Journals of the Continental Congress

First Continental Congress: September 5, 1774

September 5, 1774

Forty-four delegates from eleven colonies were present on September 5. Richard Henry Lee arrived on September 6. New York delegate James Duane indicates that they chose Carpenter’s Hall as their meeting place and began by discussing the ground rules for their deliberations. Joseph Galloway underscores the point that the purpose of the meetings was to petition for a redress of grieves and to seek a reconciliation with Britain.

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

“A number of the Delegates chosen and appointed by the Several Colonies and Provinces in North America to meet and hold a Congress at Philadelphia assembled at the Carpenters’ Hall.” Not every delegate chosen was present at the opening session nor did they all stay to the end of the First Continental Congress.  North Carolina and Georgia had not yet sent delegates.

New Hampshire: John Sullivan and Nathaniel Folsom. 

Massachusetts: Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine. 

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward. 

Connecticut: Eliphalet Dyer, Silas Deane, and Roger Sherman. 

New York: James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low, and William Floyd.

New Jersey: James Kinsey, William Livingston, John Dehart, Stephen Crane, and Richard Smith.

Pennsylvania: Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoads, Thomas Mifflin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton, and Edward Biddle.

Delaware: Cæsar Rodney, Thomas McKean, and George Read.

Maryland: Robert Goldsborough, William Paca, and Samuel Chase.

Virginia: Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton. 

South Carolina: Henry Middleton, John Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch, and Edward Rutledge.

Peyton Randolph was unanimously elected President and Charles Thomson was unanimously chosen Secretary.  Some of the credentials stipulated an internal quorum requirement.  Massachusetts and Connecticut, for example, were 3/5, Pennsylvania, 4/7, and Maryland 2/5.  

Each colony provided a similar objective for the delegates.  New Hampshire was typical: the delegates were “to attend and assist in the General Congress of delegates from the other Colonies, at such time and place as may be appointed, to devise, consult, and adopt measures, as may have the most likely tendency to extricate the Colonies from their present difficulties; to secure and perpetuate their rights, liberties, and privileges, and to restore that peace, harmony, & mutual confidence which once happily subsisted between the parent country and her Colonies.”

Agreed that the Congress be adjourned to meet tomorrow morning 10 o’ Clock at which time, a Committee will be appointed “to draw up some rules of conduct to be observed by the Congress in debating and determining questions that come under consideration.”    

James Duane’s Notes of Debates

The Members of the Congress met at Smith’s [City] Tavern. The Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly [Joseph Galloway] having offered the Congress the use of the State house; and the Carpenter’s the use of their Hall, It was agreed to take a View of each. We proceeded to the Carpenter’s Hall.

Mr. Lynch proposed the Question whether as that was in all respects Suitable it ought not to be fixed upon without further Inquiry.  I observed that if the State house was equally convenient it ought to be preferred being a provincial & the Carpenter’s Hall a private House. And besides as it was tendered by the Speaker it seemed to be a piece of respect which was due to him, at least to inquire whether the State House was not equally convenient. The Question was however called for; & a great Majority fixed upon the Carpenter’s Hall….

I then moved that a Committee should be appointed to consider of Rules for the Conduct of the Congress & report them. This was opposed by Mr Rutledge the Elder who observed that doubtless the usage of the House of Commons would be adopted in our Debates & that as every Gentleman was acquainted with that usage It would be a waste of Time to appoint a Committee on this Subject.

It was answered that the Assemblies on the Continent had different Usages & Rules. That it was the Practice of Parliament that no member should speak more than once on the same point which would be very inconvenient on the present Occasion. That there was the highest necessity for fixing a Rule on the present Occasion with respect to the Mode of Voting (to wit) whether the Sense of the Congress should be taken by the Majority of Voices of the Members; or Whether each Colony should have a Vote & the Majority be determined in that way?  These points were deferred for further consideration & the Congress adjourned until 10 o’Clock tomorrow morning.

Joseph Galloway to William Franklin

I am just returned from Philadelphia, where I have been to wait on, and endeavor to find out the Temper of the Delegates. Near two Thirds of them are arrived, and I conclude all will be ready to proceed on Business on Monday. I have not had any great Opportunity of sounding them. But so far as I have, I think they will behave with Temper and Moderation. The Boston Commissioners are warm, and I believe wish for a Non-importation Agreement, and hope that the Colonies will advise and justify them in a Refusal to pay for the Tea until their Aggrievances are redressed. They are in their Behavior and Conversation very modest, and yet they are not so much so as not to throw out Hints, which, like Straws and Feathers, tell us from which Point of the Compass the Wind comes. I dined with them on Thursday….

I have intimated to several of the Delegates the Necessity of sending Commissioners over, fully authorized, to the British Court, as a Mode pursued by the Roman, Grecian & Macedonian Colonies on every Occasion of the like Nature–that through them we may be enabled, in case our first Plan for accommodating our unhappy Differences should not be acceptable, to know the better what to propose next….That without this, any Petitions or Plans, not having any Persons to explain and support them, will have very little Effect….That a conduct of this kind cannot fail to give Strength to our Cause, and, if not immediately, in the End bring the Government to attend to Reason and redress our Aggrievances.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.