Today in History: First session of Continental Congress convenes in 1774

September 5th, 2013

On September 5, 1774, the 56 delegates of the First Continental Congress met for the first time in Philadelphia to protest Great Britain’s “Intolerable Acts,” which punished Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The First Continental Congress ultimately resolved to boycott British trade, moving the colonies one step closer to independence.

Following the Boston Tea Party, British Parliament imposed the Intolerable Acts which closed the port of Boston. In response, delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies (Georgia elected not to participate), including George Washington and John Adams, convened at Carpenter’s Hall to plan a strategy. After two months of discussions, the congress reached a series of agreements, publishing a document known as the “Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress.” It reads, in part:

In the course of our inquiry, we find many infringements and violations of the foregoing rights, which, from an ardent desire, that harmony and mutual intercourse of affection and interest may be restored, we pass over for the present, and proceed to state such acts and measures as have been adopted since the last war, which demonstrate a system formed to enslave America.

The First Continental Congress strengthened the unity between the colonies and laid the foundation for eventual independence. After the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress was held in May 1775, and published the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.”  

For more on the American quest for independence, read “A Brief History of Independence,” compiled by What So Proudly We Hail editors Amy and Leon Kass and check out EDSITEment’s lesson plan on the Continental Congress.

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