List of members at the First Continental Congress

THE great crisis in the history of the colonies was now at hand, which thoughtful and patriotic men in American had long expected; which the French and other enemies of Great Britain on the continent of Europe had ardently wished for, and which the stubborn king of England, his ministers, and their aristocratic supporters in Church and State had hastened on by their perverseness and folly. That crisis was the planting of the seed of an independent nation in America. It was solemnly performed, when, on the 5th of September, 1774, delegates from twelve British-American provinces met in the hall of the Carpenters' Association, in Philadelphia, and were organized into what they termed themselves, a Continental Congress, having for their object the consideration of the political state of the colonies; also the devising of measures for obtaining relief from oppression, and to unite in efforts to secure forever for themselves and their posterity, the free enjoyment of natural and chartered rights and liberties, in a perfect union with Great Britain. Very few of them had aspirations yet for political independence.

On Monday, the 5th of September, there were present in the Carpenter's Hall (yet standing) forty-four delegates. These were John Sullivan and Nathaniel Folsom, from New Hampshire; Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams and Robert Treat Paine, from Massachusetts; Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward, from Rhode Island; Eliphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman and Silas Deane, from Connecticut; James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low and William Floyd, from New York; James Kinsey, William Livingston, John Hart, Stephen Crane and Richard Smith, from New Jersey; Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhodes, Thomas Mifflin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton and Edward Biddle, from Pennsylvania; Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean and George Read, from Delaware; Robert Goldsborough, William Paca and Samuel Chase, from Maryland; Peyton Randolph, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison and Edmund Pendleton, from Virginia, and Henry Middleton, John Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch and Edward Rutledge, from South Carolina. Others came soon afterward--John Alsop and Henry Wisner, from New York; George Ross and John Dickinson, from Pennsylvania; Thomas Johnson and Matthew Tighlman, from Maryland; Richard Henry Lee, from Virginia; William Hooper, Joseph Hewes and Richard Caswell, from North Carolina--making the whole number fifty-four. They chose Peyton Randolph to be their President. He was an eminent lawyer, who had been educated at William and Mary College; was the king's Attorney-General for Virginia sixteen years before; had taken a decided stand against the ministry at the beginning of resistance; had recently been Speaker of the Virginia Assembly, and was a popular citizen. He was then fifty-one years of age. They chose for their Secretary, Charles Thomson, a native of Ireland, who, in early life, had emigrated to Delaware, but was then a citizen of Philadelphia, of character and fortune. Dr. Franklin was his friend, and he was a good classical scholar. He had lived a bachelor until that week, when he was about forty-five years of age. Just as he was alighting from his chaise, with his bride--an heiress of much property--a messenger came to him from the Congress, saying: "They want you at Carpenters' Hall to keep the minutes of their proceedings, as you are very expert at that business." Thomson complied with their request, and very soon took his seat as Secretary of the Continental Congress; and he remained sole Secretary of that body during its entire existence of almost fifteen years. John Adams wrote in his diary, that Charles Thomson was "the Samuel Adams of Philadelphia; the life of the cause of liberty."

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