The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area, it separates the "Old World" from the "New World". The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, the Americas to the west; as one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, the Southern Ocean in the south. The Equatorial Counter Current subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and the South Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N. Scientific explorations of the Atlantic include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office; the oldest known mentions of an "Atlantic" sea come from Stesichorus around mid-sixth century BC: Atlantikoi pelágei and in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC: Atlantis thalassa where the name refers to "the sea beyond the pillars of Heracles", said to be part of the sea that surrounds all land.
Thus, on one hand, the name refers to Atlas, the Titan in Greek mythology, who supported the heavens and who appeared as a frontispiece in Medieval maps and lent his name to modern atlases. On the other hand, to early Greek sailors and in Ancient Greek mythological literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, this all-encompassing ocean was instead known as Oceanus, the gigantic river that encircled the world. In contrast, the term "Atlantic" referred to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the sea off the Strait of Gibraltar and the North African coast; the Greek word thalassa has been reused by scientists for the huge Panthalassa ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea hundreds of millions of years ago. The term "Aethiopian Ocean", derived from Ancient Ethiopia, was applied to the Southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century. During the Age of Discovery, the Atlantic was known to English cartographers as the Great Western Ocean; the term The Pond is used by British and American speakers in context to the Atlantic Ocean, as a form of meiosis, or sarcastic understatement.
The term dates to as early as 1640, first appearing in print in pamphlet released during the reign of Charles I, reproduced in 1869 in Nehemiah Wallington's Historical Notices of Events Occurring Chiefly in The Reign of Charles I, where "great Pond" is used in reference to the Atlantic Ocean by Francis Windebank, Charles I's Secretary of State. The International Hydrographic Organization defined the limits of the oceans and seas in 1953, but some of these definitions have been revised since and some are not used by various authorities and countries, see for example the CIA World Factbook. Correspondingly, the extent and number of oceans and seas varies; the Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe: the Strait of Africa. In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean; the 20° East meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica defines its border.
In the 1953 definition it extends south to Antarctica, while in maps it is bounded at the 60° parallel by the Southern Ocean. The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays and seas; these include the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea all of the Scotia Sea, other tributary water bodies. Including these marginal seas the coast line of the Atlantic measures 111,866 km compared to 135,663 km for the Pacific. Including its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers an area of 106,460,000 km2 or 23.5% of the global ocean and has a volume of 310,410,900 km3 or 23.3% of the total volume of the earth's oceans. Excluding its marginal seas, the Atlantic covers 81,760,000 km2 and has a volume of 305,811,900 km3; the North Atlantic covers 41,490,000 km2 and the South Atlantic 40,270,000 km2. The average depth is 3,646 m and the maximum depth, the Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench, is 8,486 m.
The bathymetry of the Atlantic is dominated by a submarine mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It runs from 87°N or 300 km south of the North Pole to the subantarctic Bouvet Island at 42°S; the MAR divides the Atlantic longitudinally into two halves, in each of which a series of basins are delimited by secondary, transverse ridges. The MAR reaches above 2,000 m along most of its length, but is interrupted by larger transform faults at two places: the Romanche Trench near the Equator and the Gibbs Fracture Zone at 53°N; the MAR is a barrier for bottom water, but at these two transform faults deep water currents can pass from one side to the othe
Fort William and Mary
Fort William and Mary was a colonial fortification in Britain's worldwide system of defenses, manned by soldiers of the Province of New Hampshire who reported directly to the royal governor. The fort known as "The Castle", was situated on the island of New Castle, New Hampshire, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River estuary, it was renamed Fort William and Mary circa 1692, after the accession of the monarchs William III and Mary II to the British throne. It was captured by Patriot forces and abandoned by the British in the Revolutionary War; the fort was renamed Fort Constitution in 1808 following rebuilding. The fort was further rebuilt and expanded through 1899 and served through World War II. First fortified by the British prior to 1632, the fort guarded access to the harbor at Portsmouth and served as the colony's main munitions depot; the fort served to protect Kittery, Maine, on the opposite shore, raided numerous times by the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy during the French and Indian Wars.
