Happy 4th of July

The Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence

In Con­gress, July 4, 1776

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 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.

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 inva­sions from with­out and con­vul­sions within.

He has 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.

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 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 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 offenses;

For abol­ish­ing 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 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 against us.

He has 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.

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 insur­rec­tion among us, and has endeav­ored 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 our 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 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 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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