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
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
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly,
for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the
HE has refused for a long Time, after such
Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative
Powers, incapable of the 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 the 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
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
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from
Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the
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
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 Rules 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
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 and Perfidy, scarcely
paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a
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
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
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.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr., Thomas Lynch,
junr., Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja.
Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John
Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John
Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, C. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver
IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777.