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
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 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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their
- 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
- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all
- 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
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
- Charles Thomson, Secretary
- New Hampshire
- Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew
- Massachusetts Bay
- Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine,
- Rhode Island
- Stephen Hopkins William Ellery
- Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams,
- Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton
- Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles
Carroll of Carrollton
- George Wythe, Richard Genry Lee, Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr, Francis Lightfoot Lee,
- New York
- William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis
- Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin,
John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor,
James Wilson, George Ross
- Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M'Kean
- North Carolina
- William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
- South Carolina
- Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr, Thomas Lynch,
Jr, Arthur Middleton
- New Jersey
- Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkins,
John Hart, Abraham Clark
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