As an aftermath of Boston Tea Party, the Coercive Acts, and the Powder Alarm of 1774, leading colonial politicians gathered in Philadelphia to organize a united colonial assembly. The purpose of the Congress was to find a peaceful solution to the building tension between Britain and America. Further, the Congress was tasked with enumerating the rights of the colonies, and presenting an argument to the British government that would allow the colonists to keep living under British law as they had for over one hundred fifty years. From September 5 to October 26, 1774, the First Continental Congress held session.
The First Continental Congress – 1774 – Difference of Views but United at the Goal
The Congress was made up of representatives from every colony except Georgia, and the representatives often had vastly different motives for attending the Congress. Many of the representatives have become heroic figures in American history, thanks in part to their participation in the Congress. Some men, Like John and Samuel Adams, presented the idea that the Congress needed to codify and defend, the rights of the colonists against the British. Others, like John Jay, saw the Congress as an attempt to create alternative legislation to the Coercive Acts that would allow America and Britain to move forward peacefully. Still others, such as Patrick Henry and Roger Sherman, believed that the purpose of the Congress was to find a way to break all ties with Britain. Despite the extreme range of differing viewpoints, the Congress managed to find compromises to the major issues facing its members.
The First Continental Congress – 1774 – The conclusions of the Meeting
The two greatest achievements of the First Continental were an agreement to boycott British goods if the Coercive Acts were not repealed, and the creation of the Second Continental Congress. Even though the boycott was put into effect, it did not change the British position, and may have actually accelerated the coming conflict. The Second Continental Congress, however, was a success.
Designed to be a council of war, the Second Continental Congress was charged with seeing the end of British rule in America, and equipping an army to defeat the British. The First Continental Congress’ success then, actually lies in the failure of the Congress to effect peace with Britain, thus allowing the Second Congress to make progress on the military front.