by Patrick-James
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Action of Second Continental 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 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 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
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 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
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.


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JOHN HANCOCK

Josiah Bartlett

Matthew Thronton

William Whipple

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

William Ellery

Stephen Hopkins

Roger Sherman

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

William Floyd

Frans. Lewis

Joseph Hewes

William Hooper

Caesar Rodney

Button Gwinnett

Phil Livingston

Lewis Morris

Abra Clark

John Hart

Fras. Hopkinson

Richard Stockton

Jon Witherspoon

George Clymer

Benjamin Franklin

Robert Morris

John Morton

George Ross

Benjamin Rush

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

Thomas McKean

George Read

Charles Carroll

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Carter Braxton

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Jefferson

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Nelson Jr.

George Wythe

George Walton

Lyman Hall

John Penn

Thomas Heyward Jr.

Thomas Lynch Jr.

Arthur Middleton

Edward Rutledge