Declaration of Independence (United States), in United States history, a
document proclaiming the independence of the 13 British colonies in
America, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The
declaration recounted the grievances of the colonies against the British
Crown and declared the colonies to be free and independent states. The
proclamation of independence marked the culmination of a political process
that had begun as a protest against restrictions imposed by the mother
country on colonial trade, manufacturing, and political liberty and had
developed into a rrevolutionary struggle resulting in the establishment of a
After the United States was established, the statement of grievances in the
declaration ceased to have any but historic significance. The political
philosophy enunciated in the declaration, however, had a continuing
influence on political developments in America and Europe for many years.
It served as a source of authority for the Bill of Rights of the US
Constitution. Its influence is manifest in the Declaration of the Rights of
Man and of the Citizen, adopted by the National AAssembly of France in 1789,
during the French Revolution. In the 19th century, various peoples of
Europe and of Latin America fighting for freedom incorporated in their
manifestos the principles formulated in the Declaration of Independence.
The procedure by which the Declaration of Independence ccame into being was
as follows: On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, in the name of the Virginia
delegates to the Continental Congress, moved that “these united colonies
are and of right ought to be free and independent States, 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”. This motion was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts, but
action was deferred until July 1, and the resolution was passed on the
following day. In the meantime, a committee (appointed June 11) comprising
the delegates Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger
Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston was preparing a declaration in line with
Lee’s resolution. Jefferson prepared the draft, using “neither book nor
pamphlet”, as he later said. Adams and Franklin made a number of minor
changes in Jefferson’s draft before it was submitted to Congress, which, on
July 4, made a number of additional small alterations, deleted several
sections, including one condemning black slavery, incorporated Lee’s
resolution, and issued the whole as the Declaration of Independence.
The declaration was adopted by a unanimous vote of the delegates of 12
colonies, those representing New York not voting because they had not been
authorized to do so. On JJuly 9, however, the New York Provincial Congress
voted to endorse the declaration. The document was copied on to parchment
in accordance with a resolution passed by Congress on July 19. On August 2,
it was signed by the 53 members present. The three absentees signed
Congress directed that copies be sent “to the Assemblies, Conventions, and
Committees or Councils of Safety, and to the several commanding officers of
the continental troops, that it be proclaimed in each of the United States
and at the head of the army”.
Upon organization of the national government in 1789, the Declaration of
Independence was assigned for safekeeping to the Department of State. In
1841, it was deposited in the Patent Office, then a bureau of the
Department of State; in 1877 it was returned to the State Department.
Because of the rapid fading of the text and the deterioration of the
parchment, the document was withdrawn from exhibition in 1894. With other
historic American documents, it is now enshrined in the National Archives
Exhibition Hall, Washington, D.C., and is sealed in a glass and bronze case
filled with inert helium gas. It is from this document that the
accompanying text is reproduced.
In Congress July 4, 1776, The Unanimous Declaration of The Thirteen United
States of America
When in the CCourse 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, having 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 suffrance 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
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, 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
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
He has eendeavored 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 legislatures.
He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the
He has combined wwith 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 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 Citizen 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 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 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 connection 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
Free Time. Entertainment. Someone has counted about one thousand personal interests and ways to spend one’s free time. Collecting coins, stamps and postcards is one of the most popular past...·
Our age is so strange. We know that we are on the way to become adults. But this way is so hard. And teenagers usually stay alone with their thoughts, because nobody, even they themselves, c...·
The Seimas adopted the Law on Lobbying Activities on June 27, 2000. The law came into force on January 1, 2001. The law says that it determines lobbying activities, their control and liabil...·
Christmas In BRITISH ISLES Many of our current American ideals about the way Christmas ought to be derive from the English Victorian Christmas, such as that described in Charles Dickens’ A...·
Nomenclature A group of cats is referred to as a clowder, a male cat is called a tom, and a female is called a queen. The male progenitor of a cat, especially a pedigreed cat, is its sire, an...·