USCA


United States in Congress Assembled




March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789



Media Alert
July 2nd, 2015
New Orleans, Louisiana 
After 102 Years, The Federal Government Finally Agrees: Samuel Huntington And Not John Hanson Was The First USCA President to Serve Under The Articles of Confederation.
Historian Stanley Yavneh Klos Pleads With Maryland To Stop Funding Efforts That Purport John & Jane Hanson As The First President & First Lady Of The United States.



Articles of Confederation Congress
United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) Sessions

USCA
Session Dates
USCA Convene Date
President(s)
First
03-01-1781 to 11-04-1781*
03-02-1781
Second
11-05-1781 to 11-03-1782
11-05-1781
Third
11-04-1782 to 11-02-1783
11-04-1782
Fourth
11-03-1783 to 10-31-1784
11-03-1783
Fifth
11-01-1784 to 11-06-1785
11-29-1784
Sixth
11-07-1785 to 11-05-1786
11-23-1785
Seventh
11-06-1786 to 11-04-1787
02-02-1787
Eighth
11-05-1787 to 11-02-1788
01-21-1788
Ninth
11-03-1788 to 03-03-1789**
None
None

* The Articles of Confederation was ratified by the mandated 13th State on February 2, 1781, and the dated adopted by the Continental Congress to commence the new  United States in Congress Assembled government was March 1, 1781.  The USCA convened under the Articles of Confederation Constitution on March 2, 1781.  

** On September 14, 1788, the Eighth United States in Congress Assembled resolved that March 4th, 1789, would be commencement date of the Constitution of 1787's federal government thus dissolving the USCA on March 3rd, 1789.



The Continental Congress, after 16 months of debate and deliberations, forged the first U.S. Constitution on November 15, 1777. This Constitution of 1777 created one nation out of thirteen independent states and named it the United States of America "for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them..." Additionally the constitution guaranteed the freedom of citizens to pass freely between states, excluding "paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice." 



 For More Information go to 
America's Four United Republics

All the people of the United States were also entitled, by the constitution, to the rights established by the State into which they traveled. If a crime were committed in one state and the perpetrator to flee to another state, the citizen would be extradited to and tried in the State in which the crime had been committed.

The governing body under the Constitution of 1777 was unicameral. The judicial, legislative, and executive work of the federal government were all conducted through the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA).  Parity was established in the USCA by allotting only one vote to each State, regardless of size, but delegations might have from two to seven members. Members of the USCA were elected or appointed by state legislatures and could serve no more than three out of any six years.  For a state to cast a vote its delegation was required to have two or more delegates sitting in the USCA.  

The powers of the federal government, as defined by the constitution, empowered the 

USCA to send and receive ambassadors;
USCA to enter into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners, as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatsoever;
USCA to establish the rules for deciding, in all cases, what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated;
USCA to grant letters of marque (diplomacy) and reprisal in times of peace;
USCA to appoint courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and establishes courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures, provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any of the said courts;
USCA to fix the standards of weights and measures throughout the United States;
USCA to regulate the trade and management of all affairs with Indians, not members of any of the States, provided that the legislative right of any State within its own limits be not infringed or violated;
USCA to establish or regulate post offices from one State to another, throughout all the United States. They also exact postage on the papers passing through the post office to defray the expenses of the bureau;
USCA to appoint all officers of the land forces, in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers;
USCA to appoint all the officers of the naval forces, and commissions all officers whatever in the service of the United States;
USCA to make rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces, and direction of their operations;
USCA to serve as a final court for disputes between states;
USCA to define a Committee of the States to be a government when Congress is not in session;
USCA to elect one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years

Finally, the constitution ended with declaring that the Articles of Confederation are perpetual, and can only be altered by approval of Congress with ratification by all the state legislatures.

The major flaw in the constitution was that the USCA had no taxing or intrastate trade authority.  The constitution actually stated that the expenditures made by the USCA were to paid by funds raised by State legislatures and apportioned based on the real property values of each.  Moreover, before this weak constitution could take effect, it required the unanimous ratification of all thirteen states.  



The result was that three full years later, in 1780, the first constitution was still not ratified. Maryland held the other states, constitutionally, hostage because it refused to adopt the Articles of Confederation until its 12 sister states relinquished all their western claims to the ownership and control of the USCA.

Presidential Alert: After 102 years, the Federal Government finally agrees that Samuel Huntington and not John Hanson was the first USCA President to serve under the Articles of Confederation.  -- Click Here



This Maryland Plan, even before the Articles of Confederation were passed by the U.S. Continental Congress in 1777, proposed that the USCA would have the sole right and power over the frontier lands “North and West of the Ohio River,” later known as the Northwest Territory.  This measure, however, was heartily opposed by Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts who all had vast interior claims to the Northwest Territory.   The Southern states of Georgia, South and North Carolina also had claims that stretched all the way to the Mississippi River. Maryland was alone but knowing that the constitution required state assembly ratification, its delegates approved the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. The question of Northwest Territorial land claims was left to be considered by the individual state governments who were charged with the review and ratification of the Articles of Confederation.  

