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the measures themselves, and saw the against the policy or the right of sepimpossibility that we should ever again aration from Britain, nor had supposed be united with Great Britain, yet they it possible we should ever renew our were against adopting them at this connection; that they had only optime:
posed its being now declared : That the conduct we had formerly That the question was not whether, observed was wise and proper now, of by a declaration of independence, we deferring to take any capital step till should make ourselves what we are the voice of the people drove us into it: not; but whether we should declare a
That they were our power, and fact which already exists : without them our declarations could That as to the people or Parliament not be carried into effect :
of England, we had always been independent of them, their restraints on our trade deriving efficacy from our acquiescence only, and not from any rights they possessed of imposing them; and that so far our connection had been federal only, and was now dissolved by the commencement of hostilities :
That as to the king, we had been bound to him by allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his consent to the late act of Parliament, by which he declares us out of his protection, and by his levying war on us— a fact which had long ago proved us out of his protection, it being a certain position in law, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceas.' ing when the other is withdrawn :
That James II. never declared the people of England out of his protection; yet his actions proved it, and the Parliament declared it :
No delegates, then, can be denied, or ever want, a power of declaring an
existent truth. That the people of the middle col- That the delegates from the Delaonies (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsyl- ware Counties having declared their vania, the Jerseys, and New York) constituents ready to join, there are were not yet ripe for bidding adieu to only two colonies, Pennsylvania and British connection, but that they were Maryland, whose delegates are absofast ripening, and, in a short time, lutely tied up; and that these had, by would join in the voice of America. their instructions, only reserved a right
of confirming or rejecting the measure:
That the instructions from Pennsylvania might be accounted for from the time in which they were drawn, near a twelvemonth ago, since which the face of affairs has totally changed:
That within that time it had become apparent that Britain was determined to accept nothing less than a carte blanche, and that the king's answer to the lord mayor, aldermen, and common council of London, which had come to hand four days ago, must have satisfied every one of this point:
That the people wait for us to lead the way; that they are in favor of the measure, though the instructions given by some of their representatives are not:
That the voice of the representatives is not always consonant with the voice of the people, and that this is remarkably the case in these middle
colonies. That the resolution entered by this
That the effect of the resolution of house on the 15th of May, for sup- the 15th of May had proved this; pressing the exercise of all powers de- which, raising the murmurs of some rived from the crown, had shown, by in the colonies of Pennsylvania and the ferment into which it had thrown Maryland, called forth the opposing these middle colonies, that they had not voice of the freer part of the people, yet accommodated their minds to a and proved them to be the majority separation from the mother country : even in these colonies :
That some of them had expressly That the backwardness of these forbidden their delegates to consent to two colonies might be ascribed, partly such a declaration, and others had to the influence of proprietary power given no instructions, and consequer t- and connections, and partly to their ly no powers to give such consent: having not yet been attacked by the
That these causes were not likely to be soon removed, as there seemed no probability that the enemy would make either of these the seat of this
summer's war: That if the delegates of any par- That it would be rain to wait ei
ticular colony had no power to declare ther weeks or months for perfect unasuch colony independent, certain they nimity, since it was impossible that all were, the others could not declare it men should ever become of one senti. for them; the colonies being as yet ment on any question: perfectly independent of each other : That the conduct of some colonies,
from the beginning of this contest, had given reason to suspect it was their settled policy to keep in the rear of the confederacy, that their particular prospect might be better, even in the worst event:
That, therefore, it was necessary for those colonies who had thrown themselves forward, and hazarded all from the beginning, to come forward now also, and put all again to their
own hazard : That if such a declaration should That the history of the Dutch Revnow be agreed to, these delegates must olution, of whom only three states conretire, and possibly their colonies federated at first, proved that a secesmight secede from the Union:
sion of some colonies would not be so
dangerous as some apprehended : That it was prudent to fix among That it would be idle to lose time ourselves the terms on which we would
in settling the terms of alliance, till we form alliance, before we declared we had first determined we would enter would form one at all events.
into alliance. In the course of this debate it appeared, says Jefferson, " that the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the parent stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state; ” and it was therefore deemed prudent to postpone the final decision to the 1st of July. In the mean time, however, a committee was appointed to draft a declaration to the effect that the 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." The committee consisted of Jefferson, J. Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and R. R. Livingston. Next day, the 11th of June, a resolution was adopted to appoint a committee to prepare and digest a form of confederation to be entered into between the colonies, and another committee to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers.
On the 25th of June, a declaration of the deputies of Pennsylvania, in their provincial conference assembled, expressing their willingness to concur in a vote declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, was laid before Congress. On the 28th of June, the committee appointed to draft a declaration of independence brought it in, and it was ordered to lie on the table. On Monday the 1st of July, a resolution of the convention of Maryland, passed on the 28th of June, authorizing the deputies of that colony to concur in declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, was laid before Congress and read. On the same day the house " resolved itself into a committee of the whole and resumed the consideration of the original motion made by the delegates of Vir. ginia, which, being again debated through the day, was carried in the affirmative by the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it. Delaware had but two members present, and they were divided. The delegates from New York declared they were for it themselves, and were assured their constituents were for it; but that their instructions having been drawn near a twelvemonth before, when reconciliation was still the general object, they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede that object. They, therefore, thought themselves not justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from the question; which was given them. The committee rose and reported their resolution to the house. Mr. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, then requested the determination might be put off to the next day, as he believed his colleagues, though they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in it for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question, whether the house would agree to the resolution of the committee, was accordingly postponed to the next day, when it was again moved, and South Carolina concurred in voting for it.
In the mean time, a third member had come post from the Delaware Counties, and turned the vote of that colony in favor of the resolution. Members of a different sentiment attended that morning from Pennsyl.
vania also : her vote was changed, so that the whole twelve colonies, who were authorized to vote at all, gave their voices for it; and within a few days (July 9) the convention of New York approved of it, and thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of her delegates from the vote.
“ Congress proceeded, the same day, to consider the Declaration of Independence, which had been reported, and laid on the table the Friday preceding, and on Monday r. ferred to a committee of the whole. The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with still haunted the minds of many. For this reason passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our Northren brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others. The debates, having taken up the greater part of the 2d, 3d, and 4th days of July, were, on the evening of the last, closed; the Declaration was reported by the committee, agreed to by the house, and signed by every member present, except Mr. Dickinson.” (Writings of Jefferson, i. p. 14.) It was thereupon resolved "that copies of this Declaration be sent to the several assembles, conventions, and committees or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the Continental troops, that it may be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army."
If we examine the matter of this venerable constitutional document, we discover in it no pretensions to originality or novelty. The doctrine of the natural equality of men; the inalienability of certain human rights; the obligation of governments to secure them; the necessity of the consent of the governed to the validity of gov- . ernments; and the right of the people to alter or abolish governments which become destructive of their proper ends, are all derived from Locke's treatise on government. The proposition that the king had " abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection