North Carolina Becomes the First Colony to Commit to Independence

Francis Vandeveer Kughler's mural depicting the delegates to the Fourth Provincial Congress

Francis Vandeveer Kughler’s mural depicting the delegates to the Fourth Provincial Congress

On April 12, 1776, 83 delegates to North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress, meeting in Halifax, passed a unanimous resolution now known as the Halifax Resolves. The resolves advocated severing North Carolina’s ties with England and indicated support for independence for all American colonies. North Carolina became the first colony to commit intentions to paper, striking the first blow for an independent America.

As the colonies joined forces to oppose British legislation, citizens initially asserted their rights as Englishmen against unfair taxation and exploitation. When events such as the Boston Tea Party in 1773 prompted a British occupation of Massachusetts, North Carolina and other colonies began to dissolve ties with England and create new systems of local government.

At the Fourth Provincial Congress, a committee led by Cornelius Harnett was appointed to draft a document declaring North Carolina’s support for American independence from England. Eight days after the congress convened, the Halifax Resolves were created.

Today, at least two original copies of the Halifax Resolves exist. One can be found in the State Archives.  The other, sent to North Carolina’s delegates to the Continental Congress, is held by the National Archives.

Historic Halifax State Historic Site will be celebrating the 237th anniversary of the Resolves all day today.

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