Declaration Of IndependenceWhen, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people todissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and toassume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to whichthe laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to theopinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impelthem to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all menare created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certainunalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit ofhappiness.
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,deriving their just powers form the consent of the governed. That whenever anyform of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of thepeople to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying itsfoundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to themshall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed,will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for lightand transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind aremore disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves byabolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train ofabuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design toreduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, tothrow 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 thenecessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.
Thehistory of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuriesand usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolutetyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candidworld. He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary forthe public good. He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate andpressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent shouldbe 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 ofpeople, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in thelegislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He hascalled together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distantfrom the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguingthem into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved representative housesrepeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of thepeople. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause othersto be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, havereturned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in themeantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsionswithin. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for thatpurpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to passothers to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of newappropriations of lands. He has obstructed the administration of justice, byrefusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has madejudges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and theamount 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 theirsubstance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without theconsent of our legislature. He has affected to render the military independentof and superior to civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to ajurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; givinghis assent to their acts of pretended legislation: For quartering large bodiesof armed troops among us: For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishmentfor any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states: Forcutting off our trade with all parts of the world: For imposing taxes on uswithout our consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial byjury: For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses: Forabolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province,establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so asto render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the sameabsolute rule in these colonies: For taking away our charters, abolishing ourmost valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments: Forsuspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power tolegislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated government here, bydeclaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
He has plunderedour seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of ourpeople. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries tocomplete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun withcircumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarousages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. He has constrainedour fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against theircountry, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fallthemselves by their hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, andhas endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the mercilessIndian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction ofall ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these oppressions we havepetitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions havebeen answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus markedby every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a freepeople.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. Wehavewarned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend anunwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstancesof our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justiceand magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred todisavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections andorrespondence.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denouncesour 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 ofAmerica, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of theworld for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authorityof the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that theseunited colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; thatthey are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that allpolitical connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and oughtto be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have fullpower to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, andto do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. Andfor the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection ofDivine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes andour sacred honor.