9 Jun 2022


US First Continental Congress

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Academic level: College

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The United States first continental congress marks the progress of the American Revolution which was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The revolution was conducted by the thirteen colonies which made up the British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America. The colonies are responsible for the American independence as they were part of Britain possessions of the new world. They formed provincial congresses which consist of elected representatives who began a boycott of imported British merchandize. The representatives appeared in the first continental congress in 1774 with delegates from the 13 colonies except for Georgia which failed to send a representative. 

The Need for Continental Congress For The Colonies 

The thirteen colonies were powerful and persistent and had similar political, constitutional and legal systems. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America (Rosaler, 2004), however before the independence, they held several congress meetings for discussion and agreement on how to conduct the revolution and attain liberation. The continental congress was needed to direct and guide the colonies to achieve independence through the American Revolution. Their success is based on their ability to practice self-governance in a high degree and holding effective local elections which enabled them to resist control from London demands. 

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The First Continental Congress created anticolonial relationships which bore a sense of shared American identity which led to collaboration and looking out for one another, their unity lead to protection of their rights and freedoms such as the formation of rights of English men and the principle of no taxation without representatives. Their collaboration led to the creation of the continental congress which discussed their grievances with the British government and later led to at the American Revolution. 

First Continental Congress 

The first continental congress was convened in 1774 to respond to the Intolerable Acts enacted by the British parliament (Rosaler, 2004). The acts referred to as coercive acts in England were adopted as a punishment for Massachusetts about the tea party. The punishment was based on acts in the previous year 1773 when rebels had disguised themselves and boarded ships in the Boston Harbor as Mohawk Indians. They proceeded to dump ninety thousands pounds of tea which were interpreted by the British as disrespectful. Based on the powers of the intolerable act, the port was closed and the colonists seeking engaged in revenge for the damage caused by the Tea party. It led to the installation of a British general as governor, a unilateral change to the colony’s charter and revoking of certain liberty rights such as the right to hold meetings. 

In 1773, the congress confronted the British rule after its parliament enacted the Tea Act. The act was designed to save the East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade and lowering its tax on tea. The action by the parliament allowed the company to destabilize the tea market by smuggled tea by the Dutch traders. The colonist interpreted it as hidden tax policy. In response, the Congress organized a Boston tea party which was hosted by militant patriots from Massachusetts who dresses as Mohawk Indians dumped thousands of pounds of the Indian tea into the Boston harbor. 

The Boston tea party outraged the British parliament as it was accompanied by other acts of destructions of British properties. As a result, they enacted the coercive laws in 1774. The coercive Acts saw t the closure of the Boston harbor to merchant shipping and the established of British formal rule in Massachusetts. As a result, the British officers were immune to criminal charges in America leading to an increase in illegal activities which called for the colonists to put into section the British troops. Massachusetts resistance and struggle with the British which led to the formation of a revolutionary government and the establishment of militia to resist the increasing presence of British troops contributed significantly to the American Revolution (Bardes et al., 2010). The British troops continually received commands from the British governor to attack and encounter with the American militia which leads to the continued struggle to the American Revolution. 

Events of the First Continental Congress 

The fifty-six elected delegates from all the colonies met to deliberate and find an effective response to the British parliament enactment of the Coercive Acts (Rosaler, 2004). In the meeting, they drafted a declaration of rights and grievances. The delegates also held an election of the president of the Congress and Peyton Randolph from Virginia was selected as president. In the first congress, all the colonies were represented by delegates except Georgia who sent a representative to the second congress. 

The colonists aimed to determine the course of action and take a united resistance to the British government. The meeting of the delegates took place from September 5 to October 26, 1774 at the carpenter’s Hill in Philadelphia Pennsylvania (Rosaler, 2004). The meeting was attended by representatives from the 12 colonies and they discussed the different options available to accomplish the American Revolution and resistance to the British rule. They considered an economic boycott of English trade and drawing lists of rights and grievances they encountered from the British (Thompson, 2010). They petitioned and voted on how the grievances would be addressed and choose King George to redress the grievance through a petition. 

During the First Continental Congress, the Second Continental Congress was planned and called to monitor progress and was also a plan if the use of a petition to address their grievances failed to work. The request and appeal to the crown were unable to achieve the expected results and the second continental congress was organized to discuss defenses and security with the aim of starting the American Revolution war (Bardes et al., 2010). The discussion was based on each colony efforts to set up and train its militia for the war and forceful resistance against the British government and coercive acts. 


The first Congress had two significant accomplishments. First, the colonies were able to come together and agree to hold a boycott on all British goods. He boycott was scheduled to commence in December 1st 1774 (Rosaler, 2004). Each colony was tasked with organizing committees for observations and inspection to enhance compliance to the boycott for imports (Thompson, 2010). The Congress also agreed to cease exports if the Intolerable Acts were not repealed. The boycott was successfully implemented. The congress also accomplished a provision for the second continental congress scheduled to be held in May 1775 (Rosaler, 2004) and was to be more inclusive by inviting other colonies not present in the first congress. The Congress agrees to send letters of invitation to Georgia, East and West Florida, Quebec and Nova Scotia (Bardes et al., 2010). 


The first continental congress had to agree by making declarations and resolves to unite the different agendas of the delegates (Thompson, 2010) to accomplish the above. Some delegates believed that they had convened to forge policies that would pressure the British parliament to abolish the acts and stop the implementation of their unreasonable Acts. Others considered developing statements of rights and liberties of the colonies and end the abuse of parliament and ensure that they retain their colonial rights under the colonial charters and the British constitution. The first continental congress can be considered as an impactful force to the American Revolution. Most of its policies such as boycott of British products worked but was interrupted by the American revolutionary war. 


Bardes, B. A., Shelley, M. C., & Schmidt, S. W. (2010). American government and politics today: The essentials. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 

Rosaler, M. (2004). A timeline of the First Continental Congress. New York: Rosen Central. 

Thompson, J. C. (2010). The dubious achievement of the First Continental Congress. Alexandria, VA: Commonwealth Books. 

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