The earliest organized opposition to British colonial policies began in the mid-1760s with the formation of the Sons of Liberty. This occurred in response to the passage of the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act. This somewhat informal organization began in Boston but quickly established chapters in New York and throughout the New England colonies. They organized boycotts, protests, and even destructive and violent acts, such as the Boston Tea Party, in protest of the new British taxes. Notable organizers and members of the Sons of Liberty included Dr. Joseph Warren, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Hercules Mulligan, Benedict Arnold, and Samuel Adams.
Working in conjunction with the Sons of Liberty was the more formally organized committees of safety and committees of correspondence. As colonial rule became less favorable and more burdensome, many communities began electing their own executive councils. These became the committees of safety. To coordinate between the various colonies and their communities, committees of correspondence were also elected.
At first, these committees operated informally and rather independently. The first such committee was founded in Boston in 1764 to organize protests against the Currency Act. However, this and other early committees were temporary organizations that were disbanded after the issue at hand was settled.
The first permanent committee of correspondence was established in Boston by Samuel Adams and a number of other prominent New Englanders in 1772. Beginning in 1774, these committees officially derived their authority from the Continental Congress and carried out local laws and matters of justice in the absence of British rule. They also helped coordinate, organize, and carry out protests against the new odious British policies. Once the American Revolution began, these committees became fully operational, if temporary, governing bodies.