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The American Revolution
First Shots of War
Continental Congress to General Gage, October 11, 1774

The First Continental Congress sent the following letter to British General Thomas Gage. What is the tone of the letter? What actions does Congress urge Gage to take?

View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

Philadelphia October 10, 1774.


The Inhabitants of the town of Boston have informed us, the representatives of his Majesty's faithful subjects in all the colonies from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, that the fortifications erecting within that town, the frequent invasions of private property, and the repeated insults they receive from the soldiery, have given them great reason to suspect a plan is formed very destructive to them, and tending to overthrow the liberties of America.

Your excellency cannot be a stranger to the sentiments of America, with respect to the acts of parliament, under the execution of which, those unhappy people are oppressed, the approbation universally expressed of their conduct, and the determined resolution of the colonies, for the preservation of their common rights, to unite in their opposition to those acts.--In consequence of these sentiments, they have appointed us the guardians of their rights and liberties, and we are under the deepest concern, that whilst we are pursuing every dutiful and peaceable measure to procure a cordial & effectual reconciliation between Great-Britain & the colonies, your excellency should proceed in a manner that bears so hostile an appearance, and which oven those oppressive acts do not warrant.

We entreat your excellency to consider what a tendency this conduct must have to irritate & force a free people, however well disposed to peaceable measure, into hostilities, which may prevent the endeavours of this Congress to restore a good understanding with our parent state, & may involve us in the horrors of a civil war.

In order therefore to quiet the minds and remove the reasonable jealousies of the people, that they may not be driven to a state of desperation, being fully persuaded of their pacific disposition towards the King's troops, could they be assured of their own safety, we hope, Sir, you will discontinute the fortifications in and about Boston, prevent any further invasions of private property, restrain the irregularities of the soldiers, and give orders that the communication between the town and country may be open, unmolested and free.

Signed by order, and in behalf of the general Congress,
Peyton Randolph, President.

[In the Journal at which the letter to Gage appeared, the following also appeared.]

As the Congress have given general Gage an assurance of the peaceable disposition of the people of Boston and the Massachusetts-bay,

Resolved unanimously, That they be advised still to conduct themselves peaceably towards his excellency General Gage, and his majesty's troops now stationed in the town of Boston, as far as can possibly be consistent with their immediate safety, and the security of the town; avoiding & discountenancing every violation of his Majesty's property, or any insult to his troops, and that they peaceably and firmly persevere in the line they are now conducting themselves, on the defensive.

Ordered, That a copy of the foregoing resolve, & of that passed on Saturday and the three passed yesterday, be made out, and that the President enclose them in a letter to the committee of correspondence for the town of Boston, being the sentiments of the Congress on the matters referred to them by the Committee, in their letter of the 29th of Septr. last.

Resolved, unanimously, That a memorial be prepared to the people of British America, stating to them the necessity of a firm, united, and invariable observation of the measures recommended by the Congress, as they tender the invaluable rights and liberties derived to them from the laws and constitution of their country.

Also an address to the people of Great Britain.
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View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.