Continental Congress

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The Continental Congress was initially a convention of delegates from several British American colonies at the height of the American Revolution era, who spoke and acted collectively for the people of the Thirteen colonies that ultimately became the United States of America. The term most specifically refers to the First Continental Congress of 1774 and the Second Continental Congress of 1775–81. More broadly, it also refers to the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–89, thus covering the entire period the Continental Congress served as the chief legislative and executive body of the U.S. government.

British America English territories in North America

British America included the British Empire's colonial territories in North America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America was used to describe the remainder of Great Britain's continental American possessions. That term was used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.

American Revolution Colonial revolt in which the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France.

First Continental Congress 1774 meeting of delegates from twelve British colonies of what would become the United States

The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the United States. It met from September 5 to October 26, 1774 at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the British Navy instituted a blockade of Boston Harbor and Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts in response to the December 1773 Boston Tea Party. During the opening weeks of the Congress, the delegates conducted a spirited discussion about how the colonies could collectively respond to the British government's coercive actions, and they worked to make common cause. A plan was proposed to create a Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, but the delegates rejected it. They ultimately agreed to impose an economic boycott on British trade, and they drew up a Petition to the King pleading for redress of their grievances and repeal of the Intolerable Acts. That appeal had no effect, so the colonies convened the Second Continental Congress the following May, shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, to organize the defense of the colonies at the outset of the Revolutionary War. The delegates also urged each colony to set up and train its own militia.

Contents

Convened in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament the in 1774, the First Continental Congress sought to help repair the frayed relationship between the British government and its American colonies while also asserting the rights of colonists. The Second Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, proclaiming that the 13 colonies were now independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. This body functioned as the provisional government for the U.S. until the nation's first Frame of Government, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, came into force on March 1, 1781, at which time it became the Congress of the Confederation. Officially styled "The United States in Congress Assembled," this unicameral governing body would convene in eight sessions (a ninth would fail to achieve a quorum) prior to being disbanded in 1789, when the 1st United States Congress under the new Constitution took over the role as the nation's legislative branch of government.

Intolerable Acts series of punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774

The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest in reaction to changes in taxation by the British to the detriment of colonial goods. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts.

Parliament of Great Britain parliament from 1714 to 1800

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

The Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, was a statement adopted by the First Continental Congress on October 14, 1774, in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament. The Declaration outlined colonial objections to the Intolerable Acts, listed a colonial bill of rights, and provided a detailed list of grievances. It was similar to the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, passed by the Stamp Act Congress a decade earlier.

Much of what is known today about the daily activities of these congresses comes from the journals kept by the secretary for all three congresses, Charles Thomson. Printed contemporaneously, these records the Papers of the Continental Congress contain the official congressional papers, letters, treaties, reports and records. The delegates to the Continental and Confederation congresses had extensive prior experience in deliberative bodies, with "a cumulative total of nearly 500 years of experience in their Colonial assemblies, and fully a dozen of them had served as speakers of the houses of their legislatures." [1]

Charles Thomson American patriot leader

Charles Thomson was an Irish-born Patriot leader in Philadelphia during the American Revolution and the secretary of the Continental Congress (1774–1789) throughout its existence.

The Papers of the Continental Congress are official records from the first three representative bodies of the original United Colonies and ultimately the United States of America. The First Continental Congress was formed and met on September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. Its purpose was to address "intolerable acts" and other infringements imposed on the colonies by the British Parliament. It ultimately formed the Second Continental Congress in May 1775 which, through 1781, was famously responsible for the Declaration of Independence and many critical articles establishing the United States of America. The Congress of the Confederation (1781–1789) immediately succeeded it after ratification of the Articles of Confederation and lasted through the end of the War for American Independence till 1789.

A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions.

Background

The idea of a congress of British American Colonies was first broached in 1754 at the start of the French and Indian war, which started as the North American front of the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France. Known as the Albany Congress, it met in Albany, New York from June 18 to July 11, 1754, and was attended by representatives from seven colonies. Among the delegates was Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, who proposed that the colonies join together in a confederation.

