the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
When in the Course 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 Natures 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, 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 shewn, 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 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 mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to paſs others to encourage their migrations 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 harraſs 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 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 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 offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring 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 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 their Hands.
He has excited domestic inſurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured 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 attentions 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. 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.
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