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Declaration of independence

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Declaration of independence

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

new nation.

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

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, 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

convulsions within.

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

Civil Power.

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

and ...

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