Certainly, most Americans are familiar with the most heralded document of our nation’s founding, the Declaration of Independence. But how many are acquainted with the Lee Resolution which preceded it and laid the foundation for what would become the most crucial and significant document upon which our nascent republic relied?
The Lee Resolution or “Resolution of Independence” was put forth by the Second Continental Congress and was comprised of three critical parts: First, that the colonies were proclaiming their “rightful” independence from the mother country of England; Second, that a plan was put into place regarding the relationship that America would have with foreign entities; and Third, that a plan must be established to “officially unite” and bind the colonies as one “confederation.”
Virginian and delegate to the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee set forth the ambitious proposal on this day in 1776.
As simple and clear as the plan appeared to be, it was anything but, in terms of execution of the three actions detailed in the Resolution.
Committees were formed to explore and develop specific plans for the implementation of each facet of the Resolution. Such notable figures as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams served on the committees.
Issues such as “sovereignty” as well as just how much power should rest with the confederate government were debated, often at great length, as the details for what would become the Declaration of Independence were hammered out.
Though the name Richard Henry Lee may not be the first to come to mind when one contemplates the early establishment of our great country, he nevertheless deserves a great deal of credit for authoring the general framework for what was destined to become, in the words of one historian, our great nation’s “birth certificate.”