When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them with another, and assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station that the laws of nature and natures God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind demands that they declare the causes which impel them to that separation.
We hold these truths to be self evident:
That all men are created equal,
That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights,
And that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
And that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
And that when any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and institute new government, laying its foundations upon such principals and organizing its powers as such seems to them to best effect their safety and happiness.
Prudence, indeed, would dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. And all experience has 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 appoint new guardians for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies. And such is now the circumstances which constrain them to alter their former systems of government.
The history of the present king of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated abuses and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny in these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted before 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 their 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 the 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, where-by 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 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 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 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 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 the seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
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 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 the 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 utterly destroyed the lives of our people.
He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun in circumstances of cruelty and perfidity hardly paralleled in the most barbarous of 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 bretheren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrection among 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 of terms. Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act that may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British bretheren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their Legislature to establish 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 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 consanguinity. We must therefore, acquiesce in the necessity that denounces our separation, to hold them, as we hold all mankind; enemies in war, in peace friends.
We therefore, the representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in general congress assembled and appealing 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 of right and 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 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.
On this date, 230 years ago, the reigning monarch of Great Britain, George III, noted in his diary:
Nothing of importance happened today...