The American Revolution in North Carolina

The Halifax Resolves - April 12, 1776

Report on the Subject of Independence:

The Select Committee taking into Consideration the usurpations and violences attempted and committed by the King and Parliament of Britain against America, and the further Measures to be taken for frustrating the same, and for the better defence of this province reported as follows, to wit:

It appears to your Committee that pursuant to the Plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a Power over the Persons and Properties of the People unlimited and uncontrolled; and disregarding their humble Petitions for Peace, Liberty and safety, have made divers Legislative Acts, denouncing War, Famine, and every Species of Calamity against the Continent in General. That British Fleets and Armies have been, and still are, daily employed in destroying the People and committing the most horrid devastations on the Country. That Governors in different Colonies have declared Protection to Slaves who should imbrue their Hands in the Blood of their Masters. That the Ships belonging to America are declared prizes of War and many of them have been violently seized and confiscated. In consequence of all which, multitudes of the people have been destroyed, or from easy Circumstances reduced to the most Lamentable distress.

And whereas, the moderation hitherto manifested by the United Colonies and their sincere desire to be reconciled to the mother Country on Constitutional Principles, have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid Wrongs and usurpations, and no hopes remain of obtaining redress by those Means alone which have been hitherto tried, - Your Committee are of Opinion that the House should enter into the following Resolve to wit:

Resolved, That the Delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the Delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independence, and forming foreign Alliances, reserving to this Colony the Sole, and Exclusive right of forming a Constitution and Laws for this Colony, and of appointing Delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general Representation thereof) to meet the Delegates of the other Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out.

(Journal of the Congress, pp. 11, 12.)

On Monday, April 8th, the Fourth Provincial Congress appointed a committee to take into consideration the usurpations and violences committed by the King and Parliament of Britain. This committee included Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Burke, Allen Jones, Thomas Jones, Abner Nash, John Kinchen, and Thomas Person. On April 12th, Mr. Harnett submitted the committee's report (above in its entirety) - later to be named the Halifax Resolves.

The Halifax Resolves empowered North Carolina's delegates to the Second Continental Congress—Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, and John Penn—to join with those from other colonies to declare independence from British rule. The 83 delegates present at the Fourth Provincial Congress unanimously adopted the resolves, which also encouraged delegates from all the colonies to the Continental Congress to declare independence. North Carolina became the first colony to explicitly permit their delegates to vote in favor of independence.

Although the Halifax Resolves permitted the North Carolina delegation to join in a declaration of independence, they stopped short of instructing North Carolina's delegates to introduce a resolution of independence in Congress. This step was taken by the colony of Virginia the following month, with the adoption of the Lee resolution by the Virginia Convention, which led directly to Congress issuing the United States Declaration of Independence.

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