Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In its work, the First Continental Congress had two major tasks before it. First, it had to develop a theoretical formulation of American rights, then it had to carve out a means of defending those rights. One would have thought that given the controversy surrounding the attempts of the British Parliament to extend control over the colonies during the past decades, that an ideology of American Independence would be immediately forth-coming, but delegates struggled to express just where the foundation of American rights lay. ‘Was it Nature,’ suggested Richard Henry Lee, ‘or the British Constitution or the colonial charters, or the general practice after 150 years of self-rule.’ A sub-committee was set to work to frame a statement of American rights and on October 14th, Congress adopted a Declaration of Rights which incorporated Lee’s tripartite source of colonial rights. Americans accepted royal supremacy, but rejected emphatically the right of Parliament to govern in the colonies.