On May 21, 1779, after 12 States had ratified the Articles, the Maryland State Assembly formally communicated to the U.S. Continental Congress its conditions for ratification.  The assembly gave notice that it would only ratify the Articles if they received definite assurances that the Northwest Territory would be released by the states to the USCA:

We are convinced policy and justice require that a country unsettled at the commencement of this war, claimed by the British Crown, and ceded to it by the treaty of Paris, if wrested from the common enemy by the blood and the treasure of the 13 States, should be considered as a common property, subject to be parceled out by Congress into free, convenient, and independent governments, in such manner and at such times as the wisdom of that assembly shall hereafter direct.[19]

It was now the charge of Continental Congress Delegates John Hanson and Daniel Carroll to persistently press this demand of their State. 





U.S. State 1776-1781 claims on land east of the Mississippi River. 



On September 6, 1780 the U.S. Continental Congress acted on the Maryland Plan resolving that the western territory be released and Maryland ratify the Articles of Confederation. The Journals report:

Congress took into consideration the report of the committee to whom were referred the instructions of the general assembly of Maryland to their delegates in Congress, respecting the articles of confederation, and the declaration therein referred to, the act of the legislature of New York on the same subject, and the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia; which report was agreed to, and is in the words following:

"That having duly considered the several matters to them submitted, they conceive it unnecessary to examine into the merits or the policy of the instructions or declaration of the general assembly of Maryland, or of the remonstrance of the general assembly of Virginia, as they involve questions, a discussion of which was declined on mature consideration, when the articles of confederation were debated; nor, in the opinion of the committee, can such questions be now revived with any prospect of conciliation; that it appears more advisable to press upon those states which can remove the embarrassment respecting the western country, a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims, since they cannot be preserved entire without endangering the stability of the general confederacy; to remind them how indispensably necessary it is to establish the federal union on a fixed and permanent basis, and on principles acceptable to all its respective members; how essential to public credit and confidence, to the support of our army, to the vigor of our councils and success of our measures, to our tranquility at home, and our reputation abroad, to our present safety and our future prosperity, to our very existence as a free, sovereign and independent people; that they are fully persuaded the wisdom and magnanimity of the patriotic legislators of these states will on an occasion of such vast magnitude, prompt them to prefer the general security to local attachment, and the permanency of the confederacy to an unwieldy extent of their respective limits, of the respective legislatures will lead them to a full and impartial consideration of a subject so interesting to the United States, and so necessary to the happy establishment of the federal union; that they are confirmed in these expectations by a review of the before mentioned act of the legislature of New York, submitted to their consideration; that this act is expressly calculated to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depends on that State, the impediment arising from the western country, and for that purpose to yield up a portion of territorial claim for the general benefit; an example which in the opinion of your committee deserves applause, and will produce imitation," Whereupon,

Resolved, That copies of the several papers referred to the committee be transmitted, with a copy of the report, to the legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia the several states, and that it be earnestly recommended to those states, who have claims to the western country, to pass such laws, and give their delegates in Congress such powers as may effectually remove the only obstacle to a final ratification of the articles of confederation; and that the legislature of Maryland be earnestly requested to authorize their delegates in Congress to subscribe the said articles; and that a copy of the aforementioned remonstrance from the assembly of Virginia and act of the legislature of New York, together with a copy of this report, be transmitted to the said legislature of Maryland.[20]

On October 10th Congress adopted Virginia proposal, moved by Delegate James Madison, to reimburse state expenses related to cession of western lands and to require that ceded lands "be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States.”  The Journals record:

Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, by any particular states, pursuant to the recommendation of Congress of the 6 day of September last, shall be granted and disposed of for the common benefit of all the United States that shall be members of the federal union, and be settled and formed into distinct republican states, which shall become members of the federal union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence, as the other states: that each state which shall be so formed shall contain a suitable extent of territory, not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred and fifty miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit: and that upon such cession being made by any State and approved and accepted by Congress, the United States shall guaranty the remaining territory of the said States respectively. That the necessary and reasonable expenses which any particular state shall have incurred since the commencement of the present war, in subduing any of the British posts, or in maintaining forts or garrisons within and for the defense, or in acquiring any part of the territory that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States, shall be reimbursed; That the said lands shall be granted and settled at such times and under such regulations as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled, or any nine or more of them. That all purchases made of the Indians of any of said lands by private persons, without the approbation of the Legislature of the State to whom the right of preemption belonged, shall not be deemed valid to make a title to such purchases. That no purchases and deeds from any Indians or Indian nations, for lands within the Territory to be ceded or relinquished, which have been made without the approbation of the legislature Postponed of the state within whose limits it lay for the use of any private person or persons whatsoever make a title to the purchasers shall not have been rated by lawful authority, shall be deemed valid or ratified by Congress.[21]

