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The First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress

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The First Continental Congress

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  1. The First Continental Congress • Extralegal committees of correspondence from every colony except Georgia sent delegates • The bigwigs were there: Samuel and John Adams, John Jay, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington • 56 delegates in all • They endorsed a set of statements known as the Suffolk Resolves

  2. Suffolk Resolves • Colonies owed no obedience to any of the Coercive Acts • A provisional government should collect all taxes until the former Massachusetts chars is restored • Defensive measures should be taken in the event of an attack by royal troops • The Cont. Congress also voted to • boycott all British goods • Cease exporting all goods to Britain and its West Indian possessions

  3. The middle-colony contingent fears a head-on confrontation with Britain • They support Galloway’s “Grand Council” which proposed an American Legislature that would share the authority to tax and govern the colonies with Parliament • The Continental Congress finally sent a petition to the King • It reaffirmed Parliament’s power to regulate imperial commerce, BUT it argued that all previous parliamentary efforts to impose taxes, enforce laws through admiralty courts, suspend assemblies, and revoke charters was unconstitutional

  4. From Resistance to Rebellion • Resistance leaders began acting out • coercing loyalists (Tories) • Compelling merchants to burn their imports and make apologies • Browbeat clergymen • Pressured Americans to alter diets • Began organizing volunteer military companies and extralegal legislatures

  5. Colonists were beginning to collect arms • April, 1775, Mass. Gov. Gage was ordered to quell the “rude rabble” • Gage sends 700 British soldiers to seize military supplies at Concord • Revere and Dawes • At Lexington about 70 minutemen confront the British • 8 minutemen die

  6. By the day’s end the redcoats suffered 273 casualties compared to only 92 for the colonists • By April 20, 20,000 New Englanders were besieging the British garrison in Boston

  7. Second Continental Congress meets and agrees to send a loyal message to King George, The Olive Branch Petition • 1. cease fire • 2. repeal the Coercive Acts • 3 negotiations to establish guarantees of American rights • However, while doing this the colonies also established a Continental Army headed by George Washington • In June, the Battle of Breed’s and Bunker Hill: British lose 1,154 and the colonists lose 311 • By December, King George and Parliament had declared the colonies to be in a state of rebellion

  8. Common Sense • Many elites like Adams were concerned about the movement being taken over by the common people • What is they are armed? • Any sentimental attachment to the crown ended with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense • Monarchy is rooted in superstition • Conspiracy against American liberty rooted in the institutions of monarchy and empire

  9. Paine claimed that America • Economically did not need Britain • Should break due to the preceding six months events • Had an awakening nationalism with a sense of religious mission • Contained republican principles and was unburdened by the oppressive beliefs and corrupt institutions of the European past

  10. Declaring Independence • Middle colonies were still concerned because of Philly and New York • Richard Henry Lee proposes independence • By July 2 the resolution is adopted and then signed on July 4 • The Declaration of Independence

  11. Declaration o f Independence • “Pursuit of Happiness” replaces “property” • Left out blaming George III for the slave trade • Followed the English Bill of Rights • Focused on the King, not Parliament • Listed 27 “injuries and usurpations,” but discussed issues in a universal dimension • Right of revolution • Natural entitlement • Left unanswered “equality”

  12. The struggle for national independence had hastened, and become intertwined with a quest for equality and personal independence that, for many Americans, transcended boundaries of class, race, or gender.

  13. The Revolution gave white northerners and southerners their first real chance to learn what they had in common • Out of this war comes the Articles of Confederation • Despite cooperation, many in America were divided over basic political questions relating to the distribution of power

  14. Loyalists and Other British Sympathizers • About 20% of all whites either refused the Confederation or opposed rebellion • However, this did not mean that they did oppose British policies • They just viewed separation as an illegal act certain to ignite a unnecessary war • New York and New Jersey had the highest number • These two colonies furnished ½ of the 21,000 who fought for the British • Many loyalists were recent immigrants, or soldiers that stayed on in the colonies after the Seven Years’ War • Loyalist numbers were also high in Georgia and the backcountry of N. and S. Carolina • Canadians supported the crown due to the Quebec Act

  15. Many recent settlers in the Ohio Valley felt an independent America might trample their rights • Many slaves had taken refuge on British ships • They considered their own liberation more important than America’s • Native Americans feared expansion by an new America

  16. The Opposing Sides • British Advantages • 11 million to 2.5 million (1/3 of whom were slave or loyalist) • Largest navy and one of the best professional armies • Ability to hire 30,000 Hessians • 21,000 loyalists

  17. American side • Did mobilize 220,000 troops • Military contributions of the French and Spanish • British decline in sea power due to budget cuts • Supply line problems for the Brits • Tough maintaining British peoples’ support through higher taxes • Guerrilla warfare would be tough to secure loans • No trained officers or disciplined soldiers

  18. The Revolution and Social Change • Social tensions were magnified and complicated after the war by two factors • Principles of the Declaration of Independence • Dislocations caused by the war itself • What would be the relationship between political elites and the commoner? • How would the young nation deal with slavery? • What about Native Americans?

