First Continental Congress
|The First Continental Congress|
United States of America
First Continental Congress 1774
|Established||September 5, 1774|
|Disbanded||May 10, 1775|
|Preceded by||Stamp Act Congress|
|Succeeded by||Second Continental Congress|
|Seats||55 from 12 colonies (Georgia elected not to send representatives)|
The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve colonies (Georgia was not present) that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts (also known as Intolerable Acts by the Colonial Americans) by the British Parliament. The Intolerable Acts had punished Boston for the Boston Tea Party.
The Congress is attended by 56 delegates appointed by the legislatures of twelve of the Thirteen Colonies, the exception being the Province of Georgia, which was hoping for British assistance with Native American problems on its frontier.
The Congress also called for another Continental Congress in the event that their petition was unsuccessful in halting enforcement of the Intolerable Acts. Their appeal to the Crown had no effect, and so the Second Continental Congress was convened the following year to organize the defense of the colonies at the onset of the American Revolutionary War. The delegates also urged each colony to set up and train its own militia.
The Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774. Peyton Randolph presided over the proceedings; Henry Middleton took over as President of the Congress for the last few days, from October 22 to October 26. Charles Thomson, leader of Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, was selected to be Secretary of the Continental Congress.
The delegates who attended the Congress were not of one one mind concerning why they were there. Conservatives, such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, and Edward Rutledge, believed their task to be the forging of common policies to pressure Parliament to rescind its unreasonable acts. Their ultimate goal was to develop a reasonable solution to the difficulties and bring about reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Radicals, such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, and John Adams, believed their task to be the development of a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies. While some wished to go farther, their ultimate goal was to end the perceived abuses of parliamentary authority, and to retain, in the empire and under the king if possible, the constitutional rights which were claimed on the basis of the colonial charters and the English constitution.
Among the radicals, Sherman denied altogether the legislative authority of Parliament and Henry was of the opinion that the Congress needed to develop a completely new system of governance, independent from Great Britain, for the existing colonial governments were already dissolved. To counter these ideas, Galloway put forward a "Plan of Union", which suggested an American legislative body be formed, with some authority, and whose consent would be required for imperial measures.
In the end, the voices of reconciliation and compromise carried the day. Rather than precipitate rebellion by calling for independence, the First Continental Congress called for a boycott of British goods to take effect in December 1774, and requested that local Committees of Safety enforce the boycott and regulate local prices for goods. The resolutions adopted by the Congress did not acknowledge the legal power of Parliament even to regulate trade, but consented, nonetheless, to the operation of acts for that purpose. Furthermore, they did not repudiate control by the royal prerogative, which was indeed explicitly acknowledged in the Petition to the King a few days later.
The Congress had two primary accomplishments. The first was a compact among the colonies to boycott British goods beginning on December 1, 1774. The West Indies were threatened with a boycott unless the islands agreed to nonimportation of British goods. Imports from Britain dropped by 97 percent in 1775, compared with the previous year. Committees of observation and inspection were to be formed in each colony for enforcement of the Association. All of the colonial Houses of Assembly approved the proceedings of the congress with the exception of New York and Georgia.
If the "Intolerable Acts" were not repealed, the colonies would also cease exports to Britain after September 10, 1775. The boycott was successfully implemented, but its potential for altering British colonial policy was cut off by the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The colonists were forced to quarter British soldiers, and feed them.
The second accomplishment of the Congress was to provide for a Second Continental Congress to meet on May 10, 1775. In addition to the colonies which had sent delegates to the First Continental Congress, the Congress resolved on October 21, 1774 to send letters of invitation to Quebec, Saint John's Island (now Prince Edward Island), Nova Scotia, Georgia, East Florida, and West Florida. However, letters appear to have been sent only to Quebec (three letters in all). None of these other colonies sent delegates to the opening of the second Congress, though a delegation from Georgia arrived the following July.
List of delegates
- List of delegates to the Continental and Confederation congresses
- Papers of the Continental Congress
- Timeline of United States revolutionary history (1760–1789)
- Ferling, John. (2003). A Leap in the Dark. Oxford University Press. p. 112.
- Risjord, Norman K. (2002). Jefferson's America, 1760-1815. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 114.
- McLaughlin, Andrew C. (1936). "A constitutional History of the United States". New York, London: D. Appleton-Century Company. pp. 83–90. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- Greene, Evarts Boutell (1922). The Foundations of American Nationality. American Book Company. p. 434.
- Miller, Marion Mills (1913). Great Debates in American Hist: From the Debates in the British Parliament on the Colonial Stamp. Current Literature Pub. Co. p. 91.
- Kramnick, Isaac (ed); Thomas Paine (1982). Common Sense. Penguin Classics. p. 21.
- Ketchum, pg. 262
- Launitz-Schurer pg. 144
- Worthington C. Ford, et al., Library of Congress (United States), ed. (1774 (printed 1901)). Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. p. 101. Retrieved Feb 7, 2010.
- Worthington C. Ford, et al. (ed.). Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. pp. 2:192–193.
- Bancroft, George. History of the United States of America, from the discovery of the American continent. (1854–78), vol 4-10 online edition
- Burnett, Edmund C. (1975) . The Continental Congress. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0-8371-8386-3.
- Henderson, H. James (2002) . Party Politics in the Continental Congress. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8191-6525-5.