USCA President Samuel Huntington, a delegate from Connecticut, led the way for other congressional delegations when he successfully convinced his state legislature to relinquish their western lands claims to the federal government.  On November 28, 1780 John Hanson wrote Charles Carroll of Carrollton:

The president of Congress has promised to send by this post, a Copy of a late Law passed in Connecticut, respecting a Cession of some part of the back Lands. We have had nothing from Virginia or any other state on that Subject.[22]



Published By Orders of Congress, the 1781 Journals title page indicates the  the Journals change from the Journals of [Continental]  Congress to the Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled with the convening of the new Articles of Confederation Congress in March 1781. - image from Stan Klos Collection

Maryland, thanks to John Hanson, Daniel Carroll, James Madison, Samuel Huntington and others brokering land cessions from the states, finally passed an act to empower their delegates to subscribe and ratify the Articles of Confederation on January 30th, 1781. On February 2, 1781 Governor Thomas Sim Lee signed the empowerment into law.  On February 20th, Daniel Carroll, after presenting Maryland’s ratification of the Articles to Congress, took a moment to write Charles Carroll of Carrollton:

On the first day of my appearing in Congress, I delivered the Act empowering the Delegates of Maryland to Subscribe the Articles of Confederation &c.! It was read, & entered on the Journals.[23]

John Hanson arrived in Philadelphia two days later and on the 22nd  Congress set aside Thursday, March 1, 1781, "for completing the Confederation" and assigned a committee of three to consider a mode for announcing the same to the public.”

Journals of Congress showing Maryland's Delegates 
Articles of Confederation    March 1, 1781 ratification
Stan Klos Collection

At high noon, on March 1, 1781 the Articles of Confederation officially became operative as the first constitution of the United States of America.  The elated Minister of France was the first to address Samuel Huntington as “His Excellency the President of the United States, in Congress Assembled”. On March 1, 1781, the last entry in the old Continental Congress Journals reports:


Article II of the Articles of Confederation names the new federal government "United States in Congress Assembled" from the engrossed copy at the United States National Archives and Records Administration



Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia."

I. The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America. 
II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.[24] 



March 12, 1781 Treasury letter referring to Samuel Huntington as
President of the United States in Congress Assembled

On March 7, 1781 the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia reported:

IN pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of Maryland, entitled, 'An Act to empow­er the Delegates of the State in Congress to subscriber and ratify the Articles of Confederation,' the Delegates of the said State, on Thursday last, at twelve o, signed and ratified the Articles of Confederation; by which act the Confederation of The United States Of America was completed, each and every of the Thirteen States, from New Hampshire to George, both included, having adopted and confirmed, and by their Delegates in Congress ratified the same.

This happy event was immediately announced to the public by the discharge of the artillery on land, and the cannon of the shipping in the river Delaware. At two o’clock his Excellency the President of Congress received on this occasion the congratulations of the Hon. the Minister Plenipotentiary of France, and of the Legislative and Executive Bodies of this State, of the Civil and Military Officers, sundry strangers of distinction in town, and of many of the principal inhabitants.

The evening was closed by an elegant exhibition of fireworks. The Ariel frigate, commanded by the gallant John Paul Jones, fired a feu de joye, and was beautifully decorated with a variety of streamers in the day, and ornamented with a brilliant appearance of lights in the night. 

Thus will the first of March, 1781, be a day memorable in the annals of America, for the final ratification of the Confederation and perpetual Union of the Thirteen States of America --- A Union, begun by necessity, cemented by oppression and common danger, and now finally consolidated into a perpetual confederacy of these new and rising States: And thus the United States of America, having, amidst the calamities of a destructive war, established a solid foundation of greatness, are growing up into consequence among the nations, while their haughty enemy, Britain, with all her boasted wealth and grandeur, instead of bringing them to her feet and reducing them to unconditional submission, finds her hopes blasted, her power crumbling to pieces, and the empire which, with overbearing insolence and brutality she exercised on the ocean, divided among her insulted neighbors.[25]

On March 2nd the USCA convened and Secretary Charles Thomas began the new journal by placing “The United States in Congress Assembled" at the head of the first page. The United States of America, which was conceived on July 2, 1776, proclaimed on the 4th, and re-formulated on November 15, 1777, had finally been constitutional born with the Articles of Confederation’s ratification. The USCA Journal reports:

