"The Greatest Men Upon This Continent"
On August 23, 1775, King George III proclaimed that "a general rebellion existed in the American colonies" and that "utmost endeavors" should be made to "suppress it and bring traitors to justice . "There was now a death penalty put on many colonists' heads. Suddenly the colonists, who often didn't seem to have much in common, found they were all being threatened. It made them band together as they had never done before. Patrick Henry exclaimed, "The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American." Sam Adams's Committees of Correspondence, made up of leaders from all of the colonies, became a congress in 1774: It was the First Continental Congress . It was followed by a Second Continental Congress in 1775 . Looking around him at the delegates gathered in Philadelphia, John Adams wrote, "There is in the Congress a collection of the greatest men upon this continent ."
From Massachusetts came Sam Adams and his cousin John , who, some said, had more learning than anyone in the colonies. John was married to an extraordinary woman named Abigail Adams, who wrote him many letters. She said in one of them, "In the new code of laws which ... it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the Ladies... Do not put unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could."