Friday, July 1, 2011

July 2: Resolved, These Colonies Are & of Right Ought to Be

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress approved two resolutions on independence:

Resolved, 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 connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Resolved, That this Congress will, to morrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole, to take into their further consideration the declaration on independence.

The delegates from New York supported independence and they heard from home that their constituents supported it. Thomas Jefferson noted, however, that the New York delegates were still bound by instructions from the New York Convention dated about a year before, "when reconciliation was still the general object, they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede that object."

In his account of the July 1 proceedings, Jefferson wrote, "They therefore thought themselves not justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from the question, which was given them."

On July 2, the New York delegates wrote to the New York Convention to ask "whether we are to consider our Colony bound by the Vote of the Majority in Favour of Indepency and vote at large on such Questions as may arise in Consequence thereof or only concur in such Measures as may be absolutely necessary for the Common safety and defence of America exclusive of the Idea of Indepency. We fear it will be difficult to draw the Line...."

Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Vol. 5: June 5-October 8, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), 507; Paul Herbert Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Vol. 4: May 16-August 14, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1979), 359, 372.
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