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 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
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
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 Consent:
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 neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary
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:
away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering
fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
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
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.
The 56 signatures on the
Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
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