On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress passed the Richard Henry Lee resolution, which called for ties between Great Britain and the American states to be “totally dissolved.”
The monumental vote was unanimous among the colonies, with New York abstaining. Each state had one vote, regardless of size.
Upon the decision to secede from the British crown, a somber mood swept through Independence Hall as the delegates realized their actions would be considered treasonous. Despite the prospect of death by hanging, the decision had been made. Historian Mercy Otis Warren wrote this account of the event:
"Their transactions might have been legally styled treasonable, but loyalty had lost its influence, and power its terrors. Firm and disinterested, intrepid and united, they stood ready to submit to the chances of war, and to sacrifice their devoted lives to preserve inviolate, and to transmit to posterity, the inherent rights of men, conferred on all by the God of nature, and the privileges of Englishmen, claimed by Americans from the sacred sanctions of compact."
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