Without such a declaration, Paine concluded, "[t]he custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take rank with other nations." Beyond improving their existing association, the records of the Second Continental Congress show that the need for a declaration of independence was intimately linked with the demands of international relations.
Over the next two decades, some of the basic concepts it addressed would strengthen; others would weaken, especially in the degree of loyalty (or lack thereof) owed the Crown.
Civil disobedience resulted in coercive and quelling measures, such as the passage of what the colonials referred to as the intolerable acts in the English Parliament, and armed skirmishes which resulted in dissidents being proclaimed rebels.
In early 1776, Thomas Paine argued in the closing pages of the first edition of Common Sense that the "custom of nations" demanded a formal declaration of American independence if any European power were to mediate a peace between the Americans and Great Britain.
The monarchies of France and Spain in particular could not be expected to aid those they considered rebels against another legitimate monarch.