Independence Declared, 1776

As the first year of fighting drew to a close, sentiment for proclaiming independence as the goal of the conflict grew among the rebel leaders. A pamphlet by Thomas Paine, entitled Common Sense, published in January, 1776, was widely circulated. It argued eloquently for independence. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution in the Continental Congress that asserted these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States." The Congress then appointed a committee to draft a declaration in accord with that view. The Declaration of Independence, with its ringing phrases set down by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted on July 4, 1776.

Up to then, the war had been against Great Britian's way of administering the colonies. It now became a war for the right of free men to establish their own form of government.