DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
In Congress July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States
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 seperate 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 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
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 invasions from without and convulsions
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 the conditions of new
appropriations of lands.
He has obstructed the administration of justice,
by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary
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
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among
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
For imposing taxes on us without our
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits
of trial by jury;
For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for
For abolishing the free system of English laws in
a neighboring province, establishing therin an arbitrary government,
and enlarging its boundries, so as to render it at once an example
and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most
valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring
themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases
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,
burned 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
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 our 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 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
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 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.
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