July 4, 1776
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 bonds 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
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 form the
consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes
destructive to 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 shown 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.
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.
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 meantime
exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
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 migration hither, and raising the conditions of new
appropriations of lands.
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
He has affected
to render the military independent of and superior to 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
large bodies of armed troops among us:
them, by 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:
taxes on us without our consent:
us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
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 in these colonies:
For taking away
our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally
the forms of our governments:
our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to
legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging
war against us.
plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned 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 and
perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy
the head of a civilized nation.
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 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 attention 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. 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.
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.
~ ~ ~
Signers ~ ~ ~
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George
Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison,
Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton