Lee Resolution (1776)

This is the name given to Richard Henry Lee‘s proposal that the colonies declare independence from England. Introduced in Congress on June 7, 1776, the resolution began: Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of 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…. The resolution also called for creating foreign alliances and developing a plan for confederation and distributing it to the colonies. Lee and the other delegates knew that this courageous proposal would be considered treason in the eyes of the British King.

In order to allow debate and input from the colonies, Congress decided to put off the vote on the resolution until July 2, 1776. On that date, Congress voted to declare independence. The words of the Lee Resolution became part of the closing lines of the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.