The ratification of the Articles of Confederation being yesterday completed by the accession of the State of Maryland: The United States met in Congress, when the following members appeared: His Excellency Samuel Huntington, delegate for Connecticut, President...[26]

USCA Journals 1781 printing for March 2nd showing the begining of the legislation enacted by the new Articles of Confederation government, the United States in Congress Assembled.  This Journal also records that Connecticut Delegate Samuel Huntington presides over the  USCA as its President - Stan Klos Collection
With the Continental Congress dissolved and the first U.S. Constitution now in effect, the new USCA government was faced with the reality that they had to disqualify both New Hampshire and Rhode Island from voting in the new assembly.  This was particularly dicey because the day before the two delegates, as members of the Continental Congress, voted unanimously to adopt the Articles of Confederation. Delaware Delegate Thomas Rodney, in his diary’s March 2, 1781 entry, explains the conundrum that was caused by the formation of the Constitution of 1777’s Congress:

The States of New Hampshire and Rhode Island having each but one Member in Congress, they became unrepresented by the Confirmation of the Confederation-By which not more than Seven nor less than two Members is allowed to represent any State  -Whereupon General Sullivan, Delegate from New Hampshire moved  - That Congress would appoint a Committee of the States, and Adjourn till those States Could Send forward a Sufficient number of Delegates to represent them-Or that they would allow their Delegates now in Congress To give the Vote of the States until one More from each of those States was Sent to Congress to Make  their representation Complete.

He alleged that it was but just for Congress to do one or the other of them-for that the act of Congress by completing the Confederation ought not to deprive those States of their representation without giving them due Notice, as their representation was complete before, & that they did not know When the Confederation Would be Completed. Therefore if the Confederation put it out of the power of Congress to Allow the States vote in Congress because there was but one member from each them, they ought in justice to those States to appoint a Committee of the States, in which they would have an Equal Voice. This Motion was Seconded by Genl. Vernon from Rhode Island and enforced by Arguments to the same purpose.

 But all their Arguments were ably confuted by Mr. Burke of N.C. and others, and the absurdity of the motion fully pointed out, So that the question passed off without a Division - But it was the general Opinion of Congress that those members might Continue to Sit in Congress, and Debate & Serve on Committees though they could not give the vote of their States.[27]

It was unanimously agreed that the Articles of Confederation were in full force and for a state to have a vote in the USCA, unlike the Continental Congress, at least two delegates were required to cast the one state vote in Congress.
  
It is important to establish here that the framers viewed the Articles of Confederation as a federal constitution. The words “federal constitution” were exhaustively used in the pre-1787 U.S. Constitution era in resolutions (“and further provisions as to render the federal Constitution adequate to the Exigencies of the Union;”)[28]  United States treaties (“That these United States be considered in all such treaties, and in every case arising under them, as one nation, upon the principles of the federal constitution;”)[29] United States finances (“The federal constitution authorizes the United States to obtain money by three means; 1st. by requisition; 2d., by loan; and 3d., by emitting bills of credit;”)[30] and in United States Delegate debates:

A requisition of Congress on the States for money is as much a law to them as their revenue Acts when passed are laws to their respective Citizens. If, for want of the faculty or means of enforcing a requisition, the law of Congress proves inefficient, does it not follow that in order to fulfill the views of the federal constitution, such a change sd. Be made as will render it efficient? Without such efficiency the end of this Constitution, which is to preserve order and justice among the members of the Union, must fail; as without a like efficiency would the end of State Constitutions, which is to preserve like order & justice among its members. [31]

These U.S. founding acts and laws also include a resolution empowering the President of the United States to reconvene the “federal government” in New Jersey after he and the Congress were held hostage in Independence Hall, by mutinous soldiers:

There is not a satisfactory ground for expecting adequate and prompt exertions of this State for supporting the dignity of the federal government, the President … be authorized and directed to summon the members of Congress to meet on Thursday next at Trenton or Princeton, in New Jersey[32]

The Articles of Confederation were recognized as a federal constitution by Maryland, the last state to ratify, in passing their “Act of Appointment of, And Conferring Powers in, Deputies from this State to the Federal Convention” affirming that it would join with other States

“ … in considering such alterations, and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union.”

Maryland Act of 1787
Image Courtesy of Klos Yavneh Collection


Several colleagues have pointed out the name “United States in Congress Assembled” (USCA)was used by U.S. Continental Congress on commissions before the ratification of the Articles of Confederation on March 1, 1781, as evidenced by signed John Jay and Samuel Huntington Presidential Commissions we have on our websites.   

Therefore, I have found it necessary to address this issue.

