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Continental Congress
First Continental Congress
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 → Continental Association
 → First Petition to the King
Second Continental Congress
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 → Declaration of Independence
 → Articles of Confederation
Confederation Congress
 → Northwest Ordinance
 → List of delegates
 → Presidents

The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution. The Congress met from 1774 to 1789 in three incarnations.

First Continental CongressEdit

Main article: First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress, which met briefly in Philadelphia in 1774, consisted of 56 delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States. Convened in response to the Coercive Acts passed by the British Parliament in 1774, the delegates organized an economic boycott of Great Britain in protest and petitioned the king for a redress of grievances.

Second Continental CongressEdit

Main article: Second Continental Congress

By the time the Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775 in Philadelphia, shooting in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) had begun. Moderates in the Congress still hoped that the colonies could be reconciled with Great Britain, but a movement towards independence steadily gained ground. Congress established the Continental Army (June 1775), coordinated the war effort, issued a Declaration of Independence in July 1776, and designed a new government in the Articles of Confederation, which were ratified in 1781.

Confederation CongressEdit

Main article: Congress of the Confederation

The ratification of the Articles of Confederation gave the Congress a new name: the Congress of the Confederation, which met from 1781 to 1789. The Confederation Congress helped guide the United States through the final stages of the war, but in peacetime the Congress declined in importance. Under the Articles, the Confederation Congress had little power to compel the individual states to comply with its decisions. Increasingly, delegates elected to the Congress declined to serve, the leading men in each state preferred to serve in state government, and the Congress had difficulty establishing a quorum. When the Articles were replaced by the United States Constitution, the Confederation Congress was superseded by the United States Congress.

Timeline Edit

  • February 27: Congress adjourns to return to Philadelphia.
  • March 4: Congress reconvenes at Philadelphia’s State House.
  • September 18: Congress adjourns in order to move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • September 27: Congress convenes for one day in Lancaster, at the Court House.
  • September 30: Congress reconvenes at York, Pennsylvania at the Court House.
  • November 15: Congress issues the Articles of Confederation to the states for approval
  • June 27: Congress adjourns to return to Philadelphia.
  • July 2: Congress reconvenes in Philadelphia, first at College Hall, then at the State House.
  • March 1: Articles of Confederation go into effect, Congress becomes the Congress of the Confederation.
  • June 21: Congress adjourns to move to Princeton, New Jersey.
  • June 30: Congress reconvenes in Princeton, New Jersey, first at a house named “Prospect,” then Nassau Hall.
  • November 4: Congress adjourns to move to Annapolis, Maryland.
  • November 26: Congress reconvenes at Annapolis, in the State House.

January 11: Congress reconvenes in New York City, first at City Hall, then at Fraunces Tavern.

  • July 2: New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the US Constitution, thereby allowing for the creation of the new government.
  • July 8: Continental Congress puts the new Constitution into effect by announcing the dates for the elections and the assembly of the new Congress.
  • March 2: Last session of the Continental Congress at Fraunces Tavern is adjourned sine die. Phillip Pell of New York was the sole member in attendance.
  • March 4: : First session of the 1st United States Congress begins at Federal Hall.
  • April 30: George Washington inaugurated as first President of the United States.
  • July 23: Charles Thomson transmitted to President Washington his resignation of the office of Secretary of Congress.
  • July 25: In accordance with President Washington's directions, "the books, records, and papers of the late Congress, the Great Seal of the Federal Union, and the Seal of the Admiralty" were delivered over to Roger Alden, deputy secretary of the new Congress, who had been designated by President Washington as custodian for the time being. This marked the last act of the Continental Congress.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. Burnett, Continental Congress, 726.


  • Burnett, Edward Cody. The Continental Congress. New York: Norton, 1941.
  • Henderson, H. James. Party Politics in the Continental Congress. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. ISBN 0070281432.
  • Rakove, Jack N. The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress. New York: Knopf, 1979. ISBN 0801828643

Further readingEdit

  • Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 volumes. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976–1998.

External linksEdit

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