The Second Continental Congress was convened a few weeks after the Battle of Lexington and Concord to decide just how to handle the situation. Delegates from all thirteen colonies gathered once again in Philadelphia and discussed options. The desire to avoid a war was still strong, and in July 1775, delegate John Dickinson from Pennsylvania penned the Olive Branch Petition to send to Britain. All the delegates signed the petition, which professed loyalty to King George III and beseeched him to call off the troops in Boston so that peace between the colonies and Britain could be restored. George III eventually rejected the petition.
Despite their issuance of the Olive Branch Petition, the delegates nevertheless believed that the colonies should be put in a state of defense against any future possible British actions. Therefore, they set aside funds to organize an army and a small navy. After much debate, they also selected George Washington to command the militia surrounding Boston, renaming it the Continental Army. Washington was a highly respected Virginian plantation owner, and his leadership would further unite the northern and southern colonies in the Revolution.
The delegates’ hopes for acknowledgment and reconciliation failed in June 1775, when the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought outside Boston. Although the British ultimately emerged victorious, they suffered over 1,000 casualties, prompting British officials to take the colonial unrest far more seriously than they had previously. The engagement led King George III to declare officially that the colonies were in a state of rebellion. Any hope of reconciliation and a return to the pre-1763 status quo had vanished.