Kontinentalni kongres

Kontinentalni kongres



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Od 1774. do 1789. godine, Kontinentalni kongres služio je kao vlada 13 američkih kolonija, a kasnije i Sjedinjenih Država. Prvi kontinentalni kongres, koji su činili delegati iz kolonija, sastao se 1774. godine kao reakcija na akte prisile, niz mjera koje je britanska vlada nametnula kolonijama kao odgovor na njihov otpor novim porezima. 1775. Drugi kontinentalni kongres sazvan nakon što je Američki rat za nezavisnost (1775-83) već počeo. 1776. učinjen je važan korak proglašenja nezavisnosti Amerike od Britanije. Pet godina kasnije, Kongres je ratificirao prvi nacionalni ustav, članove Konfederacije, prema kojima će se državom upravljati do 1789. godine, kada je zamijenjen važećim Ustavom SAD -a.

Oporezivanje bez zastupanja

Kroz veći dio kolonijalne povijesti Britanska kruna bila je jedina politička institucija koja je ujedinila američke kolonije. Carska kriza 1760 -ih i 1770 -ih godina, međutim, tjerala je kolonije prema sve većem jedinstvu. Amerikanci u 13 kolonija ujedinili su se u suprotnosti s novim sistemom carskog oporezivanja koji je pokrenula britanska vlada 1765. Zakon o markicama iz te godine - prvi direktni, unutrašnji porez koji je kolonistima nametnuo britanski parlament - inspirirao je zajednički otpor unutar kolonije. Devet kolonijalnih skupština poslalo je delegate na Kongres zakona o štampi, vanzakonitu konvenciju koja se sastala radi koordinacije odgovora kolonija na novi porez. Iako je Kongres Stamp Act bio kratkog vijeka, nagovijestio je pojačano jedinstvo među kolonijama koje će uskoro uslijediti.

Kolonijalna opozicija napravila je mrtvo slovo na Zakonu o žigu i donijela njegovo ukidanje 1766. Britanska vlada nije odustala od svog polaganja prava na donošenje zakona o kolonijama, te će uzastopno pokušavati izvršiti svoju moć nad kolonijama u godinama koje slijede. Kao odgovor na nasilje u Bostonskom masakru 1770. godine i nove poreze poput Zakona o čaju iz 1773. godine, grupa frustriranih kolonista protestirala je protiv oporezivanja bez predstavljanja izbacivši 342 škrinje čaja u bostonsku luku u noći 16. decembra 1773. godine - događaj istoriji poznat kao Bostonska čajanka.

Kolonisti su nastavili koordinirati svoj otpor novim imperijalnim mjerama, ali su između 1766. do 1774. to činili prvenstveno putem dopisnih odbora koji su razmjenjivali ideje i informacije, a ne putem jedinstvenog političkog tijela

Prvi kontinentalni kongres

Dana 5. rujna 1774. delegati iz svake od 13 kolonija osim Gruzije (koja se borila protiv ustanka Indijanaca i koja je zavisila od britanskih vojnih zaliha) sastali su se u Philadelphiji kao Prvi kontinentalni kongres za organizaciju kolonijalnog otpora prema prinudnim aktima Parlamenta . Delegati su uključivali brojne buduće svjetionike, kao što su budući predsjednici John Adams (1735-1826) iz Massachusettsa i George Washington (1732-99) iz Virginije, te budući predsjednik Vrhovnog suda SAD-a i diplomata John Jay (1745-1829) iz Njujork. Kongres je strukturiran s naglaskom na ravnopravnosti učesnika i promoviranju slobodne debate. Nakon dugih rasprava, Kongres je izdao Deklaraciju o pravima, potvrđujući svoju lojalnost britanskoj kruni, ali osporavajući pravo britanskog parlamenta da je oporezuje. Kongres je donio i Statut kojim se kolonije pozivaju da prestanu uvoziti robu s Britanskih otoka počevši od 1. prosinca 1774., ako akti prisile ne budu ukinuti. Ako Britanija ne uspije pravovremeno otkloniti pritužbe kolonista, objavio je Kongres, tada će se ponovno sastati 10. svibnja 1775., a kolonije će prestati izvoziti robu u Britaniju 10. rujna 1775. Nakon proglašenja ovih mjera, Prvi kontinentalni kongres raspao se 26. oktobra 1774.

Rat za nezavisnost

Kao što je obećano, Kongres se ponovo sastao u Philadelphiji kao Drugi kontinentalni kongres 10. maja 1775. - a do tada je već počela Američka revolucija. Britanska vojska u Bostonu naišla je na oružani otpor ujutro 19. aprila 1775. godine, kada je krenula prema gradovima Lexington i Concord kako bi zaplijenila zalihu oružja u posjedu kolonijalnih patriota koji su prestali priznavati autoritet kraljevske porodice. vlada Massachusettsa. Patrioti su odvezli britansku ekspediciju natrag u Boston i opsjeli grad. Rat za nezavisnost je počeo.

Borba za pomirenje

Iako je Kongres izjavio da je vjeran lojalnosti britanskoj kruni, također je poduzeo korake da svoja prava očuva oružjem. 14. juna 1775., mjesec dana nakon ponovnog okupljanja, stvorila je ujedinjenu kolonijalnu borbenu snagu, Kontinentalnu vojsku. Sutradan je imenovao Georgea Washingtona za vrhovnog zapovjednika nove vojske. Sljedećeg mjeseca izdala je svoju Deklaraciju o uzrocima i potrebi uzimanja oružja, koju je napisao John Dickinson (1732-1808) iz Pennsylvanije, veteran Prvog kongresa čija su „Pisma jednog farmera iz Pensilvanije“ (1767) pomogla izazvati protivljenje ranijim imperijalnim mjerama, a došljak iz Virdžinije, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). U nastojanju da izbjegne potpuni rat, Kongres je ovu deklaraciju spojio s Peticijom maslinove grančice, ličnim apelom britanskom kralju Georgeu III (1738-1820) tražeći od njega pomoć kolonistima u rješavanju njihovih razlika s Britanijom. Kralj je odbacio peticiju.

Proglašenje nezavisnosti

Kontinentalni kongres je više od godinu dana nadzirao rat protiv zemlje kojoj je objavio svoju lojalnost. U stvari, i Kongres i ljudi koje je predstavljao bili su podijeljeni po pitanju nezavisnosti čak i nakon godinu dana otvorenog rata protiv Velike Britanije. Početkom 1776. godine, brojni faktori počeli su jačati poziv na razdvajanje. U svom uzbudljivom pamfletu “Common Sense”, objavljenom u januaru iste godine, britanski imigrant Thomas Paine (1737-1809) iznio je uvjerljiv argument u prilog nezavisnosti. U isto vrijeme, mnogi su Amerikanci shvatili da njihova vojska možda nije sposobna sama pobijediti Britansko carstvo. Nezavisnost bi joj omogućila da sklopi saveze s moćnim britanskim rivalima - Francuska je bila na čelu svih. U međuvremenu, sam rat izazvao je neprijateljstvo prema Britaniji među građanima, otvarajući put nezavisnosti.

