The Lee Resolution, adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, formally declared the independence of Great Britains North American colonies.
The language of the Lee Resolution of Independence was largely drafted at a Virginia Convention meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 15, 1776. The Lee Resolution contained three parts:
- that the colonies be independent from Great Britain
- that alliances with sympathetic countries be formed, and
- that a plan of government for the United Colonies be drafted and sent to the individual colonies for consideration and approval.
The Lee Resolution of Independence was proposed on June 7, 1776, but not adopted until July 2, 1776. Although support for full-scale independence had gathered momentum throughout the colonies since the publication of Common Sense by Thomas Paine in January of 1776, not all colonial assemblies had officially voted support, including the crucially important ones of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
During June 1776, most of the hesitant colonies instructed their delegates to support independence. On July 2, 1776, when the Lee Resolution of Independence was finally brought to a vote, twelve of the thirteen colonies voted for it. New York delegates abstained, still having no instructions from the New York Provincial Congress. This came on July 9, 1776, at which point the Lee Resolution for Independence became unanimous.
After its introduction at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on June 7, 1776, a small committee was appointed to prepare a formal communication that would explain the reasons for independence. This document -- essentially a press release -- became the Declaration of Independence.
June 7, 1776
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 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.