When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for onepeople to dissolve the political bands which have connected them withanother and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate andequal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitlethem, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that theyshould declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are createdequal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certainunalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and thepursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments areinstituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent ofthe governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomesdestructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter orto abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundationon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to themshall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long establishedshould not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordinglyall experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer,while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing theforms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abusesand usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a designto reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it istheir duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guardsfor their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance ofthese Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains themto alter their former Systems of Government. The history of thepresent King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries andusurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of anabsolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts besubmitted to a candid world.He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessaryfor the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressingimportance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assentshould be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglectedto attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of largedistricts of people, unless those people would relinquish the rightof Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them andformidable to tyrants only.He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their PublicRecords, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance withhis measures.He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing withmanly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to causeothers to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable ofAnnihilation, have returned to the People at large for theirexercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all thedangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; forthat purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, andraising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing hisAssent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure oftheir offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms ofOfficers to harass our people and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without theConsent of our legislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior tothe Civil Power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreignto our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving hisAssent 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 Murderswhich 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 benefit 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 neighbouringProvince, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlargingits Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fitinstrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these ColoniesFor taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws andaltering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselvesinvested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of hisProtection and waging War against us.He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, anddestroyed the lives of our people.He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenariesto compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, alreadybegun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled inthe most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seasto bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners oftheir friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavouredto bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless IndianSavages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguisheddestruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress inthe most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered onlyby repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by everyact 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. Wehave warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislatureto extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have remindedthem of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. Wehave appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we haveconjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow theseusurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections andcorrespondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice andof consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity,which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest ofmankind, 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 theworld for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and byAuthority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish anddeclare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to beFree and Independent States, that they are Absolved from allAllegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connectionbetween them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to betotally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they havefull Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establishCommerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which IndependentStates may of right do. --And for the support of this Declaration,with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, wemutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
John HancockNew Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew ThorntonMassachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge GerryRhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William ElleryConnecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver WolcottNew York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis MorrisNew Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham ClarkPennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, GeorgeClymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George RossDelaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKeanMaryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of CarrolltonVirginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison,Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter BraxtonNorth Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John PennSouth Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur MiddletonGeorgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton