First session of Continental Congress convenes - HISTORY
Year
1774

First session of Continental Congress convenes

On this day in 1774, in response to the British Parliament’s enactment of the Coercive Acts in the American colonies, the first session of the Continental Congress convenes at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Fifty-six delegates from all of the colonies except Georgia drafted a declaration of rights and grievances and elected Virginian Peyton Randolph as the first president of Congress. Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Adams and John Jay were among the delegates.

The first major American opposition to British policy had come in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the banner of “no taxation without representation,” colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax. With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament finally voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

Most colonists continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament’s enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the “Boston Tea Party,” which saw British tea valued at some £18,000 dumped into Boston Harbor.

Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, called the “Intolerable Acts” by colonists, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

With the other colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British, forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British military presence across the colony. In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Sam Houston elected as president of Texas

On this day in 1836, Sam Houston is elected as president of the Republic of Texas, which earned its independence from Mexico in a successful military rebellion.Born in Virginia in 1793, Houston moved with his family to rural Tennessee after his father’s death; as a teenager, he ...read more

Russo-Japanese peace treaty signed

The Russo-Japanese War comes to an end as representatives of the two nations sign the Treaty of Portsmouth in New Hampshire. Russia, defeated in the war, agreed to cede to Japan the island of Sakhalin and Russian port and rail rights in Manchuria.On February 8, 1904, following ...read more

Ford assassination attempt thwarted

In Sacramento, California, an assassination attempt against President Gerald Ford is foiled when a Secret Service agent wrests a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson. Fromme was pointing the loaded ...read more

First Continental Congress convenes

In response to the British Parliament’s enactment of the Coercive Acts in the American colonies, the first session of the Continental Congress convenes at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Fifty-six delegates from all the colonies except Georgia drafted a declaration of rights ...read more

Crazy Horse killed

Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted by a U.S. soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. A year earlier, Crazy Horse was among the Sioux leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little ...read more

Battle of the Marne begins

Thirty miles northeast of Paris, the French 6th Army under General Michel-Joseph Maunoury begins attacking the right flank of German forces advancing on the French capital. By the next day, the counterattack was total. More than two million soldiers fought in the Battle of the ...read more

U.S. forces seize more of New Guinea

On this day in 1943, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s 503rd Parachute Regiment land and occupy Nazdab, just east of Lae, a port city in northeastern Papua New Guinea, situating them perfectly for future operations on the islands.New Guinea had been occupied by the Japanese since March ...read more

Joffre gives order to attack at the Marne

On the evening of September 5, 1914, General Joseph Joffre, commander in chief of the French army during World War I, readies his troops for a renewed offensive against the advancing Germans at the Marne River in northeastern France, set to begin the following morning.With the ...read more

Calley charged for My Lai massacre

Lt. William Calley is charged with six specifications of premeditated murder in the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in March 1968. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division ...read more

Massacre begins at Munich Olympics

During the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich, in the early morning of September 5, a group of Palestinian terrorists storms the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli athletes, killing two and taking nine others hostage. The terrorists were part of a group known as Black ...read more

Outlaw Jesse James is born in Missouri

Seen by some as a vicious murderer and by others as a gallant Robin Hood, the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James is born on this day in 1847, in Clay County, Missouri.Jesse and his older brother Franklin lost their father in 1849, when the Reverend Robert James abandoned his young ...read more

On the Road is published

One of the first novels of the Beat movement of the 1950s, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, is published on this day in 1957. The novel chronicles the cross-country wanderings of a Kerouac-like hero, Sal Paradise, and his pal Dean Moriarty, and their ...read more

Katie Couric makes network anchor debut

On this day in 2005, Katie Couric makes headlines–and TV history–with her highly publicized debut as the first female solo anchor of a weekday network evening news broadcast, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Couric, who served as co-anchor of The Today Show from 1991 to 2006, ...read more

Londoners desperately attempt to halt fire

Firefighters in London begin blowing up homes in a desperate attempt to halt the spread of a great fire through the city on this day in 1666. All other attempts to stop the progress of the flames over the previous three days had failed. By the time the fire was finally snuffed ...read more