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 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 invasion 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 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 against us.
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 & 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 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 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 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.
Signed by ORDER and in BEHALF of the CONGRESS,
JOHN HANCOCK, PRESIDENT.
CHARLES THOMSON, SECRETARY.
PHILADELPHIA: PRINTED BY JOHN DUNLAP.
To break: to disunite in any manner.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye be?"
2 Peter iii.II.
To loose; to break the ties of anything.
To separate persons united.
To break up assemblies.
"I can be contented with an humbler station in the temple of virtue, than to be set on the pinnacle."
To drive on towards a point.
"So Myrrha's mind, impell'd on either side,
takes ev'ry bent, buy cannot long abide."
To endow: to enrich with any excellence.
"I at first with two fair gifts
Created him endow'd; with happiness
And immortality; that fondly lost,
This other serv'd but to eternize woe."
To enrich with a portion
To supply with any external goods.
Not to be transferred.
"Hereditary right should be kept sacred, not from any unalienable right in a particular family, but to avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors."
Wisdom applied to practice.
"Under prudence is comprehended that discreet, apt suiting and disposing as well of actions as words, in their due place, time, and manner.'
Soon past; momentary; not lasting; not durable.
"Love, hitherto a transient guest,
Ne'er held possession in his breast."
To frame the mind; to give a propension; to incline.
"The memory of what they had suffered, by being without it, easily disposed them to do this."
To abolish: to annul; to make void. Applied to laws or institutions.
"For us to abolish what he hath established, were presumption most intolerable."
Hooker, b.iii. 10
To put an end to; to destroy
Forcible, unjust, illegal seizure or possession.
Finding his usurpation most unjust,
Endeavour'd my advancement to the throne."
He, who steers his course invariably by this rule, takes the surest way to make all men praise him.
To evince: To prove; to shew; to manifest; to make evident.
"That religion, teaching a future state of souls, is a probability; and that its contrary cannot, with equal probability, be proved, we have evinced."
"The invention of these juvenile pretenders to liberty was, in reality, nothing more than a servile imitation of one of the poorest resources of doting despotism."
"Most wretched man,
That to affections does the bridle lend;
In their beginning they are weak and wan,
But soon through sufferance grow to fearful end."
Hurt without justice.
"The places were acquired by just title of victory, and therefore in keeping of them no injury was offered."
"My crown is absolute, and holds of none;
I cannot in a base subjection live,
Nor suffer you to take, though I would give."
Dryden, Ind. Emp.
Complete; applied as well to persons as things.
Not relative; as, absolute space.
Unresisted and cruel power.
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
Th' untimely emptying of the happy throne,
And all of many kings."
Absolute monarchy imperiously administered.
Cruel government; rigorous command.
Severity; rigour; inclemency.
"The evidence of God's own testimony, added unto the natural assent of reason, concerning the certainty of them, doth not a little comfort and confirm the same."
To suspend: To delay; hinder from proceeding.
"The reasons for suspending the play were ill founded."
To interrupt; to make to stop for a time.
To quit; to release; to give up.
"The ground of God's sole property in any thing is, the return of it made by man to God; by which act he relinquishes and delivers back to God all his right to the use of that thing, which before had been freely granted him by God."
To forbear; to depart from.
A cruel despotick and severe master; an oppressor.
"Love to a yielding heart is a king, but to a resisting is a tyrant."
An absolute monarch governing imperiously.
The place where any thing is lodged.
"Becket might have been justifiable, perhaps even laudable, for his steady maintenance of the privileges, which his church and order had acquired, by the care of his predecessors, and of which he by his place was the depository."
Burke, Abridg. of Eng. Hist. iii.6.
Manlike; becoming a man; firm; brave; stout; undaunted; undismayed.
"Serene and manly, harden'd to sustain
The load of life, and exercis'd in pain."
The act of reducing to nothing.
"God hath his influence into the very essence of things, without which their utter annihilation could not choose but follow."
Tumult; commotion; disturbance.
"All have been subject to some concussions, and fallen under the same convulsions of state, by dissentions or invasions."
Laboured to a certain purpose.
"I could wish that more of our country clergy would endeavour after a handsome elocution."
The act of investing aliens with the privileges of native subjects.
"Enemies, by taking advantage of the general naturalization act, invited over foreigners of all religions."
To appropriate: to assign to some particular use or person.
"Some they appropriated to the gods, and some to publick, some to private ends."
"It may be perceived, with what insecurity we ascribe effects depending on the natural period of time, unto arbitrary calculations, and such as vary at pleasure."
Brown, Bulg. Err.
To pillage; to rob in a hostile way.
"Nebuchadnezzar plunders the temple of God, and we find the fatal doom that afterwards befel him."
To take by pillage.
to rob as a thief.
To ravage: To lay waste; to sack; to ransack; to spoil; to pillage; to plunder.
Has ravaged more than half the globe, and sees
Mankind grown thin by his destructive sword."
Destruction of inhabitants
"Without her follows to myself and thee,
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin and decay."
Treachery, want of faith; breach of faith.
The magician Merlin intended to build a wall of brass about Cairmairdin; but being hastily called away by the Lady of the Lake, and slain by her perfidy, he left his friends still at work on this mighty structure."
Warton, Observ. on Spenser.
"Thou art a Roman be not barbarous."
The plural of brother.
"All these sects are brethren to each other in faction, ignorance, iniquity, perverseness, pride."
A rebellious commotion.
"This city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein."
The act of oppressing; cruelty; severity.
"If though seest the oppressions of the poor, marvel not at the matter, for he that is higher than the highest regardeth."
"A few may complain without reason; but there is occasion for redress when the cry is universal."
Request; intreaty; supplication.
"My next poor petition
Is, that his noble grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women."
Elevation of soul.
"They had enough reveng'd, having reduc'd
Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
The rest was magnanimity to remit,
If some convenient ransom were propos'd."
Greatness of mind.
To Conjure: to enjoin with the highest solemnity.
"The church may address her sons in the form St. Paul does the Philippians, when he conjures them to unity."
Decay of Piety.
To bind many by an oath to some common design.
To summon in a sacred name.
Nearness of kin.
"There is the supreme and indissoluble consanguinity and society between men in general; of which the heathen poet, whom the apostle calls to witness, saith, We are all his generation."
Bacon, Holy War.
To rest in, or remain satisfied with, without opposition or discontent.
"Others will, upon account of the receivedness of the proposed opinion, think it rather worthy to be examined than acquiesced in."
"Calm the disorders of thy mind, by reflecting on the wisdom, equity, and absolute rectitude of all his proceedings."
To absolve: to set free from an engagement or promise.
"Compell'd by threats to take that bloody oath,
And the act ill, I am absolv'd of both."
Waller, Maid's Trag.
To clear, to acquit of a crime in a judicial sense.
The duty of subjects to the government.
"I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crowned king.
Proceeding from God.
"The benefit of nature's light is not thought excluded as unnecessary, because the necessity of a divine light is magnified."
Partaking of the nature of God.
Excellent in a supreme degree.
The care of God over created beings; divine superintendence.
"They could not move me from my settled faith in God and his providence.
More, Div. Dialogues.