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 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 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 meantime expoſed to all the Dangers of Invaſion from without, and Convulſions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the Population of theſe States; for that Purpoſe obſtructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refuſing to paſs others to encourage their Migration 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 Legiſlature.
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 Offenſes:
For aboliſhing the free Syſtem of Engliſh Laws in a neighboring 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 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, burned 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 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 endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the mercileſs Indian ſavages, whoſe known rule of warfare, is 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 attention 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. 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 levey 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.
Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.