The Most Important Document of Liberty in Human History after the Holy Bible!

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


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


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


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


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 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.

(The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated):

[Column 1]                


Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

[Column 2]

North Carolina:

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

[Column 3]


John Hancock


Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

[Column 4]


Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross


Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

[Column 5]

New York:

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

[Column 6]

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple


Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery


Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:

Matthew Thornton

About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson: a mature Christian who understands the sweep of history, the unique role of America and these times clearly and precisely.
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