Shadrach Walton commanded the fort during different periods at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. In 1774, it was the only permanently manned military post in New Hampshire. On December 14, 1774, local Patriots from the Portsmouth area, led by John Langdon, stormed the post and seized the garrison's powder, distributed through several New Hampshire towns for potential use in the looming struggle against Great Britain. On December 15, 1774, patriots led by John Sullivan again raided the fort, this time seizing numerous cannons; as tensions increased before the American Revolutionary War, Lord North's ministry became concerned that the profusion of arms in New England would lead to bloodshed. On October 19, 1774, King George III issued a confidential Order in Council forbidding the export of arms and powder to America. Word of the order reached operatives in New England's patriot movement; the port at Boston had been closed in punishment for the Boston Tea Party, the Portsmouth Committee of Correspondence kept in close contact with friends of liberty in Boston.
Tensions in Massachusetts nearly erupted into violence in the fall of 1774 when redcoats seized provincial gunpowder during the so-called Powder Alarm. Upon learning of the Order in Council, patriots feared that the British military would make another attempt to seize colonial stores. Patriots in Rhode Island moved munitions from the fort at Newport inland for safekeeping without incident. In Massachusetts, rumors flew that troops from Boston were headed to reinforce Fort William and Mary and seize its powder and arms. On December 13, 1774, four months before his more famous ride in Massachusetts, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth to sound the alarm. On the morning of December 14, Patriots from the town of New Castle unsuccessfully attempted to take the gunpowder at Fort William and Mary by trickery. Meanwhile, John Langdon made his way through Portsmouth with a drummer, collecting a crowd to descend on the fort. Several hundred men responded to his call, setting out for the Castle by way of the Piscataqua River.
Only one provincial officer, Captain John Cochran, five provincial soldiers were stationed at Fort William and Mary. Despite the odds against them, they refused to capitulate to Patriot demands; when Langdon's men rushed the fort, the defenders opened fire with three cannons and a volley of musket shot. Patriots stormed the walls and Cochran's men engaged in hand-to-hand fighting before being subdued by an overwhelming number of raiders. Langdon's volunteers not only broke open the powder house and absconded with about 100 barrels of gunpowder but, to three cheers, hauled down the fort's huge British flag. Several injuries but no deaths occurred in the engagement, Cochran and his men were released after about an hour and a half of confinement; the next day, additional rebel forces arrived in Portsmouth from across the colony, as well as from Maine. Led by John Sullivan, the rebels returned to the fort late on the night of December 15, overran the post without gunfire and removed muskets, military supplies and 16 cannons marked as the property of the King.
British authorities declared the raids - for which Sullivan received a stipend from the Continental Congress - high treason. In response to a call for aid from Boston by British Governor John Wentworth, the armed hydrographic survey sloop Canceaux arrived to keep the peace in New Hampshire on December 17, followed by the twenty-gun frigate Scarborough on December 19, with numerous Royal Marines aboard; the Governor and his family were driven from their home in Portsmouth in the summer of 1775 and forced to take refuge in the fort, guarded by the guns of British warships. Britain gave up on the colony of New Hampshire in order to focus attention on the military situation in Massachusetts and abandoned the fort, removing its remaining equipment to Boston along with Governor Wentworth; the supplies captured by Patriots in December 1774 were used by New Hampshire's forces against the British military, including in the Siege of Boston. Conversely, supplies left in the fort by Patriots following the raids were subsequently put to use by the British forces.
After the British abandoned the fort in the Revolution, the Patriots renamed it Fort Hancock. Following the Revolution the fort was called Fort Castle; the state gave Fort Point, on which the fort stood, to the federal government in 1791. In 1800, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established upriver on Fernald's Island, the fort was rebuilt under the Second System of US fortifications. Walls were doubled in height and new brick buildings added. Work was completed in 1808 and the defense
Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act of 1765 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that imposed a direct tax on the British colonies and plantations in America and required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. Printed materials included legal documents, playing cards and many other types of paper used throughout the colonies. Like previous taxes, the stamp tax had to be paid in valid British currency, not in colonial paper money; the purpose of the tax was to pay for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Years' War. However, the colonists had never feared a French invasion to begin with, they contended that they had paid their share of the war expenses, they suggested that it was a matter of British patronage to surplus British officers and career soldiers who should be paid by London. The Stamp Act was unpopular among colonists.