The term “United States in Congress Assembled” first appears in the 1776-77 Articles of Confederation journals drafts.  It appears officially, in its final form, in the Journals on November 15, 1777 with the passage of the Articles of Confederation. It is Article 2, in the Constitution of 1777, that official names the governing body the “United States in Congress Assembled.”

“Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”[1]

The term, “United States in Congress Assembled,” then appears another 25 times in the Articles of Confederation.

The name USCA was chosen by the delegates as opposed to the name Continental Congress, which was adopted on October 20, 1774 in the Articles of Association. [2] The name USCA was chosen by the delegates as opposed to the name of a “General Congress” to manage the union’s “General Continental Business,” which was a name Benjamin Franklin proposed in his Articles of Confederation 1775 draft.   The name USCA was chosen by the delegates as opposed to the name United States Assembled, which was proposed in the Articles of Confederation July 12, 1776 draft.

The term - United States in Congress Assembled -  does not appear in again the Journals until March 1, 1781, except in an interpretive context in the US Continental Congress Journals October 19th, 1778 entry:

A letter, of 17, from Major General Lord Stirling, was read:

Whereas, by the 8th article of the articles of confederation and perpetual union, agreed upon for the United States of North America, it is provided, that all expences for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury to be supplied by the several states, in proportion to the value of all lands within each State, granted to, or surveyed for any person, as such land, and the buildings and improvements thereon, shall be estimated, according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled shall, from time to time, direct and appoint:

And, whereas, the value aforesaid must, from the nature of things, frequently change, and frequent valuations thereby become necessary: therefore,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states to instruct their delegates to fix the period of such valuation.
Resolved, That in the opinion of Congress five years will be a proper term for that purpose. [3]  

This is not, however, the end of the name story.  

A new name, the United States of America in Congress assembled (Note that this name is not found in the Articles of Confederation) first appears in a .S. Continental Congress June 26, 1778 resolution adopting the proper language  for  the States to use in Articles of Confederation  ratification conventions:

The committee appointed to prepare the form of a ratification of the articles of Confederation, brought in a form, which was agreed to as follows:

To all to whom these presents shall come: We, the undersigned delegates of the states affixed to our names send greeting.

Whereas, the delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled, did, on the fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven, and in the second year of the independence of America, agree to certain articles of confederation and perpetual union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, in the words following, viz. [4]

This new name appears again on December 11th, 1778  with the  adoption of  the Board of War’s recommendation to print up military commission documents with the heading  “United States of America in Congress Assembled” (USACA) as follows:

 The Board of War reported a new form of a commission to officers in the army of the United States, which was agreed to as follows:

The United States of America in Congress Assembled:
To
We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valour, conduct and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be in the army of the United States; you are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. And we do strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command to be obedient to your orders as; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shah receive from this or a future Congress of the United States, or a committee of Congress for that purpose appointed, or a committee of the states, or commander in chief for the time being of the army of the United States, or any other your superior officer, according to the rules and discipline of war, in pursuance of the trust reposed in you. This commission to continue in force until revoked by this or a future Congress, the committee of Congress before mentioned, or a committee of the states.

Dated at the day of 17; and in the year of our independence.
Witness President of Congress.
Entered in the war office. [5]

These Commissions were issued beginning with John Jay and ending with Griffin (see Laurens, Jay, and Griffin Commissions for similarities and differences).   


President John Jay signed United States of America in Congress assembled Military Commission
On OCTOBER 9, 1779 the USACA name appears again with a committee appointed to prepare a commission for the secretaries, brought in a draft, which was agreed to as follows:

The United States of America in Congress assembled—To Greeting:

We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, ability, conduct and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you during our pleasure, secretary to our minister  plenipotentiary appointed to you are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of secretary, by doing and performing all things thereunto belonging. And in case of the death of our said minister, you are to signify it to us by the earliest opportunity; and on such event, we authorize and direct you to take into your charge all our publick affairs, which were in the hands of our said minister at the time of his death, or which may be addressed to him before notice thereof, and proceed therein according to the instructions to our said minister given, until our further orders.

Witness, President of the Congress of the United States of America, at the day of 17 and in the year of our independence. [6]

On OCTOBER 15, 1779 the USACA name appears again with a committee appointed to prepare a letter of credence for the honorable John Jay, Esqr, minister plenipotentiary at the Court of Madrid, brought in a draught which being read and amended was agreed to as follows using conflicting terms - United States of America in Congress assembled AND Congress of the United States of North America:

Letter to our great and beloved Friend Charles.

