The First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress consisted of 55 delegates selected from twelve of the thirteen colonies. Georgia did not take part in this illegal assembly because they were fighting a mini-war against the Native Americans and were leaning upon British support for help.

This first assembly was from September 5th to October 26th of 1774. This took place just after the Intolerable Acts were issued as a response to the Boston Tea Party.

Carpenter Hall, where the First Continental Congress covened | public domain

Purpose of the Congress

The congress convened to discuss their different options concerning British offences. Out of this came …

  • The “Suffolk Resolves” were approved. These were political statements from Boston and other Suffolk County towns, mainly declaring the Coercive Acts void and urging Massachussets to form its own government.
  • The creation of the Continental Association, which established an oversight committee in each town to enforce a complete boycott of British goods until Parliament repealed the Coercive Acts and other legislation.
  • A published version of American rights
  • A petition to the king listing American complaints and asking him to reconsider the wrongs he had perpetrated upon them.

The president of this congress was not John Hancock, as you may have guessed, but was Payton Randolph. He was president from September 5th through October 21st. At this point the position was taken over by Henry Middleton, who served as president the last five days of that session.

George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Henry Pendleton ride to the First Continental Congress by Henry Bryan Hall

They appointed Charles Thomas as the secretary of the congress as well.

John Hancock was appointed president the following year when the Second Continental Congress convened after the king ignoring their petition, which did not come as a surprise to them.

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