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Courage of the Founders ~ The Perilous Road to Independence
 
Perhaps our Congress will be Exalted on a high Gallows.
 
Abraham Clark, signer of the Declaration of Independence, August 6, 1776

The sole governing authority presiding over the tumultuous events of the American Revolution between 1774 and 1789 was a body known as Congress. With no power to regulate commerce or lay taxes, and with little ability to enforce any of its decisions, this group, representing the thirteen colonies, declared independence, conducted a war that defeated one of the greatest military powers of its day, and invented a new political entity that became a sovereign independent nation. Its members pondered everything from the rightness of independence to the number of flints needed by the armies–sometimes with the enemy not far from their doorstep. Asserting their rights, they found themselves labeled as traitors.

The fifty-four men who composed the First Continental Congress represented different interests, religions, and regions; they held conflicting opinions as to how best to restore their rights. Most did not know each other; some did not like each other. With no history of successful cooperation, they struggled to overcome their differences and, without any way of knowing if the future held success or nooses for them all, they started down a long and perilous road toward independence.

The Agreement of Secrecy, November 9, 1775 learn more...
In the Old Raleigh Tavern, a correspondence committee at work, hand-colored engraving (reproduction) after illustration by Howard Pyle, ca. 1896 learn more...
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