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Continental Congress


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(1774; 1775–89)

The assembly that first met in Philadelphia to concert a colonial response to the ‘Intolerable’ Coercive Acts. At its first session, the radicals, led by delegates from Massachusetts, Virginia, and South Carolina, outmanoeuvred the moderates from New York and Pennsylvania and adopted the Suffolk County (Massachusetts) Resolves, rejecting the Acts as ‘the attempts of a wicked administration to enslave America’. The second Congress, convened in the wake of Lexington and Concord, created a Continental Army under George Washington and, as a result of British intransigence and radical pressure, moved gradually towards the Declaration of Independence (1776). The Congress undertook the central direction of the War of Independence, and, under the Articles of Confederation (1781), the government of the USA.

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