THE FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
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.
Committees of Correspondence. — The colonies all had what they termed “Committees of Correspondence,” and through these committees they kept one another informed by letter of what was going on. In Boston, only one town meeting a year was permitted by the governor. The citizens accordingly held one town meeting, and by adjourning from time to time made it last through all the year. Throughout the colonies first steps were being taken. They knew not whither these steps would lead; they hoped to a redress of grievances. As the result showed, they could lead only to independence.
A Continental Congress proposed. — On the 17th of June, 1774, Samuel Adams proposed in the Massachusetts General Court, held at Salem, that a Continental Congress should be called to meet in Philadelphia the first of September. Five delegates from Massachusetts were chosen. Two days earlier, Rhode Island had elected delegates to such a congress.
The Massachusetts Provincial Congress. — A few months later, the House again met in Salem and resolved itself into a Provincial Congress to be joined by such other members as should be chosen. They then adjourned to Concord, and there elected John Hancock president. After transacting what business was necessary, they adjourned to Cambridge, and there, October 21st, 1774, a committee drew up a plan for the immediate defence of the colony. A committee of safety was appointed to attend to all military matters, and a committee of supplies to furnish resources for the committee of safety.
Massachusetts raises an Army. — In November, this Congress decided to raise an army of twelve thousand men, and appointed proper officers for it. Thus a revolutionary government was in full operation in Massachusetts. The drift toward revolution was apparent in every colony. The Provincial Congress remained the government of the people in Massachusetts until the 19th of July, 1775, when it dissolved itself, and a new House of Representatives, whose members had been chosen by the several towns, according to their usage and their charter, organized, by choosing James Warren as speaker. James Bowdoln was made president. The present seal of the Commonwealth was adopted.
The First Congress. — The First Continental Congress met in Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia, on the 5th of September, 1774. This Congress resulted from an almost universal and simultaneous demand from the various colonies. The first call came from Virginia.
Proposed by Massachusetts. — The Massachusetts General Court, at Salem, on June 17th, appointed five delegates to a Congress “That might be convened the first of September at Philadelphia.” All the colonies except Georgia appointed delegates. This Congress included many sagacious men, well versed in governmental affairs. Among them may be named George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Peyton Randolph, Patrick Plenry, and Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia; Samuel Adams and John Adams, of Massachusetts ; John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania; Christopher Gadsden and John Rutledge, of South Carolina; Dr. John Witherspoon, President of the College of New Jersey; Stephen Hopkins, of Rhode Island; Roger Sherman, of Connecticut; and John Jay, of New York.
What it Did. — All votes taken by this Congress were by States, every State having one vote. The important action was as follows: —
- A declaration of rights.
- An agreement to stop exports to Great Britain and imports from there, and to discontinue the slave trade after the first of December.
- An address to the British people.
- A petition to the king.
- The formation of the “American Association.”
- An address to the people of Canada, Nova Scotia, and the Floridas.
- A provision for another Congress, to be held in May, 1775.
How it was Done. — The business of this Congress was executed with remarkable skill. William Pitt said:
For solidity of reason, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion under a combination of difficult circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia. The histories of Greece and Rome give us nothing equal to it, and all attempts to impose servitude upon such a mighty continental nation roust be in vain.”
Under The Flag; History of the Stars and Stripes… Inception, Birth, Evolution, Development or Growth of the Stars and Stripes. Woelfly, Simon John, 1847 and Stine, Milton H. 1853-1940.