As our own modern government blows by the milestones on the road toward absolutism, the specific examples of the abuses of power cited in the Declaration of Independence may prove prophetic and may help to enlighten 21st-century Americans.
July 2, 1776. Delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies represented in the Second Continental Congress voted to formally “dissolve the political bands” that bound them to Great Britain.
Just 24 hours before that historic vote, the severing of those ties was in doubt.
On Monday, July 1, Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to continue debating the resolution for independence proposed nearly a month before by Virginia representative Richard Henry Lee.
John Dickinson of Pennsylvania rose and spoke eloquently although ultimately not persuasively — in favor of pursuing peaceful attempts to reconcile with the crown.
John Adams spoke next. Refuting Dickinson’s call for calm, he reminded his colleagues of the convincing case for an unqualified declaration of independence.
When the speeches ended, delegates cast their votes — each colony cast one vote, regardless of the number of delegates present at the proceeding. Pennsylvania’s representatives were specifically instructed to oppose any call for separation from England and they voted accordingly. South Carolina joined Pennsylvania, voting no on the Lee resolutions.