Why did the Americans - particularly the 2nd Continental Congress - hesitate in declaring independence?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were many reasons why Americans, and the Second Continental Congress in particular, hesitated in declaring independence.  First, the likelihood of winning was very low.  The Americans didn't have a trained army.  They also didn't have a lot of money or supplies which would be necessary to fight and win a war. The odds of losing were very high. Additionally, those in Second Continental Congress knew they could be killed if they declared independence. By declaring independence, they were committing treason against Great Britain. Their lives were on the line more than the average colonist. There was also concerns about what would happen if the Americans won. There were many people who depended on Great Britain for their livelihood. Either they worked for the British, or they profited from trade with them. A colonial victory could put all of that in jeopardy. People were concerned about the Americans being able to govern themselves. We would need to develop a plan of government. We would need to establish an army and navy. We would have to create a system of making laws. Almost all of things that the British had done for us, we would now have to do for ourselves. This was not going to be as easy as many colonists thought it would be. Often, when a new government forms, it faces rough times. People were concerned how Americans would react to that. There are many reasons why the Americans were hesitant to declare independence from Great Britain.

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