New York Provincial Congress

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The New York Provincial Congress (1775-–777) was an organization formed by colonists in 1775, during the American Revolution, as a pro-American alternative to the more conservative Province of New York Assembly, and as a replacement for the Committee of One Hundred. The Fourth Provincial Congress, resolving itself as the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, adopted the first Constitution of the State of New York on April 20, 1777.

Background[edit]

Committees of correspondence[edit]

Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan, meeting place of the Committee of Fifty-one, which resolved on July 4, 1774 to send delegates to the First Continental Congress.

The Committee of Fifty-one was a committee of correspondence in the City and County of New York that first met on May 16, 1774.[1] On May 30, the Committee formed a subcommittee to write a letter to the supervisors of the counties of New York to extort them to also form similar committees of correspondence, which letter was adopted on a meeting of the Committee on May 31.[2] In response to the letters from Boston, on July 4, 1774 resolutions were approved to appoint five delegates, Isaac Low, John Alsop, James Duane, Philip Livingston, and John Jay, to the "Congress of Deputies from the Colonies" (the First Continental Congress), and request that the other counties also send delegates.[3] Three counties (Westchester, Duchess, and Albany) acquiesced to the five delegates, while three counties (Kings, Suffolk, and Orange) sent delegates of their own.[4] The First Continental Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774.

New York Assembly[edit]

In January and February 1775, the New York Assembly voted down successive resolutions approving the proceedings of the First Continental Congress and refused to send delegates to the Second Continental Congress.[5] New York was the only colonial assembly which did not approve the proceeds of the First Continental Congress. Opposition to the Congress revolved around the opinion that the provincial houses of assembly were the proper agencies to solicit redress for grievances. In March, the Assembly broke with the rest of the colonies and wrote a petition to London, but London rejected the petition because it contained claims about a lack of authority of the "parent state" to tax colonists, "which made it impossible" to accept. The Assembly last met on April 3, 1775.[6]

Provincial Convention (Second Continental Congress)[edit]

A Provincial Convention assembled in New York City on April 20, 1775 where delegates were elected to the Second Continental Congress. On March 15, 1775 the Committee of Sixty had issued a call to the counties of New York to send delegates to a Provincial Convention.[7]

Philip Livingston was its chairman. It included the delegates to the first congress and also five new members. All counties other than Tryon, Gloucester, and Cumberland were represented. The scope of the Provincial Convention did not extend beyond electing delegates, and they dispersed on April 22.[8] On April 23, news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord arrived.

First Provincial Congress[edit]

The First Provincial Congress was convened in New York City on May 22, 1775 with Peter Van Brugh Livingston as president. The first resolution adopted was obedience to recommendations made by the Continental Congress.

The congress adapted a "plan of Accommodation between Great Britain and America", which it sent to its delegates to the Continental Congress urging extreme caution in the quarrel with England. The plan demanded the English authorities repeal of all unconstitutional laws affecting the colonies and an acknowledgement of the right of the colonies to self-taxation. In return New York promised to contribute to the costs of defence, the maintenance of civil government, and to recognize England's right to regulate imperial trade.[9]

In May, they ordered the militia to stockpile arms, undertake the removal of cannon from Fort Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga, and the erection of fortifications and defences on Manhattan Island. All loyalists in the province were disarmed. In May, the raising of 3,000 to serve until December 31 was authorized. They condemned the planned invasion of Canada, since they had a plan of reconciliation. When in June the British troops in New York City left to board British ships, Marinus Willett intervened to prevent them taking carts loaded with arms back to the ships. The congress welcomed the return of Governor William Tryon. On June 28, 1775 they authorized the raising of the four regiments of the New York Line. On July 20, 1775, members of the Sons of Liberty and others surprised a guard and captured a British storehouse at Turtle Bay. In August, the congress ordered the removal of the cannon at Fort George and while doing so the British HMS Asia opened fire on the militia. In late 1775, the provincial militia was restructured.

It adjourned on November 4, 1775 and appointed a Committee of Safety to sit during its recess. This committee was dominated by Alexander McDougall and John Morin Scott.

Members:[10][11]

Named individual Representing Details
Isaac Low City & County of New York
Peter Van Brugh Livingston City & County of New York President
Alexander McDougall City & County of New York
Leonard Lispenard City & County of New York
Joseph Hallett City & County of New York
Abraham Walton City & County of New York
Abraham Brasier City & County of New York
Isaac Roosevelt City & County of New York
John De Lancey City & County of New York
James Beekman City & County of New York
Samuel Verplanck City & County of New York
Richard Yates City & County of New York
David Clarkson City & County of New York
Thomas Smith City & County of New York
Benjamin Kissam City & County of New York
John Morin Scott City & County of New York
John Van Cortlandt City & County of New York
Jacobus Van Zandt City & County of New York
John Marston City & County of New York
George Folliot City & County of New York
Walter Franklin City & County of New York
Robert Yates City & County of Albany
Abraham Yates Jr. City & County of Albany
Volkert P. Douw City & County of Albany Vice-President
Jacob Cuyler City & County of Albany
Peter Silvester City & County of Albany
Dirck Swart City & County of Albany
Walter Livingston City & County of Albany
Robert Van Rensselaer City & County of Albany
Henry Glen City & County of Albany
Abraham Ten Broeck City & County of Albany
Francis Nicoll City & County of Albany
Dirck Brinckerhoff Duchess County Chairman
Anthony Hoffman Duchess County
Zephaniah Platt Duchess County
Richard Montgomery Duchess County
Ephraim Paine Duchess County
Gilbert Livingston Duchess County
Jonathan Landon Duchess County
Gysbert Schenck Duchess County
Melancton Smith Duchess County
Nathaniel Sackett Duchess County
Johannes Hardenbergh Ulster County
James Clinton Ulster County
Christopher Tappan Ulster County
John Nicholson Ulster County
Jacob Hoornbeck Ulster County
John Coe Orange County
David Pye Orange County
Michael Jackson Goshen County
Benjamin Tusten Goshen County
Peter Clowes Goshen County
William Allison Goshen County
Nathaniel Woodhull Suffolk County
John Sloss Hobart Suffolk County
Thomas Tredwell Suffolk County
John Foster Suffolk County
Ezra L'Hommedieu Suffolk County
Thomas Wickham Suffolk County
James Havens Suffolk County
Selah Strong Suffolk County
Gouverneur Morris Westchester County
Lewis Graham Westchester County
James Van Cortlandt Westchester County
Stephen Ward Westchester County
Joseph Drake Westchester County
Philip Van Cortlandt Westchester County
James Holmes Westchester County
David Dayton Westchester County
John Thomas, Jr. Westchester County
Robert Graham Westchester County
William Paulding Westchester County
Henry Williams Kings County
Jeremiah Remsen Kings County
Paul Michean Richmond County
John Journey Richmond County
Aaron Cortelyou Richmond County
Richard Conner Richmond County
Richard Lawrence Richmond County

Second Provincial Congress[edit]

The Second Provincial Congress was organized on December 6, 1775 and sat in New York City, and continued until adjournment on May 13, 1776. In January, 1776, George Washington ordered Major General Charles Lee to prepare New York City for the coming British attack. In February, the provincial congress initially refused Lee's entry, but then agreed and also decided to stop provisioning the British ships in New York harbor.

Third Provincial Congress[edit]

The Third Provincial Congress was organized on May 22, 1776. It continued in session until June 30, 1776. It instructed its delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress to oppose independence. On May 31, 1776, the Continental Congress recommended that each of the provinces establish themselves as states. In June, Howe's forces appeared in New York Harbor.

Notable members (partial list):[12]

First Constitutional Convention[edit]

The Fourth Provincial Congress convened in White Plains on July 9, 1776 and became known as the First Constitutional Convention. It declared the independent state of New York on July 9, 1776. On the same day the Declaration of Independence was read by George Washington on the commons of New York City to the Continental Army and local citizens, who celebrated by tearing down the statue of George III in Bowling Green. On July 10, 1776, the Fourth Provincial Congress changed its name to the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, and "acts as legislature without an executive." On August 1, the convention assigned the task of drafting a constitution to a committee of thirteen and ordered it to report a draft by August 27, but it did not do so until March 12, 1777.[13] While adjourned it left a Committee of Safety in charge.

The Constitution of the State of New York was adopted on April 20, 1777. The governor would be elected and not appointed, voting qualifications were reduced, secret ballots were introduced, and civil rights were guaranteed. On July 9, 1778 the State of New York signed the Articles of Confederation and officially became part of the government of the United States of America, though it had been a part of the nation as representative were signatories to the Declaration in 1776.

List of presidents and chairmen[edit]

1st Provincial Congress

2nd Provincial Congress

3rd Provincial Congress

4th Provincial Congress and Representative Convention

Chairmen of the Committee of Safety[edit]

President of the Council of Safety[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Dawson 1886, pp. 7-10.
  2. ^ Dawson 1886, p. 20.
  3. ^ Dawson 1886, p. 24.
  4. ^ Dawson 1886, p. 29.
  5. ^ Dawson, Henry (1886). Westchester County, New York, During the American Revolution. p. 61. 
  6. ^ Edward Countryman, "Consolidating Power in Revolutionary America: The Case of New York, 1775–1783." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 6.4 (1976): 645-677. in JSTOR
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-12-15. 
  8. ^ Google Book The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (page 47; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)]
  9. ^ Launitz-Schurer pg. 161
  10. ^ New York (State) Dept. of State (1868). Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, Relating to the War of the Revolution, in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y. Weed, Parsons & Company, Printers. p. 86. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  11. ^ Lamb, Martha Joanna (1880). History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress. A. S. Barnes. p. 31. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  12. ^ Albany Institute (1873). Proceedings of the Albany Institute. J. Munsell. p. 321. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  13. ^ Schechter, Stephen (1990). "The New York State Constitution, 1777". In Schechter, Stephen. Roots of the Republic: American Founding Documents Interpreted. p. 169. ISBN 1461642795. LCCN 90-6396. 

References[edit]

  • Fernow, Berthold, New York in the Revolution, 1887
  • Launitz-Schurer, Leopold, Loyal Whigs and Revolutionaries, The making of the revolution in New York, 1765-1776, 1980, ISBN 0-8147-4994-1

See also[edit]