Froghaven News Online 'Frogs n'Cats'

    Home of Larry and Karin                               


Frog Gallery

Family Genealogy

Favorite Recipes

Gardening Articles by Karin

Rainfall in Marietta

Cat Pix

Sons of the American Revolution

Sope Creek Garden Club

Favorite Links

Halifax Day Speech of Dr. David Ballew, Asst. Professor of History, Chowan College

April 12, 2004

     "By April 1776, when the Halifax Resolves were written, the American colonies has been engaged for more than a decade in a struggle for power with the British Crown and Parliament.
     Beginning in 1763, the British ministry had begun trying to raise revenue from the Colonies by means of direct and internal taxes.
     Colonial leaders, steeped in Republican principles and Enlightenment ideals of natural rights, believed that such exactions were legitimate only if they came from their colonial assemblies, in which they, the Colonists, had a voice through their representatives.
     Furthermore, Patriot leaders predicted that this taxation without representation was but a first step toward what they ultimately feared: arbitrary government, or tyranny.
     Events in the 1770s seemed to confirm such dire warnings. In Boston, on a cold evening in 1770, British troops fired on a crowd of colonial bystanders, killing five in what latter became known as the "Boston Massacre". Four years later, when Boston Patriots protested a tax on tea by dumping tea in the harbor, Parliament retaliated harshly. To punish the Colony of Massachusetts for their rebelliousness, they closed the harbor to all commerce, suspended jury trial, dissolved the legislature, and placed the colony under martial law. To enforce these Coercive Acts, which Patriots called the "Intolerable Acts", and to punish any further acts of defiance, Parliament sent more red-coated troops to America's shores.

"The revolution," Adams said, "occurred in the hearts and minds of the American people."

In all of these actions, Parliament had the enthusiastic support of the monarch. When George III learned of the Tea Party, he reportedly said, "The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit to England's authority or triumph." Although they denied Parliament any authority over them, most Americans still regarded the British ruler as their sovereign and protector; his refusal to defend their rights had a sobering effect.
Patriots from across the country met in the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia to plot a unified source of resistance to British acts. Yet, even at this late date, independence was still unthinkable to all but a handful of resistance leaders. They initiated yet another boycott of British goods, to pressure Parliament into repealing the Coercive Acts, while simultaneously writing a last, humbly worded petition to their king.
     In 1775, although blood was shed at Concord and Bunker Hill, the will and resolve to separate from the mother country was yet lacking in Congress. Despite the strong voices of John Adams and Patrick Henry, warning that further delay and reconciliation amounted to a surrender of American liberties, Congress wavered.
     News from the Continental Army did little to encourage boldness. General Washington complained that his green troops were unfit to stand against British regulars. Conservative Congressman like John Dickinson argued that Independence should not even be considered unless there was good reason to believe the colonies could win
     The first clear call for independence, despite the risk, came here at Halifax, where 83 delegates to North Carolina's Fourth Provincial Congress unanimously adopted the Halifax Resolves on April 12, 1776.
     It was 228 years ago today that, for the first time, a colony, soon to be an independent state, set the ball in motion by recommending the revolutionary step of separation. Their action represented a defiant slap in the face of the mighty British Empire. But the delegates here at Halifax believed the same ideas that Benjamin Franklin expressed when he wrote, "Those who would sacrifice their essential liberty for a littler temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
The resolves first stated that it had become apparent that the British king and Parliament were intent upon "subjugating America" and exercising "unlimited and uncontrouled" power over the lives of the colonists. Their humble petitions has been ignored, the Halifax delegates states, and the extensive list of "wrongs and usurpations" of American rights continued to increase. Therefore, the Fourth Provincial Congress made the following resolution:
               "Resolved that the delegates for this colony in the
               Continental Congress (shall) be impowered to concur
               with the ... delegates of the other Colonies in declaring
"Declaring Independence", the first time this potent two-word expression was used in any official declaration of any colony. Yet, within several months' time, what was once an unthinkable act of rebellion was a reality. On July 4th, Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was approved and signed by the members of the Continental Congress. That document rang with the same spirit of defiance and love of liberty that animated the proceedings here at Halifax.
     In later life, John Adams was asked about what happened in the American Revolution. Adams replied that the revolution had very little to do with what happened on the battlefields after 1776. The revolution, he said, occurred in the hearts and minds of the American people, when they decided to defy a king, risk their lives and fortunes for liberty and independence, and create a new republic.
     It is this revolutionary spirit that we are met to commemorate here today. "