Today In History: Congress Votes To Secede From Britain
Today in 1776, the Second Continental Congress cast a (nearly) unanimous vote to secede from Great Britain. The resolution, forwarded by Richard Henry Lee, was affirmed by all states except for New York.
At the time when the resolution was first presented, on June 7 of that year, opinion was still divided over whether or not to declare independence. New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and South Carolina were still reticent. Congress pushed the vote back to July 1.
A committee was formed to draft the Declaration of Independence, consisting of John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, Roger Sherman and, of course, Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson was chosen to be the lead author of the Declaration, as he was regarded as a fine writer. The draft they produced was brought to Congress on June 28.
Debate on independence resumed. Opinion had shifted solidly in favor. Congress desired total consensus before issuing the Declaration. The New York delegates were the only dissenting voices, choosing to abstain. The vote was in, and independence was declared.
John Adams remarked that July 2 would be the most memorable day in American history. The day was overshadowed by July 4, the day the Declaration of Independence was formally published.