Citation: Lee Resolution showing congressional vote, July 2, 1776; Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1783; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, introduced this resolution in the Second Continental Congress proposing independence for the American colonies.
Acting under the instruction of the Virginia Convention, Richard Henry Lee on June 7, 1776, introduced a resolution in the Second Continental Congress proposing independence for the colonies. The Lee Resolution contained three parts: a declaration of independence, a call to form foreign alliances, and "a plan for confederation." The document that is included on page 22 is the complete resolution in Richard Henry Lee's handwriting.
On June 11, 1776, the Congress appointed three concurrent committees in response to the Lee Resolution:
one to draft a declaration of independence, a second to draw up a plan "for forming foreign alliances," and a third to "prepare and digest the form of a confederation."
Because many members of the Congress believed action such as Lee proposed to be premature or wanted instructions from their colonies before voting, approval was deferred until July 2. On that date, Congress adopted the first part (the declaration). The affirmative votes of 12 colonies are listed at the right. New York cast no vote until the newly elected New York Convention upheld the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776.
The plan for making treaties was not approved until September of 1776; the plan of confederation was delayed until November of 1777.
(Information excerpted from National Archives Education Staff. The Constitution: Evolution of a Government. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc. 2001.)