[United States Government Manual]
[June 01, 2004]
[Pages 1-3]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


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The Declaration of Independence

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

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remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from 
without, and convulsions within.--He has endeavored to prevent the 
population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for 
Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their 
migration 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 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 & 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 Brittish 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 disolved; and 
that as Free and

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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            Benj. Harrison          Lewis Morris

Button Gwinnett         Thos. Nelson, Jr.       Richd. Stockton

Lyman Hall              Francis Lightfoot Lee   Jno. Witherspoon

Geo. Walton             Carter Braxton          Fras. Hopkinson

Wm. Hooper              Robt. Morris            John Hart

Joseph Hewes            Benjamin Rush           Abra. Clark

John Penn               Benj. Franklin          Josiah Bartlett

Edward Rutledge         John Morton             Wm. Whipple

Thos. Heyward, Jr.      Geo. Clymer             Saml. Adams

Thomas Lynch, Jr.       Jas. Smith              John Adams

Arthur Middleton        Geo. Taylor             Robt. Treat Paine

Samuel Chase            James Wilson            Elbridge Gerry

Wm. Paca                Geo. Ross               Step. Hopkins

Thos. Stone             Caesar Rodney           William Ellery

Charles Carroll of      Geo. Read               Roger Sherman

  Carrollton            Tho. M: Kean            Sam. Huntington

George Wythe            Wm. Floyd               Wm. Williams

Richard Henry Lee       Phil. Livingston        Oliver Wolcott

Th. Jefferson           Frans. Lewis            Matthew Thornton