Continental Congress, First

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Continental Congress, First

The First Continental Congress was a meeting held by men representing England's thirteen colonies in America in 1774. At that time, the English government was imposing increasing control over the American colonies with unpopular laws, such as taxes on imports and requirements that English soldiers in America be housed in colonists' homes if necessary.

England's unpopular laws stirred discontent among colonists, and tensions rose. Many colonists felt England was taking away colonial rights and liberties. Of particular concern was the fact that the colonists had no representation in the British Parliament that was imposing the laws. Massachusetts alone faced a series of punitive laws imposed by England after protesting colonists dumped British tea into Boston's harbor in December 1773 in what became known as the Boston Tea Party . Punishment of Massachusetts raised concerns in the other colonies for the well-being of their own communities.

To address these issues, the colonists called a convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . From September 5 to October 26, 1774, fifty-six delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies assembled at the First Continental Congress to discuss their troubles. Only Georgia did not elect or send delegates.

The delegates' primary intention was to unite in calling for a change in England's policies toward the colonies. In carefully worded resolutions, the delegates asked England to repeal, or withdraw, a series of policies and laws reaching as far back as 1763. To punctuate the sincerity of their position, the delegates resolved to ban imports from Great Britain and to stop exports from the colonies if their grievances were not redressed by September 1775.

Finally, during the course of the convention, the delegates produced a series of declarations and addresses to King George III (1738–1820), to the people of Great Britain, and to the American colonists in hopes of gaining support for their position. Before adjourning, the delegates planned to convene a Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in May 1775. (See Continental Congress, Second .)