A couple of months had gone by since the British had passed The Intolerable Acts, and the colonists had not been idle. The Acts, among other things, closed the port of Boston until the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party had been paid for, took away the ability of the Massachusetts government to make political appointments, and gave British soldiers the rights of public housing. These measures incensed the colonists, particularly those already pushing for a break from the British.
So what to do? A meeting was needed to discuss a united reaction. But, unlike today, where a meeting would simply be scheduled and notifications emailed to those invited, all correspondence had to be written by hand, then edited, then approved, then sent in the mail…which went by horse or ship. Since responses were often weeks in coming, it’s no surprise that something like the First Continental Congress took a few months to organize.
But it got done, thanks in great part to the Committees of Correspondence. These were organized groups of people in each colony that coordinated all political messages and communication between the other colonies…a Revolutionary-era email group that kept all the talking points straight. Their good work insured that, on September 5, 1774, a total of 55 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies (the Province of Georgia sent none) gathered in Philadelphia, just as planned.
And for the next 50 days, they would discuss, debate, and argue the British actions and how they, as British Colonies, should respond.
Recommended Reading: American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic