The thirteen British colonies of mainland North America moved toward independence slowly. The colonists were proud of being British and had no desire to be separated from their mother country with which they were united, as John Dickinson put it in his popular newspaper "by religion, liberty, laws, affections, relation, language and commerce." Not even the outbreak of war at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on 19 April 1775 produced calls for independence.
The king did not formally answer to the petition. Instead, in a proclamation he said that the colonists were engaged in an "open rebellion." Then, on October 26, he told the Parliament that the American rebellion was "manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent Empire," and that the colonists' professions of loyalty to him and the "parent State" were "meant only to amuse." News of the speech arrived at Philadelphia in January 1776, just when Thomas Paine's Common Sense appeared. American freedom would never be secure British rule, Paine argued, because the British government included two grave "constitutional errors,"monarchy and hereditary rule. Americans could secure their future and that of their children only by declaring their independence and founding a new government whose authority rested on the people alone, with no king or other hereditary rulers. The pamphlet opened a wide sprad public debate on the previously taboo subject of independence. News of Parliament's Prohibitory Act declared colonial