On Dec. 6, 1775, the Second Continental Congress responded to King George III’s proclamation of rebellion, reaffirming the colonists’ loyalty to the crown but reasserting their right to resist unconstitutional acts of Parliament.

King George issued A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition on Aug. 23, 1775, after the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was indirectly a response to the Olive Branch Petition drafted by the Second Continental Congress and adopted on July 5, 1775.

William Penn and Arthur Lee arrived in England with a copy of the Olive Branch Petition 10 days before the king issued his proclamation. George refused to receive the petition and responded without reading it.

Heavily influenced by John Dickinson’s desire for reconciliation, the Olive Branch Petition was the colonists’ last-ditch effort to avoid all-out war. Primarily drafted by Dickinson and signed by representatives of 12 of the 13 colonies, the petition affirmed the colonists’ loyalty to the crown, but it also emphasized the colonists’ rights as British citizens.

The petition asserted that the colonies “not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these colonies may be restored, but that a concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis as to perpetuate its blessings, uninterrupted by any future dissensions, to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majesty’s Name to posterity.”

After the Battle of Bunker Hill, King George was in no mood for reconciliation. His proclamation declared that the colonists were in rebellion.

“After various disorderly Acts committed in Disturbance of the Publick Peace, to the Obstruction of lawful Commerce, and to the Oppression of Our loyal Subjects carrying on the same, have at length proceeded to an open and avowed Rebellion, by arraying themselves in hostile Manner to withstand the Execution of the Law, and traitorously preparing, ordering, and levying War against Us.”

The proclamation also ordered that “not only all Our Officers Civil and Military are obliged to exert their utmost Endeavours to suppress such Rebellion, and to bring the Traitors to Justice ; but that all Our Subjects of this Realm and the Dominions thereunto belonging are bound by Law to be aiding and assisting in the Suppression of such Rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous Conspiracies and Attempts against Us, Our Crown and Dignity.”

When the proclamation reached the colonies, the Second Continental Congress appointed a three-person committee made up of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and William Livingston of New Jersey “to prepare a declaration, in answer to sundry illegal ministerial proclamations that have lately appeared in America.”

Still hoping to de-escalate the situation, the response adopted by the Continental Congress on Dec. 6 reaffirmed allegiance to the king, insisting, “Our words have ever avowed it,–our conduct has ever been consistent with it.”

However, the colonists insisted that actions of Parliament violated the British constitution and their rights as Englishmen.

“We condemn, and with arms in our hands,–a resource which Freemen will never part with,–we oppose the claim and exercise of unconstitutional powers, to which neither the Crown nor Parliament were ever entitled. By the British Constitution, our best inheritance, rights, as well as duties, descend upon us.”

And they reaffirmed their right to resist all such unconstitutional acts.

“We have resisted in those cases, in which the right to resist is stipulated as expressly on our part, as the right to govern is, in other cases, stipulated on the part of the Crown. The breach of allegiance is removed from our resistance as far as tyranny is removed from legal government.”

The king’s proclamation undercut moderates such as Dickinson who still hoped for reconciliation and put the colonies on the path toward independence. While the Continental Congress was still trying to set a conciliatory tone, it was clear the colonists were not going to back down and meekly submit to what they viewed as a tyrannical violation of their rights.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


maharrey minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.