American colonies governed by British suffered under tyrannical Governors, huge tax bills and fees. Local residents found it hard to find a voice that addressed the grievances of the colony men to the British Government. The intelligent patriot leaders came up with a solution to make the communication easier and better.
They formed Committees of Correspondence that would communicate the grievances to the foreign government. There were many such units all across the colonies that were regularly formed to solve an issue and once the issue was sorted the committees were dissolved. The units acted as ‘Governments’ in the background. The committees of correspondence inspired patriots and communicated a unified message of liberty in American Colonies.
Committees of Correspondence – The structure of the committees
The committees undertook an important responsibility of enlightening the voters about imminent issues that could cause concerns for the wellbeing of American colonies. The committees worked in unison across the land to spread news about problems and issues encountered by the colony men. The news spread through handouts, letters and pamphlets to all the American colony residents even in rural part of the land.
The shadow governments as they were called began planning the crucial steps for an independent America. In 1764, Boston saw a first structured committee of correspondence that rebelled against British Government, especially to the Currency Act.
In the wake of Stamp Act, patriots from New York took inspiration from Boston and structured a committee to rebel against tax policies. Realising the threat from British to the American colony men, Boston decided to formalise their committee of correspondence in 1772. The following year saw many patriotic leaders developing similar committees in the other colonies.
Committees of Correspondence – Rise of the rebels
Samuel Adams led the patriots to create a committee in the wake of Gaspee Affair. The committee also rebelled against King’s decision to use the Royal treasury to pay the officials. The committee felt that officials cannot be controlled by colony men as the salaries would not be paid by the colony men. All the villages in Massachusetts came forward with their own committees to support the cause.
Planned by Dabney Carr a formal committee was made in Virginia in 1773. Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and finally Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wilmington formed committees of correspondence in later years.
Committees of Correspondence – The path of revolution
The committees all across the thirteen colonies united during the Tea Act to voice their disapproval. As per the historians, they also hired medics to propagate the hazards of drinking tea. In 1774 the committees joined hands in structuring the First Continental Congress. The committees took a new form during the revolution. They were restructured into Provincial Congresses to act as separate governing bodies.