Journals of the Continental Congress

First Continental Congress: October 20, 1774

October 20, 1774

53 delegates from 12 colonies signed “The Association”—a 14 section “non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement” in response to the Intolerable Acts of 1774. Both Richard Henry Lee and Joseph Galloway sign !

 Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]


We, his majesty’s most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties of New-Castle, Kent and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a continental Congress, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th day of September, 1774, avowing our allegiance to his majesty, our affection and regard for our fellow-subjects in Great-Britain and elsewhere, affected with the deepest anxiety, and most alarming apprehensions, at those grievances and distresses, with which his Majesty’s American subjects are oppressed; and having taken under our most serious deliberation, the state of the whole continent, find, that the present unhappy situation of our affairs is occasioned by a ruinous system of colony administration, adopted by the British ministry about the year 1763, evidently calculated for enslaving these colonies, and, with them, the British empire.

In prosecution of which system, various acts of parliament have been passed, for raising a revenue in America, for depriving the American subjects, in many instances, of the constitutional trial by jury, exposing their lives to danger, by directing a new and illegal trial beyond the seas, for crimes alleged to have been committed in America: and in prosecution of the same system, several late, cruel, and oppressive acts have been passed, respecting the town of Boston and the Massachusetts-Bay, and also an act for extending the province of Quebec, so as to border on the western frontiers of these colonies, establishing an arbitrary government therein, and discouraging the settlement of British subjects in that wide extended country; thus, by the influence of civil principles and ancient prejudices, to dispose the inhabitants to act with hostility against the free Protestant colonies, whenever a wicked ministry shall choose so to direct them.

To obtain redress of these grievances, which threaten destruction to the lives, liberty, and property of his majesty’s subjects, in North America, we are of opinion, that a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, faithfully adhered to, will prove the most speedy, effectual, and peaceable measure: and, therefore, we do, for ourselves, and the inhabitants of the several colonies, whom we represent, firmly agree and associate, under the sacred ties of virtue, honor and love of our country, as follows:

1. That from and after the first day of December next, we will not import, into British America, from Great-Britain or Ireland, any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever, or from any other place, any such goods, wares, or merchandise, as shall have been exported from Great-Britain or Ireland; nor will we, after that day, import any East-India tea from any part of the world; nor any molasses, syrups, paneles [brown unpurified sugar], coffee, or pimento, from the British plantations or from Dominica; nor wines from Madeira, or the Western Islands; nor foreign indigo.

2. We will neither import nor purchase, any slave imported after the first day of December next;  after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it.

3. As a non-consumption agreement, strictly adhered to, will be an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation, we, as above, solemnly agree and associate, that, from this day, we will not purchase or use any tea, imported on account of the East-India company, or any on which a duty hath been or shall be paid; and from and after the first day of March next, we will not purchase or use any East-India tea whatever; nor will we, nor shall any person for or under us, purchase or use any of those goods, wares, or merchandise, we have agreed not to import, which we shall know, or have cause to suspect, were imported after the first day of December, except such as come under the rules and directions of the tenth article hereafter mentioned….

8. We will, in our several stations, encourage frugality, economy, and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of this country, especially that of wool; and will discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shews, plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments; and on the death of any relation or friend, none of us, or any of our families, will go into any further mourning-dress, than a black crape or ribbon on the arm or hat, for gentlemen, and a black ribbon and necklace for ladies, and we will discontinue the giving of gloves and scarves at funerals….

11. That a committee be chosen in every county, city, and town, by those who are qualified to vote for representatives in the legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all persons touching this association; and when it shall be made to appear, to the satisfaction of a majority of any such committee, that any person within the limits of their appointment has violated this association, that such majority do forthwith cause the truth of the case to be published in the gazette; to the end, that all such foes to the rights of British-America may be publicly known, and universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty; and thenceforth we respectively will break off all dealings with him or her.

12. That the committee of correspondence, in the respective colonies, do frequently inspect the entries of their custom-houses, and inform each other, from time to time, of the true state thereof, and of every other material circumstance that may occur relative to this association….

And we do solemnly bind ourselves and our constituents, under the ties aforesaid, to adhere to this association, until such parts of the several acts of parliament passed since the close of the last war…are repealed. And we recommend it to the provincial conventions, and to the committees in the respective colonies, to establish such farther regulations as they may think proper, for carrying into execution this association.

Signed, Peyton Randolph, President.

New Hampshire

  • Jno. Sullivan
  • Nathel. Folsom

Massachusetts Bay

  • Thomas Cushing
  • Saml. Adams
  • John Adams
  • Robt.Treat Paine

Rhode Island

  • Step. Hopkins
  • Sam: Ward


  • Elipht Dyer
  • Roger Sherman
  • Silas Deane

New York

  • Isaac Low
  • John Alsop
  • John Jay
  • Jas. Duane
  • Phil. Livingston
  • Wm. Floyd
  • Henry Wisner
  • S: Boerum

New Jersey

  • J. Kinsey
  • Wil: Livingston
  • Stepn. Crane
  • Richd. Smith
  • John De Hart


  • Jos. Galloway
  • John Dickinson
  • Cha Humphreys
  • Thomas Mifflin
  • E. Biddle
  • John Morton
  • Geo: Ross

The Lower Counties New Castle

  • Cæsar Rodney
  • Tho. M: Kean
  • Geo: Read


  • Mat Tilghman
  • Ths. Johnson Junr.
  • Wm. Paca
  • Samuel Chase


  • Richard Henry Lee
  • Go. Washington
  • P. Henry Jr.
  • Richard Bland
  • Benja. Harrison
  • Edmd. Pendleton

North Carolina

  • Will Hooper
  • Joseph Hewes
  • Rd. Caswell

South Carolina.

  • Henry Middleton
  • Tho Lynch
  • Christ Gadsden
  • J Rutledge
  • Edward Rutledge1

Ordered, that this association be committed to the press, and that one hundred & twenty copies be struck off.

The Congress then resumed the consideration of the Address to the Inhabitants of these colonies, & after debate thereon, adjourned till to-morrow.

Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., Comments

Apparently some delegates signed the association although opposed to it. Joseph Galloway, for example, subsequently protested that he had only reluctantly signed the association. “That he [i.e., Galloway himself] signed the association is true. But that he and a number of other delegates did not sign it as their private act, or as binding on themselves or their constituents, is as true….Otherwise, the congress knew they never would have signed it. And therefore to prevail on them to sign it, it was said it should be done by order of the congress; and then it would be that act of a majority, and not of each private person, nor his particular act. That such was the case of a speaker of assembly who signed a bill or other legislative act by order, tho’ against his judgment, which could not be considered as his private act, but that of the majority who made the order. In consequence of this mode of reasoning, an order was made, and the clause next preceding the delegates names was added to the association in these words, ‘the foregoing association on being determined upon by the congress, was ordered to be signed by the several members thereof, and thereupon we have here unto set our respective names accordingly.’ Novr, however just this reasoning may be thought, it was the reasoning of the congress; and it was one, among other reasons, which prevailed on the author of the plan [i.e., his plan of union] and a number of other delegates to sign the association.” Joseph Galloway, A Reply to an Address to the Author of a Pamphlet, entitled, ‘A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and her Colonies,’ &c. (New York: James Rivington, 1775), pp. 39-40.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.