the war, Congress resorted to issuing paper money and certificates promising future payment for goods and services. Both were quickly and steeply devalued.

The foreign mission was more successful, but it took over a year from the time Congress sent Benjamin Franklin to France for him, and the other legatees, to secure a treaty of alliance with Louis XVI.

And throughout this period, Philadelphia was threatened by British forces. In fact, Congress made the first of several moves, to Baltimore, on December 13, 1776.

Many in Congress, including John Adams, sniped at Washington, complaining that he was too inexperienced to lead the war effort after the disaster in New York. They preferred Charles Lee, a former British officer, who lobbied not too subtly for the post in Philadelphia. Lee remained the darling of some until he was surprised and captured by a British regiment in New Jersey in early December of 1776.

Just a few weeks later, Washington and the Continental Army surprised the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

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