Editor’s note: This is what one might call a conditional declaration of independence — if the Second Continental Congress decides to sever ties with Britain, then the town of Alford, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, “will support the measure with their lives and fortunes.”

Declaration for Independence by the Inhabitants of Alford


At a meeting of the Freeholders and other inhabitants of the Town of Alford, legally assembled at the house of Ensign Simeon Harlbut, in said town, on Friday, the 7th day of June, A˙ D˙ 1776, at four of the clock in the afternoon on said day, to consider and act on the subject of independence, as the town should think fit, in pursuance of advice from the Great and General Court of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay:

The two following Resolves being laid before the town, in a full meeting, and being separately put, they each of them passed unanimously:

Resolved, (as the opinion of the Town,) That by a number of Acts and Laws made and passed by both Houses of the British Parliament in the reign of George III, and the hostilities commenced in support of said Acts and Laws, the union and connection between Great Britain and the United Colonies of North America are, on the part of Britain, cut in sunder, and that the United Colonies ought to take forfeiture.

Passed in the affirmative, nem˙ con.

Therefore, Resolved, That should the honourable the Continental Congress declare the United Colonies of North America independent in all respects of the Kingdom of Great Britain, this Town will support the measure with their lives and fortunes.

Passed in the affirmative, nem˙ con.

Source:   American Archives, Series Four, Vol. 6, Peter Force,  Published by M. Saint Clair Clarke and Peter Force, 1843,  p. 701

Image source:


Further reading:

American Scripture: The Making of the Declaration of Independence, Pauline Maier, New York: Vintage, 1998