IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
IN GENERAL CONGRESS ASSEMBLED
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.
OOOWe 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;
to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,
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.
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.
has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for
the public Good.
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
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.
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
has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
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.
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 Migrations hither, and
raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent
to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
OOOHe has made Judges dependent on his
Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and
Payment of their Salaries.
has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of
Officers to harass our People and eat out their Substance.
has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the
consent of our Legislatures.
has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the
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:
quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offenses:
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:
taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and
altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested
with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection
and waging War against us.
has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and
destroyed the Lives of our People.
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
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.
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 an undistinguished
Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
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 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.
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.