Over a period of 15 years, indigenous 1774 to 1789, the continental Congress underwent a extensive evolution. Beginning out together a temporary group that met to deal with American colonists’ problems with brothers rule, it morphed into the de facto federal government of the 13 colonies, and also ultimately right into an main governing human body of the unified States.

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These various phases the the congress  are regularly referred to together the an initial Continental Congress, 2nd Continental Congress and Confederate Congress. Below are the significant achievements the each.

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First continental Congress (1774)


The first prayer in Congress, hosted in Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia, PA, September 1774.

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The very first Continental Congress began under British ascendancy in September 1774. Comprised of 56 delegates from 12 that the original 13 colonies, the group met in Philadelphia and lasted much less than two months. It focused mainly on just how to respond to the brothers Parliament’s passage of the Intolerable Acts—also recognized as the Coercive Acts—a series of repressive action designed to regain order come Boston after ~ the Tea Party and also punish the homesteaders for their bold insurrection. During its quick meeting time, the continent Congress compiled a perform of grievances that it sent to Britain’s then-ruler, King George III. That also adopted the short articles of Association, which initiated a boycott that British items by the colonies.

The articles of association stand together the very first Continental Congress’s most vital accomplishment, says Benjamin H. Irvin, a ubraintv-jp.com professor at Indiana university Bloomington and author the Clothed in Robes that Sovereignty: The continental Congress and also the civilization Out of Doors. In addition to the boycott, the document authorized the development of local committees to help with the transfer of power between Britain and the colonies.

Unlike later on versions the the continent Congress, the very first one didn’t watch itself together a governing body. The British empire was quiet the known governing authority, and also the write-ups of Association that the very first Continental conference issued was no a law. Also so, “the continental Congress walk take measures to prepare the colonists for the possible overthrow of brothers authority,” Irvin says.

“The conference endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, in which the human being of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, determined ‘to acquaint themselves through the arts of war,’” that says. And also by phone call on local neighborhoods to develop committees of inspection in the posts of Association, “Congress readied the American human being to litter off british rule and also establish local government.”

READ MORE: 7 events That enraged Colonists and also Led to the American Revolution

Second continent Congress (1775-1781)


The signing of the explanation of independence in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776.

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The second Continental Congress began in may 1775, less than a month after the first Revolutionary war battles in ~ Lexington and Concord. This time, the continent Congress’s role was different, as it ended up being the de facto federal government of the 13 nests during their war v the british Empire.

“The delegates wasted no time deliberating the nature or level of your authority; instead, castle convened in the soul of a board of directors of war,” claims Irvin. The continent Congress established an army, a navy and a short article office, and issued currency. “In this manner, and without hesitation, the continent Congress started to assume legislative and also executive responsibility.”

Many of the men who attend the an initial Continental Congress returned for the second, consisting of George Washington, Patrick Henry and cousins John and also Samuel Adams. Newcomers contained Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and also John Hancock.

The 2nd Continental Congress’s most far-reaching achievement? The adoption of the statements of Independence, which it ratified on July 4, 1776.

“The establishment of the continental Army, the print of the continent currency, the recommendation that the colonies draft new constitutions, the pursuance of an alliance with France, the disavowal of parliament—: these were the works by which U.S. Independence was achieved,” the says.

The second Continental Congress likewise created the very first U.S. Constitution, well-known as the posts of Confederation, which took effect in 1781 while the battle was ongoing. (It ended in 1783.) The structure made the continental Congress an official governing body of the united States. However although the continental Congress ongoing to run under the same name and with numerous of the very same members, the write-ups of Confederation placed borders on what it had the ability to do.

READ MORE: 9 things You might Not Know about the declaration of Independence

Congress under the short articles of Confederation (1781-1789)

The Confederation Congress, as countless historians refer to it, had actually very minimal powers contrasted with the U.S. Congress we have today. The Confederation congress couldn’t taxation Americans and, in plenty of cases, necessary nine the the 13 states to provide legislation prior to a bill might pass.

This Confederation congress did make its mark, though. It chartered the very first U.S. Bank; and more significantly, it dubbed for the seizure of indigenous land through steps like the Northwest Ordinance the 1787.

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“The most consequential action of the Confederation Congress were the land ordinances of the 1780s,” states Irvin. “These ordinances encouraged the westward migration of european Americans, that seized lands populated by indigenous peoples, make war versus them and also ultimately lobbied for their forcible removal.”

Members who offered terms top top the Confederation Congress included James Madison and also Alexander Hamilton, that were likewise two that the 55 delegates the attended the constitution Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The members of that convention drafted a brand-new constitution that, once it became law in 1789, changed the posts of Confederation and also disbanded the Confederation Congress, replacing it with the U.S. Congress.