Portrait of Peyton Randolph.

Peyton Randolph was the first President of the First Continental Congress.

First Continental Congress

September 5, 1774–October 26, 1774 — American Revolution

The First Continental Congress met in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, from September 5, 1774 until October 26, 1774. The meeting was called in response to acts of the British Parliament, collectively known in the Colonies as the Intolerable Acts.


The First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia at Carpenter’s Hall from September 5, 1774 to October 26, 1774. The Congress had been called for in response to the Intolerable Acts (also known as the Coercive Acts). Twelve of the 13 colonies were represented by 56 delegates. Georgia is the only colony that did not participate.

Among other things, those acts closed Boston Harbor until Bostonians paid for the tea destroyed during the Boston Tea Party. The First Continental Congress helped define common grievances against Great Britain and solidified colonial resolve to band together to encourage or force Parliament to address those grievances.

Continental Congress Leaders

Peyton Randolph, from the colony of Virginia, oversaw the proceedings until the last few days. When he was unable to continue his duties, Henry Middleton of South Carolina took over as President. The Secretary of the Congress was Charles Thomson, the leader of the Sons of Liberty in Philadelphia. Other prominent members of the Congress included:

Coordinated Backlash Against the Intolerable Acts

At the time, Congress did not advocate independence, it sought to end the enforcement of the Intolerable Acts. They hoped that a unified voice would be heard in London, and right perceived wrongs that had been inflicted upon the colonies. Congress allowed the colonies to coordinate their resistance to British rule, worked to balance the interests of different colonies, and established itself as the official liaison to Great Britain.

The Intolerable Acts were passed in 1774 with the purpose of suppressing unrest in Boston. The port was closed and the city was placed under martial law. Protestors led by the Sons of  Liberty called for a boycott of British goods. The colonial governments called for a Congress to be assembled, and delegated the power to it to set the terms and conditions of the boycott.

Articles of Association

On September 5, 1774, Congress convened for the first time and adopted the Articles of Association, which stated that if the Intolerable Acts were not repealed by December 1, 1774, a boycott of British goods would begin in the colonies. The Articles also provided plans for an embargo on exports if the Acts were not repealed by September 10, 1775. A formal petition to King George III was drafted on October 26 that outlined the grievances of the colonies. The Congress voted to reconvene in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775.

Galloway’s Plan of Union

Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania proposed a plan that suggested the creation of an American Parliament, which would work along with the British Parliament. Galloway’s “Plan of Union” was supported by John Jay and Edward Rutledge, but opposed by delegates such as Patrick Henry. Galloway’s plan was defeated by a vote of six to five on October 22, 1774.

Delegates to the First Continental Congress

New Hampshire Delegates

  • Nathaniel Folsom
  • John Sullivan

Massachusetts Delegates

  • John Adams
  • Samuel Adams
  • Thomas Cushing
  • Robert Treat Paine

Rhode Island Delegates

  • Stephen Hopkins
  • Samuel Ward

Connecticut Delegates

  • Silas Deane
  • Eliphalet Dyer
  • Roger Sherman

New York Delegates

  • James Duane
  • John Jay
  • Philip Livingston
  • Isaac Low
  • Simon Boerum
  • John Haring
  • Henry Wisner
  • William Floyd
  • John Alsop

New Jersey Delegates

  • Stephen Crane
  • John De Hart
  • James Kinsey
  • William Livingston
  • Richard Smith

Pennsylvania Delegates

  • Edward Biddle
  • John Dickinson
  • Joseph Galloway
  • Charles Humphreys
  • Thomas Mifflin
  • John Morton
  • Samuel Rhoads
  • George Ross

Delaware Delegates

  • Thomas McKean
  • George Read
  • Caesar Rodney

Maryland Delegates

  • Samuel Chase
  • Robert Goldsborough
  • Thomas Johnson
  • William Paca
  • Matthew Tilghman

Virginia Delegates

  • Richard Bland
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • Patrick Henry
  • Richard Henry Lee
  • Edmund Pendleton
  • Peyton Randolph
  • George Washington

North Carolina Delegates

  • Richard Caswell
  • Joseph Hewes
  • William Hooper

South Carolina Delegates

  • Christopher Gadsden
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr.
  • Henry Middleton
  • Edward Rutledge
  • John Rutledge

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title First Continental Congress
  • Coverage September 5, 1774–October 26, 1774
  • Author
  • Keywords First Continental Congress, American Revolution
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date October 23, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 20, 2021
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