The Halifax Resolves
The Halifax Resolves is the name later given to a resolution adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress of the Province of North Carolina on April 12, 1776, during the American Revolution. The resolution helped pave the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.
The Halifax Resolves, so-named because the North Carolina Provincial Congress met in the town of Halifax, were part of a movement in the colonies in which advocates of separation from Great Britain sought to mobilize public support for a declaration of independence. The primary impediment to declaring independence was that many delegates to the Second Continental Congress were not authorized by their home governments to take any action that would lead to independence. Advocates of independence therefore sought to revise the instructions of each congressional delegation and remove any restrictions regarding a declaration of independence.
The Halifax Resolves empowered North Carolina's delegates to the Second Continental Congress—Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, and John Penn—to join with those from other colonies to declare independence from British rule. The 83 delegates present at the Fourth Provincial Congress unanimously adopted the resolves, which also encouraged delegates from all the colonies to the Continental Congress to declare independence. North Carolina became the first colony to explicitly permit their delegates to vote in favor of independence.
Although the Halifax Resolves permitted the North Carolina delegation to join in a declaration of independence, they stopped short of instructing North Carolina's delegates to introduce a resolution of independence in Congress. This step was taken by the colony of Virginia the following month, with the adoption of the Lee resolution by the Virginia Convention. Two months later, the Second Continental Congress issued the United States Declaration of Independence.
The Halifax Resolution
The Select Committee taking into Consideration the usurpations and violences attempted and committed by the King and Parliament of Britain against America, and the further Measures to be taken for frustrating the same, and for the better defence of this province reported as follows, to wit,
It appears to your Committee that pursuant to the Plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a Power over the Persons and Properties of the People unlimited and uncontrouled; and disregarding their humble Petitions for Peace, Liberty and safety, have made divers Legislative Acts, denouncing War Famine and every Species of Calamity against the Continent in General. That British Fleets and Armies have been and still are daily employed in destroying the People and committing the most horrid devastations on the Country. That Governors in different Colonies have declared Protection to Slaves who should imbrue their Hands in the Blood of their Masters. That the Ships belonging to America are declared prizes of War and many of them have been violently seized and confiscated in consequence of which multitudes of the people have been destroyed or from easy Circumstances reduced to the most Lamentable distress.
And whereas the moderation hitherto manifested by the United Colonies and their sincere desire to be reconciled to the mother Country on Constitutional Principles, have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid Wrongs and usurpations, and no hopes remain of obtaining redress by those Means alone which have been hitherto tried, Your Committee are of Opinion that the house should enter into the following Resolve to wit,
Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency, and forming foreign Alliances, reserving to this Colony the Sole, and Exclusive right of forming a Constitution and Laws for this Colony, and of appointing delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general Representation thereof) to meet the delegates of the other Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out.