Independence>The Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence as Adopted by the Second Continental
CONGRESS, July 4, 1776,
unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united STATES of AMERICA,
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.
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
[George III] 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
has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.
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.
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.
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.
has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
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 meantime exposed to all the
dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
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.
has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
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.
has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without
the consent of our legislatures.
has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
to the Civil power.
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:
quartering large bodies of armed troops amoung us:
protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
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:
taking 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.
has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection
and waging War against us.
has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.