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Lesson One

Reading 11

Events from the State House Rally to the Adjourning of the Assembly May 20–July 2, 1776

May 20

State House Rally, petition signed to support the Continental Congress’s resolution for the establishment of a government “sufficient to meet the exigencies of their affairs.”

May 21

Circulation of the Assembly’s Address and Remonstrance in opposition to the call for a new government for Pennsylvania.

May 24

Notification is sent to absent members urging that they attend Assembly meeting in response to rumors that the Independents intend to boycott meetings bring business to a halt since the Assembly rules require 2/3rd of all members present in order to conduct business.

May 27

Word arrives in Philadelphia that Virginia had, twelve days earlier, passed a resolution in favor of independence.

May 27

Encouraged by James Cannon’s pamphlets and broadsides accusing the Assembly of making militiamen second class citizens by denying them the right to vote, the Second Battalion of Northampton County issued a resolution that the Assembly was “not competent to the exigencies of our affairs.” Other battalions followed issuing similar resolutions directed at the Assembly.

June 1 June 5

Independents boycott the Assembly meeting, returning on June 5.

A reading of various petitions before the Assembly, including the Remonstrance of May 21 with some 6,000 signatures, supporting the government.

June 8

The Assembly passed new instructions authorizing representatives at the Continental Congress to “concur with the other Delegates in Congress, in forming such further compacts between the United Colonies, concluding such Treaties with foreign Kingdoms and States, and in adopting such other Measures as, upon a View of all circumstances, shall be judged necessary for promoting the Liberty, Safety and Interests of America.” The Independents interpreted these new instructions, although they did not specifically mention independence, as opening the way for the Pennsylvania delegates to vote for independence.

June 13

Break in the ranks of Independents, moderates wanted to maintain the Assembly in the hands of “gentlemen” while radicals wanted it dissolved and a new government established. Radicals in the Assembly were few in number they were able to keep the Assembly from conducting business.

June 14

Assembly adjourns with a call to reconvene on August 26.

Meeting of the Conference Committee to draw up rules for the Constitutional Convention. The Committee decided to give any member of the military, age 21 or older that had lived in Pennsylvania for one year and had paid taxes, the right to vote for delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The committee also agreed to extend the vote only to those who supported “a government in this province on the authority of the people only. . . .” thus restricting the vote to those who supported independence.

June 25

The Conference Committee sent the following message to Congress “[We] unanimously declare our willingness to concur in a vote of the congress, declaring the united colonies free and independent states.”

July 2

Word spread through Philadelphia that Congress had passed the Declaration of Independence.

33

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