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 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. ____ 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 endeavoured 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.
____ 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 harraſs 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 has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
____ He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat 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 attentions to our Brittish 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.
The 56 signatures are as follows:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine