4 July 1776: Unanimous declaration of 13 United States of America

04/07/19

When in the course of human events, the need arises for a people to dissolve the political ties that have tied it to another people and to assume among the powers of the earth a state of separate and equal power to which the Laws of Nature and the God of Nature give him the right, a convenient regard to the opinions of humanity requires that those people declare the reasons why he is forced to secession.

We believe that these truths are self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, which among these rights are Life, Freedom, and the pursuit of Happiness; that to guarantee these rights governments are established between men who derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government tends to deny these ends, the people have the right to change or abolish it and to establish a new government founded on these principles and to organize its powers in the form that it seems to the people better able to procure its security and its Happiness.

Certainly, prudence will require that governments of ancient times have not changed for futile and peregrine reasons; and consequently the experience of all time has shown that men are willing to bear the effects of a bad government until they are bearable, rather than getting justice by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long series of abuses and embezzlement, invariably aimed at pursuing the same goal, reveals the plan to reduce men to absolutism, then it is their right, it is their duty to overthrow such a government and provide new guarantees for their safety for the future. Such was the patient endurance of the Colonies and such is now the need that forces them to change what their government order so far has been. That of the present king of Great Britain is a story of repeated wrongs and usurpations, all aimed at founding an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, here are the facts that are submitted to the examination of all impartial and good faith men.

1) He refused to approve laws that were very healthy and necessary for the public good.

2) He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and urgent importance, if not on condition of suspending their execution until his assent was obtained, while he completely neglected to take them into consideration.

3) He refused to approve other laws for the settlement of large populated areas, unless those colonists renounced the right to be represented in the legislative assembly - a right of inestimable value to them and feared only by a tyrant.

4) He has convened legislative assemblies in unusual, uncomfortable places far from the seat of their archives, for the sole purpose of inducing the settlers, tiring them, to allow in provisions proposed by him.

5) He has repeatedly dissolved legislative assemblies only because they opposed with masculine decision to his usurpations of the rights of the people.

6) After the dissolution of those assemblies, he opposed the election of others: which is why the legislative power, which cannot be suppressed, returned to the people in its collective, in order to function, - while the state remained exposed to all the dangers of invasion from the outside, and unrest within.

7) He has attempted to prevent the settlement of these States, opposing to this end the naturalization laws of foreigners by refusing to approve others that encouraged immigration, and hindering the conditions for new land purchases.

8) He obstructed the administration of justice by refusing the assent to laws intended to strengthen the judiciary.

9) He has made the judges dependent only on his will for the attainment and retention of the office, and for the amount and payment of salaries.

10) He set up a number of new offices, and sent swarms of employees to harass the people and devour their belongings.

11) He maintained between us, in time of peace, settled armies without the consent of the legislative authority.

12) He tried to make military power independent of civil power, and to this superior.

13) He has agreed with others to submit us to a jurisdiction alien to our constitution and not recognized by our laws, giving his assent to their alleged legal provisions aimed at:

a) to house large bodies of armed troops among us;

b) to protect them, with mock trials, from the penalties incurred for murders committed against the inhabitants of these States;

c) interrupt our trade with all parts of the world;

d) impose taxes on us without our consent;

e) in many cases deprive us of the benefits of the trial by jury;

f) transport us overseas to be tried for alleged crimes;

g) to abolish the free regulation of English laws in an adjacent province, establishing an arbitrary government, and extending its borders so as to at the same time make it an example and a suitable instrument for introducing the same absolute government into these Colonies;

h) suppress our statutory papers, abolish our very valid laws, and change the forms of our governments from the ground up;

i) suspend our legislative bodies, and proclaim ourselves invested with the power to legislate for us in any and every case.

14) He abdicated his government here, declaring us deprived of his protection and waging war against us.

15) He has preyed on our seas, devastated our coasts, set our cities on fire, destroyed the lives of our people.

16) At this very moment, he is transporting vast armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the work of death, desolation and tyranny already begun with particular cases of cruelty and perfidy that are unequaled in the most barbarous ages, and are totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.

17) He forced our fellow citizens taken prisoner on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall killed at the hands of them.

18) He incited our people to the civil uprising, and attempted to instigate the cruel Indian savages against the inhabitants of our border areas whose well-known war rule is the indiscriminate destruction of all adversaries, of every age, sex and condition.

At every moment during this apprehension we asked, in the most humble terms, that the factual wrongs were repaired; our repeated petitions were not answered except with renewed injustices. A prince, whose character stands out in this way for all those actions with which he can be called a tyrant, is not suitable for governing a free people.

And on the other hand we have not failed to respect our British brothers. From time to time we have warned them of attempts by their parliament to extend an illegal jurisdiction over us. We reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and of our appropriation in these lands. We appealed to their innate sense of justice and their magnanimity, and we begged them for the bonds of our common relatives to disavow these usurpations that would inevitably interrupt our ties and our relationships.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice, to the voice of common blood. We must, therefore, resign ourselves to the necessity that denounces our separation, and we must consider them, as we consider other men, enemies in war, friends in peace.

We, therefore, Representatives of the United States of America, gathered in the General Congress, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, in the name and authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly render public our reason and we declare: that these United Colonies are, and by right must be, free and independent states; that they are dissolved from all subjection to the British Crown, and that every political bond between them and the State of Great Britain is, and must be, completely dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to wage war, to establish peace, to make alliances, to establish trade and to compile all the other acts and things that the independent states can rightly do. And in support of this declaration, with firm faith in the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually commit our lives, our goods and our sacred honor.