“By Spring of 1776, the idea of independence was already being sparked in the hearts and minds of the people,” Mansour said. “And it was helped in large part by a little pamphlet you might have heard of called Common Sense by Thomas Paine. And John Adams would later write, ‘The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.’ The people were the ones that led on this.”
More of the delegates were freed by their conventions back home to vote for independence, but the real turning point came when the Virginia delegation received instructions “to declare the United Colonies free and independent states.”
“This was the moment the New Englanders were waiting for. Once Virginia got in the fight, it was on,” Mansour noted.
On Friday, June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia rose to speak, saying: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of a 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.”
Adams immediately seconded the motion, and then the debate began. Dickinson’s faction demanded a “cooling off” period so that the voice of the people could be heard before the vote. Ultimately, it was agreed to delay the vote until July 1, so that delegates from the middle colonies could return home for further instructions.
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