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The Association

In October 1774, the First Continental Congress responded to the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act by creating the ultimate form of non-importation agreement. The Association, sometimes called the Continental Association, was an attempt to force repeal of the objectionable legislation by creating and enforcing a total boycott against trade with Britain, Ireland and the British West Indies. A complete ban on the importation of British tea was imposed immediately and other goods were boycotted beginning December 1. If Parliament did not respond by September of the following year, then the American colonies would enter stage two, the non-exportation phase of their plan. Further, the colonists would be urged to not consume British products already in America. This program of concerted economic pressure — non-importation, non-exportation and non-consumption — was to continue until the offending laws were repealed. Compliance with these aims was enforced by local committees, which were encouraged to conduct inspections of businesses and to use public opinion to force changes in the violators' behavior. The names of uncooperative merchants were published and the offenders were often ostracized and humiliated. On some occasions they became the objects of violent intimidation. The Association was generally successful during its short life. Enforcement committees were formed in all but one of the colonies and trade with Britain plummeted. A sharp response came from Parliament in the spring of 1775 in the New England Restraining Act. The outbreak of fighting between American colonists and occupation soldiers in April 1775 effectively ended efforts to change British policies.