Continental Congress

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The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution. The Congress met from 1774 to 1789 in three incarnations. The first call for a convention was made over issues of mounting taxation without representation in Parliament and because of the British blockade. Though at first somewhat divided on issues concerning independence and a break from Crown rule the new Congress would come to issue a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution and proclaim the name United States of America as the name of the new nation. It would establish a Continental Army and also have to endure a war with Britain before fruition of a independent Constitutional government was fully realized among the American colonies.


First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress, which met briefly in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from September 5, to October 26, in 1774 and consisted of fifty-six delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States of America. The delegates which included George Washington, then a Colonel of the Virginia volunteers, Patrick Henry, and John Adams, were elected by their respective colonial assemblies. Other notable delegates included Samuel Adams from Massachusetts Bay, and Joseph Galloway and John Dickinson from Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Franklin had put forth the idea of such a meeting the year before but was unable to convince the colonies of its necessity until the British placed a blockade at the Port of Boston in response to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. All of the colonies sent their delegates except Georgia, who had its own troubles and needed the protection of British soldiers. Most of the delegates were not yet ready to break away from Great Britain, but they wanted the British King and Parliament to act more fairly. Convened in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament in 1774, the delegates organized an economic boycott of Great Britain in protest and petitioned the King for a redress of grievances. The colonies were united in their effort to demonstrate their authority to Great Britain by virtue of their common causes and through their unity, but their ultimate objectives were not consistent. Pennsylvania and New York had sent delegates with firm instructions to pursue a resolution with England. While the other colonies all held the idea of colonial rights as paramount they were split between those who sought legislative equality with Britain and those who instead favored independence and a break from the Crown and its excesses. On October 26th 1774 the First Continental Congress adjourned but agreed to reconvene in May 1775 if Parliament still did not address their grievances. In London, Parliament debated the merits of meeting the demands made by the colonies however it took no official notice of Congress's petitions and addresses. On November 30th 1774, King George III opens Parliament with a speech condemning Massachusetts and the Suffolk Resolves. At that point it became clear that the Continental Congress would have to convene once again. [1] [2] [3]

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