- Launitz-Schurer, Loyal Whigs and Revolutionaries, The making of the revolution in New York, 1765-1776, 1980, ISBN 0-8147-4994-1
- Ketchum, Richard, Divided Loyalties, How the American Revolution came to New York, 2002, ISBN 0-8050-6120-7
- Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution (1943) online edition
- Puls, Mark, Samuel Adams, father of the American Revolution, 2006, ISBN 1-4039-7582-5
- Montross, Lynn (1970) . The Reluctant Rebels; the Story of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-389-03973-X.
- Primary sources
- Peter Force, ed. American Archives, 9 vol 1837-1853, major compilation of documents 1774-1776. online edition
- Full text of Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
- Papers of the Continental Congress (Digitized Original Documents)
|1||Folsom, NathanielNathaniel Folsom||New Hampshire|
|2||Sullivan, JohnJohn Sullivan||New Hampshire||3rd and 5th Governor of New Hampshire, general in the Continental Army|
|3||Adams, JohnJohn Adams||Massachusetts||Lawyer, first vice-president of the United States, and second President|
|4||Adams, SamuelSamuel Adams||Massachusetts||"Father of the American Revolution," cousin of John Adams|
|5||Cushing, ThomasThomas Cushing||Massachusetts|
|6||Paine, Robert TreatRobert Treat Paine||Massachusetts|
|7||Hopkins, StephenStephen Hopkins||Rhode Island||Authored pamphlet: 'The Rights of the Colonies"|
|8||Ward, SamuelSamuel Ward||Rhode Island|
|9||Deane, SilasSilas Deane||Connecticut|
|10||Dyer, EliphaletEliphalet Dyer||Connecticut|
|11||Sherman, RogerRoger Sherman||Connecticut||Created the Great Compromise and Three-Fifths Compromise at the Constitutional Convention, Congressman, and a member of the Committee of Five who presented the Declaration of Independence|
|12||Duane, JamesJames Duane||New York|
|13||Jay, JohnJohn Jay||New York||Lawyer; First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, co-wrote The Federalist Papers|
|14||Livingston, PhilipPhilip Livingston||New York|
|15||Low, IsaacIsaac Low||New York|
|16||Boerum, SimonSimon Boerum||New York|
|17||Haring, JohnJohn Haring||New York|
|18||Wisner, HenryHenry Wisner||New York|
|19||Floyd, WilliamWilliam Floyd||New York|
|20||Alsop, JohnJohn Alsop||New York|
|21||Crane, StephenStephen Crane||New Jersey|
|22||De Hart, JohnJohn De Hart||New Jersey|
|23||Kinsey, JamesJames Kinsey||New Jersey|
|24||Livingston, WilliamWilliam Livingston||New Jersey|
|25||Smith, RichardRichard Smith||New Jersey|
|26||Biddle, EdwardEdward Biddle||Pennsylvania|
|27||Dickinson, JohnJohn Dickinson||Pennsylvania||author of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania|
|28||Galloway, JosephJoseph Galloway||Pennsylvania||Originator of the Galloway Plan of Union|
|29||Humphreys, CharlesCharles Humphreys||Pennsylvania|
|30||Mifflin, ThomasThomas Mifflin||Pennsylvania||Later served as the first governor of Pennsylvania; Quartermaster general of the U.S. Army|
|31||Morton, JohnJohn Morton||Pennsylvania|
|32||Rhoads, SamuelSamuel Rhoads||Pennsylvania|
|33||Ross, GeorgeGeorge Ross||Pennsylvania|
|34||McKean, ThomasThomas McKean||Delaware|
|35||Read, GeorgeGeorge Read||Delaware|
|36||Rodney, CaesarCaesar Rodney||Delaware|
|37||Chase, SamuelSamuel Chase||Maryland||Future Associate Justice on the Supreme Court|
|38||Goldsborough, RobertRobert Goldsborough||Maryland|
|39||Johnson, ThomasThomas Johnson||Maryland|
|40||Paca, WilliamWilliam Paca||Maryland|
|41||Tilghman, MatthewMatthew Tilghman||Maryland|
|42||Bland, RichardRichard Bland||Virginia|
|43||Harrison, BenjaminBenjamin Harrison||Virginia||Later served as the fifth governor of Virginia; father of President William Henry Harrison and great-grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison|
|44||Henry, PatrickPatrick Henry||Virginia||Prominent Virginian lawyer, creator of the 'Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions'.|
|45||Lee, Richard HenryRichard Henry Lee||Virginia||Would later submit movement for independence from Britain at the Second Continental Congress.|
|46||Pendleton, EdmundEdmund Pendleton||Virginia|
|47||Randolph, PeytonPeyton Randolph||Virginia||Presided over this first gathering of a Congress.|
|48||Washington, GeorgeGeorge Washington||Virginia||Future commander of the Continental Army, and first president of the United States|
|49||Caswell, RichardRichard Caswell||North Carolina|
|50||Hewes, JosephJoseph Hewes||North Carolina||Secretary of Naval Affairs Committee in 1776|
|51||Hooper, WilliamWilliam Hooper||North Carolina|
|52||Gadsden, ChristopherChristopher Gadsden||South Carolina|
|53||Lynch, Jr., ThomasThomas Lynch, Jr.||South Carolina|
|54||Middleton, HenryHenry Middleton||South Carolina|
|55||Rutledge, EdwardEdward Rutledge||South Carolina|
|56||Rutledge, JohnJohn Rutledge||South Carolina||2nd Chief Justice, Associate Justice; 31st Governor of South Carolina|
Stamp Act Congress
|Legislature of the United States
September 5, 1774 to October 26, 1774
the Second Continental Congress