On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution to declare independence from Great Britain (12 votes for; with New York abstaining). Two days later, the Declaration of Independence, arguably one of the most impactful documents ever written, was approved and a nation was born.
John Adams predicted that, “…July 2 would be celebrated as the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” (History.com)
He was wrong. Nevertheless, on July 2nd the delegates knew that they had cast their lots on the side of independence. They knew that their act would most likely be fatal if the cause failed. As it turned out, even in victory many suffered the hardships of a war that raged for eight long years.
Tensions had been mounting for more than a year before the 2nd Continental Congress convened in May of 1775, and fighting had already begun (the Boston Tea Party was on December 16, 1773; the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place on April 19, 1775; and the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought in June 1775). The men who voted for independence knew that more blood would be shed. The knew they were challenging the most powerful nation on earth, and that final victory was far from certain…to many the declaration was a foolhardy path to destruction and defeat.
But on July 2, 1776 they voted “Aye.” Individual liberty and self-rule were more important than living under autocratic rule without representation. Their resolve and bravery in the face of daunting odds made them heroes, and made us Americans. The members of the 2nd Continental Congress are our heroes of the week.