THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, 1776
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 Natures
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 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
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
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 of 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 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 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
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
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
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 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. 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
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 out 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.
JOHN HANCOCK, President
Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary
RICHARD HENRY LEE
THOMAS NELSON, JR.
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE
THOMAS HEYWARD, JR.
THOMAS LYNCH, JR.
ROBERT TREAT PAINE
CHARLES CARROLL OF
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