Many things were going on during the time that the Second Continental Congress was first created. While people tend to focus more on what they did after the opening of the American Revolution, the Congress passed important legislation that would have a big impact on the upcoming revolution. In fact, it is safe to say that one particular decree made by the Continental Congress would tip the scales in their favor in eventually winning the American Revolution as well as their freedom.
What I am referring to happened at a meeting in Philadelphia where the Second Continental Congress met on November 29th, 1775 in order to create the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The goal of this committee was to give nations in Europe an interpretation from the Patriots viewpoint regarding events that was occurring in Britain’s North American colonies; it was their desire to try and motivate aid to the war effort of the Americans.
Members of the committee consisted of Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, John Hay, Benjamin Harrison and John Dickinson in which they told Silas Deane to converse with Count de Vergennes and French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier. The reason for the visit was to emphasize the need for military stores for America as well as to guarantee the French that the colonies ultimate goal was a “total separation” from British rule. The outbreak of violence in 1775 was when French aid secretly was slowly being sent to assist the colonies. Being a Connecticut delegate for the Continental Congress, Deane traveled to France on a secret mission on March 3rd, 1776.
Fortunately, Deane was successful to acquire unofficial help from France not only in the form of vessels carrying military supplies but also was able to recruit Marquis de Lafayette and Gilbert du Motier to teach his experience in the military to officer corps of the Continental Army. Yet, France had not been assured of that the Americans would be successful until a meeting in France with the charming Benjamin Franklin in December of 1776 and the Battle of Saratoga victory by the Americans in October of 1777; the French was now ready to sign a formal treaty with America.
However, it took the French almost four months until a treaty would be officially declared. The Treaties of Amity and Commerce as well as Alliance were officially signed on February 6th, 1778 while the Continental Congress would not ratify them until May of 1778. Despite the signing, the formality of war being declared officially between France and Britain did not occur until one month later when two French ships were shot at from a British squadron. The importance of French naval vessels during the American Revolution was extremely important and helped immensely in the victory over the British which was secured at the conclusion of the famous Battle of Yorktown by October of 1781.