U proljeće 1776. privremene kolonijalne vlade počele su slati nova uputstva svojim delegatima u kongresu dopuštajući im koso ili direktno da glasaju za nezavisnost. Privremena vlada Virdžinije otišla je dalje: Uputila je svoju delegaciju da podnese prijedlog nezavisnosti prije Kongresa. Dana 7. juna, delegat Virdžinije Richard Henry Lee (1732-94) poslušao je njegova uputstva. Kongres je odgodio konačno glasovanje o prijedlogu do 1. jula, ali je imenovao odbor koji će izraditi privremenu deklaraciju nezavisnosti za upotrebu ako prijedlog usvoji.

Odbor se sastojao od pet ljudi, uključujući Johna Adamsa i Benjamina Franklina (1706-90) iz Pensilvanije. Ali deklaracija je prvenstveno djelo jednog čovjeka, Thomasa Jeffersona, koji je napisao elokventnu odbranu prirodnih prava svih ljudi, kojih su, kako je rekao, parlament i kralj pokušali lišiti američke nacije. Kontinentalni kongres je napravio nekoliko izmjena u Jeffersonovom nacrtu, uklanjajući, između ostalog, napad na instituciju ropstva; ali 4. jula 1776. Kongres je izglasao odobrenje Deklaracije nezavisnosti.

Vođenje rata

Deklaracija o neovisnosti omogućila je Kongresu da traži saveze sa stranim državama, a novonastale SAD formirale su svoj najvažniji savez početkom 1778. godine s Francuskom, bez čije bi podrške Amerika mogla izgubiti rat za nezavisnost. Ako je francusko-američki savez bio jedan od najvećih uspjeha Kongresa, financiranje i opskrba rata bili su među njegovim najvećim neuspjesima. U nedostatku već postojeće infrastrukture, Kongres se tokom cijelog rata borio da Kontinentalnoj vojsci obezbijedi odgovarajuće zalihe i namirnice. Pogoršavajući problem, Kongres nije imao mehanizam za prikupljanje poreza za plaćanje rata; umjesto toga, oslanjala se na doprinose država, koje su općenito usmjeravale sve prihode koje su prikupile u svoje potrebe. Kao rezultat toga, papirni novac koji je izdao Kongres brzo se počeo smatrati bezvrijednim.

Članci Konfederacije

Nesposobnost Kongresa da prikupi prihode osudila bi ga za čitavo postojanje, čak i nakon što je stvorio ustav - članove Konfederacije - koji bi definirao njegova ovlaštenja. Izrađen i usvojen od strane Kongresa 1777., ali ratificiran tek 1781. godine, efektivno je uspostavio SAD kao skup od 13 suverenih država, od kojih je svaka imala jednak glas u Kongresu (koji je službeno postao poznat kao Kongres Konfederacije), bez obzira na to stanovništva. Prema članovima, kongresne odluke su donesene na osnovu glasanja po državama, a Kongres je imao male mogućnosti da izvrši svoje odluke. Članci Konfederacije pokazali bi se nesposobnima za upravljanje novom nacijom u vrijeme mira, ali nisu ozbiljno potkopali ratne napore, kako zbog toga što je rat efektivno prestao prije nego što su članovi stupili na snagu, tako i zbog toga što je Kongres ustupio mnoga izvršna ratna ovlaštenja generalu Washingtonu.

Konačni trijumf Kongresa dogodio se 1783. godine kada je pregovarao o Pariskom ugovoru, čime je zvanično okončan Rat za nezavisnost. Delegati Kongresa Franklin, Jay i Adams osigurali su povoljan mir za SAD koji je uključivao ne samo priznavanje nezavisnosti, već i pravo na gotovo cijelo područje južno od Kanade i istočno od rijeke Mississippi. Dana 25. novembra 1783. godine posljednje britanske trupe evakuirale su New York City. Rat za nezavisnost je završio i Kongres je pomogao da se zemlja probije.

Međutim, članovi Konfederacije pokazali su se kao nesavršen instrument za naciju u miru sa svijetom. Godine neposredno nakon završetka Revolucionarnog rata 1783. donijele su mladoj američkoj naciji niz poteškoća koje Kongres nije mogao adekvatno riješiti: teške financijske poteškoće, međudržavna rivalstva i domaće pobune. Pokret se razvio za ustavnu reformu, koja je kulminirala Philadelphijskom konvencijom iz 1787. Delegati na konvenciji odlučili su potpuno ukinuti članove Konfederacije i stvoriti novi sistem vlasti. 1789. stupio je na snagu novi Ustav SAD -a, a Kontinentalni kongres je prekinuo zauvijek i zamijenio ga je Kongres SAD -a. Iako Kontinentalni kongres nije dobro funkcionirao u doba mira, on je pomogao da se nacija provede kroz jednu od najgorih kriza, proglasila je neovisnost i pomogla u pobjedi u ratu kako bi se osigurala ta nezavisnost.


Deklaracija o nezavisnosti

Prvi kontinentalni kongres sastao se u Carpenter Hall -u u Philadelphiji, od 5. septembra do 26. oktobra 1774. Carpenter Hall je bio i sjedište Pennsylvania Congress -a. Sve kolonije osim Gruzije poslale su delegate. Birali su ih ljudi, kolonijalna zakonodavna tijela ili dopisni komiteti odgovarajućih kolonija. Kolonije koje su tamo predstavljene bile su ujedinjene u odlučnosti da pokažu zajedničku vlast Velikoj Britaniji, ali njihovi ciljevi uopće nisu bili jedinstveni. Pensilvanija i New York poslali su delegate s čvrstim uputama da traže rješenje sa Engleskom. Glasovi drugih kolonija branili su kolonijalna prava, ali prilično ravnomjerno podijeljeni između onih koji su tražili zakonodavni paritet i radikalnijih članova koji su bili spremni za odvajanje. Virdžinijska delegacija bila je sastavljena od najravnomjernije mješavine ovih i nije slučajno predstavljala najeminentniju grupu muškaraca u Americi. Kolo. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, Colo. Benjamin Harrison, Richard Bland, a na njihovom čelu Peyton Randolph & mdash koji bi odmah bio izabran za predsjednika konvencije.

Ciljevi tijela nisu bili potpuno jasni, ali s takvim vodstvom koje je tamo pronađeno, izvršen je osnovni skup zadataka. Svima je bilo ugodno da kralj i parlament moraju biti razumljivi da razumiju nevolje kolonija i da tijelo mora učiniti sve što je u njihovoj moći da to isto prenese stanovništvu Amerike i ostatku svijeta.

Prvih nekoliko sedmica provedeno je u raspravi i debati. Kolonije su se do sada uvijek ponašale kao nezavisne cjeline. Bilo je mnogo nepovjerenja koje je trebalo nadvladati. Prva stvar koju su svi trebali razmotriti bio je Plan unije Velike Britanije i kolonija, koji je ponudio Joseph Galloway iz Pensilvanije. Plan se smatrao vrlo privlačnim za većinu članova, jer je predlagao popularno izabrano Veliko vijeće koje bi zastupalo interese kolonija u cjelini i bilo bi kontinentalni ekvivalent engleskom parlamentu. Protiv toga bi bio postavljen generalni predsjednik, imenovan od strane krune, da predstavlja kraljev autoritet u Americi. Sukobi u Bostonu nadvladali su napore na mirenju. Dolazak okruga Suffolk (Boston) rješava se neposredno prije glasanja o Planu unije, što ga je usko odbacilo.

