THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
IN GENERAL CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.
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, purſusing 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 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 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 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.
Signed by ORDER and in BEHALF of the CONGRESS,
JOHN HANCOCK, PRESIDENT.
CHARLES THOMSON, SECRETARY.
PHILADELPHIA: PRINTED BY JOHN DUNLAP.