Continental and Confederation Congresses: A Selected Bibliography

Before the Federal Congress convened in the spring of 1789, the Continental and Confederation Congresses served as the country’s national government. The materials listed below will aid researchers and students in gaining an understanding of the institutional developments and personalities of the pre-federal Congresses.

Published Primary Sources

Burnett, Edmund Cody, ed. Letters of Members of the Continental Congress. 8 vols. Washington, DC: The Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1921–36.

Ford, Worthington C., Gaillard Hunt, John C. Fitzpatrick, and Roscoe R. Hill, eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 34 vols. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1904–37.

Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 25 vols. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1976–2000.

Secondary Sources

Burnett, Edmund Cody. The Continental Congress. New York: W.W. Norton, 1941.

Collins, Varnum Lansing. The Continental Congress at Princeton. Princeton: The University Library, 1908.

Davis, Derek H. Religion and the Continental Congress, 1774–1789: Contributions to Original Intent. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Fortenbaugh, Robert. The Nine Capitals of the United States. York, PA: Maple Press, Co., 1948.

Marston, Jerrilyn Greene. King and Congress: The Transfer of Political Legitimacy, 1774–1776. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the Continental Congresses. 2 vols. Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2015.

Henderson, H. James. Party Politics in the Continental Congress. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. 

Horgan, Lucille E. Forged in War: The Continental Congress and the Origin of Military Supply and Acquisition Policy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Irvin, Benjamin H. Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Jensen, Merrill. The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution, 1774–1781. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1940. 

Jillson, Calvin C., and Rick K. Wilson. Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination, and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774–1789. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. 

Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

McCormick, Richard P., “Ambiguous Authority: The Ordinances of the Confederation Congress, 1781– 1789,” The American Journal of Legal History 41, no. 4 (October 1997), 411–439.

Middlekauff, Robert C. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789, rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Montross, Lynn. The Reluctant Rebels: The Story of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. New York: Harper & Row, 1950.

Onuf, Peter S. Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Rakove, Jack N. The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress. New York: Random House, 1979.

___. “From the Old Congress to the New.” In The American Congress: The Building of Democracy, edited by Julian Zelizer, 6–25. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Sanders, Jennings B. The Presidency of the Continental Congress 1774–89: A Study in American Institutional History. Decatur, GA: Dennis Lindsey Printing Co., 1930.

_____. Evolution of Executive Departments of the Continental Congress 1774–89. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1935.

Van Cleve, George William. We Have Not a Government: The Articles of Confederation and the Road to the Constitution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Biographies about Continental Congress Delegates can be found via the History, Art & Archives website.