14. oktobra Deklaracijom i odlukama utvrđen je tok kongresa, kao izjava o načelima zajedničkim za sve kolonije. Kongres je izglasao ponovni sastanak sljedeće godine ako Engleska ne odgovori na ove pritužbe.

Nekoliko dana kasnije, 20., došlo je Udruženje, koje je nastalo po uzoru na Udruženje Virginia i druge koje su uslijedile. Ovo je bio pakt za neimportiranje engleske robe, za uspostavljanje mehanizama u svim kolonijama za jačanje i reguliranje otpora Velikoj Britaniji i za održavanje otvorenih kanala komunikacije. On je trebao stupiti na snagu 1. decembra 1774. osim ako parlament ne poništi Nepodnošljive akte.


Period kontinentalnog kongresa

State Department je nastao kroz proces postepene evolucije koji je započeo 1774. U početku je Kontinentalni kongres vršio kontrolu nad američkim vanjskim odnosima. Pod njegovim pokroviteljstvom, odbori Kongresa vodili su vanjske poslove od novembra 1775. do oktobra 1781.

Prvi takav odbor bio je Odbor za tajnu korespondenciju1, koji je imenovan na osnovu rezolucije Kongresa od 29. novembra 1775. godine, "s jedinom svrhom dopisivanja s našim prijateljima u Velikoj Britaniji, Irskoj i drugim dijelovima svijeta. " Odbor su u početku činili John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Harrison, John Jay i Thomas Johnson. 2 Međutim, česte su promjene u članstvu. U mnogo je navrata Kongres u Odboru za cjelinu djelovao po pitanjima vanjskih poslova čime je ograničio ovlasti Odbora za tajnu prepisku i njegovog nasljednika, Odbora za vanjske poslove. Na primjer, Kongres je "do najsitnijih detalja pripremio uputstva Franklinu kada je 27. septembra 1777. izabran za povjerenika da pregovara o sporazumu s Francuskom". 3 James Lovell, član Odbora za vanjske poslove, napisao je 6. kolovoza 1779. godine, "kako zaista ne postoji Takva stvar kao što je Odbor za vanjske poslove, nema sekretara ili službenika, osim što ja ustrajem da to budem i drugo. Knjige i radovi tog ugašenog tijela još su ležali na Kongresnom stolu ili su bolje zaključani u privatnoj kutiji sekretara. " 4

Tako su od 1774. do 1781. godine zgrade u kojima se upravljalo spoljnim odnosima bile zgrade koje je zauzimao Kontinentalni kongres. 5 Kongres se sastao u Carpenters Hall -u, Philadelphia, na svom prvom zasjedanju, koje je počelo 5. septembra 1774. Sljedeće sjednice u Philadelphiji održane su u Pennsylvania State Houseu, sada poznatoj kao "Independence Hall", osim nakratko 1778. godine. , kada se sastao u "College Hall". Tokom rata za nezavisnost, napredovanje britanskih trupa primoralo je Kongres da napusti Philadelphiju u dva navrata. Od 20. decembra 1776. do 27. februara 1777. Kongres se sastao u Baltimoru u kući čiji je vlasnik Henry Fite. Dana 27. septembra 1777. godine zasjedao je u sudskoj kući u Lancasteru u Pensilvaniji, a 30. septembra preselio se u Zgradu suda u Yorku, gdje je ostao do 27. juna 1778. Tek 1781. godine, kada je Ministarstvo vanjskih poslova koji je ustanovio Kontinentalni kongres, da se zgrada odvojena od onih koje je Kongres koristio koristila za vanjske poslove.


Prvi kontinentalni kongres

Prvi kontinentalni kongres sazvan je u Carpenters & rsquo dvorani u Philadelphiji, Pennsylvania, između 5. septembra i 26. oktobra 1774. Delegati iz dvanaest britanskih trinaest kolonija sastali su se kako bi razgovarali o budućnosti Amerike pod rastućom britanskom agresijom. Na spisku delegata bili su mnogi istaknuti kolonijalni lideri, poput Samuela Adamsa iz Massachusettsa i dva buduća predsjednika Sjedinjenih Država, George Washington i John Adams. Delegati su razgovarali o bojkotu britanske robe radi utvrđivanja prava Amerikanaca i planirali su održavanje drugog kontinentalnog kongresa.

Prvi kontinentalni kongres potaknut je prisilnim aktima, poznatim u Americi kao nepodnošljivim aktima, koje je parlament usvojio početkom 1774. godine kako bi ponovo potvrdio svoju dominaciju nad američkim kolonijama nakon Bostonske čajanke. Nepodnošljivi akti, između ostalih promjena, zatvorili su luku Boston i ukinuli Povelju Massachusettsa, stavljajući koloniju pod direktniju britansku kontrolu.

Širom Sjeverne Amerike kolonisti su se solidarizirali sa stanovnicima Massachusettsa. Roba je stigla u Massachusetts čak sa juga sve do Georgije, a do kraja proljeća 1774. godine devet kolonija pozvalo je na kontinentalni kongres. Dopisni komitet Virginia & rsquos zaslužan je za izradu poziva.

Kolonije su na različite načine birale delegate na Prvom kontinentalnom kongresu. Neki su delegati birani putem odgovarajućih kolonijalnih zakonodavnih tijela ili dopisnih odbora. Što se tiče Washingtona, on je izabran sa ostalim delegatima u Virginiji na Prvoj konvenciji u Virginiji, koja je pozvana da podrži Massachusetts nakon usvajanja Nepodnošljivih akata. Gruzija je bila jedina kolonija koja nije poslala nijednog delegata na Prvi kontinentalni kongres. Suočena s ratom sa susjednim indijanskim plemenima, kolonija nije htjela ugroziti britansku pomoć.

Kada je Kongres sazvan 5. septembra 1774. godine, Peyton Randolph iz Virdžinije imenovan je za predsjednika Prvog kontinentalnog kongresa. Jedna od prvih odluka Kongresa bila je potvrditi Odluke Suffolka donesene u okrugu Suffolk, Massachusetts. Suffolk Resolves naložio je građanima da se ne povinuju Nepodnošljivim aktima, da odbiju uvezenu britansku robu i da podignu miliciju. Rano odobrenje Suffolk Resolvesa od strane Kongresa & rsquos bio je jasan pokazatelj raspoloženja i duha u dvorani Carpenters & rsquo.

Nadalje, delegati su odmah započeli izradu nacrta i raspravu o kontinentalnom udruženju. To bi postao njihov najvažniji ishod politike. Udruženje je pozvalo na prekid britanskog uvoza počevši od decembra 1774. godine i prestanak izvoza robe u Veliku Britaniju u septembru 1775. Ovu politiku će provoditi lokalni inspekcijski komiteti i kolonije. Ti bi odbori provjeravali brodove koji su stigli u luke, natjerali koloniste da potpišu dokumente koji obećavaju lojalnost Kontinentalnoj asocijaciji i suzbijali bi nasilje mafije. Inspekcijski odbori čak su nametnuli štedljivost, idući tako daleko da su prekinuli raskošne pogrebne usluge i zabave. Mnogi kolonijalni lideri nadali su se da će ti napori ekonomski povezati kolonije.

