Today, the Congress Commemorative Gold Five Dollar Coin remembers the events of 241 years ago.
In January 1775, some attribute the specific date as January 4, the British Secretary of State attempted to stop the upcoming meeting of the Continental Congress.
In the Congressional Serial Set of 1869-70, they included a brief history of those early days that provided the actual orders sent by the British Secretary of State to the governors of each of the colonies.
The first American Congress for united opposition to those measures of the British Parliament which the colonies considered oppressive, met at New York on the 7th of October, 1765.
In consequence of the stamp act, and other grievances, committees from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina assembled “to consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies and the difficulties to which they are, and must be, reduced by the operation of the acts of Parliament for levying duties and taxes on the colonies; and to consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal, and humble representation of their condition to his Majesty, and the Parliament, and to implore relief.”
The stamp act was repealed, but causes of dissatisfaction continued, and a second Congress met in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774, and sat until October 26.
Delegates were present from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
By the rules adopted, each colony was entitled to one vote, “the Congress not being possessed of, or at present able to procure, proper materials for ascertaining the importance of each colony; “no question was to be determined the day on which it “was agitated and debated,” if any colony desired a postponement; and the doors were to be kept shut during the time of business, and the members “to consider themselves under the strongest obligations of honor to keep the proceedings secret” until a majority directed them to be made public.
Before dissolving it was “Resolved, as the opinion of this Congress, That it will be necessary that another Congress should be held on the 10th day of May next, unless the redress of grievances which we have desired be obtained before that time. And we recommend that the same be held in Philadelphia, and that all the colonies in North America choose deputies as soon as possible to attend such Congress.”
The King and his advisers endeavored to prevent another meeting, and in January, 1775, the Secretary of State for the colonies sent the following circular letter to all the 1775 governors:
“Certain persons, styling themselves delegates of his Majesty’s colonies in America, having presumed, without his Majesty’s authority or consent, to assemble together at Philadelphia in the months of September and October last; and having thought fit, among other unwarrantable proceedings, to resolve that it will be necessary that another Congress should be held in the same place on the 10th of May next, unless redress for certain pretended grievances be obtained before that time, and to recommend that all the colonies in North America should choose deputies to attend such Congress; I am commanded by the King to signify to you his Majesty’s pleasure that you do use your utmost endeavors to prevent any such appointment of deputies within the colony under your government, and that you do exhort all persons to desist from such unwarrantable proceedings, which cannot but be highly displeasing to the King.”
Notwithstanding the royal prohibition, delegates were again chosen, and the third Congress met in Philadelphia on the 10th of May, 1775.
From that time onward America has not been without a Congress.
This was a continuous body (though there were changes in the delegates) till 1781, when annual sessions began, as required by the articles of confederation.
The Congress Commemorative Gold Five Dollar Coin shows against an advertisement from 1775 in the Cambridge area soliciting supplies for the Continental army.