British actions had destroyed the legitimacy of the imperial government in the eyes of many colonists. Opposition to the Intolerable Acts now spread to small towns and rural areas that had not participated actively in previous resistance. In September 1774, in the town of Worcester, Massachusetts, 4,600 militiamen from thirty-seven towns (half the adult male population of the entire county) lined both sides of Main Street as the British-appointed officials walked the gauntlet between them. In the same month, a convention of delegates from Massachusetts towns approved a series of resolutions (called the Suffolk Resolves for the county in which Boston is located) that urged Americans to refuse obedience to the new laws, withhold taxes, and prepare for war.

To coordinate resistance to the Intolerable Acts, a Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia that month, bringing together the most prominent political leaders of twelve mainland colonies (Georgia did not take part). From Massachusetts came the “brace of Adamses”—John and his more radical cousin Samuel. Virginia’s seven delegates included George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and the renowned orator Patrick Henry. Henry’s power as a speaker came from a unique style that combined moral appeals with blunt directness. His manner, one contemporary observed, “was vehement, without transporting him beyond the power of self-command

His lightning consisted in quick successive flashes.” “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders,” Henry declared, “are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.” In March 1775, Henry concluded a speech urging a Virginia convention to begin military preparations with a legendary credo: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!