Virdžinija je osigurala odlaganje Kontinentalne asocijacije & rsquos kašnjenja u okončanju izvoza u Britaniju. Prije Kontinentalnog kongresa, Virdžinija je donijela vlastito udruženje koje je odgodilo prekid izvoza kako bi izbjeglo ozljeđivanje poljoprivrednika naglom promjenom politike. Delegati iz Virdžinije ujedinili su se na Kontinentalnom kongresu i odbili odustati od pitanja odlaganja zabrane izvoza u Britaniju.

Ideja o korištenju neuvoza kao poluge nije bila nova niti neočekivana. Prije Kontinentalnog kongresa, osam kolonija je već odobrilo tu mjeru, a trgovci su upozoreni da ne daju nikakve narudžbe Britaniji, jer će zabrana uvoza vjerojatno proći. Neke kolonije već su osnovale svoja udruženja za zabranu uvoza, au nekim slučajevima i izvoza. Asocijacija Virdžinije položila je na Virdžinijskoj konvenciji George George Washington.

Podrška Washingtona i rsquosa o korištenju neuvoza kao poluge protiv Britanaca može se pratiti do 1769. u pismima između njega i Georgea Masona. Kad su kolonije prvi put počele javno podržavati ne-uvoz, Bryan Fairfax, dugogodišnji prijatelj Washington & rsquos-a, pisao mu je tražeći da ne podržava kontinentalnu asocijaciju i da umjesto toga podnese peticiju parlamentu. Washington je odbacio ovaj prijedlog, pišući i ldquowe već su podnijeli peticiju protiv njegovog veličanstva na tako skroman i poslušan način na koji su to mogli učiniti subjekti. & Rdquo 1 Washington, kao i mnogi delegati na Prvom kontinentalnom kongresu, više nije smatrao peticiju korisnim oruđem za promjenu načina rada parlamenta i rsquosa .

Mnogi delegati su smatrali da bi korištenje kontinentalne asocijacije kao poluge bilo nepraktično bez izričitih zahtjeva i plana pravnog lijeka. Međutim, Kongres se borio da sastavi listu prava, pritužbi i zahtjeva. Nadalje, samo ukidanje zakona koji su bili nepovoljni za delegate bez liste prava bilo bi privremeno rješenje za veće pitanje kontinuirane britanske zloupotrebe. Kako bi riješio ova pitanja, Kongres je formirao Veliki odbor.

Sve rasprave su bile u zastoju, dok se o izjavi o američkim pravima dugo raspravljalo. Izrada ove izjave zahtijevala je odgovore na ustavna pitanja koja su postavljana više od jednog stoljeća. Najteže ustavno pitanje okruživalo je pravo Britanije na reguliranje trgovine. Joseph Galloway, konzervativni delegat iz Pennsylvanije, inzistirao je na objavljivanju izjave u kojoj se pojašnjava pravo Britanije i Rsquosa da regulira trgovinu u američkim kolonijama. Međutim, drugi delegati protivili su se davanju Britaniji izričitih prava na kolonijalnu trgovinu.

Tokom ove debate, Galloway je predstavio Plan unije između američkih kolonija i Britanije. Plan unije zahtijevao je stvaranje kolonijalnog parlamenta koji će raditi ruku pod ruku s britanskim parlamentom. Britanski monarh imenovao bi generalnog predsjednika, a kolonijalne skupštine imenovale bi delegate na trogodišnji mandat. Plan Galloway & rsquos poražen je sa 6-5 glasova. Kongres je ostavio po strani raspravu o pravu Velike Britanije na regulisanje trgovine i fokusirao se na Kontinentalno udruženje.

Kongres se kasnije vratio raspravi o pravu Kongresa na reguliranje trgovine i odlučio se za prvobitni tekst koji je predložio Veliki komitet i uključio ga kao odjeljak 4 u tjelesnu Deklaraciju prava i pritužbi. Četvrti odjeljak navodi da je temelj engleske slobode i svih slobodnih vlada pravo ljudi da učestvuju u njihovom zakonodavnom vijeću. & Rdquo 2 To je omogućilo Kongresu da napreduje u raspravi i potvrdi svoje pravo na učešće u svojoj vladi , ali nije izričito postavio ograničenja na parlamentarnu i rsquos regulaciju kolonijalne trgovine.

Najkobnija odluka Prvog kontinentalnog kongresa bila je da se pozove drugi kontinentalni kongres da se sastane sljedećeg proljeća. Kongres je namjeravao dati Britaniji vremena da odgovori Kontinentalnoj asocijaciji i razgovara o svakom razvoju događaja na Drugom kontinentalnom kongresu. Washington je otišao u kupovinu mušketa i vojne odjeće prije nego što je napustio Philadelphiju za Mount Vernon. Nadalje, naručio je knjigu o vojnoj disciplini. Iako rat nije bio objavljen i mnogi delegati su se i dalje nadali popravnom, nije bilo sumnje da su američke kolonije i Britanija na rubu sukoba. Mnogi delegati su saznali za bitke kod Lexingtona i Concorda (19. aprila 1775), na putu za Philadelphiju na Drugi kontinentalni kongres.

Katherine Horan
Univerzitet George Washington

1. & ldquoOd Georgea Washingtona do Bryana Fairfaxa, 20. jula 1774., & rdquo Founders Online, Nacionalni arhiv, posljednja izmjena 13. juna 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-10-02-0081. [Izvorni izvor: The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, vol. 10, 21. marta 1774.? & Ndash? 15. juna 1775, ur. W. W. Abbot i Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, str. 128 & ndash131.]

Bibliografija:

Ammerman, David. U zajedničkom cilju Američki odgovor na prisilne akte iz 1774. New York: Norton, 1975.

Ellis, Joseph J. Njegova ekselencija: George Washington. New York: First Vintage Books, 2004.

Irwin, Benjamin. Obučeni u haljine suvereniteta: Kontinentalni kongres i ljudi van vrata. New York: Oxford, 2011 (monografija).

Middlekauff, Robert. Washington & rsquos Revolution: The Making of America & rsquos prvi vođa. New York: Random House, 2015.


Kontinentalni kongres

Kontinentalni kongres Kćeri američke revolucije je dugo poštovana tradicija koja se održava u Washingtonu, DC, kao godišnji nacionalni sastanak članova DAR-a od osnivanja organizacije 1890. Ne treba se miješati sa „Kongresom“ Sjedinjenih Država. nacionalni sastanak DAR -a dobio je ime po originalnom kontinentalnom kongresu koji je upravljao američkim kolonijama tokom rata za nezavisnost.

Državni, državni i vođa DAR -a, kao i drugi članovi iz cijelog svijeta sastaju se tokom sedmice u sjedištu DAR -a tokom ljeta kako bi izvještavali o radu godine, odali počast izuzetnim dobitnicima nagrada, planirali buduće inicijative i ponovo se povezali sa prijateljima. Prisutni su preko 3.000 delegata koji predstavljaju članstvo u 190.000 kćeri iz svih 50 država, Distrikta Columbia i mnogih međunarodnih poglavlja. Od svog osnivanja, DAR je promovirao očuvanje historije, obrazovanje i patriotizam, a ti ciljevi se ogledaju u svim događajima Kontinentalnog kongresa DAR -a.

