Most members of the First Continental Congress hoped a commercial boycott would persuade the British government to grant their demands and the colonies would remain part of the British Empire, but this was not to be. Instead, they were quickly thrust into what would become the Revolutionary War. The King of England declared Massachusetts in a state of rebellion due to their boycott of the Intolerable Acts, and trade was severely restricted throughout New England. Acts of protest, picketing, and even the burning of several British ships took place in the colonies. On April 19, 1775, British troops advanced at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts and fired at colonists what became known as “the shot heard around the world.” Word quickly spread, marking the unofficial beginning of the Revolutionary War.
When the Second Continental Congress met in 1775 at the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall , they declared war and formed a Continental Army with George Washington as commander. They met here from May 10, 1775, to March 1, 1781, and this is where the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were adopted. During the war, this Congress essentially acted as the government of the country-to-be, making all the leadership decisions for the now-united colonies.
In March of 1776, the British began a blockade of the Delaware Bay and were moving south through New Jersey. By December, half of Philadelphia’s  population had fled and the Continental Congress went to Baltimore for fear the city was about to be invaded. American troops pushed back the British at the Battles of Princeton and Trenton and most refugees and Congress returned to the city. By late spring of 1776, the Americans forced the British to evacuate Boston, and by July all of the British Royal officials had fled and the patriots were ready to declare victory—but the British weren’t ready to give up.