When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary
for one people to dissolve the political bonds 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 to 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 meantime 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 legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to 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 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
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended
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 in 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 insurrections amongst us, and
has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless
Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is 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
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 orrespondence. 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 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.
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