Our Georgia History
Georgia joins the Continental Congress
By Randy Golden
Exclusively for Our Georgia History

The First Continental Congress ended on November 9, 1774, passing articles that would strengthen the colonial impact on Mother England. The South Carolina representatives agreed to accept personal responsibility for Georgia joining the other colonies and abiding by the decisions made by the body. Royal Governor James Wright knew of South Carolina's promise and decided it would be prudent to wait until 1775 to hold the next Assembly. In the interim, St. Andrews parish and St. Johns Parish voted to join the Continental Association.

Slowly, individual parishes began to realize that joining the continental association by adopting the articles was better for them than not joining and each parish began the movement towards Revolution. The Scots in Darien were adamantly against the English. Their charismatic leader, Lachlan McIntosh, spoke eloquently, evoking the bitter hatred between the two Old World neighbors. Other radicals joined in the increasingly harmonious voice of Georgia. At this point, however, that voice probably did not yet represent a majority of Georgians. Men like Elijah Clarke, William Few and George Wells signed a petition from Augusta stating that they disagreed with the course being taken by the Radicals.

Lachlan McIntosh, leader of Georgia's ScotsFrom the "committee of thirty" came a call for a provincial congress to coincide with the Assembly meeting, both in Savannah. Word came from St. Andrew's Parish (Darien) that the Scots had joined the Continental Association on January 12 and would send delegates to the provincial congress, set to begin the day after the Lower House was called to order. Included in a statement by Lachlan McIntosh was a call for the manumission (freeing) of all slaves, calling the practice an "unnatural act."

On January 17, 1775 the Georgia Assembly was called to order. Governor Wright made an opening address in which he appealed for the members of both the Commons House and the Upper House to act as elected representatives and not as radicals. The governor's plea did little good. Quickly the Upper and Lower Houses were in conference on preserving American rights as British subjects.

Unfortunately, the provincial congress that started the following day did not go well. Only five parishes sent representatives and the men from St. Johns Parish (Midway) wanted the congress to adopt the resolutions of the Continental Association before they were seated. The provincial congress did adopt the articles passed by the First Continental Congress, although they created some exceptions to them. A non-consumption clause was completely ignored by the state and Georgia did not end trade with colonies who traded with Britain, however, it was the Indian trade that created the most problems -- Georgia exempted virtually everything that could be traded with the Indians from this agreement. These were to become effective on March 15, 1775. They also elected Noble W. Jones, Archibald Bulloch and John Houstoun to represent the colony in the Second Continental Congress. Before the congress adjoined it turned its resolutions to the assembly for approval.

Georgia was fearful of the Creek and Cherokee Indians on its frontier. This was made all the worse by the powerful British agents who continued to befriend them. One that concerned them in particular was John Stuart, a British agent to the Creek Nation. Once working to stabilize the situation on the frontier, these agents could easily cause serious problems for Georgia. Many felt that by maintaining a supply of trade goods the Creek and Cherokee would not side with the British agents to the west.

Since it did not enthusiastically endorse the articles of the Continental Association, the provincial congress is regarded as a dismal failure. Regardless, Governor James Wright did not want the Assembly to consider the resolutions, but rather than dissolve the Assembly he merely put it on hold. This marked the last meeting of this body of government.

St. John's Parish again selected Lyman Hall to represent them in the Second Continental Congress. The parish, though, was having a tough time maintaining its rebellious stance without the support of the other parishes. It had tried, to no avail, to become a parish in South Carolina. Then it considered cutting off trade with the rest of Georgia, but quickly realized that this course of action would be self-destructive.

Meeting in Philadelphia starting on May 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress did not feel that Georgia had acted in good faith regarding trade with Britain and her trading partners. The Congress decided to cut off trade with the youngest colony. On the day the congress was seated disturbing news came from the north. An band of patriots had taken a stand on Breed's Hill in Lexington, Massachusetts against the most powerful army in the world and fired "a shot heard 'round the world."

The month of June, 1775 became pivotal to the colony of Georgia. Munitions were being stockpiled, taken from city magazines. Cannon, which the patriots could not carry away, were spiked. Supplies were sent to the besieged patriots in Boston. And there were meetings. Lots of meetings. Among the bodies that were established to move Georgia towards open revolt was a general committee known as the Council of Safety. Elected the first leader of the council was Archibald Bulloch. George Walton was selected secretary.

Things had begun to deteriorate in the eyes of Wright. He requested additional troops and more boats on June 27, 1775, to protect the loyalists in the colony. These letters were opened under the auspices of the South Carolina Committee of Correspondence and forged documents were sent in their place saying that everything was under control.

On July 4, 1775 the state of Georgia held its second provincial congress, and it was significantly different than the first. Held in the Long Room of Peter Tondee's tavern, the congress was called to order with 102 delegates from 10 parishes. Only St. Patrick and St. James were not represented. Most of the delegates were from the so-called American Rights party and these men were call Whigs or "Patriots." Opposing them were those loyal to the king or Loyalists. These men were also called Tories.

Calvinist minister John J. Zubly preached a sermon at the opening call, "The Law of Liberty." The title comes from James 2:12. The sermon was filled with viewpoints of many of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, including Voltaire and Locke. However, Zubly made it clear that he felt the monarchy was the best form of government. He did encourage the men of the provincial congress to insist on their rights under law, but discouraged separation.

On July 6, 1775 the Second Provincial Congress accepted the provisions of the Continental Association. The following day the congress elected five men to represent the state at the Second Continental Congress:

Hall, the Radical leader of St. John's parish, who led the attempt to leave the colony of Georgia and join South Carolina, was already in Philadelphia at the congress.

Finally, as the provincial congress was wrapping up, a set of resolutions were published. These claimed for Americans the rights of all British subjects and included the threat of separation (Independence) if these rights were not granted.

Next: A Colony at War

Acts Of War
Georgia in 1763
Sugar Act; Stamp Act
Townshend Acts
The House dissolved
Radicals Gain Power
Georgia joins the Continental Congress
A Colony at War
A State and Union Formed
The First Florida Expedition
A Leader Dies
The Second Florida Expedition
The Third Florida Expedition
Britain Attacks Georgia
Georgia Fight Backs
The Siege and Battle of Savannah
There Comes a Reaper
The Liberation of Georgia

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