Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
By 1772, colonists in North America were becoming more aware of the actions they had to take to be prepared for any upcoming threats from the British and to be able to communicate effectively between the colonies. Due to unpopular actions taken by British Parliament, Committees of Correspondence were formed by leaders of the Patriots. It became even more apparent in September of 1774 just how important organized communication was. This is when the Powder Alarm set an unexpected rehearsal for the upcoming Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775.
The forming of Committees of Correspondence in 1772 made it possible for the colonies to communicate on a more formal basis. Communities became more aware of incidents happening outside their general area and therefore more effective actions could be coordinated in a timely manner. By sharing plans, rallying opposition on common causes, coordinating needs or demands between the colonies, and establishing a collective action, responses to Britain were more consistent and carried more credibility. It showed that the colonies were standing together as one force.
The committees began as a shadow government and by 1773 had displaced the legislature of the colonies and the officials of the British royals. Each colony had their own Committee of Correspondence and one of their most important purposes was to keep all voters informed of common threats to all colonies. They also made sure that all information reached all colonists, whether in the cities or rural outskirts.
The committees promoted patriotism and a more simple way of life by boycotting British imports and supporting home manufactured goods. The American way of life was becoming independent of the British government.
Originally, the committees were brought together to resolve a particular issue then disbanded when that issue was resolved. It was the Patriot leaders in Boston who set up the first committee that was not temporary or focused on just one issue. Due to the increase of hostile threats from the British government, they began to set up committees in each colony.
The Committees of Correspondence were very instrumental in bringing together all the colonists with one common goal for the new homeland. Although the leaders who created and served on the committees were seen as radicals, they enabled the colonists to become more aware of threats and to organize defenses in a much quicker manner.
One of the first incidents that proved the Committees of Correspondence were of great benefit to the colonies was the Powder Alarm of 1774.