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The Second Continental Congress represents the people of the new nation called the United States of America.
The losses and restrictions that came from the war greatly widened the breach between the colonies and the mother country; moreover, it was necessary to assert independence in order to secure as much French aid as possible.
On April 12, 1776, the revolutionary convention of North Carolina specifically authorized its delegates in the Congress to vote for independence.
At that time few of the colonists consciously desired to separate from Britain.
As the American Revolution proceeded during 1775–76 and Britain undertook to assert its sovereignty by means of large armed forces, making only a gesture toward conciliation, the majority of Americans increasingly came to believe that they must secure their rights outside the empire.
The new nation is not only named in this conclusion as the United States of America, but its authority is defined as well.
The conclusion serves to establish the authority of the Second Continental Congress over issues of international affairs, war and peace, and trade.
The passage of Lee’s resolution was delayed for several reasons.
Some of the delegates had not yet received authorization to vote for separation; a few were opposed to taking the final step; and several men, among them John Dickinson, believed that the formation of a central government, together with attempts to secure foreign aid, should precede it.
(The convention of New York gave its consent on July 9, and the New York delegates voted affirmatively on July 15.) On July 19 the Congress ordered the document to be engrossed as “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.” It was accordingly put on parchment, probably by Timothy Matlack of Philadelphia.
Members of the Congress present on August 2 affixed their signatures to this parchment copy on that day and others later.