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 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.

Georgia
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

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

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

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

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

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

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

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