British Reply to the Declaration: Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:01 The Declaration of…
  • 1:53 The British Reply
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Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in United States history. Most of us know the charges against King George III. But what about his reaction? In this lesson, we will discuss his reply to the declaration.

The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, fifty-six delegates from the thirteen colonies officially signed the Declaration of Independence. This document established the United States as a new nation. In the document, the thirteen colonies declared themselves separate from England. The reasons for this separation were made clear throughout the declaration. The colonists believed that King George III was guilty of repeated injuries in legislation, judicial rule, military, and protection.

To the colonists, King George III failed them by not allowing them representation. The colonies were forced to follow English rule without having any of their own representation in Parliament. They were not allowed to have their own meetings or government. They also believed that King George III was holding secret meetings and forcing people to obey his rule.

Judicially, the colonists were angry that they were not given their own trials by jury in the colonies. They were forced to sail to England for trial. They also believed that King George III controlled the judges and influenced their decision-making.

The colonists also felt very vulnerable. England failed to protect them at sea or from the Native Americans. Although they had repeatedly asked for help, King George III ignored their pleas. He also continued to station troops in the colonies, even during times of peace. Finally, the colonists accused King George III of attacking his own people and burning their towns.

Once the document was signed and delivered to King George III, the colonies now recognized themselves as the United States. But how did King George III feel about these accusations? What was his point of view? How did Great Britain react to the Declaration of Independence?

The British Reply

When Great Britain first received the Declaration of Independence, the country was silent. To them, this was another annoyance from the colonies. The colonists had sent previous letters to King George III that had been ignored, but this was the first time that they had declared themselves free from Great Britain. You know how you feel when a little child continues to ask you for the same thing over and over again, and eventually, you stop listening? This was how King George III viewed the colonies. They were a nuisance, but relatively harmless. Or so he thought.

The government hired John Lind, an English politician and pamphleteer, to write a rebuttal to the declaration. He wrote Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress, a reply that tried to pick apart the Declaration of Independence. Lind focused on the issue of slavery, saying that the colonists were actually angry that King George III had offered freedom to the slaves. Lind even mocked the writers for stating, 'All men are created equal…', yet they allowed slavery. Of course, all of this was just a distraction. The colonists really paid no attention to the pamphlet.

Following this, King George III officially declared the colonies to be in a state of rebellion. By August of 1776, the King ordered troops to the colonies.

Once the Revolutionary War began, the citizens of Great Britain became more concerned about the colonies and their fight for independence. In October, King George III addressed Parliament, hoping to ease some of the concerns. He opened the address wishing that he could inform them that the troubles were at an end and that the people had 'recovered from their delusion' and 'returned to their duty.' However, the colonists continued to fight and even 'openly renounced all allegiance to the Crown.' King George III accused the colonists of treason, but reassured the Parliament that England was still united.

The King ended his address singing his own praises saying, 'No people ever enjoyed more Happiness, or lived under a milder Government, then those now revolted Provinces.' Everything that the colonies have—their land, sea, wealth, and strength—was because of him. His desire was to return the colonies as a part of the British Empire and end the war.

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