Massachusetts Provincial Congress


Massachusetts Provincial Congress

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress (1774–1776) was a provisional government created in the Province of Massachusetts Bay early in the American Revolution.

On May 20, 1774, the Parliament of Great Britain passed the Massachusetts Government Act in an attempt to better assert its authority in the often troublesome colony. In addition to annulling the provincial charter of Massachusetts, the act prescribed that effective August 1, the members of the Massachusetts Governor's Council would no longer be elected by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and would instead be appointed by the King and hold office at his pleasure.

In October 1774, Governor Thomas Gage canceled the scheduled meeting of the Massachusetts General Court because of political turmoil following the Government Act. The members of the House met anyway, adjourning to Concord and organizing themselves as a Provincial Congress on October 7, 1774. With John Hancock as its president, this extralegal body became the de facto government of Massachusetts outside of Boston. It assumed all powers to rule the province, collect taxes, buy supplies, and raise a militia. Hancock sent Paul Revere to the First Continental Congress with the news that Massachusetts had established the first autonomous government of the Thirteen Colonies (The North Carolina Provincial Congress met earlier than the Massachusetts Congress, although it could be argued that North Carolina's body did not establish an actual government until 1775).

The congress had to frequently move from town to town to avoid capture. It was superseded by the independent Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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