Today in History: April 12
North Carolina Advocates Independence
The Manner in which the American Colonies Declared themselves INDEPENDENT of the King of ENGLAND [detail],
William Hamilton and George Noble, 1783.
Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789
On April 12, 1776, North Carolina's Provincial Congress authorized its delegates to the Second Continental Congress to vote for independence. The first formal call for American sovereignty, the "Halifax Resolves" not only guided North Carolina representatives, but also encouraged the Continental Congress to champion independence. Virginia directed its delegates to submit a resolution for independence. Richard Henry Lee introduced such a resolution on June 7, 1776, stating that the colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
The "Halifax Resolves," like the later Declaration of Independence, carefully delineated grievances against the mother country. By highlighting misdeeds perpetrated by the Crown, the colonists justified severing the relationship between themselves and Great Britain. Both the "Halifax Resolves" and the Declaration of Independence demonstrate the radical nature of the move toward independence.
Use the following Library of Congress resources to learn more about the era of independence:
- Visit the online exhibitions Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents and Religion and the Founding of the American Republic to learn more about the Declaration of Independence and the context in which it was written.
- Search The Thomas Jefferson Papers on Virginia constitution for correspondence relating to drafting that document. Just prior to writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson drafted a constitution for Virginia. With its litany of abuses by King George III, the Virginia constitution presages the content of the Declaration. This document and related works are among the Top Treasures of the Library of Congress.
- Read Today in History features on events such as the Boston Massacre, on revolutionary heroes such as Nathan Hale, and on important documents such as the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Or, search the Today in History Archive on a person or event of interest.