The Declaration of Independence
Adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776

In Congress, July 4, 1776
A Declaration
by the Representatives of the
United States of America
In General Congress assembled

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 Experi-
ence 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 Govern-
ment . The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of
repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Estab-
lishment 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 formi-
dable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfort-
able, 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.
Hi 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 Prov-
ince, 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 in-
vested 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 out 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 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 endeav-
oured 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 oughy 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 mat of right so. 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

Attest,
CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Adams, John (Mass.) Lawyer
Adams, Samuel (Mass.) Political Leader
Bartlett, Josiah (N.H.) Physician, Judge
Braxton, Carter (Va.) Farmer
Carroll, Chas. of Carrollton (Md.) Judge
Chase, Samuel (Md.) Judge
Clark, Abraham (N.J.) Surveyor
Clymer, George (Pa.) Printer, Publisher
Gerry, Elbridge (Mass.) Merchant
Gwinett, Button (Ga) Merchant
Hall, Lymon (Ga) Physician
Hancock, John (Mass.) Merchant
Harrison, Benjamin (Va.) Farmer
Hart, John (NJ) Farmer
Hewes, Joseph (NC) Merchant
Heyward, Thos. Jr. (S.C.) Lawyer, Farmer
Hooper, William (N.C.) Lawyer
Hopkins, Stephan (R.I.) Judge, Educator
Hopkinson, Francis (N.J.) Judge, Author
Huntington, Samuel (Conn) Judge
Jefferson, Thomas (Va) Lawyer
Lee, Francis Lightfoot (Va) Lawyer
Lee, Richard Henry (Va) Farmer
Lewis, Francis (N.Y.) Merchant
Livingston, Phillip (N.Y.) Merchant
Lynch, Thomas Jr. (S.C.) Farmer
McKean, Thomas (Del) Lawyer
Middleton, Arthur (S.C.) Farmer
Morris, Lewis (N.Y.) Farmer
Morris, Robert (Pa.) Merchant
Morton, John (Pa.) Judge
Nelson, Thos. Jr (Va.) Farmer
Paca, William (Md.) Judge
Paine, Robert Treat (Mass.) Judge
Penn, John (N.C.) Lawyer
Read, George (Del.) Judge
Rodney, Caesar (Del.) Judge
Ross, George (Pa.) Judge
Rush, Benjamin (Pa) Physician
Rutledge, Edward (S.C.) Lawyer
Sherman, Roger (Conn.) Lawyer
Smith, James (Pa) Lawyer
Stockton, Richard (N.J.) Lawyer
Stone, Thomas (Md.) Lawyer
Taylor, George (Pa.) Ironmaster
Thornton, Matthew (N.H.) Physician
Walton, George (Ga.) Judge
Whipple, William (N.H.) Merchant, Judge
Willliams, William (Conn.) Merchant
Wilson, James (Pa.) Judge
Witherspoon, John (N.J.) Educator
Wolcott, Oliver (Conn.) Judge
Wythe, George (Va.) Lawyer
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