George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Adams were among the fifty-six men who met in Philadelphia in September 1774. They were from the different American colonies, meeting to talk about the way Great Britain had been governing the colonies.
At this meeting, called the First Continental Congress, the men agreed that the colonies had not been treated fairly. They sent a polite letter to Great Britain. in the letter, they asked for changes in trade and tax laws.
The Continental Congress met again the following year. By this time, there was talk of war between Great Britain and the colonies. British soldiers had fired on the Americans, and the Americans had fired back. Meeting at the Second Continental Congress, the men voted to organize an army and place George Washington its head. They had asked politely for fair treatment and had not received it. Now they were ready to fight.
The meetings in Philadelphia went on for some time, the Congress had started as a group of men talking and making suggestions. Now they were fighting a war. The Congress was the only central government in the scattered colonies. There was no other group to direct the colonies.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress published the Declaration of Independence. The members had decided that America should be a separate nation. The men who met in Philadelphia also laid the foundation for the United States Constitution. They set a pattern for American government today.