A majority considered it a violation of their rights as Englishmen to be taxed without their consent—consent that only the colonial legislatures could grant. Their slogan was "No taxation without representation." Colonial assemblies sent petitions and protests, the Stamp Act Congress held in New York City was the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure when it petitioned Parliament and the King. One member of the British Parliament argued that the colonials were no different from the 90% residents of Great Britain who did not own property and thus could not vote, but who were "virtually" represented by land-owning electors and representatives who had common interests with them. An American attorney refuted this by pointing out that the relations between the Americans and the English electors were "a knot too infirm to be relied on" for proper representation, "virtual" or otherwise. Local protest groups established Committees of Correspondence which created a loose coalition from New England to Maryland.
Protests and demonstrations increased initiated by the Sons of Liberty and involving hanging of effigies. Soon, all stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions, the tax was never collected. Opposition to the Stamp Act was not limited to the colonies. British merchants and manufacturers pressured Parliament because their exports to the colonies were threatened by boycotts; the Act was repealed on 18 March 1766 as a matter of expedience, but Parliament affirmed its power to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever" by passing the Declaratory Act. A series of new taxes and regulations ensued—likewise opposed by the colonists; the episode played a major role in defining the 27 colonial grievances that were stated within the text of the Indictment of George III section of the United States Declaration of Independence, enabling the organized colonial resistance that led to the American Revolution in 1775. The British victory in the Seven Years' War, known in America as the French and Indian War, had been won only at a great financial cost.
During the war, the British national debt nearly doubled, rising from £72,289,673 in 1755 to £129,586,789 by 1764. Post-war expenses were expected to remain high because the Bute ministry decided in early 1763 to keep ten thousand British regular soldiers in the American colonies, which would cost about £225,000 per year, equal to £32 million today; the primary reason for retaining such a large force was that demobilizing the army would put 1,500 officers out of work, many of whom were well-connected in Parliament. This made it politically prudent to retain a large peacetime establishment, but Britons were averse to maintaining a standing army at home so it was necessary to garrison most of the troops elsewhere. Stationing 10,000 troops to separate American Indians and frontiersmen was one role; the outbreak of Pontiac's Rebellion in May 1763 reinforced the logic of this decision, as it was an American Indian uprising against the British expansion. The main reason to send 10,000 troops deep into the wilderness was to provide billets for the officers who were part of the British patronage system.
John Adams said, "Revenue is still demanded from America, appropriated to the maintenance of swarms of officers and pensioners in idleness and luxury." George Grenville became prime minister in April 1763 after the failure of the short-lived Bute Ministry, he had to find a way to pay for this large peacetime army. Raising taxes in Britain was out of the question, since there had been virulent protests in England against the Bute ministry's 1763 cider tax, with Bute being hanged in effigy; the Grenville ministry therefore decided that Parliament would raise this revenue by taxing the American colonists without their consent. This was something new. Politicians in London had always expected American colonists to contribute to the cost of their own defense. So long as a French threat existed, there was little trouble convincing colonial legislatures to provide assistance; such help was provided through the raising of colonial militias, which were funded by taxes raised by colonial legislatures. The legislatures were sometimes willing to help maintain regular British units defending the colonies.
So long as this sort of help was forthcoming, there was little reason for the British Parliament to impose its own taxes on the colonists. But after the peace of 1763, colonial militias were stood down. Militia of
A proclamation is an official declaration issued by a person of authority to make certain announcements known. Proclamations are used within the governing framework of some nations and are issued in the name of the head of state. In English law, a proclamation is a formal announcement, made under the great seal, of some matter which the King in Council or Queen in Council desires to make known to his or her subjects: e.g. the declaration of war, or state of emergency, the statement of neutrality, the summoning or dissolution of Parliament, or the bringing into operation of the provisions of some statute the enforcement of which the legislature has left to the discretion of the king or queen in the announcement. Proclamations are used for declaring bank holidays and the issuance of coinage. Royal proclamations of this character, made in furtherance of the executive power of the Crown, are binding on the subject, "where they do not either contradict the old laws or tend to establish new ones, but only confine the execution of such laws as are in being in such matter as the sovereign shall judge necessary".
