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JULY 2, 1776: Delegates to the Second Continental Congress formally adopt a resolution submitted by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee calling for independence from Great Britain; the vote is unanimous, with New York abstaining. As tensions with British rule in the American colonies worsened, sentiment in the Congress for independence had grown stronger, but a core group of states was not as yet ready to call for a definitive break. In June the Congress had appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of the colonies’s intent, and they chose Virginia representative Thomas Jefferson to lead the drafting of the document. Three days after approving Lee’s resolution, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.