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Continental Congress

colonies adopted independence army

Continental Congress, legislative body that represented the 13 colonies shortly before and during the American Revolution. The First Continental Congress assembled at Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, on Sept. 5, 1774. Its purpose was to secure redress from England for its repressive political and commercial measures. Although endowed with no formal authority, 55 delegates were present, representing all the colonies except Georgia. Initially the congress showed little sentiment for independence; however, on Oct. 14, 1774, a Declaration of Rights was adopted enumerating the colonists' demands and their rights as British citizens. A bold “Plan of Association” was also drafted pledging the colonies to boycott any form of trade with England until these demands were met. The Congress adjourned on Oct. 26, 1774, with the understanding that it would reconvene on May 10, 1775, if its petitions were not honored. Britain failed to respond and the Second Continental Congress was summoned, shortly after the military clashes at Lexington and Concord. The Congress organized an army under the command of George Washington, then adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The congress also approved the Articles of Confederation, creating a union of the states, on Nov. 15, 1777. However, the articles were not ratified by the newly formed states for another 4 years. In the meantime the Continental Congress assumed the nominal powers of a federal government: maintaining an army, issuing federal currency, and negotiating foreign aid and treaties.

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