The Declaration of Independence: A
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
- 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
- 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
- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the
tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of
- 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
- For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for
- 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 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
- 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
- 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.
- The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the
- Column 1
- Column 2
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
- Column 3
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
- Column 4
- Column 5
- Column 6
Robert Treat Paine