The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most
important documents in the history of the United States. It represents
the official first step toward the separation of the 13 colonies from
the control of Great Britain. The document was written by Thomas Jefferson
in seventeen days, during the Second Continental Congress.
Although the Declaration of Independence was not
officially signed until August 1, 1776, Congress voted to approve the
Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This is why we celebrate
July 4th as Independence Day.
The Declaration of Independence
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 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
- 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
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and
sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out
- 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
- For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment
for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these
- For cutting off our Trade with all parts of
- 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
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our
most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our
- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring
themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases
- 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 free people.
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.