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.
- 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 When the Articles were replaced by the United States Constitution, the Confederation Congress was superseded by the United States Congress.
- September 5: First Continental Congress convened at Philadelphia’s Carpenter's Hall.
- October 14: Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress adopted
- October 18: Continental Association adopted
- October 25: First Petition to the King signed
- October 26: Congress adjourned, resolving to reconvene the following May if grievances are not redressed
- April 19: War began at the Battles of Lexington and Concord
- May 10: Second Continental Congress convened at Philadelphia’s, State House.
- June 14: Congress established the Continental Army
- June 15: Congress appointed one of its members, George Washington, as commander of the Continental Army
- July 1: King George III Addresses Parliament stating they will "put a speedy end" to the rebellion
- July 6: Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms approved
- July 8: Second petition to the king (the Olive Branch Petition) signed
- January 10: Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense
- July 2: Resolution of independence adopted, asserting the independence of the colonies from Britain
- July 4: Final text of the United States Declaration of Independence approved
- August 2: Declaration of Independence signed in Congress
- December 12: Congress adjourns to move to Baltimore, Maryland.
- December 20: Congress convenes in Baltimore at Henry Fite’s House.
- 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.
- August 19: Congress adjourns to move to Trenton, New Jersey.
- November 1: Congress reconvenes at Trenton, at the French Arms Tavern.
- December 24: Congress adjourns to move to New York City
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.
- ↑ 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
- Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 volumes. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976–1998.
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