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):
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine