The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

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


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 [George III] 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


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 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


He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their


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 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


     For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases


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 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. 

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 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 and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish


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 signers of the Declaration represented the new States as follows: 

New Hampshire: 

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton 


John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry 

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery 


Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott 

New York:

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris 

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark 


Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson,

George Ross 


Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean 


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


North Carolina:

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn 

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton 


Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton