The Declaration Of Independence





In Congress, July 4, 1776.



When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people

to dissolve the political bonds 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 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 inalienable 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 a 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 has 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 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,

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 meantime, exposed to all the dangers of

invasion from without, and convulsions within.



He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that

purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners, refusing

to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising

conditions of new appropriation of lands. He has obstructed the

administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws 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 to 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 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 the seas to be tried for pretended offenses.



For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring

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 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

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 insurrection among us, and has endeavored 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 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 connection 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 the

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 foregoing declaration was, by order of the Congress, engrossed, and

signed by the following members:



JOHN HANCOCK



New Hampshire--Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton.



Massachusetts Bay--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 York--William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris.



New Jersey--Richard Stockton. John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John

Hart, Abraham Clark.



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.



Maryland--Samuel Chase, William Paco, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll, of

Carrollton.



Virginia--George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin

Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.



North Carolina--William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.



South Carolina--Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr.,

Arthur Middleton.



Georgia--Button Gwinett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.





The following clause formed part of the original Declaration of

Independence as signed, but was finally left out of the printed copies

out of respect to South Carolina:



He [King George III.] has waged cruel war against human nature itself,

violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a

distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them

into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their

transportation thither.





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