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A T T A I N I N G I N D E P E N D E N C E HE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON on 19 April 1775 and the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on 27 February 1776 inspired those who yearned for independence from Great Britain. Until then the Whigs had indignantly denied that they were actually seekingto break allties with the mother country.1 It took something like these military engagements to demonstrate the absurdity of their position. Before 1775 with every expression of opposition to taxation by Parliament, they added a protestation of loyalty to "the best of Kings." After Moore's Creek Bridge the Whigs could scarcely continue to express loyalty to a sovereign who had ordered troops sent against them. Even then, however, they took the final step reluctantly and sadly. In North Carolina, resolutions favoring independence were receivedwith much lessrejoicing and excitement in 1776 than was the ordinance of secession from the Union in 1861. Nevertheless, in North Carolina, as elsewhere in America, prophecies of independence had been more or less common for several years before the outbreak of the Revolution. In 1774 William Hooper observed that the colonies were "striding fast to independence," while a fewmonths later Samuel Johnston saw the controversy as a "dispute between different countries" and predicted a complete separation unless England yielded. Not everyone felt this way, however. As late as 1775 the average person, whatever he might have thought about Parliament's actions, expressed genuine sentiments of loyalty to the king. This was reflected in a resolution adopted at New Bern in August 1774 by the First Provincial Congress, which proclaimed that body's intention "to maintain and defend the succession of the House of Hanoi . Members of the Whig factiongenerallyhad a negative attitude toward government, particularly as reflected in royal governors. Convinced that power fostered corruption, they favored a system of controls and checksin government through the people's representatives. They held that the ballot, exercised by those who were not dependent on anyone or any faction, was the best safeguard against corruption. They were localists, convinced that government for a small territorial area was best. They saw politics as a continuing struggle between power and liberty. 182 9 T 183 Attaining Independence ver as by law established" and its "inviolable and unshaken fidelity" to King George III. The First Call for Independence A change graduallybegan to take place in the popular mind when it became apparent that the king was not going to take any action to stop Parliament's efforts to tax the American colonies. For many years the relationship between people and king, most believed, had rested in the civil compact. If either party violated this compact, it would ceaseto exist. Thus, when it waslearned that the king had called on Parliament for troops to use in America, that he was hiring professional soldiers in Germany, and that he had proclaimed the colonies to be in rebellion and no longer under his protection, they concluded that the king himself, not they, had violated this unwritten understanding. Fourth Provincial Congress Adopts HalifaxResolves By the time the Fourth Provincial Congress met at Halifax on 4 April 1776, sentiment among the Whigs, or Patriots, was nearly unanimous for independence . "All our people here are up for Independence," Samuel Johnston wrote the next day.Robert Howe said: "Independence seems to be the word; I know not one dissenting voice." William Hooper and John Penn camehome from the Continental Congress reporting very much the same view in Philadelphia. In some North Carolina counties, it was said, not a single person was willing to speak a good word for Britain. On 8 April Cornelius Harnett, Allen Jones, Thomas Burke, and Abner Nash, among others, wereappointed to acommittee "to takeinto 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 defense of this Province." After four days of deliberation, the committee on 12 April 1776 submitted a very important document —the Halifax Resolves. It directed that the delegates from North Carolina to the Continental Congress "be empowered to concur with the delegates ofthe other Colonies in declaring Independency, and forming foreign alliances,reserving to this Colony the sole and exclusive rights 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...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469604466
Related ISBN
9780807818466
MARC Record
OCLC
966898551
Pages
670
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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