Royal proclamations, although not made in pursuance of the executive powers of the Crown, either call upon the subject to fulfil some duty which they are by law bound to perform, or to abstain from any acts or conduct prohibited by law, are lawful and right, disobedience to them is an aggravation of the offence (see charge of Chief Justice Cockburn to the grand jury in R. v. Eyre and Case of Proclamations 1610, 12 Co. Rep. 74. The Crown has from time to time legislated by proclamation, but this enactment was repealed by an act of 1547. The Crown has power to legislate by proclamation for a newly conquered country. In the British colonies, ordinances are brought into force by proclamation. In many British protectorates the high commissioner or administrator was empowered to legislate by proclamation. In the old system of real property law in England, levied with "proclamations", i.e. with successive public announcements of the transaction in open court, barred the rights of strangers, as well as parties, in case they had not made claim to the property conveyed within five years thereafter.
These proclamations were made sixteen times, four times in the term in which the fine was levied, four times in each of the three succeeding terms. Afterwards the number of proclamations was reduced to one in each of the four terms; the proclamations were endorsed on the back of the record. The system was abolished by the Fines and Recoveries Act 1833. On certain rare occasions, the heralds of the College of Arms and the Lyon Court still publicly read out certain proclamations such as the proclamation regarding the dissolution of parliament or proclamations regarding the monarch's coronation, where they are read at the steps of the Royal Exchange in London and at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh. Proclamation of accession of Elizabeth II Proclamation Day Proclamation For the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue Proclamation of the Irish Republic Ukase Edict Decree Presidential proclamation Letters patent Proclamation of Indonesian Independence Introduction, Proclamations of Accession of English and British Sovereigns, Heraldica, 2007
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America. After 1765, growing philosophical and political differences strained the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies. Patriot protests against taxation without representation followed the Stamp Act and escalated into boycotts, which culminated in 1773 with the Sons of Liberty destroying a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor. Britain responded by closing Boston Harbor and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts colonists responded with the Suffolk Resolves, they established a shadow government which wrested control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that seized power. British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in Concord led to open combat on April 19, 1775.
Militia forces besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776, Congress appointed George Washington to command the Continental Army. Concurrently, the Americans failed decisively in an attempt to invade Quebec and raise insurrection against the British. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4. Sir William Howe launched a British counter-offensive, capturing New York City and leaving American morale at a low ebb. However, victories at Trenton and Princeton restored American confidence. In 1777, the British launched an invasion from Quebec under John Burgoyne, intending to isolate the New England Colonies. Instead of assisting this effort, Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, Burgoyne was decisively defeated at Saratoga in October 1777. Burgoyne's defeat had drastic consequences. France formally allied with the Americans and entered the war in 1778, Spain joined the war the following year as an ally of France but not as an ally of the United States.
In 1780, the Kingdom of Mysore attacked the British in India, tensions between Great Britain and the Netherlands erupted into open war. In North America, the British mounted a "Southern strategy" led by Charles Cornwallis which hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, but too few came forward. Cornwallis Cowpens, he retreated to Yorktown, intending an evacuation, but a decisive French naval victory deprived him of an escape. A Franco-American army led by the Comte de Rochambeau and Washington besieged Cornwallis' army and, with no sign of relief, he surrendered in October 1781. Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tories in Parliament, the surrender gave them the upper hand. In early 1782, Parliament voted to end all offensive operations in America, but the war continued overseas. Britain scored a major victory over the French navy. On September 3, 1783, the belligerent parties signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States and formally end the war.
French involvement had proven decisive. Spain failed in its primary aim of recovering Gibraltar; the Dutch were compelled to cede territory to Great Britain. In India, the war against Mysore and its allies concluded in 1784 without any territorial changes. Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765 to pay for British military troops stationed in the American colonies after the French and Indian War. Parliament had passed legislation to regulate trade, but the Stamp Act introduced a new principle of a direct internal tax. Americans began to question the extent of the British Parliament's power in America, the colonial legislatures argued that they had exclusive right to impose taxes within their jurisdictions. Colonists condemned the tax because their rights as Englishmen protected them from being taxed by a Parliament in which they had no elected representatives. Parliament argued that the colonies were "represented virtually", an idea, criticized throughout the Empire. Parliament did repeal the act in 1766, but it affirmed its right to pass laws that were binding on the colonies.
