The Declaration of Independence
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE:
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 shown, 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
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
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 of 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 harass 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
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 attention 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 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.
JOHN HANCOCK, President
Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary
ROBERT TREAT PAINE
RICHARD HENRY LEE
THOMAS NELSON, JR.
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE
THOMAS HEYWARD, JR.
THOMAS LYNCH, JR.