Delcaration of Independence
Jefferson between June
11 and June 28, 1776, the
Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most cherished symbol
of liberty and Jefferson's most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable
phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American
people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of
individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental
philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident
truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify
before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.
Declaration of Independence: A Transcription
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 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
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 Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration
of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing
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
He has plundered our seas, ravaged
our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our
He is at this time transporting
large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete 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 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 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.