Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: May 11, 1775

May 11, 1775

Each of the 11 delegations present announce their quorum requirements. Congress passes a secrecy rule and turns to the deteriorating relations with Great Britain. Caesar Rodney and Joseph Hewes write about the arrival of several delegates.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

As in the First Continental Congress, each colony was allocated one vote and set its own internal quorum requirement.  The Congress invoked a secrecy rule similar to the one adopted previously by the First Continental Congress and later by the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

New Hampshire set an internal quorum requirement of one delegate from the two selected to vote in favor of “all Measures, which said Congress shall deem necessary to Obtain redress of American Grievances.” 

Massachusetts straddled the line between revolution and protest and appealed to the colonial past.  On behalf of “the immutable Laws of Nature and reason, the principles of the English constitution, and respective Charters and constitutions of the Colonies,” necessary for the preservation of liberty, Massachusetts resolved that any three of the five delegates selected form a quorum to “direct and order such farther measures, as shall to them appear to be best calculated for the recovery and establishment of American rights and Liberties, and for restoring harmony between Great-Britain and the Colonies.”

Connecticut chose Eliphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman, Silas Deane, Titus Hosmer, and Jonathan Sturgess, to be their Delegates. [Editor’s Note.  On May 10, only the first three were present.]  The directive continues: “any Three of Whom are authorized and empowered to attend said Congress, in behalf of this Colony, to join, consult and advise with the Delegates of the other Colonies in British America, on proper Measures for advancing the best Good of the Colonies.”

New York chose 12 delegates. Philip Livingston, James Duane, John Alsop, John Jay, Simon Boerum, William Floyd, Henry Wisner, Philip Schuyler, George Clinton, Lewis Morris, Francis Lewis, and Robert R. Livingston.  The quorum requirement was five.  Yesterday, only the first three were present and given the authority “to concert and determine upon such measures, as shall be judged most effectual for the preservation and re-establishment of American rights and privileges, and for the restoration of harmony between Great Britain and the Colonies.”

The New Jersey Assembly resolved that “any three” of the five selected delegates constitute a quorum “and that they report their Proceedings to the next Session of General Assembly.”

Pennsylvania resolved that Edward Biddle, John Dickinson, Thomas Mifflin, Joseph Galloway, Charles Humphreys, John Morton, and George Ross, be appointed deputies to attend the Second Continental Congress and that four constitute a quorum “unless the present Grievances of the American Colonies shall before that Time be redressed.”  On May 6, 1775 Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Willing, and James Wilson were added to the delegation.  Eight of the ten delegates were present yesterday.

Delaware resolved that “any two” of the three delegates selected and present yesterday, “together with the Delegates from the other American Colonies, to concert and agree upon such further measures, as shall appear to them best calculated for the accommodation of the unhappy differences between Great-Britain and the Colonies, on a constitutional foundation, which the House most ardently wish for, and that they report their proceedings to the next Sessions of General Assembly.”

Maryland resolved that “Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, Robert Goldsborough, William Paca, Samuel Chase, John Hall, and Thomas Stone, or any three or more of them, be Delegates to represent this Province in the next Continental Congress, and that they… have full and ample power to consent and agree to all measures, which such Congress shall deem necessary and effectual to obtain a redress of American grievances.”  Yesterday, five of the seven delegates were present.

Virginia elected seven delegates “Peyton Randolph, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton, Benjamin Harrison, and Richard Bland.” There does not appear to be a stated quorum requirement.  Yesterday, Patrick Henry was absent.

North Carolina resolved that First Continental Congress delegates William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and Richard Caswell be reappointed “to attend the General Congress, to be held at Philadelphia, on the tenth day of May next… and they are hereby invested with such powers as may make any Acts done by them, or any of them, or consent given in behalf of this Province, obligatory, in honor, upon every Inhabitant thereof.”  No quorum requirement is stated.  All three were present yesterday.

South Carolina “being fully satisfied with the conduct and fidelity of their late Deputies at the Congress” appointed Henry Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge, and Edward Rutledge “with full power and authority to concert, agree to, and effectually prosecute such measures, as…shall be most likely to obtain a redress of American Grievances.”  No quorum requirement is stated.  All five were present yesterday.

The delegates agreed to a “secrecy rule” until “the majority shall direct them to be made public.” 

The delegates then reviewed the latest efforts in Britain and the colonies to reverse the deteriorating relationship between Britain and America.  The February 1775 reports of William Bollan, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur Lee were “laid before the Congress and read.”  John Hancock reported on the hostile situations in Massachusetts, especially in Concord and Lexington.

Resolved, unanimously, “That the Congress will, on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the state of America.”

Adjourned till tomorrow at ten o’Clock.

Caesar Rodney to Thomas Rodney (Delaware Politician)

I believe, from the best accounts, That General Gage Was forced upon the plan of Sending Troops to Concord, by the other officers of Note, together with the Tory party in Boston, &c.….

The Congress met Yesterday Chose Peyton Randolph President, & Charles Thomson Secretary. Franklin, Wilson & Thomas Willing are added.

Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston (North Carolina Politician)

I arrived here the 9th, in company with the Virginia delegates. Yesterday the Congress met when all the Provinces that sent delegates before were Represented except Rhode Island, the two Governors from that Colony are expected in a day or two. Mr Randolph is Chosen President & C. Thompson Secretary. Doctor Franklin arrived here on Friday last and on Saturday was appointed a Delegate, by the assembly of this Province. They also added Mr. Thomas Willing & Mr. Wilson to the number. Galloway has turned apostate; he struggled hard in the House of assembly to get a majority to Condemn the proceedings of the late Congress, & to Petition the King &c. as the assembly of New York had done. By this Step he has lost the Confidence of all ranks of People…. [Editor’s Note.  On May 12, the Pennsylvania Assembly officially excused Galloway from serving as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress]

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.