Editor’s note: What with Britain “being bent on her favourite scheme of enslaving the Colonies,” the inhabitants of this Massachusetts town, on June 17, 1776, instructed their Representative to communicate to the Second Continental Congress that they deem it “absolutely necessary for the safety of the United Colonies to be independent from Great Britain, and declare themselves entirely a separate State, as we can see no alternative but inevitable ruin or independence/.” They go on to “unanimously determine and declare we will support” the drive for independence “with our lives and fortunes.”

Instructions for independence


At a very full meeting of the inhabitants of Palmer, legally met at the publick Meeting-House, on PMonday, the 17th day of June, 1776, at one o’ clock in the afternoon. The meeting being opened, Mr˙ Robert Farrett was chosen Moderator, and then proceeded and voted the following Instructions to the Representative of this Town now at the General Assembly of this Colony, as the sentiments of this Town:

That whereas the Court of Great Britain hath, by sundry Acts of Parliament, assumed the power of legislation for the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, without the consent of the inhabitants; have likewise exercised the assumed power for raising a revenue in the Colonies without their consent: We cannot justly call that our own which others may, when they please, take from us against our will. Have likewise appointed a new set of officers to superintend these revenues, wholly unknown in the Charter, and by their Commissioners invested with powers altogether unconstitutional and destructive to the security which we have a right to enjoy. Fleets and Armies have been introduced to support these unconstitutional officers in collecting these unconstitutional revenues; have altered the Charter of this Colony, and thereby overthrown the Constitution; together with many other grievous acts of Parliament, too grievous to be borne. The peaceable inhabitants being alarmed at such repeated inroads on the Constitution, and gigantick strides of despotick power over the Colonies, the Colonies petitioned the King for redress of grievances; finding that to fail, petitioned generally, begging as children to a father to be heard and relieved; but all to no purpose, the petitions being treated with almost contempt. The United Colonies, finding that no redress could he had from Great Britain, unitedly agreed to an opposition in the most peaceable way they could contrive, being willing to try every peaceable measure that could possibly be invented, rather than break with Great Britain. Great Britain, being bent on her favourite scheme of enslaving the Colonies, declared them Rebels, and treated them as such. The Colonies, being driven to a state of despair of the least relief from them, were obliged, by the law of self-preservation, to take up arms in their own defence, meaning to use them only as such; but the dispute has arisen to so great a height that it is impossible for the Colonies ever to be joined with Great Britain again with the least security and safety to themselves or posterity. We, the inhabitants of this town, do believe it absolutely necessary for the safety of the United Colonies to be independent from Great Britain, and declare themselves entirely a separate State, as we can see no alternative but inevitable ruin or independence. But as there is a General Congress of wise and good men, who sit at the helm of affairs, consulting measures which will be most for the safety and prosperity of the whole, and have the means of intelligence and information in their hands, submit the whole affair to their wise consideration and determination; and if they shall unite in a separation from Great Britain, we do unanimously determine and declare we will support them with our lives and fortunes. We do direct the Representative of this Town to lay these votes before the honourable General Assembly of this Colony, to enable them to communicate our sentiments to the honourable Continental Congress.

American Archives, Series Four, Vol. 6, Peter Force, Ed.,  Washington: M. St. Clair Clarke and Peter Force, 1846,  pp. 701-2
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Further reading:
American Scripture: The Making of the Declaration of Independence, Pauline Maier, New York: Knopf, 1997.