After over ten years, the American colonists had suffered under the tyrannical rule of the British Crown. One tax act after another was bleeding many colonists dry and making their attempts to survive in the colonies difficult. Resentment to the crown began to grow throughout the colonies. Many talked about rebellion and declaring independence from Great Britain, but few had the courage to speak out for independence. To do so was treason, imprisonment and loss of everything one owned.
On May 31, 1775, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina took the first step when they declared their independence from Great Britain with their Mecklenburg Resolution
On May 4, 1776, the smallest colony, Rhode Island, was the first colony to declare their own independence from Great Britain. The irony of their declaration was in the fact that Rhode Island wasn’t sure it wanted to be part of the American colonies either. Even though they were the first to declare independence from Great Britain, they were the very last colony to ratify the US Constitution in 1790.
On June 7, 1776, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, introduced his resolution calling for Congress to formally declare independence from Great Britain. It was this resolution that actually led them to draft the Declaration of Independence.
On this day, June 15, 1776, the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania, also known as Delaware, took a momentous step in declaring their independence. However, it wasn’t just independence from Great Britain they were declaring, they were also declaring their independence from Pennsylvania.
The Assembly of the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania consisted of New Castle, Kent and Sussex-Upon-Delaware. The residents of the three counties gathered in New Castle where they unanimously voted against the rule of King George III and the William Penn family that continued to rule Pennsylvania. Another vote that day was taken amongst the residents was to declare themselves to be the ‘Delaware State.’
Unlike Rhode Island, Delaware did want to be part of the United States and were the first colony to ratify the US Constitution. To this day, Delaware claims to be the First State.
June 15 is still celebrated as Separation Day in Delaware.
Sources for the above includes: Today, May 4, 1776: First American Colony to Declare Independence from Great Britain; Today, May 31, 1775: Mecklenburg Resolves – Legend v. Fact; Today, June 7, 1776: Resolution that Led to the Declaration of Independence; Backstory: Celebrate our Separation Day; Delaware Declares independence; June 15, 1776: Delaware Declares Independence; Separation Day.