Digital History
Richard H. Lee Defends his Call for American Independence
Digital History ID 142

Author:   Richard H. Lee


Richard Lee (1732-1794), writing to a fellow Virginian, calls for American independence, a goal suddenly and effectively popularized in January 1776 by Thomas Paine's anonymous pamphlet, Common Sense. Lee subsequently introduced the resolution in Congress "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states." Congress appointed a committee--consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman--to draft a declaration of independence in case Lee's resolution was adopted. On July 2, Congress approved Lee's resolution and two days later adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.


It is not choice then, but necessity that calls for Independence as the only means by which foreign Alliances can be obtained; and a proper confederation by which internal pea[ce] and Union may be secured. Contrary to our earnest, early, and repeated petitions for peace, liberty and safety, our enemies press us with war, threaten us with danger and Slavery.

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