  19. Egalitarianism Among White Males • By the 1760s elites began looking like commoners for the rebellion effort • The Declaration speaks of equality • The War democratizes American’s political assumptions • However, the natural aristocracy rises out of a reciprocal understanding • New emphasis on equality obviously did not include propertyless males, women, or nonwhites • Overall distribution of wealth in America went unchanged

  20. A Revolution for Black Americans • About 20% (500,00,) black persons in the colonies in 1776 • All but 25,000 were slaves • Free blacks, however, were almost always subject to curfews, etc. • About 25,000 blacks join the British ranks; 5,000 serve the colonies • This grew out of the army’s need, not equal justice

  21. Many states between 1777-84 began phasing out slavery • Vermont, Penn., Mass., RI, Conn. • Northern states began repealing or ignoring curfews and granted blacks equal treatment in court hearings • All states except SC and GA ended slave imports • The Revolutionary generation did take some steps to weaken slavery (state laws creating gradual emancipation – children born of a slave women after a certain date [July 4]) • But there was general fear of Southern secession or national bankruptcy • Slavery was a necessary evil

  22. Native Americans and the Revolution • Revolutionary ideology made no provision for Indian nations • The revolutionary spirit actually sought to expand westward • Native Americans were vulnerable • Population east of the Miss. River had been depleted by ½ from 1754-1783 • Many sought to incorporate the most useful aspects of European culture

  23. Forging New Governments • Elites welcomed hierarchical rule • Working and the poor welcomed worried that the wealthy would profit at their expense • Rural colonists emphasized decentralized power and authority

  24. From Colonies to States • New state constitutions retained the precedents of favoring the wealthiest elites • 11 of the 13 maintained bicameral legislatures (Georgia and Penn. Unicameral) • Few questioned property requirements for voters or elected officials (it had to do with the potential for the poor in selling their votes) • Most elected officials were expected to lead the people, not necessarily carry out popular will • They were elected for personal qualities and fitness for office

  25. Only Pennsylvania ensured that election districts were equal in population (others had equal representation no matter the size) • State constitutions did require popular ratification and could only change if voters chose to amend them • Revolutionary constitutions spelled out citizens’ fundamental rights • By 1784 all included explicit bills of rights

  26. Revolutionary statesmen proclaimed the need to strengthen legislatures at the expense of governors • States scheduled annual elections • Transferred the power of appointment to the legislatures • Denied them the power to veto laws • Subjected them to impeachment • Nowhere could the governor appoint the upper house • Governors became figureheads

  27. Revolutionary leaders were republicans, not democrats • Democracy would have concentrated power in the hands of the uneducated multitude • Gradually, the wealthier desired a more centralized authority • The end of state-established churches • The end of entails and primogenitor • Entails – legal constraints on divided property • Primogenitor – transferring of property to the oldest son in the absence of a will

  28. Formalizing a Confederacy • Each state was reserved its “sovereignty, freedom and independence” • Americans were citizens of their state first, the nation second • The national government had a single chamber, elected by the state legislature and each state had one vote • Congress could request funds, but states did not have to provide it • Congress could not regulate interstate commerce or overseas trade • No executive or judicial system

  29. Finance, Trade, and the Economy, 1781-1786 • The new nation was on shaking economic ground • $160 million price tag for the war • The government had borrowed money and printed Continentals • Inflation hit hard after the war • Request of a 5% import due that failed to pass • Newburgh Conspiracy • States would not provide funds to the Government

  30. Decline in trade severely hurt the new nation • It hit New England the most; chronic overpopulation did not help

  31. Confederation and the West, 1785-1787 • One of the main challenges to the new government was postwar settlement and the administration of western lands • Ordinance of 1785 • Townships of six square miles; subdivided into 36 sections of 640 acres each; one a source of income for schools • Ordinance of 1787 • Defined the steps for new states • Congress would appoint the governor and judges • When 5,000 adult males arrived voters could approve a temporary constitution • When the population reached 60,000 voters could ratify a state constitution • Forbade slavery

  32. Served as a model for further expansion west • Was an opportunity for people to earn land • Eased the fear of a mass of poor laborers and the unpropertied

  33. Shays’s Rebellion, 1786-87 • "Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.“ – Samuel Adams • "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.“ - TJ

  34. Philadelphia Convention, 1787 • 55 delegates; most wealthy and in their thirties; 39 had sat in Congress; 19 slave owners • No official journal kept • Secrecy to ensure open debate without fear of criticism • Two basic issues • Whether or not to tinker with the Articles of Confederation or replace it • Conflicting interests of the small and large states

  35. Virginia Plan (James Madison) • Strong central government • Congress gets unrestricted rights to tax and legislate, the power to veto state law and use military force against the estates • Bicameral legislature with fixed representation based on the states population • Voters elect the lower house; lower house chooses the upper house from nominations submitted by the state legislatures

  36. New Jersey Plan (William Patterson) • Recommended a single chamber congress with each state having equal vote • Congressional laws the supreme law of the land • Courts could force reluctant states to accept these measures • Connecticut Compromise • Equal vote for each state in the upper • Proportional voting for the lower

  37. The new document accomplished the following: • Reconciled conflicting interests between the large and small states • The Senate and House • Established national authority • Lay and collect taxes • Regulate interstate commerce • Conduct diplomacy • State officials must swear an oath to uphold the Constitution • Use of military force against any state • This is an abandonment of the Articles of Confederation

  38. But there was restraint (or at least their should be if Americans understand this document and don’t allow any or all branches to get too powerful) • Three distinct branches • Checks and balances • Federalism

  39. 2nd period groups • Bentley-Colegrove • Conn-Danckert • Dehart-Green • Holbrook-Jones • Kissick-Lewis • McKenzie-Newton • Perry-Phillips • Richardson-Romero • Schack-Thatcher • Thaxton-Williams

  40. 4th period groups • Ashley-Baker • Bowman-Caskey • Cyca-Davis • Ewers-Fraley • Griggs-Johnson • Keller-McClain • Mekelberg-Spencer