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Union, American

The first official intimation that the English-American colonies were politically united was in the following resolution adopted by the second Continental Congress, June 7, 1775: “On motion, resolved, that Thursday, the 20th of July next, be observed throughout the Twelve United Colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” After that the term “United colonies” was frequently used; and in the Declaration of Independence the term “United States” was first used. Georgia not having sent delegates to the first and second congresses, only “twelve” were alluded to in the expression. The inhabitants of St. John's parish, in Georgia, had chosen Lyman Hall (March 21, 1775) to represent them in the Congress, and he took his seat on the third day of the session, but without the privilege of voting. The movements in St. John's soon led to the accession of Georgia to the Continental Union, making the number of colonies. that carried on the war thirteen.

In the second petition of the Continental Congress to the King (July, 1775), written by John Dickinson, negotiation was thus proffered, according to Duane's proposition: “We beseech your Majesty to direct some mode by which the united applications of your faithful colonists to the throne may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation; and that in the mean time measures may be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty's subjects, and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majesty's colonies may be repealed.” This was the first official announcement to the King of the union of the colonies, and their refusal to treat separately confirmed it. It was a great step towards independence. The King could not consistently receive a document from a congress whose legality he denied. They thought to have it received if the members individually signed it. Dickinson believed it would be received. He deplored one word in it—Congress— and that proved fatal to it. “It is the only word which I wish altered,” he said. “It is the only word I wish to retain,” was the reply of the stanch patriot Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia. Richard Penn, a proprietary of Pennsylvania and recently its governor—a loyal Englishman—was selected to bear this second petition to the throne.

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