When the Intolerable Acts (1774) were passed, the House of Burgesses in Virginia, met at the Raleigh Tavern, since it was not allowed to meet at the usual place, by an order of the royal governor. At this meeting, it was decided to convene a Congress of members from all colonies to formulate a joint action against Britain.
This Congress - the first Continental Congress was held in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, in September 1774. Representatives from 12 colonies came for the Congress. Georgia did not send anyone, because the ’royalists’ there marginalized the patriots. Most of the 56 delegates, attending the Congress were lawyers, big planters and merchants. And almost all of them were prominent members of the committees of correspondence.
Three groups were present at this historic
Congress. The Conservatives were led by Joseph Galloway.
They wanted to establish a Union of colonies under a President general
appointed by the king. The Moderates believed that force
against the mother country should be used as the last measure. They
hoped for a peaceful solution. The Radicals were led by Joshua
Wilson, John Adams and others who questioned the authority of the
British Parliament over the colonies and to use force if necessary,
to assert their independence.
The Radicals won the day, by defeating the proposal introduced by the Conservatives. The Radicals persuaded the Congress to adopt its own plan i.e. denouncing the coercive Acts as unjust and unconstitutional. The Resolution condemned the revenue acts, the presence of British army in America and the dissolution of the Democratically elected assemblies of the colonies by Britain. It supported the ’Suffolks resolves’ - declaring the Intolerable Acts null and void. The Congress adopted regulations, which would cut off all commercial relations with England. Before closing the members agreed to convene a second Congress in May 1775.
The Congress proved to be very popular among the colonists. Just before the second Congress, in April 1775, the patriots learned that British troops were going to capture the arms and ammunition hidden by colonists in Concord, Massachusetts. It was evident that the leaders here would be arrested. So Paul Revere and his fellow patriot rode for miles, the night before, to warn the people at Concord.
When the British troops entered Lexington, the people were ready to meet them. The famous battles of Lexington and Concord were fought then. It is said that local people from barns and homes fired at the British troops. Thus began the Revolutionary war for Independence from the British Crown. After the battles at Lexington and Concorde, each colony’s assembly passed a resolution to raise troops for an army.
Though, these troops were rather ill equipped and unorganized, they defeated the British troops on Bunker Hill. Meanwhile, in the second Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia, George Washington was appointed as the commander of the Continental army. Washington kept the ill equipped and undisciplined army together, in the long protracted war with Britain.
A final break from the mother country was brought
about due to the famous pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. His passionate
and eloquent work called: Common Sense criticized the institution
of hereditary Kingship: "For all men being originally equals,
no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual
preference to all others forever."
Tom Paine’s work became a significant and revolutionary statement against the whole system of hereditary monarchy. The message in this pamphlet inspired millions of Americans to fight for independence.