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Coming of the American Revolution: Document Viewer
Massachusetts Historical Society
America's oldest historical society, founded 1791.

Back to Declarations of Independence

"Williamsburgh (Virginia) May 17 ..."

Williamsburgh (Virginia) May 17 ...

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"No Alternative Left"
All across the colonies, the movement for independence gains strength. In April, the North Carolina assembly instructs its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence if the issue is called. In May, Rhode Island makes the first public declaration of its independence from Great Britain. The towns of Massachusetts still deliberate, and while they take their time to vote, the Virginia Legislature at Williamsburg now sits to decide its position on the issue of independence. Soon the word will spread from Williamsburg to the Congress in Philadelphia and beyond.

To examine all four pages of this newspaper, please see the online display of the The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 24 June 1776.

Questions to Consider

1. Why is it important that this resolution from Virginia was published in a Boston newspaper?

2. Who is the Searcher of Hearts?

3. What are the reasons that the Virginia Assembly cites as the justification for voting for independence?

4. What powers does the Virginia Assembly grant to the Continental Congress? What powers does it wish to keep for individual colonial legislatures?

Further Exploration

5. How is this resolution similar to the Massachusetts General Court's request to the towns? [Click here to read the General Court's request.] Does it use similar language or rhetorical devices? What makes this a compelling document?