First Continental Congress

First Continental Congress convenes

In response to the Coercive acts in the Colonies, the first session of the continental congress was gathered at carpenter hall in Philadelphia.  56 delegates from every colony except Georgia drafted a declaration of rights and grievances and elected Virginian Peyton Randolph as the first president of Congress. Patrick Henry, George Washington , John Adams, and John Jay were among the delegates.

In 1765 British parliament passed the stamp act, taxation measure designed to raise revenues for a standing British army in America; this caused the first major American opposition to British rule. under the argument of, " No taxation with our representation", colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax. With its creation in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

After the repealing of the stamp act, most colonists continued to quietly accept English rule until the Tea act of 1773, this act would save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response to this, militant protesters organized the famous "Boston tea party" in which they dumped some 18,000 pounds of tea in to the Boston harbor. outraged by this, parliament enacted the coercive acts,, AKA the Intolerable acts. This act would close Boston to merchant shipping, establish formal British military rule in Massachusetts, make British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and require colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

Massachusetts led the resistance against the British, creating a shadow government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British presence in the colony. In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

A little over a year later, the Declaration of independence was adopted by the second continental congress on July4, 1776.  Five years later, at the battle of Yorktown, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to the American and French forces, bringing an end to the last major battle of the revolution. in 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed with the British and America formally became a free and independent nation.

Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum 

Gladfelter Hall- Lower Level, Temple University

1115 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

anthlab@temple.edu

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