First and Second Continental Congress

This post contains an explanation of The First and Second Continental Congress.

The First Continental Congress:

In response to the Intolerable Acts, delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies (Georgia chose not to attend) met at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1774   to discuss a course of action. The delegates were all fairly prominent men in colonial political life but held different philosophical beliefs. Samuel Adams, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and George Washington were among the more famous men who attended. Although rebellion against the Crown was at this point still far from certain, leaders believed grievances had to be redressed to Parliament and King George III. The delegates met for nearly two months and concluded with a written Declaration of Rights and requests to Parliament, George III, and the British people to repeal the Coercive Acts so that harmony could be restored. The First Continental Congress marked an important turning point in colonial relations with Britain. Although some delegates still hoped for reconciliation, the decisions they made laid the foundations for a revolt. Even though American colonial leaders had petitioned Parliament and King George III to repeal taxes    in the past, never had they boldly denounced them until this point, when they claimed that Britain’s actions had violated their natural rights and the principles of the English Constitution. This appeal to natural rights above the King or God was groundbreaking because it justified and even legalized colonial opposition to the   Crown.

The Second Continental Congress:

The Second Continental Congress was convened a few weeks after the Battle of Lexington and Concord to decide just how to handle the situation. Delegates from all thirteen colonies gathered once again in Philadelphia and discussed options. The desire to avoid a war was still strong, and in July 1775, delegate John Dickinson from Pennsylvania penned the Olive Branch Petition to be sent to Britain. All the delegates signed the petition, which professed loyalty to King George III and beseeched him to call off the troops in Boston so that peace between the colonies and Britain could be restored. George III eventually rejected the petition.

Despite their issuance of the Olive Branch Petition, the delegates nevertheless believed that the colonies should be put in a state of defense against any future possible British action. After much debate, they also selected George Washington to command the American army surrounding Boston, renaming it the Continental Army. Washington was a highly respected Virginian plantation owner, and his leadership would further unite the northern and southern colonies in the Revolution.

First and Second Continental Congress, First and Second Continental Congress

The delegates’ hopes for acknowledgment and reconciliation failed in June 1775, when the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought outside Boston. Although the British ultimately emerged victoriously, they suffered over 1,000 casualties, prompting British officials to take the colonial unrest far more seriously than they had previously. The engagement led  King  George III to declare officially that the colonies were in a state of rebellion.  Any hope of reconciliation and a return to the pre-1763 status quo had vanished.

On July 4, 1776, America severed its relations with England and the representatives who gathered in Philadelphia declared independence of the 13 colonies and approved the Declaration of Independence. The main purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to reveal the fact that the public is empowered to change a government that deprives it of their natural rights. It was emphasized in the Declaration of Independence that public is the source of power and was fully empowered to elect the government of its choice. It was also stated that henceforward the Americans were free to take authoritative decisions independently in all the matters of war, peace, truce, and business which are the rights of an independent state.

First and Second Continental Congress, First and Second Continental Congress

This article is a part of World History Notes. Click me and jump to the main page.

Leave a Reply