The Declaration of Independence
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In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes
necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate
and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should
declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure
these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers
from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to
abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate
that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient
causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more
disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to
reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security
— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now
the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of
Government. — The history of the present King of Great Britain is a
history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let
facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome
and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be
obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts
of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in
the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable,
and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose
of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly
firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to
be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have
returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the
mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to
pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of
new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to
Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their
offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the
Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction
foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving
his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which
they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring Province,
establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so
as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same
absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and
altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with
power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and
waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to
compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with
circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous
ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to
bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends
and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to
bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose
known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the
most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated
injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define
a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have
warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an
unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances
of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native
justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common
kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our
connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of
justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity,
which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind,
Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united
States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme
Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and
by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and
Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British
Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great
Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and
Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract
Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which
Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,
our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Thos. Heyward, Junr.
Thomas Lynch, Junr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thos. Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robt. Treat Paine