Fighting the French and Indian War in the American colonies and parts of Canada was extremely costly to Great Britain. They believed that one of their best options to pay off the debts they incurred was to pass a series of tax and revenue acts which would make the American colonies pay, pay and pay even more.
Among those acts were the Sugar Act (1764), Currency Act (1764), Stamp Act (1765), Quartering Act (1765), Townsend Revenue Acts (1767) and the Tea Act (1773).
On March 5, 1770, tension over British rule and unfair taxation led to violence in Boston, known as the Boston Massacre. British troops stationed in Boston were confronted by angry citizens and supposedly an accidental shot ignited a short skirmish which left 4 patriots dead (a fifth died several days later from his wounds) and three others received serious wounds. Some believe that these five deaths were the first casualties in the American Revolution.
In March 1774, the British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts, also called the Intolerable Acts by the American colonists. The purpose of the new acts was to suppress the rebellion which had been brewing in the American colonies, especially in Boston. Under the Coercive Acts, the British expected the colonists to shrink back into submission, but it led to the exact opposite.
On this day, September 5, 1774, the First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia to discuss the growing problem with Great Britain and the increasing British tyrannical rule. Delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies were present for the convening of the First Continental Congress.
At the time, Georgia was in the midst of an issue with the local Creek and Cherokee Indians. The Indians believed they had been betrayed and forced out of their traditional lands, so they were conducting numerous raids and attacks throughout the Georgia colony. The Georgia leaders were relying heavily on military aid and supplies from Great Britain to help them defend themselves against the Indians. At the time the First Continental Congress was convened in Philadelphia, Georgia could not take any action that might hinder the military aid they were receiving from the British, so they declined to send any delegates.
Among the 56 delegates in attendance, about a third were lawyers. Three of the delegates would eventually serve as US Presidents. The 56 delegates from the other twelve colonies were:
Connecticut – Silas Deane, Eliphalet Hopkins and Roger Sherman.
Delaware -Thomas McKean, George Read and Caesar Rodney.
Massachusetts – John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine.
Maryland – Samuel Chase, Robert Goldsborough, Thomas Johnson, William Paca and Matthew Tilghman.
New Hampshire – Nathaniel Folsom and John Sullivan.
New Jersey – Stephen Crane, John De Hart, James Kinsey, William Livingston and Richard Smith.
New York – John Alsop, Simon Boerum, James Duane, William Floyd, John Harin, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low and Henry Wisner.
North Carolina – Richard Caswell, Joseph Hewes and William Hooper.
Pennsylvania – Edward Biddle, John Dickinson, Joseph Galloway, Charles Humphreys, Thomas Miffin, John Morton, Samuel Rhodes and George Ross.
Rhode Island – Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward.
South Carolina – Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Henry Middleton, Edward Rutledge and John Rutledge.
Virginia – Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton, Peyton Randolph and George Washington.
On September 7, 1774, the First Continental Congress was opened with prayer given by Reverend Jacob Duché, from the Christ Church of Philadelphia. His prayer:
“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!”
“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.”
Sources for the above includes: Today, May 31, 1775: Mecklenburg Resolves – Legend v. Fact; Parliament Extends Its Control Over The Colonies; The First Continental Congress: The Patriots React To The Intolerable Acts; First Continental Congress Meets 1774; First Continental Congress Convenes; First Continental Congress; Continental Congress; Which Colony Didn’t Send Anyone to the First Continental Congress Meeting?; First Prayer of the Continental Congress, 1774