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Declaration of Independence

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 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 out 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 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 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.

JOHN HANCOCK, President

Attest.
CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary.

SIGNERS

Adams, John                     MA      Lawyer
Adams, Samuel                   MA      Political leader
Bartlett, Josiah                NH      Physician, Judge
Braxton, Carter                 VA      Farmer
Carroll, Charles of Carrollton  MD      Lawyer
Chase, Samuel                   MD      Judge
Clark, Abraham                  NJ      Surveyor
Clymer, George                  PA      Merchant
Ellery, William                 RI      Lawyer
Floyd, William                  NY      Soldier
Franklin, Benjamin              PA      Printer, Publisher
Gerry, Elbridge                 MA      Merchant
Gwinnett, Button                GA      Merchant
Hall, Lyman                     GA      Physician
Hancock, John                   MA      Merchant
Harrison, Benjamin              VA      Farmer
Hart, John                      NJ      Farmer
Hewes, Joseph                   NC      Merchant
Heyward, Thomas Jr.             SC      Lawyer, Farmer
Hooper, William                 NC      Lawyer
Hopkins, Stephen                RI      Judge, Educator
Hopkinson, Francis              NJ      Judge, Author
Huntington, Samuel              CT      Judge
Jefferson, Thomas               VA      Lawyer
Lee, Francis Lightfoot          VA      Farmer
Lee, Richard Henry              VA      Farmer
Lewis, Francis                  NY      Merchant
Livingston, Philip              NY      Merchant
Lynch, Thomas Jr.               SC      Farmer
McKean, Thomas                  DE      Lawyer
Middleton, Arthur               SC      Farmer
Morris, Lewis                   NY      Farmer
Morris, Robert                  PA      Merchant
Morton, John                    PA      Judge
Nelson, Thomas Jr.              VA      Farmer
Paca, William                   MD      Judge
Paine, Robert Treat             MA      Judge
Penn, John                      NC      Lawyer
Read, George                    DE      Judge
Rodney, Caesar                  DE      Judge
Ross, George                    PA      Judge
Rush, Benjamin                  PA      Physician
Rutledge, Edward                SC      Lawyer
Sherman, Roger                  CT      Lawyer
Smith, James                    PA      Lawyer
Stockton, Richard               NJ      Lawyer
Stone, Thomas                   MD      Lawyer
Taylor, George                  PA      Ironmaster
Thornton, Matthew               NH      Physician
Walter, George                  GA      Judge
Whipple, William                NH      Merchant, Judge
Williams, William               CT      Merchant
Wilson, James                   PA      Judge
Witherspoon, John               NJ      Educator
Wolcott, Oliver                 CT      Judge
Wythe, George                   VA      Lawyer

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