Great and Beloved Friend,
The United States of America in Congress assembled, deeply impressed with a high sense of the Magnanimity of your Majesty, and of your friendly disposition towards these States, and having an earnest desire to improve into a firm and lasting Alliance such friendly disposition have appointed, to reside at your Court in quality of Minister Plenipotentiary, that he may give you more particular assurances of the high regard we entertain for your Majesty. We beseech your Majesty to give entire credit to every thing he shall deliver on our part especially when he shall assure you of the Sincerity of our Friendship, and we pray God that he will keep your Majesty in his most holy protection.

Done at Philadelphia the day of October, 1779. By the Congress of the United States of North America, Your Good Friends. [7]

On OCTOBER 30, 1779 the USACA name appears again when a   committee recommendation appointed to prepare a commission for the person appointed to negotiate a loan in the United Provinces of the Low Countries brought in a draft, which, being read and amended was agreed to, as follows:

The United States of America in Congress assembled:  To the Hon. H. L., Esqr, a delegate from the state of South Carolina, and formerly President of Congress, Greeting:

We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Patriotism, Ability, Conduct and Fidelity, do by these Presents, constitute and appoint you, the said Henry Laurens, Esqr. during our Pleasure, to be our Agent for and on behalf of the said States, to negotiate a Loan with any Person, or Persons, Bodies Politic and Corporate whatever in the united Provinces of the Netherlands on the Terms and Conditions as he and you may think meet contained in the Instructions herewith delivered to you, promising in good Faith, to ratify and confirm whatsoever shall by you be done in the Premises, or relating thereunto … [8]

On NOVEMEBER 1, 1779  the USACA  name appears again when a  committee appointed to prepare a commission for the commissioner appointed to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the United Provinces of the low countries, brought in a draft, which was agreed to as follows:

The United States of America in Congress assembled, to all who shall see these presents, send greeting:

Whereas an intercourse between the citizens of the United Provinces of the low countries and the citizens of these United States, founded on the principles of equality and reciprocity, may be of mutual advantage to both nations:

Know Ye, therefore, That we, confiding in the integrity, prudence and ability of the Honourable Henry Laurens, Esquire, delegate from the State of South Carolina, and formerly President of Congress, have nominated, constituted and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute and appoint him the said Henry Laurens our commissioner, giving him full power, general and special, to act in that quality, to confer, treat, agree and conclude with the person or persons vested with equal powers, by the States General, of the said United Provinces of and concerning a treaty of Amity and Commerce. And whatever shall be so agreed and concluded for us and in our names, to sign, and thereupon make such treaty, conventions, and agreements, as he shall judge conformable to the ends we have in view; hereby promising in good faith, that we will accept, ratify and execute whatever shall be agreed, concluded and signed by our said Commissioner.

In witness whereof we have caused these presents to be given in Congress at Philadelphia, the 1st Day of November, [9]

On FEBRUARY 2, 1780 Congress approved the use of the USACA name again in Court of Appeals Appointments

Resolved, That the commission to the judges of the Court of Appeals be as follows:
The United States of America in Congress assembled, to the honorable Greeting:
Know you, that, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism learning, prudence, integrity, and abilities, we have assigned, deputed, and appointed you one of our judges of our Court of Appeals, to hear, try, and determine all appeals from the courts of admiralty, in the states respectively, in cases of capture, upon the water which now are, or hereafter may be duly entered and made in any of the said states; and to do generally all those things that you are or shall be authorized and empowered by Congress to do and perform, and which shall be necessary in and about the premises for the execution of the said office, according to the law and usage of nations and the acts of Congress; to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy, all and singular, the powers, authorities, and jurisdictions aforesaid; and also the privileges, benefits, emoluments, and advantages to the said office belonging, or in any wise appertaining.

Witness, his Excellency Samuel Huntington, Esq. president of Congress, at Philadelphia, the day of in the fourth year of our independence, and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty. [10]

APRIL 20, 1780 the USACA name appears again when the Board of Admiralty reported their form of a commission for the naval officers in the employ of the United States, which was agreed to as follows:

The United States of America in Congress assembled to Greeting: We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your valour, conduct and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you to bein the navy of the United States, to take rank from theYou are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging. And we do strictly charge and require all officers, marines, and seamen under your command to be obedient to your orders as And you are to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shall receive from Congress, a committee of the states, the Board of Admiralty, Commander in Chief, for the time being, of the navy of the United States, or any other your superior officer, according to the rules and discipline of the navy, and the usage of the sea. This commission to continue in force until revoked by Congress or a committee of the states.

Witness, President of the Congress of the United States of America, at the day of in the year of our Lord and in the year of our independence. [11]

On June 20, 1780 they adopt the language for THE COMMISSION TO JOHN ADAMS, ESQUIRE.

