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1774

Congress petitions English king to address grievances

On this day in 1774, the First Continental Congress sends a respectful petition to King George III to inform his majesty that if it had not been for the acts of oppression forced upon the colonies by the British Parliament, the American people would be standing behind British rule.

Despite the anger that the American public felt towards the United Kingdom after the British Parliament established the Coercive Acts—called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists—Congress was still willing to assert its loyalty to the king. In return for this loyalty, Congress asked the king to address and resolve the specific grievances of the colonies. The petition, written by Continental Congressman John Dickinson, laid out what Congress felt was undo oppression of the colonies by the British Parliament. Their grievances mainly had to do with the Coercive Acts, a series of four acts that were established to punish colonists and to restore order in Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party.

The first of the Coercive Acts was the Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston to all colonists until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid. The second,the Massachusetts Government Act,gave the British government total control of town meetings, taking all decisions out of the hands of the colonists. The third, the Administration of Justice Act, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America and the fourth, the Quartering Act, required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in private homes as a last resort.

The king did not respond to the petition to Congress’ satisfaction and eight months later on July 6, 1775, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution entitled “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.” Written by John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson, the resolution laid out the reasons for taking up arms and starting a violent revolution against British rule of the colonies.

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