The New York Provincial Congress (1775-1777) 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.


Committees of correspondence

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

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)

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

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.


Named individual Representing Details
Low, IsaacIsaac Low City & County of New York
Livingston, Peter Van BrughPeter Van Brugh Livingston City & County of New York President
McDougall, AlexanderAlexander McDougall City & County of New York
Lispenard, LeonardLeonard Lispenard City & County of New York
Hallett, JosephJoseph Hallett City & County of New York
Walton, AbrahamAbraham Walton City & County of New York
Brasier, AbrahamAbraham Brasier City & County of New York
Roosevelt, IsaacIsaac Roosevelt City & County of New York
De Lancey, JohnJohn De Lancey City & County of New York
Beekman, JamesJames Beekman City & County of New York
Verplanck, SamuelSamuel Verplanck City & County of New York
Yates, RichardRichard Yates City & County of New York
Clarkson, DavidDavid Clarkson City & County of New York
Smith, ThomasThomas Smith City & County of New York
Kissam, BenjaminBenjamin Kissam City & County of New York
Scott, John MorinJohn Morin Scott City & County of New York
Van Cortlandt, JohnJohn Van Cortlandt City & County of New York
Van Zandt, JacobusJacobus Van Zandt City & County of New York
Marston, JohnJohn Marston City & County of New York
Folliot, GeorgeGeorge Folliot City & County of New York
Franklin, WalterWalter Franklin City & County of New York
Yates, RobertRobert Yates City & County of Albany
Yates Jr., AbrahamAbraham Yates Jr. City & County of Albany
Douw, Volkert P.Volkert P. Douw City & County of Albany Vice-President
Cuyler, JacobJacob Cuyler City & County of Albany
Silvester, PeterPeter Silvester City & County of Albany
Swart, DirckDirck Swart City & County of Albany
Livingston, WalterWalter Livingston City & County of Albany
Van Rensselaer, RobertRobert Van Rensselaer City & County of Albany
Glen, HenryHenry Glen City & County of Albany
Ten Broeck, AbrahamAbraham Ten Broeck City & County of Albany
Nicoll, FrancisFrancis Nicoll City & County of Albany
Brinckerhoff, DirckDirck Brinckerhoff Duchess County Chairman
Hoffman, AnthonyAnthony Hoffman Duchess County
Platt, ZephaniahZephaniah Platt Duchess County
Montgomery, RichardRichard Montgomery Duchess County
Paine, EphraimEphraim Paine Duchess County
Livingston, GilbertGilbert Livingston Duchess County
Landon, JonathanJonathan Landon Duchess County
Schenck, GysbertGysbert Schenck Duchess County
Smith, MelanctonMelancton Smith Duchess County
Sackett, NathanielNathaniel Sackett Duchess County
Hardenbergh, JohannesJohannes Hardenbergh Ulster County
Clinton, JamesJames Clinton Ulster County
Tappan, ChristopherChristopher Tappan Ulster County
Nicholson, JohnJohn Nicholson Ulster County
Hoornbeck, JacobJacob Hoornbeck Ulster County
Coe, JohnJohn Coe Orange County
Pye, DavidDavid Pye Orange County
Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Goshen County
Tusten, BenjaminBenjamin Tusten Goshen County
Clowes, PeterPeter Clowes Goshen County
Allison, WilliamWilliam Allison Goshen County
Woodhull, NathanielNathaniel Woodhull Suffolk County
Hobart, John SlossJohn Sloss Hobart Suffolk County
Tredwell, ThomasThomas Tredwell Suffolk County
Foster, JohnJohn Foster Suffolk County
L'Hommedieu, EzraEzra L'Hommedieu Suffolk County
Wickham, ThomasThomas Wickham Suffolk County
Havens, JamesJames Havens Suffolk County
Strong, SelahSelah Strong Suffolk County
Morris, GouverneurGouverneur Morris Westchester County
Graham, LewisLewis Graham Westchester County
Van Cortlandt, JamesJames Van Cortlandt Westchester County
Ward, StephenStephen Ward Westchester County
Drake, JosephJoseph Drake Westchester County
Van Cortlandt, PhilipPhilip Van Cortlandt Westchester County
Holmes, JamesJames Holmes Westchester County
Dayton, DavidDavid Dayton Westchester County
Thomas, Jr., JohnJohn Thomas, Jr. Westchester County
Graham, RobertRobert Graham Westchester County
Paulding, WilliamWilliam Paulding Westchester County
Williams, HenryHenry Williams Kings County
Remsen, JeremiahJeremiah Remsen Kings County
Michean, PaulPaul Michean Richmond County
Journey, JohnJohn Journey Richmond County
Cortelyou, AaronAaron Cortelyou Richmond County
Conner, RichardRichard Conner Richmond County
Lawrence, RichardRichard Lawrence Richmond County

Second Provincial Congress

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

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

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

1st Provincial Congress

2nd Provincial Congress

3rd Provincial Congress

4th Provincial Congress and Representative Convention

Chairmen of the Committee of Safety

President of the Council of Safety


  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. 


  • 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

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