The United States of America in Congress assembled, to the Honourable John Adams, Esquire, Greeting.
Whereas by our commission to the honourable Henry Laurens, esquire, bearing date the 30th day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1779, we have constituted and appointed him the said Henry Laurens, during our pleasure, our agent for and on behalf of the said United States, to negotiate a loan with any person or persons, bodies politick and corporate: And whereas the said Henry Laurens has, by unavoidable accidents, been hitherto prevented from proceeding on the said agency: We, therefore, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, ability, conduct and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you the said John Adams, until the said Henry Laurens, or some other person appointed in his stead, shall arrive in Europe, and undertake the execution of the aforesaid commission, our agent for and on behalf of the said United States, to negotiate a loan with any person or persons, bodies politick and corporate, promising in good faith to ratify and confirm whatsoever shall by you be done in the premises, or relating thereunto.

Witness his excellency Samuel Huntington, esquire, President of the Congress of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, the 20th day of June, in the year of our Lord, 1780, and in the fourth year of our independence.  Samuel Huntington, President. [12]

On SEPTEMBER 26, 1780 Congress uses USACA name again when it addresses the language for privateers resolving:

Resolved, That all Neutral vessels have by the Law of Nations a right to navigate freely to and from the ports and on the coasts of powers at war, when not prohibited by treaty or municipal law.

That the above principles serve as a rule in all proceedings of justice in the United States on all questions of capture. That all captains and commanders of armed vessels whether public and of war or private holding commissions from and under the United States of America in Congress assembled be and hereby are strictly enjoined and required to observe the propositions above stated as a rule of conduct and govern themselves accordingly, and that the Board of Admiralty in the Instructions which they may give, and the Maritime Courts or Courts of Admiralty of the several states, and the Court of Appeals in the Cases of Captures in their several proceedings and adjudications concerning the legality of captures determine and decide agreeably to the principles aforesaid. [13]

On December 19th, 1780 the US Continental Congress goes back to the old form but adds “United” before the word “States” and then lists all the names (See Laurens Military Commission Headings) for Dana’s commission to Russia:

The committee appointed to prepare a commission for the minister to the Court of Russia delivered in a draught which was read and agreed to:  COMMISSION TO THE HONOURABLE FRANCIS DANA

The United States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, in Congress assembled--To all who shall see these presents, send greeting.

Whereas her Imperial Majesty the Empress of all the Russias, attentive to the freedom of commerce and the rights of nations in her declaration to the belligerent and neutral powers, hath proposed regulations founded on principles of justice, equity and moderation, of which … [14]

On December 23rd, 1780 in Letters of Credence to Colonel J. Laurens Congress adopts the USACA name again but then refers to themselves as “Congress of the United States of North America”

Great and beloved friend and ally, The United States of America in Congress assembled, impressed with the magnanimity of your Majesty, and of the repeated proofs you have given of your friendly disposition towards these states, and also feeling the necessity of giving your Majesty full information of the present state of our affairs, have appointed the honourable John Laurens, esquire, a lieutenant colonel in the army of these states, to repair to your court, in quality of minister, to solicit the aids requested by us; and that he may give your Majesty more particular and further assurances of the high regard we continue to entertain for your Majesty. We beseech your Majesty to give entire credit to everything he shall deliver on our part, especially when he shall assure you of the sincerity of our friendship.

And we pray God that he will keep your Majesty in his most holy protection.

Done at Philadelphia, the 23d day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1780, and in the 5th year of our independence. By the Congress of the United States of North America. Your good friends and allies. (Signed) S. H. President. [15]

From this point until March 1, 1789 the Journals are silent on United States of America in Congress assembled.  What is important to here is that none of the resolutions, commissions, and letters from Congress refer to the U.S. Continental Congress governing body as the “United States in Congress Assembled.”  Additionally, numerous  U.S. Continental Congress resolutions, commissions, and letters use conflicting terms for governing body: United States of America in Congress assembled, Congress of the United States of America, Congress of the United States of North America, General Continental Congress, etc…

On March 2, 1781 the term “United States in Congress Assembled” appears at the head of the Journals on that date and after that within most, if not all, public USCA resolutions the term is used exhaustively.    The term developed by the Continental Congress, “United States of America in Congress assembled,” has very limited use being relegated mostly to  the commissions and other federal appointment documents approved by the U.S. Continental Congress from 1778-1780.

Therefore it is proper to use the term “Continental Congress” [16] for the pre-March 1, 1781 governing body and the term United States in Congressed Assembled” [17] for the post March 1, 1781 unicameral governing body of the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation.

