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[389] with a full knowledge that the king would
Chap. LXV.} 1776. June.
not yield, they expressed their ardent desire for an end of the civil war; while they expressly sanctioned a confederation, and ‘treaties with foreign kingdoms and states,’ they neither advised nor forbade a declaration of independence, trusting to ‘the ability, prudence, and integrity’ of their delegates. Now the opinion of the majority of those delegates was notorious; but to remove even a possibility of uncertainty, on the seventh of June, before the question on the new instructions was taken, Dickinson, in the assembly, made a speech, in which he pledged his word to Allen, who was the proprietary chief-justice of the province, and to the whole house, that he and the majority of the delegates would continue to vote against independence.

On that same day, and perhaps while Dickinson was speaking in the Pennsylvania assembly, Richard Henry Lee, in the name and with the special authority of Virginia, proposed: ‘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; that it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign alliances; and that a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective colonies for their consideration and approbation.’ The resolutions were seconded by John Adams; and ‘the members were enjoined to attend punctually the next day at ten o'clock, in order to take them into their consideration.’

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