THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Action of Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States
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
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 the 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 the Convulsions
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 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
Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to
render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for
introducing the same absolute Rules 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 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
STATED 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.
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