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In spite of the outbreak of war in 1775, the legislatures of the American colonies were only gradually persuaded to demand independence; the Declaration was not finally agreed until 4 July 1776. The British government was determined to resist the rebellion but met with military reverses in America and a vociferous, if divided, opposition at home. By the beginning of 1778 the French were also threatening to intervene.
At this time the opposition demanded an enquiry into the state of the nation and called for papers, to reveal, amongst other things, the ineffectiveness of the Prohibitory Act as a means of restoring America to the king's 'peace'. These papers, which were laid before the House of Lords on 20 Jan 1778, included this copy of the American Declaration of Independence. The motion for an enquiry was defeated on 2 February. The war was formally ended by the Treaty of Paris, which was signed on 3 September 1783.
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