From 1767, Parliament began passing legislation to raise revenue for the salaries of civil officials, ensuring their loyalty while inadvertently increasing resentment among the colonists, opposition soon became widespread. Enforcing the acts proved difficult; the seizure of the sloop Liberty in 1768 on suspicions of smuggling triggered a riot. In response, British troops occupied Boston, Parliament threatened to extradite colonists to face trial in England. Tensions rose after the murder of Christopher Seider by a customs official in 1770 and escalated into outrage after British troops fired on civilians in the Boston Massacre. In 1772, colonists in Rhode Island burned a customs schooner. Parliament repealed all taxes except the one on tea, passing the Tea Act in 1773, attempting to force colonists to buy East India Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to Parliamentary supremacy; the landing of the tea was resisted in all colonies, but the governor of Massachusetts permitted British tea ships to remain in Boston Harbor, so the Sons of Liberty destroyed the tea chests in what became known as the "Boston Tea Party".
Parliament passed punitive legislation. It closed Boston Harbor until the tea was paid for and revoked the Massachusetts Charter, taking upon themselves the right to directly appoint the Massachusetts Governor's Council. Additionally, t
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London; this lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801. Following the Treaty of Union in 1706, Acts of Union ratifying the Treaty were passed in both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, which created a new Kingdom of Great Britain; the Acts dissolved both parliaments, replacing them with a new parliament, referred to as the'Parliament of Great Britain', based in the home of the former English parliament. All of the traditions and standing orders of the English parliament were retained, as were the incumbent officers, members representing England comprised the overwhelming majority of the new body.
It was not considered necessary to hold a new general election. While Scots law and Scottish legislation remained separate, new legislation was thereafter to be enacted by the new parliament. After the Hanoverian King George I ascended the British throne in 1714 through the Act of Settlement of 1701, real power continued to shift away from the monarchy. George was a German ruler, spoke poor English, remained interested in governing his dominions in continental Europe rather than in Britain, he thus entrusted power to a group of his ministers, the foremost of whom was Sir Robert Walpole, by the end of his reign in 1727 the position of the ministers — who had to rely on Parliament for support — was cemented. George I's successor, his son George II, continued to follow through with his father's domestic policies and made little effort to re-establish monarchical control over the government, now in firm control by Parliament. By the end of the 18th century the monarch still had considerable influence over Parliament, dominated by the English aristocracy, by means of patronage, but had ceased to exert direct power: for instance, the last occasion on which the Royal Assent was withheld was in 1708 by Queen Anne.
At general elections the vote was restricted to freeholders and landowners, in constituencies that had changed little since the Middle Ages, so that in many "rotten" and "pocket" boroughs seats could be bought, while major cities remained unrepresented, except by the Knights of the Shire representing whole counties. Reformers and Radicals sought parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the British government became repressive against dissent and progress towards reform was stalled. George II's successor, George III, sought to restore royal supremacy and absolute monarchy, but by the end of his reign the position of the king's ministers — who discovered that they needed the support of Parliament to enact any major changes — had become central to the role of British governance, would remain so after. During the first half of George III's reign, the monarch still had considerable influence over Parliament, which itself was dominated by the patronage and influence of the English nobility.
Most candidates for the House of Commons were identified as Whigs or Tories, but once elected they formed shifting coalitions of interests rather than dividing along clear party lines. At general elections the vote was restricted in most places to property owners, in constituencies which were out of date and did not reflect the growing importance of manufacturing towns or shifts of population, so that in the rotten and pocket boroughs seats in parliament could be bought from the rich landowners who controlled them, while major cities remained unrepresented. Reformers like William Beckford and Radicals beginning with John Wilkes called for reform of the system. In 1780, a draft programme of reform was drawn up by Charles James Fox and Thomas Brand Hollis and put forward by a sub-committee of the electors of Westminster; this included calls for the six points adopted by the Chartists. The American Revolutionary War ended in the defeat of a foreign policy seeking to forcibly restore the thirteen American colonies to British rule which King George III had fervently advocated, in March 1782 the king was forced to appoint an administration led by his opponents which sought to curb royal patronage.
In November 1783 he took the opportunity to use his influence in the House of Lords to defeat a bill to reform the British East India Company, dismissed the government of the day, appointed William Pitt the Younger to form a new government. Pitt had called for Parliament to begin to reform itself, but he did not press for long for reforms the king did not like. Proposals Pitt made in April 1785 to redistribute seats from the "rotten boroughs" to London and the counties were defeated in the House of Commons by 248 votes to 174. In the wake of the French Revolution of 1789, Radical organisations such as the London Corresponding Society sprang up to press for parliamentary reform, but as the French Revolutionary Wars developed the government took extensive repressive measures against feared domestic unrest aping the democratic and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution and progress toward reform was stalled for decades. In 1801, the Parliament of the United Kingdom was created when the Kingdom of Great Britain was merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800.
