Declaration of Independence [manuscript copy by Thomas Jefferson, 1776]
[Please note: This is not the published version of the Declaration of Independence, but a manuscript copy of an earlier version of the text.]
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, & to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate & equal station, to which the laws of nature & 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 inherent & inalienable rights: that [among] these are life, liberty, & 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, & to institute new government, laying it's foundation on such principles, & organising it's 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 & usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, & 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 & 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 expunge their former systems of government. the history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of unremitting injuries & usurpations, among which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, but all have in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. to prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world, for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.
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 & pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has neglected utterly 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, & formidable to tyrants only.
he has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, & 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 & continually, 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, & 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; & raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
he has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these states; refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
he has made our judges dependant on his will alone, for the tenure of his offices, & the amount & paiment of their salaries.
he has erected a multitude of new offices by a self-assumed power, & sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people & eat out their substance.
he has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies & ships of war without the consent of our legislatures.
he has affected to render the military independant of, & superior to, the civil power.
he has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknoleged 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 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 neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, & enlarging it's boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these states;
for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, & altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;
for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
he has abdicated government here, withdrawing his governors, & declaring us out of his [ . . . ][Page torn; bottom two-thirds of page missing.]
character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free. future ages will scarce believe that the hardiness of one man adventured within the short compass of twelve years only, to build a foundation, so broad & undisguised, for tyranny over a people fostered & fixed in principles of freedom.
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 a jurisdiction over these our states. we have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here, no one of which could warrant so strange a pretension: that these were affected at the expence of our own blood & treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had adopted one common king, thereby laying a founda [ . . . ][Page torn; bottom two-thirds of page missing.]