The Continental Association was created by the Continental Congress in 1774 in response to the Coercive Acts, or ‘Intolerable Acts’, which had been passed by the British Parliament to restore order in Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party.
One of the first acts of the First Continental Congress was to create the Continental Association of 1774, more commonly known as “The Association”. The Continental Congress created the Articles of Association that were adopted on October 20, 1774. The Continental Association (also known as Articles of Association or simply the Association), was an agreement made by the American colonies to impose economic sanctions against Great Britain. The boycott against importing British goods to the colonies was to be enforced by community groups and small committees. The ban on British goods became operative on December 1 1774.
The Continental Congress hoped that by creating the Continental Association and imposing trade and economic sanctions, that Great Britain would be pressured to resolve the grievances of the colonies and repeal the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts. The Continental Association aimed to change British policies towards the colonies without severing allegiance to the king and the mother country. The Association was fairly successful while it lasted. Trade with England fell sharply, and the British responded with the New England Restraining Act of 1775. British merchants opened new export markets, and the British government resolved to crush the sedition encouraged by colonial traitors and rebels.
The constant stream of new laws and taxes demanded by the British parliament was like a slow burning fuse to a keg of dynamite that would explode into the American Revolutionary War. The Continental Association based on the boycott of British imports to the American colonies were the main weapon employed by the colonists in their unsuccessful attempt to win their demands from the British by peaceful means.
The summary of the Articles of Association issued by the Continental Congress is as follows:
- The Continental Association begins with a loyal address to the king (George III)
- The Association then details a list of complaints (grievances)
- Specific details of the actions that the Association intended to take
- The Association planned to discontinue imports
- The Association planned to discontinue exports
- The Association planned to discontinue slave trade
- The Association also planned to develop agriculture and industry in the American colonies to lessen dependence on imported goods
- The Continental Association gave the Committees of Correspondence the power to enforce the measures detailed in the Articles of Association and to publish information to the colonists on a weekly basis