The sole governing
authority presiding over the tumultuous events of the American
Revolution between 1774 and 1789 was a body known as Congress.
With no power to regulate commerce or lay taxes, and with
little ability to enforce any of its decisions, this group,
representing the thirteen colonies, declared independence,
conducted a war that defeated one of the greatest military
powers of its day, and invented a new political entity that
became a sovereign independent nation. Its members pondered
everything from the rightness of independence to the number
of flints needed by the armies–sometimes with the enemy
not far from their doorstep. Asserting their rights, they
found themselves labeled as traitors.
The fifty-four men who composed the First Continental Congress
represented different interests, religions, and regions; they
held conflicting opinions as to how best restore their rights.
Most did not know each other; some did not like each other.
With no history of successful cooperation, they struggled
to overcome their differences and, without any way of knowing
if the future held success or nooses for them all, they started
down a long and perilous road toward independence.
| In the Old Raleigh
Tavern, a correspondence committee at work, hand-colored
engraving (reproduction) after illustration by Howard
Pyle, ca. 1896 learn