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 endeavoured to prevent the Population
of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws of 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 harass 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
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
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 and perfidy scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized
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
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 Bri tain, 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.
JOHN HANCOCK, President
Attested, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary
New Hampshire: JOSIAH BARTLETT, WILLIAM WHIPPLE,
Massachusetts-Bay: SAMUEL ADAMS, JOHN ADAMS, ROBERT
TREAT PAINE, ELBRIDGE GERRY
Rhode Island: STEPHEN HOPKINS, WILLIAM ELLERY
Connecticut: ROGER SHERMAN, SAMUEL HUNTINGTON,
WILLIAM WILLIAMS, OLIVER WOLCOTT
Georgia: BUTTON GWINNETT, LYMAN HALL, GEO. WALTON
Maryland: SAMUEL CHASE, WILLIAM PACA, THOMAS STONE,
CHARLES CARROLL OF CARROLLTON
Virginia: GEORGE WYTHE, RICHARD HENRY LEE, THOMAS
JEFFERSON, BENJAMIN HARRISON, THOMAS NELSON, JR., FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE,
New York: WILLIAM FLOYD, PHILIP LIVINGSTON, FRANCIS
LEWIS, LEWIS MORRIS
Pennsylvania: ROBERT MORRIS, BENJAMIN RUSH, BENJAMIN
FRANKLIN, JOHN MORTON, GEORGE CLYMER, JAMES SMITH, GEORGE TAYLOR, JAMES
WILSON, GEORGE ROSS
Delaware: CAESAR RODNEY, GEORGE READ, THOMAS M'KEAN
North Carolina: WILLIAM HOOPER, JOSEPH HEWES,
South Carolina: EDWARD RUTLEDGE, THOMAS HEYWARD,
JR., THOMAS LYNCH, JR., ARTHUR MIDDLETON
New Jersey: RICHARD STOCKTON, JOHN WITHERSPOON,
FRANCIS HOPKINS, JOHN HART, ABRAHAM CLARK