The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Continental Congress

The Continental Congress was the federal legislature of the Thirteen Colonies and later of the United States from 1774 to 1789, a period that included the American Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation. There were two Continental Congresses.


The Continental Congress

The Stamp Act Congress, formed by colonials to respond to the unpopular Stamp Act taxes, was the direct precursor of the Continental Congress, which was itself formed largely in response to the so-called Intolerable Acts. The First Continental Congress was planned through the permanent committees of correspondence, which kept the local colonial governments in communication with one another as their common opposition to Britain grew. It lasted only from September 5, 1774, to October 26, 1774, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Peyton Randolph served as the first President of the Continental Congress.

The primary accomplishment of the First Continental Congress was the drafting of the Articles of Association on October 20. The Articles formed a compact among twelve of the thirteen colonies to boycott British goods, and to cease exports to Britain as well if the "Intolerable Acts" were not repealed. The boycott was successfully implemented, but its potential at altering British colonial policy was cut off by the outbreak of open fighting in 1775.

The Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775. They stated that Britain had declared war against them on March 26, 1775. A continental army was created to oppose the British, and General George Washington was appointed commander in chief. Silas Deane was sent to France as an ambassador of the United States. American ports were reopened in defiance of the Navigation Acts. Most importantly, on July 4, 1776, they adopted the Declaration of Independence. This Congress nobly tried to lead the new country through the war with very little money and little real power. The Congress had disagreements with others such as politicians who wanted payment and the military who wanted more control. However, despite these problems, with the help of the Continental Congressís guidance throughout the war, the colonists prevailed.

Dates and Places of Sessions

First Congress:

Second Congress:

See also

External links

  • Full text of Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789

Further reading

  • Edmund C. Burnet;The Continental Congress; 1941; 1975 reprint, Greenwood Publishing, ISBN 0837183863.
  • H. James Henderson; Party Politics in the Continental Congress; 1974, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0070281432; 2002 (paperback) reprint, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0819165255.
  • Lynn Montross; The Reluctant Rebels; the Story of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789; 1950, Harper; 1970 reprint, Barnes & Noble, ISBN 038903973X.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 01:07:13
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55