Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period

By David A. Copeland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 25
The Continental Congress,
1774-1775

In the early months of 1774, the tensions between England and the colonies increased. Following the dumping of tea into the harbor in December 1773, Boston, especially, suffered through a series of British decrees that Americans referred to as the Intolerable or Coercive Acts (see Chapter 24). Throughout the colonies, individuals began to suggest that all the colonies should select representatives to attend an intercolonial congress to discuss ways to voice grievances for British actions toward America. Some of those who suggested a congress also intimated that perhaps Americans should find a way to hurt the British pocketbook through trade embargoes so that British merchants could feel the same economic sting just as those in Boston.

Finally, on May 17, 1774, the town of Providence, Rhode Island, issued a decree that the town and colony should push for a general meeting of all the colonies. The town leaders, the resolution stated, were "to use their Influence, at the approaching session of the General Assembly of this Colony, for promoting a CONGRESS, as soon as may be, of the Representatives of the General Assemblies of the several Colonies and Provinces of North-America."1Within a week, Pennsylvania and Virginia passed similar measures, and within a month nearly every colony had done so. While John Adams was moderating a meeting in Boston on June 17, the town voted to use the Committees of Correspondence in America to set up a Continental Congress.2

All the American colonies except Georgia voted to send delegates to the Congress. Philadelphia was selected as the site for the meeting, which

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