The First Continental Congress

The first Continental Congress met in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, from September 5, to October 26, 1774.

Carpenter's Hall was also the seat of the Pennsylvania Congress. All of the colonies except Georgia sent delegates. These were elected by the people, by the colonial legislatures, or by the committees of correspondence of the respective colonies. The colonies presented there were united in a determination to show a combined authority to Great Britain, but their aims were not uniform at all. Pennsylvania and New York sent delegates with firm instructions to seek a resolution with England. The other colonies voices were defensive of colonial rights, but pretty evenly divided between those who sought legislative parity, and the more radical members who were prepared for separation. Virginia's delegation was made up of a most even mix of these and not incidentally, presented the most eminent group of men in America. Colo. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, Colo. Benjamin Harrison, Richard Bland, and at the head of them Peyton Randolph — who would immediately be elected president of the convention.

The objectives of the body were not entirely clear but, with such leadership as was found there, a core set of tasks was carried out. It was agreeable to all that the King and Parliament must be made to understand the grievances of the colonies and that the body must do everything possible to communicate the same to the population of America, and to the rest of the world.

The Congress had two primary accomplishments. The Association was a compact among the colonies to boycott British goods beginning on 1 December 1774. The West Indies were threatened with a boycott unless the islands agreed to non importation of British goods. Imports from Britain dropped by 97 percent in 1775, compared with the previous year. Committees of observation and inspection were to be formed in each colony for enforcement of the Association. The entire colony's Houses of Assembly approved the proceedings of the congress with the exception of New York.

If the “Intolerable Acts” were not repealed, the colonies would also cease exports to Britain after September 10 1775. The boycott was successfully implemented, but its potential for altering British colonial policy was cut off by the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.

The second accomplishment of the Congress was to provide for a Second Continental Congress to meet on 10 May 1775. In addition to the colonies which had sent delegates to the First Continental Congress, letters of invitation were sent to Quebec, Saint John's Island, Nova Scotia, Georgia, East Florida, and West Florida. None of these sent delegates to the opening of the second Congress, though a delegation from Georgia arrived the following July.

List of Delegates:

New Hampshire
1. Nathaniel Folsom
2. John Sullivan

3. John Adams
4. Samuel Adams
5. Thomas Cushing
6. Robert Treat Paine

Rhode Island
7. Stephen Hopkins
8. Samuel Ward

9. Silas Deane
10. Eliphalet Dyer
11. Roger Sherman

New York
12. James Duane
13. John Jay
14. Philip Livingston
15. Isaac Low
16. Simon Boerum
17. John Haring
18. Henry Wisner
19. William Floyd
20. John Alsop

New Jersey
21. Stephen Crane
22. John De Hart
23. James Kinsey
24. William Livingston
25. Richard Smith

26. Edward Biddle
27. John Dickinson
28. Joseph Galloway
29. Charles Humphreys
30. Thomas Mifflin
31. John Morton
32. Samuel Rhoads
33. George Ross

34. Thomas McKean
35. George Read
36. Caesar Rodney

37. Samuel Chase
38. Robert Goldsborough
39. Thomas Johnson
40. William Paca
41. Matthew Tilghman

42. Richard Bland
43. Benjamin Harrison
44. Patrick Henry
45. Richard Henry Lee
46. Edmund Pendleton
47. Peyton Randolph
48. George Washington

North Carolina
49. Richard Caswell
50. Joseph Hewes
51. William Hooper

South Carolina
52. Christopher Gadsden
53. Thomas Lynch, Jr.
54. Henry Middleton
55. Edward Rutledge
56. John Rutledge

They are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.”

— From the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress