Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
The First Prayer in Congress 1774

The Continental Congress was the governing body of the 13 Colonies during the American Revolution. Each Colony sent representatives to discuss the issue of the Parliaments invasion of their rights as Englishmen. Thus, when the Colonists met, they created a weak central government, in which the States held the power.

First Congress

For years before the French and Indian War, Parliament allowed the Colonists to govern themselves, this would all change in 1763. Parliament, started to take direct control on the Colonial matters by implementing policies designed to shift this power from the Colonial legislators back to Parliament. Parliament wanted the Colonies to begin to pay their fair share in taxes and other duties, mainly to relieve some of the burden that the London merchants were feeling.

These policies were, in the minds of Americans, invasions on their Rights as Englishmen. Consequently, the Americans formed the First Continental Congress to address the issue.

This Congress met at Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, with 44 delegates in attendance. Latecomers brought the total to 56. The delegates elected Peyton Randolph of Virginia as the President. Among the membership of this Congress were such notables as George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Jay, John Adams and Samuel Adams. The membership of the 1775 Second Continental Congress was much the same, with the addition of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Meeting in secret session, the First Congress rejected a plan by Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania to somehow blend British authority with Colonial freedom. Members voted instead for a declaration of Rights, including those of life, liberty, property, assembly and trial by jury. They also demanded reparation for grievances that had been accumulating since 1763.

Second Congress

By the time the Second Continental Congress met in 1775, fighting had begun between the Colonies and Britain in Massachusetts. The Congress took over the new American army and put George Washington in charge.

It also directed the war effort and acted as the provisional government for the Colonies by issuing and borrowing money, setting up a postal service and creating a navy. By mid 1776, the conflict was so far along that, the congress gave up on a peaceful settlement and adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Websites about the Continental Congress

Check out these websites that have more information about the Continental Congress.

First Prayer of the Continental Congress
From the Office of the Chaplin's website you can read the first prayer of the Continental Congress which was offered in 1774. Thus, you will note that even then the Colonist had  strong belief in God.

Journals of the Continental Congress
At the Library of Congress website you can read the journals of both Congress's.  These are in essence the daily proceedings.

Continental Congress 1774 - 1783
From the Dept. of State's Office of the Historian you will learn about both the first and second Continental Congress's.

Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress
Read the document that the First Continental Congress published on October 14, 1774.This is located at the Avalon Project website by the Yale Law School.

Carpenter's Hall
The delegates of the First Continental Congress met at Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is the website dedicated to this historic landmark. 

Related Articles on 18th Century History

Causes of the American Revolution | Character of Colonial America: the shape of things to come | Documents of the American Revolution