What were the reactions of the 13 colonies to the Declaration of Independence?
By June 1776, the representatives of the thirteen colonies of the Continental Congress were well versed in the art of political discourse. After almost two years of a valiant 'tug of war' between the factional colonial representatives, it was clear that independence was eminent. The only questions left to answer were who was to write the declaration to England, what the document should include, and how it was to be distributed to the colonies so that it would ascertain the greatest positive impact?
The answers: Thomas Jefferson would author the document, however Ben Franklin and John Adams served as the document's most critical editors. According to Franklin and Adams it was imperative that the document only address the issue of independence, even though Jefferson's draft included a wide range of additional issues. Last but not least, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and several others had to 'market and advertise' the document throughout the colonies, which were comprised of patriots, loyalists, and what I call the undecided. Each one of these groups held great care with regard to their political opinion. This was why the delegates of the Continental Congress decided to have the Declaration of Independence printed and distributed throughout the colonies at the same time. In addition, the document was read in the 'town squares' throughout the colonies. How better to market, advertise, as well as motivate those who were uncertain about their feelings of 'independence' than by a universal inter-colonial reading of the document.
To me, it is not really possible to talk about the reactions of the various colonies (as whole entities) to the Declaration of Independence. Instead, there were different reactions from different kinds of people within each colony.
Within each colony, there were people who were happy about the Declaration and those who were not. There were those who thought that it was a bad idea because they wanted to continue to be a part of England (the Loyalists) and those who were excited about the Declaration (the Patriots). And there was a third group of people who didn't really care much one way or the other.
So the reactions were very mixed within each colony.