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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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On the 7th of
June, 1776, the delegates from Virginia,
moved, in obedience to instructions from their
constituents, that Congress should declare the
Thirteen United Colonies to be independent
of Great Britain, that a Confederation should
be formed to bind them together, and measures
be taken for procuring the assistance of
foreign powers. The House ordered a punctual
attendance of all their members the next
day at ten o'clock, and then resolved themselves
into a committee of the whole, and
entered on the discussion. It appeared in
the course of the debates that seven States,
viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina,
and Georgia, were decided for a separation;
but that six others still hesitated, to
wit. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina.
Congress, desirous of unanimity, and seeing
that the public mind was advancing rapidly
to it, referred the further discussion to the
1st of July, appointing in the meantime a
Committee to prepare a Declaration of Independence,
a second to form Articles for the
Confederation of the States, and a third to
propose measures for obtaining foreign aid.
On the 28th of June, the Declaration of Independence
was reported to the House, and
was laid on the table for the consideration of
the members. On the 1st day of July, they
resolved themselves into a committee of the
whole, and resumed the consideration of the
motion of June 7 [declaring independence].
It was debated through the day, and at length
was decided in the affirmative by the vote of
nine States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland,
Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted
against it. Delaware, having but two members
present, was divided. The delegates from
New York declared they were for it, and
their constitutents also; but that the instructions
against it which had been given them a
twelvemonth before, were still unrepealed;
that their convention was to meet in a few
days, and they asked leave to suspend their
vote till they could obtain a repeal of their
instructions. Observe that all this was in a
committee of the whole Congress, and that
according to the mode of their proceedings,
the resolution of that committee to declare
themselves independent was to be put to
the same persons reassuming their forms as a
Congress. It was now evening, the members
exhausted by a debate of nine hours, during
which all the powers of the soul had been distended
with the magnitude of the object, and
the delegates of South Carolina desired that
the final decision might be put off to the next
morning that they might still weigh in their
own minds their ultimate vote. It was put
off, and in the morning of the 2d of July,
they joined the other nine States in voting for
it. The members of the Pennsylvania delegation,


Page 243
too, who had been absent the day before came in and turned the vote of their State in
favor of independence, and a third member
of the State of Delaware, who, hearing of the
division in the sentiment of his two colleagues,
had travelled post to arrive in time,
now came in and decided the vote of that
State also for the resolution. Thus twelve
States voted for it at the time of its passage,
and the delegates of New York, the thirteenth
State, received instructions within a few days
to add theirs to the general vote; so that
* * * there was not a dissenting voice.
Congress proceeded immediately to consider
the Declaration of Independence which had
been reported by their Committee on the 28th
of June. The several paragraphs of that
were debated for three days, viz., the 2d, 3d,
and 4th of July. In the evening of the 4th,
they were finally closed, and the instrument
approved by an unanimous vote, and signed
by every member, except Mr. Dickinson.—
To The Editor of the Journal de Paris. Washington ed. ix, 309. Ford ed., iv, 440.
(P. Aug. 1787)