Nedjeljna konvencija sastoji se od poslovnih sjednica, sastanaka odbora, društvenih funkcija, a završena je formalnim večernjim ceremonijama: Noć otvaranja, Noć nagrada za obrazovanje i Noć nacionalne odbrane. Ove večernje svečanosti, održane u povijesnoj DAR -ovoj ustanovi, miješaju pompoznost i okolnosti s dirljivim uručenjem nagrada i muzičkom zabavom.

Osim nagrada za članove i nagrada za studentske eseje i stipendije, DAR na konvenciji uručuje i svoje najveće nacionalne nagrade, uključujući:

  • DAR medalja časti
  • Osnivačke medalje za patriotizam, obrazovanje, herojstvo i mladost
  • Nagrada amerikanizma
  • Medijska nagrada DAR -a
  • Izvanredan veteran-pacijent godine
  • Izvanredan volonter godine za mlade
  • Nagrada dr. Anite Newcomb McGee za Vojnu medicinsku sestru godine
  • Nagrada Margaret Cochran Corbin za ugledne žene u vojnoj službi
  • Vrhunski nastavnik američke historije
  • Dobitnik američke stipendije za historiju
  • DAR Dobar građanin godine
  • Izvanredna nagrada za društveno koristan rad
  • Nagrada za očuvanje DAR -a

Članovi DAR -a mogu posjetiti jedini dio web stranice za članove kako bi saznali detaljnije informacije i dogovorili se da prisustvuju najočekivanijem događaju DAR -a u godini, DAR -ovom kontinentalnom kongresu.


OCJENA

Kongres je dobio nekoliko oštrih kritika od savremenika, uključujući i neke od svojih članova, a kasniji istoričari ponovili su ovu ocjenu. To je svakako pokazalo neefikasnost i zatajilo odluke koje bi mogle biti ukusnije da se donose brže. Uočio je svoj dio loše vođenih odbora, loše osmišljenih eksperimenata u organizaciji i nadzoru, te loše mješovitog miješanja u odgovornosti svojih komandira na terenu, ponajviše samog Washingtona. Sitne političke borbe i rivalstva bili su previše česti, zasnovani koliko na ličnim nesklonostima, tako i na načelnim razlikama u politici. Ponašanje koje se može nazvati samo korumpiranim također je bilo u dokazima. U svim ovim stvarima, Kontinentalni kongres je bio sličan američkim zakonodavnim tijelima prije i poslije.

Nasuprot ovim kritikama, mnoga postignuća mogu se unijeti na pozitivnu stranu knjige. Sama činjenica da je Kongres uopće postojao i funkcionirao bila je značajna prekretnica. Svi ljudi koji su služili u ovom novom eksperimentu u političkoj organizaciji znali su ili su radili u zakonodavnim skupštinama svojih pojedinačnih kolonija i država. Prevazilaženje provincijalizma i parohijalizma tih skupština, zakonodavnih tijela koja su ljubomorno čuvala svoje prerogative i moć ne samo od carske vlade nego i jedni od drugih, nije bilo malo postignuće. Nekoliko muškaraca se još složilo sa tvrdnjom Patricka Henryja da svoju primarnu vjernost duguju "Americi" (i u Henryjevom slučaju retorika je prevazišla stvarnost). U svemu što je Kongres radio, morao je biti postignut konsenzus prije nego što je postignuta jednoglasnost, a, bez jednoglasnosti po svim važnim pitanjima, Britanci bi mogli lako razbiti pobunu na fragmente. Budući da ih je priroda njihovog otpora imperijalnoj vlasti naučila da budu krajnje sumnjičavi prema vlasti u svim njenim oblicima, delegati su preuzeli upravljanje kontinentalnim poslovima kao kolektivnu vježbu, nespremnu da koncentriraju moć u rukama jednog čovjeka ili nekolicine pod svima ali najgore okolnosti. Tek u najcrnjim danima rata, kongres je dao Vašingtonu, koji je i sam bio član oligarhije u Virdžiniji i bivši delegat u Kongresu, ovlaštenje da djeluje bez odobrenja Kongresa za veće odluke. Kad je kriza prošla (uglavnom zahvaljujući vodstvu Washingtona), Kongres se malo više brinuo o stvarnosti terenske komande, ali nikada nije odustao od svoje želje da nadzire sitnice vojne organizacije, imenovanja, kretanja i operacije koje bi danas bile ostavljene u rukama vojnih profesionalaca. Washington se neprestano mučio zbog sukobljenih poteza kongresnog nadzora, neodlučnosti, nesporazuma i otvorenog miješanja. Ali budući da je bio jedan od njih, nikada se nije odrekao temeljnog principa civilne kontrole vojske, koji je bio u rukama delegata Kongresa.

Postupno je razumijevanje delegata o prirodi vlade počelo evoluirati, kako su shvatili, pod intenzivnim i nemilosrdnim pritiskom vođenja rata daleko duže nego što je itko očekivao, da je proglašenje neovisnosti bio čin neviđene hrabrosti koji je zahtijevao genijalnost i vjera, za uspostavljanje radne vlade bili su potrebni talent, integritet i energija da se izbore sa neumoljivim zahtjevima svakodnevnog poslovanja. Podizanje četiri izvršna odjela početkom 1781. bilo je važna prekretnica na putu obnove vjere u vanlokalnu vladu koju je imperijalna kriza razbila.

S obzirom na okolnosti u kojima je nastao, Kongres je, iako neefikasan, bio i izuzetno efikasan. Kako je rekao istoričar John Richard Alden, godine Američka revolucija, primjećuje:

The Congress declared the independence of the United States appointed the commander in chief and higher officers of the Continental army established the American navy and the marine corps formed a diplomatic service negotiated treaties with European nations and Indian tribes organized a postal service issued currency and borrowed money. It even gave advice to the colony-states with respect to the making of their constitutions and it drew up the Articles of Confederation…. It was created in emergency, endowed with uncertain authority, and plagued by rapid changes in personnel. Hence it exhibited obvious defects lacking or less conspicuous in long- and well-established legislatures…. [But Congress's] record, when the difficulties to be faced are taken into account, is splendid rather than dismal. (pp. 166-169)


The First Continental Congress


What do you do if you fail as a storekeeper and farmer? Become a lawyer! That's what Patrick Henry did. By the time he became a member of the First Continental Congress, Henry was known as a great orator.

After Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts, the patriot cause got much stronger. The belief that the colonies should be independent was becoming very popular. The Committees of Correspondence were publishing volumes of material in support of American independence.

Since support for independence was growing, colonial leaders agreed that they should have another intercolonial meeting. It had been almost ten years since the Stamp Act Congress. In September of 1774, the First Continental Congress was held in Philadelphia.

This time, participation was better. Georgia was the only colony that did not send a delegate. The delegates who were there had been selected, not elected. The election of such representatives was illegal. Fortunately, those who attended seemed like natural leaders. They included: Sam and John Adams from Massachusetts, John Dickinson from Pennsylvania, and Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, and Patrick Henry from Virginia. It took seven weeks for the group to agree on a course of action.

The first action they decided on was nonimportation. Colonies would make every effort not to purchase goods from the British. To make sure of this, the Congress set up an organization called the Association to police trade activity.

A declaration of colonial rights was also drafted and sent to London. This took a while. Most of the debate during this meeting revolved around defining the colonies' relationship with mother England. Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania proposed an imperial union with Britain. Under this program, all acts of Parliament would have to be approved by an American assembly to take effect. If they had tried it, this type of change might have delayed the Revolution. But, the delegations voted against it &mdash by one vote.

