The Declaration Of Independence
In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous declaration of the thirteen
United States of America.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
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 Tyranny 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
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
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
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete 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
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
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 British 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 Connexions
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 Connexion 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 Honour.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer,
Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.
IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777.
THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the Names of the
MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES,
and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD.
By Order of CONGRESS,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
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