Friday, July 4, 2014

Declaration of Independence, 1776

In celebration of our Independence Day, it seemed appropriate to post the Declaration of Independence in its entirety.  If you've never read it in its entirety, take today as an opportunity to do so.  I know I will be doing so.

Declaration of Independence
IN 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
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.
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 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 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 asto 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 of 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 were arranged in six columns:]
[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