Seven Years War Global conflict between 1756 and 1763

The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, South Asia, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions: one was led by the Kingdom of Great Britain and included the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and other small German states; while the other was led by the Kingdom of France and included the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal.

Albany Congress meeting of representatives from seven of the thirteen British colonies

The albany congress was a meeting of representatives sent by the legislatures of seven of the thirteen British colonies in British America: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Northernmost Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were not in attendance. Representatives met daily at the Stadt Huys in Albany, New York, from June 18 to July 11, 1754, to discuss better relations with the American Indian tribes and common defensive measures against the French threat from Canada in the opening stage of the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France.

Albany, New York Capital of New York

Albany is the capital of the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Albany County. Albany is located on the west bank of the Hudson River approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of its confluence with the Mohawk River and approximately 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City.

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act requiring that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. The Act provoked the ire of merchants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, who responded by placing an embargo on British imports until the Stamp Act was repealed. To present a united front in their opposition, delegates from several provinces met in the Stamp Act Congress, which convened in New York City from October 7 through 25, 1765. It issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which it sent to Parliament. Subsequently, under pressure from British companies hurt by the embargo, the government of Prime Minister Lord Rockingham and King George III relented, and the Stamp Act was repealed in March 1766.

Stamp Act 1765 UK parliament act of 1765

The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that imposed a direct tax on the British colonies in North America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. Printed materials included legal documents, magazines, playing cards, newspapers, and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money.

Stamp Act Congress American colonial meeting against the British Stamp Act

The Stamp Act Congress, or First Congress of the American Colonies, was a meeting held between October 7 and 25, 1765, in New York City, consisting of representatives from some of the British colonies in North America; it was the first gathering of elected representatives from several of the American colonies to devise a unified protest against new British taxation. Parliament had passed the Stamp Act, which required the use of specially stamped paper for legal documents, playing cards, calendars, newspapers and dice for virtually all business in the colonies, and was going into effect on November 1, 1765.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

The colonists' resistance to the Stamp Act served as a catalyst for subsequent acts of resistance. The Townshend Acts (which imposed indirect taxes on various items not produced within the colonies, and created a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations), passed by Parliament passed during 1767 and 1768, sparked renewed animosity in the colonies, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770. Three years later, the Tea Act (which granted the British East India company the right to directly ship its tea to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Great Britain) became law, exacerbating the colonists' resentment toward the British government, inciting the December 1773 Boston Tea Party, [2] and inspiring the September 1774 Suffolk Resolves. [3]

Townshend Acts townshend

The Townshend Acts were a series of British Acts of Parliament passed during 1767 and 1768 and relating to the British in North America. The acts are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the program. Historians vary slightly as to which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but five acts are often mentioned:

Boston Massacre Incident on March 5, 1770

The Boston Massacre, known to the British as the Incident on King Street, was a confrontation on March 5, 1770 in which British soldiers shot and killed several people while being harassed by a mob in Boston. The event was heavily publicized by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. British troops had been stationed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay since 1768 in order to support crown-appointed officials and to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.

Tea Act 1773 act

Tea Act 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The principal objective was to reduce the massive amount of tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the financially struggling company survive. A related objective was to undercut the price of illegal tea, smuggled into Britain's North American colonies. This was supposed to convince the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to accept Parliament's right of taxation. Smuggled tea was a large issue for Britain and the East India company, since approximately 86% of all the tea in America at the time was smuggled Dutch tea.

First Continental Congress, 1774

The First Continental Congress met briefly in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from September 5 to October 26, 1774. Delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies that would ultimately join in the Revolutionary War participated. Only Georgia, where Loyalist feelings still outweighed Patriotic emotion, and which relied upon Great Britain for military supplies to defend settlers against possible Indian attacks, did not. Altogether, 56 delegates attended, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Adams. Other notable delegates included Samuel Adams from Massachusetts Bay, along with Joseph Galloway and John Dickinson from the Pennsylvania. [4] Peyton Randolph of Virginia was its president.

