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170

INDEPENDENCE DISCUSSED.

[CHAP. II. tions given by some of their representatives are not: that the voice of the representatives is not always the voice of the people; and this is particularly true in those middle colonies that this has been strikingly proved by what has taken place in Pennsylvania and Maryland on the resolution of the fifteenth of May.

That the backwardness of those two colonies might be ascribed partly to the influence of proprietary power and connections, and partly to their not having been yet attacked by the enemy: and neither of these causes was likely to be soon removed.

That it would be vain to wait for perfect unanimity, which is not to be expected: that some of the colonies, from the beginning of the contest, seem to show that it was their settled policy to keep in the rear: that therefore it was necessary for those who had hazarded all from the beginning to come forward now and put all again to hazard.

That the Dutch Revolution, of whom only three states confederated at first, proved that a secession of some colonies would not be so dangerous as had been apprehended.

That a declaration of independence could alone render it consistent with European delicacy, for those powers to treat with Congress, or even to receive an ambassador from them. Until this took place they would not receive American vessels into their ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of the Courts of Admiralty here to be legitimate.

That though France and Spain may be jealous of the rising power of these colonies, they must think it much more formidable with the addition of Great Britain; and will therefore be interested in preventing a coalition; but should they refuse, the colonies will be where they are,

1776.] COMMITTEE TO DRAW THE DECLARATION.

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whereas, without trying, they never will know whether they will receive aid or not.

That the present campaign may be unsuccessful and that the colonies had better propose an alliance when their affairs wear a hopeful aspect.

That France during this summer may afford material assistance by cutting off those supplies of provisions from England and Ireland, on which the enemy's armies are to depend; or by setting in motion the great power they have collected in the West Indies, and calling the enemy to the defence of her possessions in that quarter.

That it would be a waste of time to settle the terms of alliance, till the colonies had first determined that they would enter into such a treaty.

That no time should be lost in opening a trade for the American people, who want clothes, and will want money too to pay taxes.

That it has been unfortunate for them that they had not entered into an alliance with France six months sooner, as besides opening her ports to their trade, she might have marched an army into Germany, and prevented their petty princes from furnishing troops for our subjugation.

This debate was conducted chiefly by Robert R. Livingston, of New York, Wilson, of Pennsylvania, Dickinson of the same State, and E. Rutledge, of South Carolina, against the declaration, and John Adams, Richard Henry Lee and Wythe, of Virginia, in its favor.

It appearing that the middle colonies and South Carolina, though not yet quite prepared for independence, were gradually becoming so, it was deemed prudent to wait awhile for the change, and to postpone a decision till the first of July, but in the mean time they decided

172

THE DECLARATION ADOPTED.

[CHAP. II.

to appoint a committee to prepare a declaration. This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert R. Livingston.

At the same time committees were appointed to prepare a plan of confederation for the colonies, and to state the terms proper to be prepared for foreign alliance.

The Declaration of Independence was drawn by Mr. Jefferson, at the request of the other members of the committee, and was reported by the committee on the twenty-eighth of June, and was then laid on the table. Meanwhile the Convention of Jersey had, on the twentyninth of June, authorised their members to concur in a vote for independence; and the Legislature of Maryland had taken the same course on the twenty-eighth of June.

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The subject was resumed on the first of July, and then postponed till the next day, when it was debated, as well as on the third and the fourth, on which last day the Declaration was finally adopted; and thus the cord was cut which had bound the people of those colonies to Great Britain through the passing and the preceding century.

It did not, however, at first obtain unanimity. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia had been in favor of the measure when it was first proposed on the seventh of June. New Jersey and Maryland had since concurred. The two members from Delaware were divided. The delegates from New York declared themselves in favor of it, but were restricted by their instructions drawn a twelve-month before—and they did not vote. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it.

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1776.] THE FINAL ADOPTION UNANIMOUS.

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Mr. Rutledge requested that the decision should be postponed till the next day, as he believed that his colleagues, though they disapproved the resolution, would vote for it, for the sake of unanimity.

This accordingly took place, and the question whether the House would agree to the resolution passed in the Committee of the Whole was not taken until the next day -the second of July-when, on the motion to concur, South Carolina voted for it. A third member arriving from Delaware, decided her vote affirmatively, and other members from Pennsylvania changed also her vote that morning; so that the Declaration which, on the first of July, had but nine of the thirteen votes in its favor, on the fourth of July had the votes of twelve of the thirteen colonies; and by the ninth of July the Convention of New York approved it, and thus it had the unanimous support of all the colonies.

Several passages of the original draught were struck out either because they might give offence to the friends of the colonies in England, or because it spoke in very harsh terms of the slave trade, since South Carolina and Georgia still continued and approved of the importation of slaves from Africa.1

In this paper, which is familiar to all, George the Third is denounced as a tyrant towards the colonies; and his acts, recited in some eighteen or twenty paragraphs, are regarded as affording ample justification for terminating their dependency on Great Britain.

This Declaration has ever been considered by the constituents of those who made it, to mark the era of their birth as a nation, and in this light its anniversary

1

1 See the draught and its amendments in the Appendix II.

174

NATIONAL JUBILEE.

[CHAP. II.

has been, from that day to the present, the great national jubilee, celebrated by feasts, military parades, orations, and in every way in which a nation can commemorate events which at once excite its gratitude and pride.

We are now about to see how they used this independence; and first, in defending themselves against the attacks of the powerful enemy whose former rights and interests they had thus solemnly annulled.

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