The committee for drawing the Declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and, being approved by them, I reported it to the House on Friday, June 28th.
Continuing Declaration Of Independence (USA) Signed,
with a selection from Memoirs by Thomas Jefferson published in 1830. This selection is presented in 2.5 installments, each one 5 minutes long. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Declaration Of Independence (USA) Signed.
That James the 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 existing truth:
That the delegates from the Delaware counties having declared their constituents ready to join, there are only two colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland, whose delegates are absolutely tied up, and that these had, by their instructions, only reserved a right of confirming or rejecting the measure:
That the instructions from Pennsylvania might be accounted for from the times 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 everyone 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 effect of the resolution of May 15th has proved this, which, raising the murmurs of some in the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, called forth the opposing voice of the freer part of the people, and proved them to be the majority even in these colonies:
That the backwardness of these two colonies might be ascribed, partly to the influence of proprietary power and connections, and partly to their having not yet been attacked by the enemy:
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 it would be vain to wait either weeks or months for perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that all men should ever become of one sentiment on any question:
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 the history of the Dutch Revolution, of whom three states only confederated at first, proved that a secession of some colonies would not be so dangerous as some apprehended:
That a declaration of independence alone could render it consistent with European delicacy, for European powers to treat with us, or even to receive an ambassador from us:
That till this they would not receive our vessels into their ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of our courts of admirality to be legitimate in cases of capture of British vessels:
That though France and Spain may be jealous of our rising power, they must think it will be much more formidable with the addition of Great Britain; and will therefore see it their interest to prevent a coalition; but should they refuse, we shall never know whether they will aid us or not:
That the present campaign may be unsuccessful, and therefore we had better propose an alliance while our affairs wear a hopeful aspect:
That to wait the event of this campaign will certainly work delay, because, during the summer, France may assist us effectually, by cutting off those supplies of provisions from England and Ireland on which the enemy’s armies here are to depend; or by setting in motion the great power they have collected in the West Indies, and calling our enemy to the defence of the possessions they have there:
That it would be idle to lose time in settling the terms of alliance, till we had first determined we would enter into alliance:
That it is necessary to lose no time in opening a trade for our people, who will want clothes, and will want money too for the payment of taxes:
And that the only misfortune is that we did not enter into alliance with France six months sooner, as, besides opening her ports for the vent of our last year’s produce, she might have marched an army into Germany, and prevented the petty princes there from selling their unhappy subjects to subdue us.
It appearing in the course of these debates that the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the parental stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most prudent to wait a while for them, and to postpone the final decision to July 1st; but, that this might occasion as little delay as possible, a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. The committee were John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and myself. Committees were also appointed, at the same time, to prepare a plan of confederation for the colonies, and to state the terms proper to be proposed for foreign alliance.
The committee for drawing the Declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and, being approved by them, I reported it to the House on Friday, June 28th, when it was read, and ordered to lie on the table. On Monday, July 1st, the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and resumed the consideration of the original motion made by the delegates of Virginia, 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 of 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.
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