What Happened During the First Continental Congress?
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774. Representatives came from all the American colonies except for Georgia to protest some recent laws that had been passed by the British, such as the Administration of Justice Act and the Boston Port Bill, which closed off the Port of Boston. The colonists referred to these laws as the "Intolerable Acts." With Patrick Randolph of Virginia acting as president of the First Continental Congress, the colonists made several significant proposals to the British government.
1 Suffolk Resolves
One of the first proposals made during the First Continental Congress was the Suffolk Resolves. This plan called for the colony of Massachusetts to stockpile military arms and boycott British goods as a protest against the Intolerable Acts. Proposed on September 9 by Dr. Joseph Warren, it passed on September 17 as a bold stand against British authority. Included in the Suffolk Resolves was a powerful pronouncement that the colonists would not pay allegiance to King George III as long as he ignored their demands.
2 Declaration of Rights
The colonial leaders drafted the final version of their Declaration of Rights on October 14, 1774, offering a formal proposal to King George III detailing their requirement for him to recognize their rights. They declared their right to set their own taxes in the colonies and detailed the reasons for their rebellion, including the Boston Port Act and the Quebec Act. The Declaration of Rights announced their right to life, liberty and property.
3 Articles of Association
Members of the First Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Association on October 20, which threatened an embargo against English goods. The colonists told the British Parliament that they would discontinue trade with England until the Intolerable Acts were revoked. The colonists' policy of "continental association" meant that colonists would not purchase British goods and would not trade with British companies. A boycott of British goods would take effect in December 1774 if the king did not agree to their demands; an embargo on exports to Britain, in September 1775.
4 Plans for Future Meeting
The colonial representatives concluded the First Continental Congress with a plan to meet again in May 1775 if the British refused to revoke the Intolerable Acts. King George III did refuse to repeal the laws, eventually leading to the American Revolutionary War. By the time the colonists convened the Second Continental Congress, the war with Britain had already begun.