List of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain List of Parliaments of Great Britain First Parliament of Great Br
Committees of correspondence
The committees of correspondence were shadow governments organized by the Patriot leaders of the Thirteen Colonies on the eve of the American Revolution. They shared their plans; the Maryland Committee of Correspondence was instrumental in setting up the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia. These served an important role in the Revolution, by disseminating the colonial interpretation of British actions between the colonies and to foreign governments; the committees of correspondence rallied opposition on common causes and established plans for collective action, so the group of committees was the beginning of what became a formal political union among the colonies. A total of about 7,000 to 8,000 Patriots served on these committees at the colonial and local levels, comprising most of the leadership in their communities—the Loyalists were excluded; the committees became the leaders of the American resistance to British actions, determined the war effort at the state and local level.
When Congress decided to boycott British products, the colonial and local committees took charge, examining merchant records and publishing the names of merchants who attempted to defy the boycott by importing British goods. The committees promoted patriotism and home manufacturing, advising Americans to avoid luxuries, lead a more simple life; the committees extended their power over many aspects of American public life. They set up espionage networks to identify disloyal elements, displaced the royal officials, helped topple the entire Imperial system in each colony. In late 1774 and early 1775, they supervised the elections of provincial conventions, which took over the actual operation of colonial government; the function of the committees in each colony was to inform the voters of the common threat faced by all the colonies, to disseminate information from the main cities to the rural hinterlands where most of the colonists lived. As news was spread in hand-written letters or printed pamphlets to be carried by couriers on horseback or aboard ships, the committees were responsible for ensuring that this news reflected the views of their parent governmental body on a particular issue and was dispatched to the proper groups.
Many correspondents were members of the colonial legislative assemblies, were active in the secret Sons of Liberty or the Stamp Act Congress of the 1760s. The earliest committees of correspondence were formed temporarily to address a particular problem. Once a resolution was achieved, they were disbanded; the first formal committee was established in Boston in 1764 to rally opposition to the Currency Act and unpopular reforms imposed on the customs service. During the Stamp Act Crisis the following year, New York formed a committee to urge common resistance among its neighbors to the new taxes; the Province of Massachusetts Bay correspondents responded by urging other colonies to send delegates to the Stamp Act Congress that fall. The resulting committees disbanded after the crisis was over. Boston, whose radical leaders thought it was under hostile threats by the royal government, set up the first long-standing committee with the approval of a town meeting in late 1772. By spring 1773, Patriots decided to follow the Massachusetts system and began to set up their own committees in each colony.
Virginia appointed an eleven-member committee in March followed by Rhode Island, New Hampshire, South Carolina. By February 1774, eleven colonies had set up their own committees. In Massachusetts, in November 1772, Samuel Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren formed a committee in response to the Gaspée Affair and in relation to the recent British decision to have the salaries of the royal governor and judges be paid by the Crown rather than the colonial assembly, which removed the colony of its means of holding public officials accountable to their constituents. In the following months, more than one hundred other committees were formed in the towns and villages of Massachusetts; the Massachusetts committee had its headquarters in Boston and under the leadership of Adams became a model for other Patriot groups. The meeting when establishing the committee gave it the task of stating "the rights of the colonists, of this province in particular, as men, as Christians, as subjects. In March 1773, Dabney Carr proposed the formation of a permanent Committee of Correspondence before the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Virginia's own committee was formed on March 12, 1773. Its members were Peyton Randolph, Robert Carter Nicholas, Richard Bland, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, Patrick Henry, Dudley Digges, Dabney Carr, Archibald Cary, Thomas Jefferson. Among the last to form a committee of correspondence, Pennsylvania did so at a meeting in Philadelphia on May 20, 1774. In a compromise between the more radical and more conservative factions of political activists the committee was formed by combining the lists each proposed; that committee of 19 diversified and grew to 43 to 66 and to two different groups of 100 between May 1774 and its dissolution in September 1776. One hundred sixty men participated in one or more of the committees, but only four were elected to all of them: Thomas Barclay, John Cox, Jr. John Dickinson, Joseph Reed. According to Hancock, a committee of correspondence was established by Thomas McKean after ten years of agitation centered in New