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

        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 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 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

    The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

    [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