In convention May the 15th 1776. Present one hundred and twelve members.
FORASMUCH as all the endeavours of the United Colonies by the most decent representations and petitions to the king and parliament of Great Britain to restore peace and security to America under the British government and a re-union with that people upon just and liberal terms instead of a redress of grievances have produced from an imperious and vindictive administration increased insult oppression and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction. By a late act, all these colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British crown our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just. Fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes: The king's representative in this colony hath not only withheld all the powers of government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters. In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those over-bearing tyrants, or a total separation from the crown and government of Great Britain, uniting and exerting the strength of all America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign powers for commerce and aid in war: Wherefore, appealing to the SEARCHER OF HEARTS for the sincerity of former declarations, expressing our desire to preserve the connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal laws of self-preservation.
RESOLVED unanimously, 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, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the crown or parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress of forming foreign alliances and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to them shall seem best: Provided, that the power of forming government for, and the regulations of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures.
RESOLVED unanimously, that a committee be appointed to prepare a DECLARATION of RIGHTS, and such a plan of government as will be most likely to maintain peace and order in this colony, and secure substantial and equal liberty to the people.
Resolution of Independence
Moved by R.H. Lee for the Virginia Delegation [7 June 1776]
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.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that the first Resolution be postponed to this day three weeks and that in the mean time lest any time should be lost in case the Congress agree to this resolution a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration to the effect of the said first resolution.
Jefferson's First Draft of the Virginia Constitution:
Whereas George Guelph King of Great Britain and Ireland and Elector of Hanover, heretofore entrusted with the exercise of the Kingly office in this government, hath endeavored to pervert the same into a detestable & insupportable tyranny
2. by denying to his governors permission to pass laws of the most immediate & pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation for his assent &, when so suspended, neglecting to attend to them for many years:
3. by refusing to pass certain other laws, unless the persons to be benefited by them would relinquish the inestimable right of representation in the legislature:
4. by dissolving legislative assemblies repeatedly & continually for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people:
5. when dissolved, by refusing to call others for a long space of time, thereby leaving the political system in a state of dissolution without any legislative head.
6. by endeavoring to prevent the population of our country by & for that purpose obstructing the laws encouraging the importn of foreigners & raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands: refused judiciary establmts to some without unjust & partial judges dependant erect swarms of offices
7. by keeping among us in times of peace standing armies & ships of war:
8. by affecting to render the military independant of & superior to the civil power:
9. by combining with others to subject us to a foreign jurisdiction
giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation
b. for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
c. for imposing taxes on us without our consent:
d. for depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury:
f. for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves invested
with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever
11. by inciting insurrections of our fellow citizens with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation
12. by prompting our negroes to rise in arms among us; those very negroes whom by an inhuman use of his negative he hath refused us permission to exclude by law:
13. by endeavoring to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & conditions of existence.
14. by transporting at this time a large army of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, & tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty & perfidy so unworthy the head of a civilized nation
15. by answering our repeated petitions for redress with a repetition of injuries: with an accumulation of new injury
16. and finally by abandoning the helm of government & declaring
us out of his allegiance & protection. and by various other acts of
tyranny too often enumerated to need repetition, and too cruel for the
reflection of those who have felt them.