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IV

INITIAL STEPS

T

\HE initial action in Congress regarding a

declaration of independence was taken, Friday,

June 7th. The following is the entry in the Journal ', in the handwriting of Charles Thomson, the Secretary :

Certain resolutions 2 being moved & seconded Resolved That the consideration of them be referred till to morrow morning & that the members be enjoined to attend punctually at 10 oclock in order to take the same into consideration.

These “ Certain resolutions” 3 were as follows:

[S] Resolved

the good people of [?] That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

They were offered by Richard Henry Lee* and seconded by John Adams.

IV

INITIAL STEPS

T

\HE initial action in Congress regarding a

declaration of independence was taken, Friday,

June 7th. The following is the entry in the Journal', in the handwriting of Charles Thomson, the Secretary :

Certain resolutions 2 being moved & seconded Resolved That the consideration of them be referred till to morrow morning & that the members be enjoined to attend punctually at 10 °clock in order to take the same into consideration.

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[S] Resolved

the good people of [?] That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

They were offered by Richard Henry Lee* and seconded by John Adams.

We find an interesting comment in Adams' Autobiography: “[J] It will naturally be inquired why these resolutions, and the names of the gentlemen who moved and seconded them, were not inserted on the Journals.

To this question, I can give no other answer than this. Mr. Hancock was President, Mr. Harrison, chairman of the committee of the whole house, Mr. Thomson, the secretary, was cousin to Mr. Dickinson, and Mr. R. H. Lee and Mr. John Adams were no favorites of either.”

The first resolution was offered — primarily, at least? - in direct conformity to the resolution of the Convention of Virginia of May 15th: “That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the United Colonies free and independent States”; and Jefferson is reported 8 as saying: “Richard H. Lee moved . . . [it] only because he was the oldest member of the Virginia delegation.”

On June 8th (Saturday), as shown by the Journal, The Congress took into consideration the resolutions moved yesterday, Resolved That they be referred to a committee of the whole Whereupon The Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to take into considerations the resolutions referred to them and after some time spent thereon the president resumed the chair and MHarrison reported that the Committee have taken into consideration 10 the matter to them referred but not having come to any resolution thereon desired leave to sit again on monday next.

at to oclock.

Resolved That this 11 Congress will on Monday next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole to take into their farther consideration the the resolutions referred to them.

E 16

Jefferson, in his notes 12, gives us the following account of the debate 13 in the committee of the whole on this day (and on Monday, the ioth):

It was argued by 14 Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, the two Rutleges 16, Dickinson 17 and others 18

That tho' they were friends to the measures themselves, and saw the impossibility that we should ever again be united with Gr-Britain, yet they were against adopting them at this 19 time:

That the conduct we had formerly observed was wise & proper now, of deferring to take any capital step till the voice of the people drove us into it:

That they were our power, & without them our declarations could not be carried into effect :

That the people of the middle colonies (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Dela 20 Delaware, Pennsylva, the Jersies & N. York) were not yet ripe for bidding adieu to British connection, but that they were fast ripening, & in a short time would join in the general voice of America:

That the resolution entered into by this house on the 15th of May for suppressing the exercise of all powers derived from the crown, had shown, by the ferment into which it had thrown these middle colonies, that they had not yet accommodated their minds to a separation from the mother country :

That some of them had expressly forbidden their delegates to consent to such a declaration, and others had given no instructions, & consequently no

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