The Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774 in Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia; delegates from 12 British colonies participated. They were elected by the people of the various colonies, the colonial legislature, or by the Committee of Correspondence of a colony. Loyalist sentiments outweighed Patriot views in Georgia, and that colony did not join the cause until the following year.
Peyton Randolph was elected as president of the Congress on the opening day, and he served through October 22 when ill health forced him to retire, and Henry Middleton was elected in his place for the balance of the session. Charles Thomson, leader of the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, was selected as the congressional secretary. The rules adopted by the delegates were designed to guard the equality of participants and to promote free-flowing debate.
As the deliberations progressed, it became clear that those in attendance were not of one mind concerning why they were there. Conservatives such as Joseph Galloway, John Dickinson, John Jay, and Edward Rutledge believed their task to be forging policies to pressure Parliament to rescind its unreasonable acts. Their ultimate goal was to develop a reasonable solution to the difficulties and bring about reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. Others such as Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, and John Adams believed their task to be developing a decisive statement of the rights and liberties of the Colonies. Their ultimate goal was to end what they felt to be the abuses of parliamentary authority and to retain their rights, which had been guaranteed under Colonial charters and the English constitution.
Roger Sherman denied the legislative authority of Parliament, and Patrick Henry believed that the Congress needed to develop a completely new system of government, independent from Great Britain, for the existing Colonial governments were already dissolved. In contrast to these ideas, Joseph Galloway put forward a "Plan of Union" which suggested that an American legislative body should be formed with some authority, whose consent would be required for imperial measures.