Ashley has taught history, literature, and political science and has a Master's Degree in Education
Origins and Purpose
After the French and Indian War came to an end, the colonists expected some changes in their relationship with the British, especially since they'd supported them in battling the French and the Native Americans. However, the colonists were disappointed when the British were less than respectful towards them and began to see British acts and taxes as tyrannical and unfair. These included the Sugar Act and the Currency Act, which were meant to offset the cost of the war at the expense of the colonists. In response, Samuel Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, created the first Committee of Correspondence in Boston in 1764.
Samuel Adams felt that the Currency Act in particular, which the British used to regulate colonial currency, was unacceptable. In establishing the Boston Committee of Correspondence, his immediate goal was to generate popular support for colonial resistance and weaken the authority of the British at the town level. The establishment of Adams' committee led to the organization of a large network of other committees, not only in towns in Massachusetts, but throughout the original 13 colonies. As more acts were passed, such as the Stamp Act in March of 1765, committees were freely sharing information with one another, and a sense of solidarity began to emerge.
An error occurred trying to load this video.
Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.
You must cCreate an account to continue watching
Register to view this lesson
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.
Get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons.Try it now
Already registered? Log in here for accessBack
Activities and Organization
The Committees of Correspondence consisted of groups of colonists that were committed to informing people about the need to oppose and declare independence from Great Britain. They were established by colonial legislatures or underground groups of colonists, such as the Sons of Liberty. The Committees of Correspondence also served as emergency provisional governments prior to the start of the American Revolution. Some of the more powerful committees could be found in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Members attended town meetings and wrote letters to people in different colonies. In their correspondence, they alerted their fellow patriots to British abuses of power, including prohibitive currency and customs measures and shared calls to action, such as the Boston Tea Party. In response to a March 1773 suggestion from Virginia's House of Burgesses, nearly all colonial legislatures established committees for intercolonial correspondence. Additional committees formed at the county and town levels.
As a result of these correspondence activities, New York City held a Stamp Act Congress. Intercolonial communication also played a major role in the gathering of the First Continental Congress in 1774, where representatives from 12 of the 13 colonies decided to boycott, or stop buying, British goods.
The Committees of Correspondence used letters as a way to galvanize public support for the cause of colonial independence from England and object to punitive customs and currency acts. They represented one of the first organized acts the colonists took against the British. The Committees of Correspondence demonstrated how raising public awareness is a critical element in achieving change, as well as the impact of collective resistance. Intercolonial communication led to gatherings such as the Stamp Act Congress and First Continental Congress.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack
The Committees of Correspondence: Definition & Purpose
Related Study Materials
Explore our library of over 84,000 lessons
- College Courses
- High School Courses
- Other Courses
- Create a Goal
- Create custom courses
- Get your questions answered