Suppose you were a delegate at the convention, come up with two questions you might ask Joseph Galloway about his proposal to help you decide which way you want to vote.

The Congress also agreed to meet again in May 1775 if their issues were not resolved. This was a major step in creating a decision-making group to regularly represent the colonies. It was the first time this happened in colonial history.

When Parliament chose to ignore the written statement from the Congress, they still met that next May. But by this time things had gotten much worse. The Second Continental Congress was faced with dire choices. It was too late to avoid a war. Just the previous month, the first blood of the Revolution was spilled at the battles of Lexington and Concord.


Carpenters' Hall &mdash the meeting place of the First Continental Congress

At these two meetings, at Carpenter Hall in Philadelphia, America came together politically for the first time on a national level and the first seeds of democracy were sown.


When Princeton Was the Nation’s Capital

(From the Oct. 5, 1983, issue of PAW the story also appears in The Best of PAW: 100 Years the Princeton Alumni Weekly.)

On June 30, 1783, the secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thomson, wrote to his wife, “With respect to situation, convenience & pleasure I do not know a more agreeable spot in America.” He was describing the village of Princeton, New Jersey, which had just become the seat of government of the fledgling United States.

Thomson was much less impressed by Princeton’s suitability as a national capital after seeing Nassau Hall, however. His first visit to the building where Congress would meet for the next four months “had the effect of raising my mortification & disgust at the situation of Congress to the highest degree. For as I was led along the entry I passed by the chambers of the students from whence in the sultry heat of the day issued warm steams from the beds, foul linen & dirty lodgings of the boys. I found the members [of Congress] extremely out of humour and dissatisfied with their situation.”

During the few months that Congress met in Princeton, some critical problems of the new nation were solved. The American Revolution formally ended with the arrival from Paris of the final peace treaty with Great Britain (until then, British troops still occupied New York City). Congress decided the course of settlement across the Appalachians, signed its first treaty with a neutral foreign country, and officially thanked George Washington for his services as commander-in-chief. Thomas Paine, John Paul Jones, Baron von Steuben, Nathaniel Greene, and Thomas Jefferson visited town, as did throngs of others ranging from local farmers to foreign dignitaries. The events were as exciting as the setting was unlikely.

The Congress came to Princeton from Philadelphia, where it had been headquartered throughout the Revolution except during those periods when the British occupied the city. Philadelphia was then the country’s largest, most cosmopolitan center. Princeton was a war-ravaged village of only 50 to 60 houses and not more than 300 people. The move in 1783 from Philadelphia’s urbanity to Princeton’s rusticity was a dramatic one—prompted by a dramatic event.

Congress made the decision to leave Philadelphia on the evening of Saturday, June 21, 1783. Earlier that day, as its members departed from a special session at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall), they had run a gauntlet of jeers and insults from a small group of mutinous Continental soldiers who were demanding their long-overdue back pay from the state government. Congress had then been further insulted by the refusal of Pennsylvania authorities to turn out their own local militia to disperse the Continentals and put down the mutiny. Mortified, the delegates forgot their habitual factionalism and voted unanimously to adjourn across the Delaware to New Jersey.

According to Kenneth R. Bowling, associate editor of the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress Project at George Washington University, there were deeper currents beneath the vote than were first evident. He notes that Congress was then divided into decentralists favoring strong state governments and centralists favoring a stronger federal government.

The decentralists, viewing Philadelphia as a stronghold of centralist sentiment, had wanted to relocate the seat of government all along. The centralists had had no such intention, until the soldiers’ demonstration on June 21. Yet the protesting troops had expected to find Congress’s chamber in Independence Hall empty, as was normal on a weekend. Only because certain centralists, including Alexander Hamilton, had called an unusual Saturday meeting did Congressmen and soldiers come face to face, with the consequent ruffling of Congressional dignity. Bowling suggests the centralists may have called the session in the hope that a confrontation would occur that might stimulate badly needed public support for Congress.

To whatever extent the event was staged and whatever it may have done to point up Congress’s weakness under the Articles of Confederation, it did serve to propel Congress to Princeton within the week. The delegates had actually voted to adjourn to either Trenton or Princeton, leaving the final choice to the president of the Congress, Elias Boudinot. A trustee of the College of New Jersey and a former resident of the town whose sister still lived there, he quickly chose Princeton. It was a natural choice in light not only of Boudinot’s personal preferences but also of more fundamental considerations, such as the prestige among republicans of John Witherspoon and his “colledge.”

The College of New Jersey at Princeton had come to the forefront of the Revolutionary cause soon after Witherspoon assumed its presidency in 1768. On the night of his arrival from Scotland, Nassau Hall was prophetically “illuminated by a tallow dip in every window.” A new era of college life was beginning.

It was an era marked first by dedicated teaching. The fiery if paunchy Witherspoon, who spoke with a singular Scottish accent, was loved by his pupils. He taught upperclassmen divinity, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy—which, under him, was a course in political theory—imbuing them with some of the more advanced ideas of l8th-century rationalism, as interpreted by a Scottish “common sense” philosopher. Witherspoon was, quite simply, a giant of the American Enlightenment, whether measured by his own accomplishments or those of the students he taught.

An idea of the quality and nature of Witherspoon’s mind can be derived from a look at his personal library. Browsing through some of the 300 volumes he brought to Princeton and others he later acquired, we would find not only the ancients (in their original tongues, of course), but Erasmus, Calvin, Descartes, Hume, Voltaire, Burke, and Locke.

There was nothing unusual in the fact that Witherspoon admired Locke’s writings and advanced his ideas in college lectures: Locke’s notion of a chosen contract, under the laws of nature and nature’s god, was in the tradition of English legal and political studies. The college president and his students, though, were to carry the words into action on a scale that gives special significance to another title tucked into Witherspoon’s collection—Great Britain’s Collection of the Several Statutes … now in force relating to high treason, printed in Edinburgh in 1746.

For its day, Witherspoon’s library was very complete in examination of contemporary political questions. His pamphlet collection, typically presenting all sides of current issues, included many items sent to him by alumni, friends, benefactors—anyone, we may suspect, whom Witherspoon could cajole into a small printed donation. Thus, Thomas Paine’s Zdrav razum stood alongside its Loyalist rebuttal, Plain Truth.

Witherspoon’s lectures, based in part on his extensive reading and his own commentaries, were augmented by debates and orations in college and in the newly formed student clubs, the American Whig Society and the Cliosophic Society. These “colleges within colleges,” as one historian has termed them, conducted their own lectures and debates and collected libraries that rivaled or outstripped the college’s own. Membership meant a real chance to practice the 18th-century tools of the educated man: refinement of the written and spoken word.

From the early 1770s on, moreover, these tools were increasingly turned to political ends as president and students alike caught “Revolutionary Fever.” Newspapers throughout the colonies took note when the senior class patriotically wore “American cloth” on Commencement Day in 1770, and when the students conducted their own tea party in 1774, burning Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts in effigy, tolling the bell, and making many spirited resolves.

Commencement Day became a time to air the college’s Whiggish politics. Gone was a scholar’s oration of 1761 entitled “The Military Glory of Great Britain.” It was replaced by “The Rising Glory of America,” delivered in 1771 by Hugh Henry Brackenridge, a member of Whig.

