Philadelphia Welcomes the First Continental Congress

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Colonial Americans responded to British attempts to assert additional control over their political and economic affairs with varying degrees of resistance. For the most part, the colonists attempted to balance their desire for imperial recognition of their traditional rights with statements of loyalty and affection towards the British king (and, to a lesser extent, Parliament). Public gatherings, for example, often included toasts that honored individual members of the British nobility, the long heritage of royal governance, the traditional rights of Englishmen, and the achievements of America in rapid succession. In a tempestuous time, these were not seen as contradictions: indeed, for Gouverneur Morris, the tensions between these concepts might have been all that stood between the colonists and complete anarchy. On the other hand, neither Thomas Jefferson (in A Summary View of the Rights of British America, August 1774) nor General Thomas Gage (in his letter to Peyton Randolph) appears to feel any tension over the question of loyalty whatsoever.

Joseph Galloway’s Plan of Union attempted to use the political confusion constructively, by proposing a new type of political union between the colonies and Britain in which political sovereignty would be divided more evenly. The Continental Congress ultimately rejected this solution, and it was never proposed to the crown.

Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet or, the General Advertiser (Philadelphia), September 19, 1774.

On Friday last the honorable delegates, now met in General Congress, were elegantly entertained by the gentlemen of this city. Having met at the City Tavern about 3 o’clock, they were conducted from thence to the State House by the managers of the entertainment, where they were received by a very large company composed of the clergy, such genteel strangers as happened to be in town, and a number of respectable citizens, making in the whole near 500. After dinner the following toasts were drank, accompanied by music and a discharge of cannon.

1. The KING.

2. The QUEEN.

3. The Duke of Gloucester.

4. The Prince of Wales and Royal Family.

5. Perpetual union to the colonies.

6. May the colonies faithfully execute what the Congress shall wisely resolve.

7. The much injured town of Boston, and province of Massachusetts Bay.

8. May Great Britain be just, and America free.

9. No unconstitutional standing armies.

10. May the cloud which hangs over Great Britain and the colonies, burst only on the heads of the present ministry.

11. May every American hand down to posterity pure and untainted liberty he has derived from his ancestors.

12. May no man enjoy freedom, who has not spirit to defend it.

13. May the persecuted genius of liberty find a lasting asylum in America.

14. May British swords never be drawn in defense of tyranny.

15. The arts and manufactures of America.

16. Confusion to the authors of the Canada bill.

17. The liberty of the press.

18. A happy reconciliation between Great Britain and her colonies, on a constitutional ground.

19. The virtuous few in both houses of Parliament.

20. The city of London.

21. Lord Chatham.

22. Lord Camden.

23. Bishop of St. Asaph.

24. Duke of Richmond.

25. Sir George Saville.

26. Mr. Burke.

27. General Conway.

28. Mr. Dunning.

29. Mr. Sawbridge.

30. Dr. Franklin.

31. Mr. Dulany.

32. Mr. Hancock.

The acclamations with which several of them were received, not only testified the sense of the honor conferred by such worthy guests, but the fullest confidence in their wisdom and integrity, and a firm resolution to adopt and support such measures as they shall direct for the public good at this alarming crisis.

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