FIRST AND SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
Until the middle of the 1700’s, Britain was the only thing that unified the thirteen original colonies to each other. The British Parliament was the source of government that each colony turned to in making major decisions. By the time the 1760’s came however, things had begun to change due to the British implementing taxation methods against the American colonies. For the first time, the colonists had reasons to band together in opposition of the motherland, and it was time for a change in the governmental spectrum. Throughout the latter part of the 1760’s and early part of the 1770’s, the representatives from multiple colonies would join in committees to exchange ideas and information to bring about change, but it wasn’t until September 5, 1774 that there was an official united political body.
On this important date in history, representatives of 12 of the 13 colonies (Georgia was not represented due to the conflicting nature of a Native American uprising at the same time) met in Philadelphia to organize resistance against certain legislation and action that was placed on them by the British. This group became known as the First Continental Congress. With the goal of coming up with a set group of self-implemented rules, and a list of desired rights, the group, which included prominent historical figures: George Washington, John Adams, and John Jay met with the basis of equal representation and open debate. In the end, it was decided that the colonies would remain loyal to the British Crown, but disagreed with the thought that they should be taxed. They also agreed to stop importing goods from the British Isles until the Coercive Acts (which were designed to punish Massachusetts after the Boston Tea Party) were repealed. These declarations became known as the “Declaration of Rights”. This was the first instance that the colonies took a unified, hard-line stance against the motherland, and it also came with a threat. If the demands were not met, the Continental Congress agreed to reconvene the following May, with the intent on ending the exportation of goods to Great Britain.
It was decided during the first Continental Congress that the group would reconvene on May 10, 1775, and they did just that. By this time, the Revolutionary War had already begun, and although the Congress had decided to profess their loyalty towards the Crown, they began the proceedings of creating an army for the colonies. Although an army had been created, with George Washington at the lead, the Congress still felt as though peaceful reconciliation was the best way of handling the conflicts between the colonies and the British. The Olive Branch Petition was supplied to King George III with the goal of gaining his assistance in resolving the differences between the two sides. When the request was promptly denied, and the fighting had gone on for over a year, the Continental Congress decided that the only way to settle the conflict was for Independence. Largely penned by Thomas Jefferson, the continental congress released the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Although the Congress would go on to release the Articles of Confederation, play a large part in the war effort, and negotiated the Treaty of Paris (which ended the Revolutionary War), it will forever be known as the group who gave America their Independence on the notorious date of July 4, 1776.