This USCA unicameral federal government constituted under the Articles of Confederation would convene in eight different sessions. The First session began on March 2nd, 1781 with Samuel Huntington as President.  The eighth and last USCA under President Cyrus Griffin ended on October 10th, 1788, as the ninth failed to achieve a quorum in November 1788:


Articles of Confederation Congress
United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) Sessions

USCA
Session Dates
USCA Convene Date
President(s)
First
11-05-1780 to 11-04-1781*
03-02-1781
Second
11-05-1781 to 11-03-1782
11-05-1781
Third
11-04-1782 to 11-02-1783
11-04-1782
Fourth
11-03-1783 to 10-31-1784
11-03-1783
Fifth
11-01-1784 to 11-06-1785
11-29-1784
Sixth
11-07-1785 to 11-05-1786
11-23-1785
Seventh
11-06-1786 to 11-04-1787
02-02-1787
Eighth
11-05-1787 to 11-02-1788
01-21-1788
Ninth
11-03-1788 to 03-03-1789**
None
None

* The Articles of Confederation was ratified by the mandated 13th State on February 2, 1781, and the dated adopted by the Continental Congress to commence the new  United States in Congress Assembled government was March 1, 1781.  The USCA convened under the Articles of Confederation Constitution on March 2, 1781.  

** On September 14, 1788, the Eighth United States in Congress Assembled resolved that March 4th, 1789, would be commencement date of the Constitution of 1787's federal government thus dissolving the USCA on March 3rd, 1789.


The First United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776


September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776




The Second United American Republic
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781

July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781


Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America

George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783



The Third United American Republic
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789

March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
Declined Office
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789





Chart Comparing Presidential Powers 
of  America's Four United Republics - Click Here


United Colonies and States First Ladies

1774-1788


United Colonies Continental Congress
President
18th Century Term
Age
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
29
Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
Henry Middleton
10/22–26/74
n/a
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
30
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
28
United States Continental Congress
President
Term
Age
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
29
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
Henry Laurens
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
n/a
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
21
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
41
United States in Congress Assembled
President
Term
Age
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
42
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
25
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
55
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
46
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
36
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
46
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
38
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
42
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
43
01/22/88 - 01/29/89
36



Constitution of 1787
First Ladies
President
Term
Age
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
57
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
52
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782  (Aged 33)
n/a
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
40
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
48
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
50
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
n/a
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
n/a
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
65
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
50
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
23
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
41
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
60
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
52
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
46
n/a
n/a
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
42
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
54
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
43
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
45
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
48
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
n/a
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
21
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
56
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
28
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
49
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
40
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
47
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
52
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
43
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
60
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
44
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
54
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
48
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
60
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
56
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
31
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
50
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
56
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
56
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
49
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
59
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
63
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
45
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
54
January 20, 2009 to date
45



[1] Journals of the USCA, March 1, 1781
[2] Articles of Association first paragraph: We, his majesty's most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a continental
[3] Journals of the Congress, October 19th, 1778
[4] Journals of the Congress, June 26, 1778
[5] Ibid, DECEMBER 11, 1778
[6] Ibid, OCTOBER 9, 1779
[7] Ibid, OCTOBER 15, 1779
[8] Ibid, OCTOBER 30, 1779
[9] Ibid, NOVEMBER 1, 1779
[10] Ibid, FEBRUARY 2, 1780
[11] Ibid, APRIL 20, 1780
[12] Ibid, June 20, 1780
[13] Ibid, SEPTEMBER 26, 1780
[14] Ibid, December 19th, 1780
[15] Ibid, December 23rd, 1780
[16] Articles of Association first paragraph: We, his majesty's most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a continental Congress, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th day of September, 1774

[17] Articles of Confederation, Article 2: “Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled, ”
[19] Instructions of the General Assembly of Maryland to George Plater, William Paca, William Carmichael, John Henry, James Forbes, and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Esqs. laid before the Continental Congress on 21st of May, 1779, State Claims Northwest Territory Address Of Hon William E. Chilton Of West Virginia , In The Senate of The United States On April 10. 1912, p.5-6
[20] Journals of the US Continental Congress, September 6, 1780
[21] Journals of the US Continental Congress, October 10, 1780
[22] John Hanson to Charles Carroll of Carrolton, November 28, 1780, LDC 1774-1789
[23] Daniel Carroll to Charles Carroll of Carrolton, February 20, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[24] Daniel Carroll to Charles Carroll of Carrolton, February 20, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[25] John Nagy Editor - Pennsylvania Gazette 1728-1800 On-Line Publication By Accessible Archives, Malvern, PA, - http:www.accessible.com.
[26] March 2, 1781, JCC 1774-1789
[27] Thomas Rodney, in his diary’s March 2, 1781 LDC 1774-1789
[28] JCC, 1774-1789, , March15, 1787
[29] JCC, 1774-1789, March 26, 1784
[30] Ibid, February 3, 1786
[31] Ibid, January 28, 1783
[32] Ibid, June 21, 1783




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