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Few Americans were eager to declare independence because there was no military structure. The Second Continental Congress began building an American military appointing Virginia’s own George Washington, who was admired and had decades of military experience dating back to the Seven Years War, as general of the Continental Army in June 1775.
Just days after Congress chose Washington, Massachusetts militiamen engaged the British in the first clash of the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The British, who overran the militiamen, also suffered terrible losses. Congress petitioned the king to negotiate with the colonists, but the king rejected their petition declaring the patriots had already engaged in rebellion.
Declaring independence remained a feared prospect as the colonists largely considered themselves to be British, as most spoke English and understood politics and religion from a British viewpoint. Many Americans received baptism in the Church of England. It was not easy culturally, politically, or financially to considering severing ties with Britain.
Across America, dozens of towns and colonies began declaring themselves independent of Britain. In the spring and summer of 1776, they finally, formally, adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution