From Pennsylvania came a political leader and a world renowned scientist. It was the man who wrote that mocking poem about EnglandBenjamin Franklin. From Rhode Island came Stephen Hopkins , who didn't let his palsy stop him. New York sent wealthy Philip Livingston. North Carolina's Joseph Hewes was against separation from Great Britain. He would be convinced that the fight for freedom was worthwhile. But all eyes were on the Virginia delegation when Colonel George Washington arrived. "For my part, I shall not undertake to say where the line between Great Britain and the colonies should be drawn," Washington had said, "but I am clearly of the opinion that one ought to be drawn. The crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights."
Also from Virginia was the dashing, aristocratic Richard Henry Lee , who had lost some fingers in a hunting accident and kept a silk handkerchief wrapped around that hand and pointed with it when he spoke. At six feet four inches, Virginia's Benjamin Harrison was the tallest at the convention. Another large Virginian, Peyton Randolph , left when called to the Virginia legislature. That body still seemed more important to many Virginians than any group effort. Randolph's young cousin, Thomas Jefferson , took his place.
As the delegates at the Second Continental Congress began discussion in May 1775, a messenger on horseback brought a letter from Boston. The patriots were pleading for Congress to take over their forces. The minutemen who fought at Lexington and Concord were gathered near Boston. Others had come from the countryside with rifles and muskets. If someone didn't take charge of the army they would all go home.