|The First Continental Congress|
First Continental Congress 1774
|Established||September 5, 1774|
|Disbanded||October 26, 1774|
|Preceded by||Stamp Act Congress|
|Succeeded by||Second Continental Congress|
|Seats||56 from 12 colonies (excluding Georgia)|
|Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia|
The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies who met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament, which the British referred to as the Coercive Acts, with which the British intended to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party.
The Congress met briefly to consider options, including an economic boycott of British trade and drawing up a list of rights and grievances; in the end, they petitioned King George III for redress of those grievances.
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 from October 22 to 26. Charles Thomson, leader of Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, was selected to be Secretary of the Continental Congress.
The delegates who attended were not of one mind concerning why they were there. Conservatives such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, and Edward Rutledge believed their task to be forging 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. Others such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, and John Adams believed their task to be developing a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies. Their ultimate goal was to end what they felt to be the abuses of parliamentary authority, and to retain their rights which had been guaranteed under both Colonial charters and the English constitution.
Roger Sherman denied the legislative authority of Parliament, and Patrick Henry believed that the Congress needed to develop a completely new system of government, independent from Great Britain, for the existing Colonial governments were already dissolved. In contrast to these ideas, Joseph Galloway put forward a "Plan of Union" which suggested that an American legislative body be formed with some authority, whose consent would be required for imperial measures.
In the end, the voices of compromise carried the day. Rather than calling for independence, the First Continental Congress passed and signed the Continental Association in its Declaration and Resolves, which called for a boycott of British goods to take effect in December 1774. It requested that local Committees of Safety enforce the boycott and regulate local prices for goods. These resolutions adopted by the Congress did not endorse any legal power of Parliament 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 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 non-importation 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 to ensure compliance with the boycott. All of the Colonial Houses of Assembly approved the proceedings of the Congress, with the exception of New York.
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 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.
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|1||Nathaniel Folsom||New Hampshire|
|2||John Sullivan||New Hampshire||3rd and 5th Governor of New Hampshire; general in the Continental Army|
|3||John Adams||Massachusetts||Lawyer, first Vice-President of the United States and second President|
|4||Samuel Adams||Massachusetts||cousin of John Adams; sometimes called "Father of the American Revolution"|
|6||Robert Treat Paine||Massachusetts|
|7||Stephen Hopkins||Rhode Island||Authored pamphlet The Rights of the Colonies|
|8||Samuel Ward||Rhode Island|
|11||Roger Sherman||Connecticut||Created the Great Compromise and Three-Fifths Compromise at the Constitutional Convention; Congressman; a member of the Committee of Five who presented the Declaration of Independence|
|12||James Duane||New York||Appointed by the Committee of Fifty-one of the City and County of New York and authorized by the counties of Albany, Duchess, and Westchester|
|13||John Jay||New York||Lawyer; First Chief Justice of the United States; co-author of The Federalist Papers; appointed by the Committee of Fifty-one of the City and County of New York and authorized by the counties of Albany, Duchess, and Westchester|
|14||Philip Livingston||New York||Appointed by the Committee of Fifty-one of the City and County of New York and authorized by the counties of Albany, Duchess, and Westchester|
|15||Isaac Low||New York||Appointed by the Committee of Fifty-one of the City and County of New York and authorized by the counties of Albany, Duchess, and Westchester|
|16||Simon Boerum||New York|
|17||John Haring||New York||Appointed by the General Meeting of all the Committees of the County of Orange|
|18||Henry Wisner||New York||Appointed by the General Meeting of all the Committees of the County of Orange|
|19||William Floyd||New York||For Suffolk County|
|20||John Alsop||New York|
|21||Stephen Crane||New Jersey|
|22||John De Hart||New Jersey|
|23||James Kinsey||New Jersey|
|24||William Livingston||New Jersey|
|25||Richard Smith||New Jersey|
|27||John Dickinson||Pennsylvania||author of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania|
|28||Joseph Galloway||Pennsylvania||Originator of the Galloway Plan of Union|
|30||Thomas Mifflin||Pennsylvania||Later served as the first governor of Pennsylvania; Quartermaster general of the U.S. Army|
|37||Samuel Chase||Maryland||Later served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court|
|43||Benjamin Harrison||Virginia||Later served as the fifth governor of Virginia; father of President William Henry Harrison and great-grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison|
|44||Patrick Henry||Virginia||Creator of the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions|
|45||Richard Henry Lee||Virginia|
|47||Peyton Randolph||Virginia||Served as President of this First Continental Congress|
|48||George Washington||Virginia||Future commander of the Continental Army; first President of the United States|
|49||Richard Caswell||North Carolina|
|50||Joseph Hewes||North Carolina||Secretary of Naval Affairs Committee in 1776|
|51||William Hooper||North Carolina|
|52||Christopher Gadsden||South Carolina|
|53||Thomas Lynch Jr.||South Carolina|
|54||Henry Middleton||South Carolina|
|55||Edward Rutledge||South Carolina|
|56||John Rutledge||South Carolina||Second Chief Justice; Associate Justice; first Governor of South Carolina|