Page images

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 colunies; 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 liistory of repeated injuries and usurpations, all liaving 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 inportance, 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.

IIe has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

Ile 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 mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasion froin 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.

Ile has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing bis assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

IIe las 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 armics, without the consent of our legislatures.

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 tliem, 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 ns beyond the 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 powers of our governments :

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring them. selves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases what


He has abdicated government here, by declaring us ont of his protection, and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towne, and destroyed the lives of our people.

IIe is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyran





ny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high scas, 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 insurrection among 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 terins: 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 anfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British breth

We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over lis. We bave 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. 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 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 levy 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.


New Ilampshire.--Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton.

Massachusetts Bay.Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.

Rhode Island.Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery.

Connecticut.-Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

New York.-William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris.

New Jersey.Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Ilopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark.

Pennsylvania.—Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross.

Delaware.—Cæsar Rodney, George Read, Thos. M'Kean.

Maryland.-Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

Virginia.—George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.

North Carolina.-William Hooper, Joseph IIewes, John Penn.

South Carolina.-Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton.

Georgia. -Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.

Resolved, That copies of the Declaration be sent to the several 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.


To all to whom these presents shall come, we, the undersigned delegates of the States, afficed to our names, send greeting: whereas, the delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did, on the 15th day of November, in the year of our Lord 1777, and in the second year of the Independence of America, agree to certain articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Ilumpshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, in the words following, viz. :



ARTICLE 1. The style of this confederacy shall be " The CNITED STATES OF AMERICA."

· Art. 2. Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by tliis confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

Art. 3. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the secnrity of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.

ART. 4. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States

« PreviousContinue »