The Battles of Lexington and Concord convinced a goodly number of Colonial doubters that war with the British Crown was inevitable. Bluster and pontification, threat and proclamation…they were all one thing (I’m not sure that’s grammatically proper, but oh well). Muskets and shot, bloodshed and death…well, that was altogether different.
But still, there were those Colonists who wanted to avoid going to war against a superpower. They recognized that there were serious issues that needed to be resolved, but believed a peaceful solution was still possible. On July 8, 1775, these men prevailed upon the remaining members of the Second Continental Congress to send the Olive Branch Petition to King George III. In it, they addressed their grievances, but also maintained their loyalty to the Crown.
Of course, 18th-century communication was slow, so it took some time for the Olive Branch Petition to arrive in the King’s hands. But it mattered little because King George had already received word of the incidents at Lexington and Concord. And his men had intercepted correspondence (particularly from John Adams) advocating war. The King refused to even open, much less read, the Olive Branch Petition.
On August 23, 1775, King George III issued his response: A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition. In it, the Colonies were declared to be in open rebellion against the Empire, and it gave officials permission “to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion.”
And while the war of words would continue for a period of time, it was clear that words were no longer going to fix the tenuous situation. The time for Revolution had truly arrived.
Recommended Reading: American Sphinx