Benjamin Franklin had put forth the idea of such a meeting the year before, but he was unable to convince the colonies of its necessity until the British Navy instituted a blockade of Boston Harbor and Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party. During the congress, delegates organized an economic boycott of Great Britain in protest and petitioned the King for a redress of grievances. The colonies were united in their effort to demonstrate to the mother country their authority by virtue of their common causes and their unity; but their ultimate objectives were not consistent. Most delegates were not yet ready to break away from Great Britain, but they most definitely wanted the king and parliament to act in what they considered a fairer manner. Delegates from the provinces of Pennsylvania and New York were given firm instructions to pursue a resolution with Great Britain. While the other colonies all held the idea of colonial rights as paramount, they were split between those who sought legislative equality with Britain and those who instead favored independence and a break from the Crown and its excesses.

Second Continental Congress, 1775–1781

In London, Parliament debated the merits of meeting the demands made by the colonies; however, it took no official notice of Congress's petitions and addresses. On November 30, 1774, King George III opened Parliament with a speech condemning Massachusetts and the Suffolk Resolves. At that point it became clear that the Continental Congress would have to convene once again. [5]

The Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, at Pennsylvania's State House in Philadelphia shortly after the start of the Revolutionary War. Initially, it functioned as a de facto national government by raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties. The following year it adopted a resolution for independence on July 2, 1776, and two days later approved the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration, and John Adams was a leader in the debates in favor of its adoption. Afterward, the Congress functioned as the provisional government of the United States of America through March 1, 1781.

To govern the war effort and to foster unity among the states, Congress created various standing committees to handle war related activities, such as the committee of secret correspondence, the treasury board, the board of war and ordnance, and the navy board. Much work was also done in small ad hoc committees. [6] Once such small group was tasked with developing a constitution to perpetuate the new Union. Such an agreement, the Articles of Confederation was approved by Congress on November 15, 1777, and sent to the states for ratification. [7]

Confederation Congress, 1781–1788

The Articles of Confederation came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states, and the Second Continental Congress became the Congress of the Confederation (officially styled the "United States in Congress Assembled"), a unicameral body composed of delegates from the several states. [8] A guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. The weak central government established by the Articles received only those powers which the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament. [9] Congress had the power to declare war, sign treaties, and settle disputes between the states. It could also borrow or print money, but did not have the power to tax. [8] It helped guide the United States through the final stages of the Revolutionary War, but steeply declined in authority afterward.

During peacetime, there were two important, long-lasting acts of the Confederation Congress: [10]

  1. The passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. This ordinance accepted the abolition of all claims to the land west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio River by the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and the ordinance established Federal control over all of this land in the Northwest Territory—with the goal that several new states should be created there. In the course of time, this land was divided over the course of many decades into Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.
  2. After years of frustration, an agreement was reached in 1786 at the Annapolis Convention to call another convention in May 1787 in Philadelphia with the mission of writing and proposing a number of amendments to the Articles of Confederation to improve the form of government. The report was sent to the Confederation Congress and the State. The result was the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, which was authorized by all the States thus fulfilling the unanimous requirement of the Articles of Confederation to allow changes to the Articles.

Under the Articles of Confederation, the Confederation Congress had little power to compel the individual states to comply with any of its decisions. More and more prospective delegates elected to the Confederation Congress declined to serve in it. The leading men in each State preferred to serve in the state governments, and thus the Continental Congress had frequent difficulties in establishing a quorum. When the Articles of Confederation were superseded by the Constitution of the United States, the Confederation Congress was superseded by the United States Congress.

The Confederation Congress finally set up a suitable administrative structure for the Federal government. It put into operation a departmental system, with ministers of finance, of war, and of foreign affairs. Robert Morris was selected as the new Superintendent of Finance, and then Morris used some ingenuity and initiative—along with a loan from the French Government—to deal with his empty treasury and also runaway inflation, for a number of years, in the supply of paper money.

