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 bonds 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 to 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
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
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 legislature.
He has affected to render the military independent of
and superior to 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 mock trial, from punishment
for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these
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
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
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 totaly unworth 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
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.
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.