in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them
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
decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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
to these ends,
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,
to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
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.
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.
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 meantime 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 harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies
without the consent of our legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to 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
quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by 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 offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in
a neighboring 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 in 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, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete 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.
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 endeavored
to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished
destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
NOTE: In Jefferson's draft there is
a part on slavery here.
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.
we been wanting in attention 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
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.
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.
the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled,
to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,
do, in the name, and by the 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
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.