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 them.

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 only.

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 within.

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 Legislatures, 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 & 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 and
conditions.

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 attentions 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.


(The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions
indicated:)

[Column 1]
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

[Column 2]
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

[Column 3]
Massachusetts:
John Hancock

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

[Column 4]
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

[Column 5]
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

[Column 6]
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton


The text of the Declaration of Independence is a
transcript obtained at the National Archives website.


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