September 5, 1774: First Continental Congress convenes
From September 5 to October 26, 1774, the first Continental Congress met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. The Congress was formed in protest of the Coercive Acts imposed by the British. Fifty-six delegates from all the colonies (except Georgia) drafted a declaration of rights and grievances. The body served as the official government of the 13 American colonies until 1789.
The Coercive Acts?
For the most part, the English colonies in America were business ventures. The settlers, essentially sponsored by corporations, were sent over to exploit natural resources. It was only by luck, and with some help from the natives, that the colonies survived at all.
Pretty quickly, the people grew tired of being money-making pawns. By 1765, when Parliament passed the Stamp Act, the people were seething. This was followed by the Tea Act in 1773 and then the Intolerable (or Coercive) Acts in 1774. All were meant to raise money for the British and keep the colonists in their place.
Even though the British repealed the Stamp Act in 1766, the government made repeated attempts to exert its power over the colonies. The colonists made some effort to resist, but until 1774, it was mainly through committees (and, as we all know, committees are largely ineffective, even today).
Still, the actions of various groups, including The Sons of Liberty, led to the organization of the Continental Congress and preparation for war by 1774.
The Continental Congress
On September 5, 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to organize resistance against Parliament’s Coercive Acts. For once, the rebels had an organization with actual structure and representation from ALL the colonies. Despite their best efforts at reaching a compromise (for instance, they would remain loyal to the crown, but the crown could not tax them), King George just wasn’t having it.
Over a year later, after the Revolutionary War had already begun, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence and all hell broke loose. Although the British started off strong, we all know how things turned out for them. Five years later, after much hardship (and one hell of a victory!), the Congress ratified the first national constitution, under which the country would be governed until 1789.