Soon students were marching off to war, many before graduation. Witherspoon himself took leave in the spring of 1776 to serve in the First Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence, the only clergyman to do so. He was to serve for six years, visiting Princeton sporadically to oversee the college’s affairs, which largely devolved to his son-in-law Samuel Stanhope Smith 1769.

During the war, however, Nassau Hall paid dearly for its politics, probably suffering more damage in the Revolution than any other college. The scientific apparatus, the college library, and the architectural fabric of the building itself were all vandalized. On January 3, 1777, in the course of the Battle of Princeton, Nassau Hall changed hands three times. Library books were torn up and used to start fires, and college chairs and tables were burned as firewood.

One commentator writing to Thomas Jefferson about how passive the New Jerseyans seemed in the face of British atrocities exempted Witherspoon alone from his criticism:

Old Weatherspoon [sic] has not escaped their fury. They have burnt his Library. It grieves him much that he has lost his controversial tracts. He would lay aside the cloth to take revenge of them. I believe he would send them to the Devil, if he could. I am sure I would.

The pamphlets had not been burned, but Nassau Hall was a battered shell. Another contemporary account describes Princeton as a ghost town, where many houses, shops, and taverns suffered damage.

The college petitioned Congress for relief monies to mend Nassau Hall. By 1779 it had received almost $20,000, although in depreciating paper currency. And repairs were almost pointless while American troops continued to occupy the structure, at various times, as a barracks, a hospital, and a military prison, treating it no more kindly than the British. As late as 1781 the college was reminding Congress that the quartering of troops was its responsibility, for some soldiers were still in Nassau Hall.

Witherspoon knew that to rebuild the college he needed the attention and support of Congress and private individuals. The “flight” from Philadelphia to Princeton, then, was a happy circumstance for the college, offering the hope of focusing Congressional attention on the sorry fortunes of Nassau Hall. While the decision to move caught Witherspoon by surprise (he was visiting with Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale, and rushed back home), his son-in-law and deputy, Samuel Stanhope Smith, wasted no time in drafting a note of welcome to Congress on June 25 “from the inhabitants of Princeton and its Vicinity,” who pledged to provide “Comfortable Accommodation.”

This last pledge, unfortunately, was wishful thinking at its worst. Princeton was too small and too rural to fulfill Congress’s needs, let alone suit its tastes. The situation became clearly less tolerable as more and more delegates drifted into town in late June and early July. The few good houses could by no means accommodate all the delegates. James Madison 1771, as a latecomer to the session, ended up sharing a room which he described to Thomas Jefferson as being so small that he was “obliged to write in a position that scarcely admits the use of any of my limbs.” Not only were Princeton’s accommodations small, they were also widely dispersed. New York’s Hamilton was quartered at Thomas Lawrence’s house, now “The Barracks” on Edgehill Street. Pennsylvania delegate Thomas FitzSimons was put up more than a mile to the south of town, while the Maryland delegates stayed, as Thomson reported, “about a mile distant on the road to Brunswick. The rest are scattered up and down the village.”

As early as June 30, in fact, Thomson found that Boudinot himself was regretting his choice: “He said freely that this place would not do. The people had exerted themselves & put themselves to inconveniences to accommodate the members but it was a burden which they could not bear long.” Boudinot initially entertained and presumably lived at Morven, the home of his sister Annis, widow of Richard Stockton 1748, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

A further problem was the inability of most Princeton residents to supply meals, even where they could provide small rooms. This proved a continual stumbling block to the progress of official business. The Congressmen were used to Philadelphia’s fine taverns, which were unofficial offices and centers of commerce and news, where government business could be informally discussed over dinners on a regular basis. Delegates found Princeton’s two or three taverns small and cramped. As Thomson related to his wife in a letter dated July 3, “I have the honor of breakfasting at my lodging, of eating stinking fish & heavy half baked bread & drinking if I please abominable wine at a dirty tavern. On Monday indeed I got some pretty good porter, but on Tuesday the stock was exhausted, and yesterday I had the honor of drinking water to wash down some ill cooked victuals.”

As the heat and humidity of a Princeton summer descended on the village, complaints were heard everywhere. On July 25 Thomson wrote, “many of the members are heartily tired of the place and wish earnestly to remove. Yesterday they complained bitterly of being almost stewed and suffocated the night before in their small rooms.”

Stagecoach service, an important link with the outside world for both passengers and mail, was equally affected by the heat—some horses “dropped down & died & the rest came in [to Princeton] excessively jaded. It was the same with the stages from Elizabeth town, which were obliged to leave the passengers on the road, some of whom walked into this town through the broiling sun… .”

As tempers rose with the heat, factionalism reared its ugly head. The Colonial idea of “Join or Die,” symbolized by a snake in 13 sections, was forgotten. Again and again, Thomson, the only person to serve continuously in Congress from 1774 to 1789, sensed a growing likelihood that the young Confederation would break up: “And I confess I have my fear, that the prediction of our enemies will be found here, that on the removal of common danger our Confederacy and Union will be a rope of sand.” Thomson gave his educated guess as to the future: New England would be joined by New York as one state New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland would form another Virginia would “set up for itself,” possibly with a royal governor and South Carolina would join a southern confederacy of states.

Even at the best of times, Congress was factionalized, but part of the reason for this session’s bad tempers lay in the fact that it was so sparsely attended. Ultimately 12 states—all except Georgia—sent representatives, but during the first several months especially, Congress had trouble mustering the quorum of nine states needed to transact any important business. Moreover, some of the most able members such as Jefferson and Hamilton attended only briefly or not at all. As a result, delegates gathered day after day in Nassau Hall’s second-floor library or in Colonel George Morgan’s farmhouse at Prospect, only to adjourn.

Despite the problems of scarce accommodations, bad food, and infrequent quora, Congress did manage to plow through some business. After weeks of waiting, news arrived in July of the Treaty of Paris, signed on terms highly favorable to the United States. Later that month, moreover, Congress was able to open diplomatic relations with Sweden, the first neutral European country willing to recognize the United States. The necessary votes were produced, according to Thomson, when “Mr. Hamilton called on his way home so that for about one hour 9 states were represented in Congress. The short interval was imposed to ratify the treaty with Sweden. As soon as this was done, he left Congress and proceeded to his state so that we have now only 8 states in town.”

In July Congress also asked General Washington to come to Princeton to receive its thanks for his services during the war. Unspoken behind its request lay Congress’s desire for the prestige of his presence during a troubled time and its need for his advice on the peacetime military establishment. Washington arrived the following month and made his own headquarters at Rockingham, a rented house located about five miles north of Princeton in the even smaller village of Rocky Hill. On August 26, escorted by a small troop of cavalry, the tall and stately general rode up Nassau Street to the cheers of the citizens. He was given an audience with Congress, the details of which had been decided in advance to ensure that the civil authority of Congress was seen to take precedence over Washington’s military authority.

According to plan, the General stood and bowed to his audience, which “returned the bow, seated. As president of the Congress, Boudinot had “heightened his seat [with] a large folio to give him an elevation above the rest,” and he kept his tricorn hat on. Washington then stood again while Boudinot read the speech of welcome and gratitude. The formalities over, everyone adjourned for a festive reception.

