Breaking News From Virginia: Colony Declares Itself “Independent of Great Britain”
On August 7, 1776, readers of the one of Scotland’s leading newspapers, The Edinburgh Evening Courant, learned that Virginia had taken the final step on the road to independence. By this time, of course, the Declaration of Independence already had been adopted in Philadelphia. However, since it took a month or more for news to cross the Atlantic, no one in Britain would know about it for another few days. It was not until August 10, 1776, that the news of the July 4th Declaration of Independence would reach Britain, and subscribers to The Edinburgh Evening Courant had to wait until August 21 to read the full text of the Declaration in their newspaper.
The news of Virginia independence reached Britain first because Virginia acted before the Continental Congress did on this issue. The Fifth Virginia Convention passed a series of resolutions in late May and June, 1776. These resolutions rejected all aspects of British authority and gave the Commonwealth of Virginia a new form of independent government. Virginian Richard Henry Lee then urged the Continental Congress to follow Virginia’s lead. The Continental Congress took his advice, finally declaring independence for the 13 colonies on July 4, 1776.