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IN CONGRESSJULY 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 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 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 harass 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 ben­e­fit 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 neigh­bor­ing 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 com­plete 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 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 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 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.

 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

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

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

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

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

North Car­olina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

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

Geor­gia:
But­ton Gwin­nett, Lyman Hall, George Wal­ton

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