Social life in Princeton, in fact, took a decided turn for the better over the next few months as hostesses vied for the attention of Washington, who remained nearby to meet with Congressional committees, although real work on a peacetime army was shelved for other issues. In October, Congress would simply decide to disband all the furloughed soldiers, leaving a few men at West Point and a few at Philadelphia to constitute the nation’s peacetime defense.

On September 15, Congress settled an item of business that was to have far-reaching effects. It accepted Virginia’s cession of her western claims and decided that these lands beyond the mountains would in time be divided into “distinct and separate states” and be members of the “Federal Union,” enjoying all its benefits. This set the precedent that future states would be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the original 13.

Even though Thomson often noted fretfully, “Another day spent in ill humor and fruitless debates,” the fall saw the enactment of several other significant resolutions. One topic of in-tense debate was the location of a permanent capital for Congress itself. The Middle Atlantic states each entreated Congress to settle within their borders and opposed plans of every other state to accomplish the same goal. Because of the new commerce, construction, and culture which it was felt must accompany a “capitol seat,” the residency question was one of the most acrimonious—and longest—discussions Congressional delegates entertained.

Sites on the Hudson, the Potomac, and the Delaware rivers were heatedly considered again and again. Germantown, Pennsylvania, made an especially attractive offer. Then a site on the Delaware was chosen—to be called “Statesburg,” said Thomson. This would have placed the capital near the center of population as it then existed, but north of the United States’ geographical center.

The Southerners protested, lobbied, and eventually won the concession that two permanent seats would be designated. In addition to the “federal town” to be built “near the falls of the river Delaware,” a second city would be established “at the lower falls of the Potomac.” It was not a practical compromise—but it did open the wedge for what would become Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, ignoring the petitions of Princeton citizens that it remain for the winter, Congress decided to rotate its seat temporarily between Annapolis and Trenton. Philadelphia still had not been forgiven, but everyone had had his fill of Princeton.

As the time for departure from Princeton approached, the delegates still had numerous issues to face, such as the treatment of Indian lands. In mid-October Congress settled this by exerting its authority and issuing an ordinance forbidding any citizen from privately purchasing lands from Indians without first receiving approval from the federal government. In some respects more difficult to resolve was the question of how to welcome the Dutch Ambassador with a proper degree of pomp and dignity. For weeks before his actual arrival, various members of Congress wrung their hands over the official reception for this ally. Even alumnus Madison had commented sarcastically on the “charming situation”—a rural village—in which Congress awaited his arrival.

The minister, Pieter Johan Van Berckel, was to land in Philadelphia—where Congress was to have secured for him a large house in a fashionable section of town—and then proceed to Princeton. These plans fell through because of the awkwardness of long-distance negotiations, with the result that Van Berckel found no residence awaiting him but was forced to stay at City Tavern (Second Street near Walnut). Although it was clean and served excellent food, City Tavern hardly afforded the space and privacy the Minister Plenipotentiary expected.

While Congress debated whether the present body or the soon-to-be-elected delegation should officially receive Berckel, Witherspoon seized the opportunity to greet the minister from William of Nassau’s own country:

The trustees of the college of New Jersey beg leave to congratulate your excellency on your arrival in this country. The name by which the building is distinguished in which our instruction is conducted, will sufficiently inform your Excellency of the attachment we have ever had to the States of the United Netherlands. [We wish you] all happiness, comfort, & success in your present important mission.

Congress granted Van Berckel an audience and a reception, but he spent the preceding night as John Witherspoon’s guest.

At a dinner party in late October, the representatives joked about the qualities needed to be a member of Congress. Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts put forth his notion that a man had “to be a salamander or leave Congress.” Thomson recounted, “I told him, if Gentlemen continued in the disposition that they had lately discovered it would be proper to learn the use of the sword and come armed to Debate.”

But even under the adverse circumstances of their stay at Princeton, and during an awkward pause between war and for-mal peace, these homesick men carried on in common service to their country. Working within the framework of a new kind of government, the weak contract of states established by the Articles of Confederation, they struggled to forge a stronger form of republicanism.

Some of Witherspoon’s young men had gone to their deaths in the Revolution, but many more lived and served the new nation. In his Commencement address in September 1783, Ashbel Green spoke before Congress and General Washington of the moral education he had received at Princeton:

The youthful mind is taught to look into its capacity, its qualities and its powers, and to reason from them to the being and attributes of their Creator, and thence to deduce the nature and sanction of the moral law. Hence the rights of men are derived, either as individuals or as societies. We view mankind as the subjects of one great lawgiver, as the children of one common father, and we acquire the principles of universal justice and benevolence.

Green was congratulated on this speech by none other than Washington, in a chance meeting in the corridors of Nassau Hall.

In November 1783, the Congress left for Annapolis. Years later, remembering the battered state of Nassau Hall, some delegates would send the college gifts of money and books.


Continental Congress

The Continental Congress provided leadership during the American Revolution and drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.

Social Studies, Civics, U.S. History

Continental Congress Washington

In the 1770s, the Continental Congress, composed of many of the United States' eventual founders, met to respond to a series of laws passed by the British Parliament that were unpopular with many of the colonists.

Photograph by Universal History Archive

The Continental Congress was a group of delegates who worked together to act on behalf of the North American colonies in the 1770s. Beginning with the Sugar Act in 1764, the British Parliament passed a series of laws that were unpopular with many colonists in the North American colonies. The colonists came together in what came to be known as the Committees of Correspondence to discuss their rights and how to respond to the acts that they believed trampled on those rights. These committees began to work together to forge a cooperative, united approach.

In 1774, matters came to a head after Britain passed the Coercive Acts, a series of acts that the colonists called the Intolerable Acts. These acts, which included the closing of the port of Boston and establishing British military rule in Massachusetts, were intended to punish the colony of Massachusetts for the infamous Boston Tea Party and to force that colony to pay for the lost tea. Britain also hoped to isolate the rebels in Massachusetts and dissuade other colonies from similar acts of defiance. In response, the Committees of Congress called for a meeting of delegates. On September 5, 1774, 56 delegates met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This First Continental Congress represented all the 13 colonies, except Georgia. It included some of the finest leaders in the land, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Jay. The group elected Peyton Randolph of Virginia as its president.

The group met in secret to discuss how the colonies should respond to what they perceived to be an imposition of their rights. At this meeting, the Congress adopted a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. They declared that their rights as Englishmen included life, liberty, property, and trial by jury. The declaration denounced taxation without representation. The Congress called for a boycott of British goods and petitioned King George III for a remedy for their grievances. Before departing, the Congress agreed to meet again on May 10, 1775.

By the time this Second Continental Congress convened, hostilities had already broken out between British troops and its American colonists at Lexington, Massachusetts, and Concord, Massachusetts. The Congress agreed to a coordinated military response and appointed George Washington as commander of the American militia. On July 4, 1776, the delegates cut all remaining ties with England by unanimously approving the Declaration of Independence.

For the duration of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress served as a provisional, or temporary, government of the American colonies. The Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, which went into effect in 1781. Under this government, the Continental Congress gave way to the Confederation Congress, which included many of the same delegates. This group continued to provide leadership to the new country until a new Congress, elected under the new Constitution passed in 1789, went into effect.

In the 1770s, the Continental Congress, composed of many of the United States' eventual founders, met to respond to a series of laws passed by the British Parliament that were unpopular with many of the colonists.


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