As the ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin not only secured the "bridge loan" for the national budget, but he also persuaded France to send an army of about 6,000 soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean to America—and also to dispatch a large squadron of French warships under Comte de Grasse to the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. These French warships were decisive at the Battle of Yorktown along the coast of Virginia by preventing Lord Cornwallis's British troops from receiving supplies, reinforcements, or evacuation via the James River and Hampton Roads, Virginia. [11]

Robert Morris, the Minister of Finance, persuaded Congress to charter the Bank of North America on December 31, 1781. Although a private bank, the Federal Government acquired partial ownership with money lent by France. The Bank of North America played a major role in financing the war against Great Britain. The combined armies of George Washington and Nathanael Greene, with the help of the French Army and Navy, defeated the British in the Battle of Yorktown during October 1781. Lord Cornwallis was forced to sue for peace and to surrender his entire army to General Washington. During 1783, the Americans secured the official recognition of the independence of the United States from the United Kingdom via negotiations with British diplomats in Paris, France. These negotiations culminated with the signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, and this treaty was soon ratified by the British Parliament. [8]

Organization

Both the British Parliament and many of their own Colonial assemblies had powerful speakers of the house and standing committees with strong chairmen, with executive power held by the British Monarch or the colonial Governor. However, the organization of the Continental Congress was based less on the British Parliament or on local colonial assemblies than on the 1765 Stamp Act Congress. Nine delegates to that congress were in attendance at the First Congress in 1774, and their perspective on governance influenced the direction of both the Continental congresses and the later Continental Congress. Congress took on powers normally held by the British King-in-Council, such as the conduct of foreign and military affairs. However, the right to tax and regulate trade was reserved for the states, not Congress. Congress had no formal way to enforce its ordinances on the state governments. Delegates were responsible to and reported directly to their home state assemblies; an organizational structure that Neil Olsen been described as "an extreme form of matrix management". [12]

Delegates chose a presiding president to monitor the debate, maintain order, and make sure journals were kept and documents and letters were published and delivered. After the colonies declared their independence in 1776 and united as a quasi-federation to fight for their freedom, the president functioned as head of state (not of the country, but of its central government); Otherwise, the office was "more honorable than powerful". [13] Congress also elected a secretary, scribe, doorman, messenger, and Chaplain.

The rules of Congress guaranteed the right to debate and open access to the floor for each delegate. Additionally, to ensure that each state would be on an equal footing with the others, voting on ordinances was done en bloc, with each state having a single vote. Prior to casting its yay or nay vote, preliminary votes were taken within each state delegation. The majority vote determined vote here was considered the vote of the state on a motion; in cases of a tie the vote for the state was marked as "divided," and thus not counted.

Turnover of delegates was high, with an average year-to-year turnover rate of 37% by one calculation, [14] and 39% by session-to-session. [15] Of the 343 serving delegates, only 55% (187 delegates) spent 12 or more months in attendance. [14] Only 25 of the delegates served longer than 35 months. [16] This high rate of turnover was not just a characteristic, it was due to a deliberate policy of term limits. In the Confederation phase of the Congress "no delegate was permitted to serve more than three years in any six". [17] Attendance was variable: while in session, between 54 and 22 delegates were in attendance at any one time, with an average of only 35.5 members attending between 1774 and 1788. [18]

Legacy

There is a long running debate on how effective the Congress was as an organization. [19] The first critic may have been General George Washington. In an address to his officers, at Newburgh, New York, on March 15, 1783, responding to complaints that Congress had not funded their pay and pensions, he stated that he believed that Congress would do the army "complete justice" and eventually pay the soldiers. "But, like all other large Bodies, where there is a variety of different Interests to reconcile, their deliberations are slow."

In addition to their slowness, the lack of coercive power in the Continental Congress was harshly criticized by James Madison when arguing for the need of a Federal Constitution. His comment in Vices of the Political System of April 1787 set the conventional wisdom on the historical legacy of the institution for centuries to come:

A sanction is essential to the idea of law, as coercion is to that of Government. The federal system being destitute of both, wants the great vital principles of a Political Cons[ti]tution. Under the form of such a Constitution, it is in fact nothing more than a treaty of amity of commerce and of alliance, between so many independent and Sovereign States. From what cause could so fatal an omission have happened in the Articles of Confederation? From a mistaken confidence that the justice, the good faith, the honor, the sound policy, of the several legislative assemblies would render superfluous any appeal to the ordinary motives by which the laws secure the obedience of individuals: a confidence which does honor to the enthusiastic virtue of the compilers, as much as the inexperience of the crisis apologizes for their errors.

James Madison, Vices of the Political System

Many commentators take for granted that the leaderless, weak, slow, and small-committee driven, Continental Congress was a failure, largely because after the end of the war the Articles of Confederation no longer suited the needs of a peacetime nation, and the Congress itself, following Madison's recommendations, called for its revision and replacement. Some also suggest that the Congress was inhibited by the formation of contentious partisan alignments based on regional differences. [20] Others claim that Congress was less ideological than event driven. [21] [22] Others note that the Congress was successful in that the American people "came to accept Congress as their legitimate institution of Government", [23] but the "rather poor governmental record" [24] of the Congress forced the constitutional convention of 1787.

Political scientists Calvin Jillson and Rick Wilson in the 1980s accepted the conventional interpretation on the weakness of the Congress due to the lack of coercive power. They explored the role of leadership, or rather the lack of it, in the Continental Congress. Going beyond even Madison's harsh critique, they used the "analytical stance of what has come to be called the new institutionalism" [25] to demonstrate that "the norms, rules, and institutional structures of the Continental Congress" were equally to blame "for the institution's eventual failure", and that the "institutional structure worked against, rather than with, the delegates in tackling the crucial issues of the day." [26]

The Historian Richard P. McCormick rendered a more nuanced judgment. He suggested that Madison's "extreme judgment" on the Congress was "motivated no doubt by Madison's overriding desire to create a new central government that would be empowered veto the acts of state legislatures," [27] but that it fails "to take any notice of the fact that while the authority of the Confederation Congress was ambiguous, it was not a nullity". [28]

Benjamin Irvin in his social and cultural history of the Continental Congress, praised "the invented traditions by which Congress endeavored to fortify the resistance movement and to make meaning of American independence." [29] But he noted that after the war's end, "Rather than passively adopting the Congress's creations, the American people embraced, rejected, reworked, ridiculed, or simply ignored them as they saw fit." [30]

An organizational culture analysis of the Continental Congress by Neil Olsen, looking for the values, norms, and underlying assumptions that drive an organization's decisions, noted that "the leaderless Continental Congress outperformed not only the modern congress run by powerful partisan hierarchies, but modern government and corporate entities, for all their coercive power and vaunted skills as 'leaders'." [31] Looking at their mission as defined by state resolutions and petitions entered into the Congressional Journal on its first day, [32] it found that on the common issues of the relief of Boston, securing Colonial rights, eventually restoring harmonious relations with Great Britain, and repealing taxes, they overachieved their mission goals, defeated the largest army and navy in the world, and created two new types of republic. [33] Olsen suggests that the Congress, if slow, when judged by its many achievements – not the least being recognizing its flaws, then replacing and terminating itself – was a success.

Timeline

1774
1775
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1780
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1783
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1788
1789

See also

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Independence National Historical Park is a United States National Park in Philadelphia that preserves several sites associated with the American Revolution and the nation's founding history. Administered by the National Park Service, the 55-acre (22 ha) park comprises much of Philadelphia's most-visited historic district. The park has been nicknamed "America's most historic square mile" because of its abundance of historic landmarks, and the park sites are located within the Old City and Society Hill neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

Congress of the Confederation governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789

The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. A unicameral body with legislative and executive function, it was composed of delegates appointed by the legislatures of the several states. Each state delegation had one vote. It was preceded by the Second Continental Congress (1775–1781) and was created by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781. The Congress continued to refer itself as the Continental Congress throughout its eight-year history, although modern historians separate it from the earlier bodies, which operated under slightly different rules and procedures until the later part of American Revolutionary War. The membership of the Second Continental Congress automatically carried over to the Congress of the Confederation when the latter was created by the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. It had the same secretary as the Second Continental Congress, namely Charles Thomson. The Congress of the Confederation was succeeded by the Congress of the United States as provided for in the new Constitution of the United States, proposed September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia and ratified by the states through 1787 to 1788 and even into 1789 and 1790.

