A Year Makes a Big Difference

By | Jul 5, 2011

We have just celebrated the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A year before that adoption the Continental Congress had a different view of England and its King. On July 5, 1775 they agreed upon a petition to be sent to the King saying that they wanted to remain loyal to the King, but also wished to negotiate trade and tax regulations with Great Britain.

This petition is known as the Olive Branch Petition and it was signed on July 8, 1775.

John Dickinson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, was the leader of the group opposed to war with England, had convinced the Congress to pursue reconciliation.

As with the Declaration of Independence the 1st draft of the petition was authored by Thomas Jefferson. But Dickinson felt that Jefferson’s language was too offensive and rewrote much of it himself.

Many of those who voted for and signed the Declaration a year later would sign their name to this document. These included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Caesar Rodney, Roger Sherman, John Adams and John Hancock.

The petition was rejected and on August 23, 1775 a Proclamation of Rebellion was issued by England declaring elements of the American colonies in “open and avowed rebellion” and ordered officials of the British Empire “to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion”.


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