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First Continental Congress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The First Continental Congress
Thirteen Colonies
Coat of arms or logo
First Continental Congress 1774
EstablishedSeptember 5, 1774
DisbandedOctober 26, 1774
Preceded byStamp Act Congress
Succeeded bySecond Continental Congress
Seats56 from 12 colonies (excluding Georgia)
Meeting place
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 the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, was selected to be Secretary of the Continental Congress.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[3][4]

Declaration and Resolves

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.[5] The West Indies were threatened with a boycott unless the islands agreed to non-importation of British goods.[6] Imports from Britain dropped by 97 percent in 1775, compared with the previous year.[5] 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.[7]

If the Intolerable Acts were not repealed, the Colonies would also cease exports to Britain after September 10, 1775.[5] 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.[8] 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.[9]

List of delegates

# Name Colony Notes
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"
5 Thomas Cushing Massachusetts
6 Robert Treat Paine Massachusetts
7 Stephen Hopkins Rhode Island Authored pamphlet The Rights of the Colonies
8 Samuel Ward Rhode Island
9 Silas Deane Connecticut
10 Eliphalet Dyer Connecticut
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 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
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
26 Edward Biddle Pennsylvania
27 John Dickinson Pennsylvania author of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania
28 Joseph Galloway Pennsylvania Patriot, turned Loyalist; Originator of the Galloway Plan of Union
29 Charles Humphreys Pennsylvania
30 Thomas Mifflin Pennsylvania Later served as the first governor of Pennsylvania; Quartermaster general of the U.S. Army
31 John Morton Pennsylvania
32 Samuel Rhoads Pennsylvania
33 George Ross Pennsylvania
34 Thomas McKean Delaware
35 George Read Delaware
36 Caesar Rodney Delaware
37 Samuel Chase Maryland Later served as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
38 Robert Goldsborough Maryland
39 Thomas Johnson Maryland
40 William Paca Maryland
41 Matthew Tilghman Maryland
42 Richard Bland Virginia
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
46 Edmund Pendleton 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

See also


  1. ^ Risjord, Norman K. (2002). Jefferson's America, 1760-1815. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 114.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b Greene, Evarts Boutell (1922). The Foundations of American Nationality. American Book Company. p. 434.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c Kramnick, Isaac (ed); Thomas Paine (1982). Common Sense. Penguin Classics. p. 21.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Ketchum, p. 262.
  7. ^ Launitz-Schurer p. 144.
  8. ^ Worthington C. Ford, Library of Congress (United States); et al., eds. (1774 (printed 1901)). Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. p. 101. Retrieved February 7, 2010. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Worthington C. Ford; et al. (eds.). 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) [1941]. The Continental Congress. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0-8371-8386-3.
  • Henderson, H. James (2002) [1974]. 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) [1950]. 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

External links

Preceded by
Stamp Act Congress
Legislature of the United States
September 5, 1774, to October 26, 1774
Succeeded by
the Second Continental Congress
This page was last edited on 27 January 2019, at 23:11
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