Pennsylvania in the American Revolution

Pennsylvania was the site of key events and places related to the American Revolution. The state, and especially the city of Philadelphia, played a critical role in the American Revolution.

Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution

The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles of Confederation, and ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790. In addition to key events during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was before the states for their ratification, this timeline includes important events that occurred during the run-up to the convention and during the nation's transition from government under the Articles of Confederation to government under the Constitution, and concludes with the unique ratification vote of Vermont, which at the time was a sovereign state outside the Union. The time span covered is 5 years, 9 months, from March 25, 1785 to January 10, 1791.

The New York Provincial Congress (1775–1777) was an organization formed by colonists in 1775, during the American Revolution, as a pro-American alternative to the more conservative New York General Assembly, and as a replacement for the Committee of One Hundred. The Fourth Provincial Congress, resolving itself as the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York, adopted the first Constitution of the State of New York on April 20, 1777.

Perpetual Union

The Perpetual Union is a feature of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which established the United States of America as a national entity. Under modern American constitutional law, this concept means that U.S. states are not permitted to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and withdraw from the Union.

The Confederation Period was the era of United States history in the 1780s after the American Revolution and prior to the ratification of the United States Constitution. In 1781, the United States ratified the Articles of Confederation and prevailed in the Battle of Yorktown, the last major land battle between British and American forces in the American Revolutionary War. American independence was confirmed with the 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris. The fledgling United States faced several challenges, many of which stemmed from the lack of a strong national government and unified political culture. The period ended in 1789 following the ratification of the United States Constitution, which established a new, more powerful, national government.

References

  1. Jillson & Wilson 1994, p. 5
  2. Smith, George H. Smith (January 17, 2012). "The Boston Tea Party". libertarianism.org. Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute . Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. "Suffolk Resolves, 1774". americanhistorycentral.com. R.Squared Communications. October 2, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  4. Rakove 1979, pp. 42–62
  5. Rakove 1979, pp. 45–49
  6. Olsen 2013, p. 57
  7. Jensen 1959, pp. ix, 184
  8. 1 2 3 "Confederation Congress". Ohio History Central. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio History Connection. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
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  10. Rakove, Beginnings, pp 133–330
  11. Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington (2004) p 131
  12. Olsen 2013, p. 71
  13. Jillson & Wilson 1994, p. 76
  14. 1 2 Olsen 2013, p. 114
  15. Jillson & Wilson 1994, p. 156
  16. Jillson & Wilson 1994, p. 157
  17. Jillson & Wilson 1994, p. 3
  18. Olsen 2013, p. 112
  19. Laver, Henry S., "Continental Congress", Reader's Guide to American History, editor Peter J. Parish, Routledge, 2013, pp. 178–179
  20. Henderson, James, Party Politics in the Continental Congress, McGraw Hill, 1974
  21. Rakove, Jack N. The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress, Knopf, 1979
  22. Ammerman, David L., In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Acts of 1774, University Press of Virginia, 1974
  23. Marston, Jerrilyn Green, King and Congress: The Transfer of Political Legitimacy, 1774–1776
  24. Laver, p. 178
  25. Jillson and Wilson, p. 1
  26. Jillson and Wilson, p. 4
  27. McCormick, Richard P., "Ambiguous Authority: The Ordinances of the Confederation Congress, 1781–1789", The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Oct. 1997), pp. 411–439, p. 438
  28. McCormick, p. 438
  29. Irvin, Benjamin H., Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty : The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 5
  30. Irvin, p. 28
  31. Olsen, p. 54
  32. U.S. Congress, Journals of the Continental Congress, Government Printing Office, 1904, Volume, 1, pp. 13–24
  33. Olsen, p. 278
  34. 1 2 Maier, Pauline (2010). Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787–1788. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 376–377. ISBN   978-0-684-86854-7.
  35. Maier, Pauline (2010). Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787–1788. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 429. ISBN   978-0-684-86854-7.
  36. Taylor, Hannis. The Origin and Growth of the American Constitution , page 268 (1911).
  37. Burnett, Continental Congress, 726.

Books cited

Further reading