Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ( as it reads in the Lee copy, which is probably the same as the report of the Committee of Five, with parts omitted by Congress crossed out and the parts added interlined in italics .) - The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas
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THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ( as it reads in the Lee copy, which is probably the same as the report of the Committee of Five, with parts omitted by Congress crossed out and the parts added interlined in italics .) - Carl Lotus Becker, The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas 
The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1922).
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THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
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, 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 inherent andcertain uninlienable1 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 it’s foundation on such principles, and organizing 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 & 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, 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, & such is now the necessity which constrains them to expungealter their former systems of government. the history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of unremittingrepeated injuries and usurpations, among which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, but all havehaving 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 utterly neglected utterly to attend to them.
he has refused to pass other laws for the accomodation 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 meantime 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 migrations hither; & raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.
he has sufferedobstructed the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these states,by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
he has made our judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and 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 harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
he has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies and ships of war, without the consent of our legislatures.
he has affected to render the military independent 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 troops1 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 it’s boundaries so as to render it at once an example & fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these states;
for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and 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, &by declaring us out of his allegiance and protection and waging war against us.
he has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, & destroyed the lives of our people.
he is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries, to compleat the works of death, desolation & 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 excited domestic insurrection 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, & conditions of existence.
he has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow citizens, with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation of property.
he has constrained our fellow citizensothers, taken captives on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends & brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportationthither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
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 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 andundisguised, for tyranny over a people fostered and 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 aan unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. 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 effected at the expence of our own blood and 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 foundation for perpetual league and amity with them: but that submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution. nor ever in idea, if history may be credited: and we have appealed to their native justice & magnanimity, as well as toand we have conjured them by the tyes of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which were likely towould inevitably interrupt our connections & correspondence. they too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity1 ; and when occasions have been given them, by the regular course of their laws, of removing from theircouncils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their free election re-established them in power. at this very time too, they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch and foreign mercenaries to invade and destroy us. these facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection; and manly spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. we must thereforeendeavor to forget our former love for them, and to hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. we might have been a free & a great people together; but a communication of grandeur and of freedom, it seems, is below their dignity. be it so, since they will have it. the road to happiness and to glory is open to us too; we will climb it apart from them, and acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our eternal 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 & 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 thatstates, reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain, & all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve all political connection which may heretofore have subsisted between usthem and the statepeople or parliament of Great Britain is ought to be totally dissolved;; and finally we do assert and declare1these colonies to be free and independent states, & that as free & independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, & 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.
Contrary to a tradition early established and long held, the Declaration was not signed by the members of Congress on July 4. Neither the rough nor the corrected Journal shows any signatures, except that the printed copy in the rough Journal closes with these words, of course in print: “Signed by order and in behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President.” The secret domestic Journal for July 19 contains the following entry: “Resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed.” And in the margin there is added: “Engrossed on parchment with the title and stile of “The Unanimous Declaration of the 13 United States of America,” and that the same when engrossed be signed by every member of Congress.” On August 2 occurs the following entry: “The Declaration of Independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed by the members.” Certain members, being absent on the 2 of August, signed the engrossed copy at a later date.1 The engrossed parchment copy, carefully preserved at Washington, is identical in phraseology with the copy in the rough Journal.1 The paragraphing, except in one instance, is indicated by dashes; the capitalization and punctuation, following neither previous copies, nor reason, nor the custom of any age known to man, is one of the irremediable evils of life to be accepted with becoming resignation. Two slight errors in engrossing have been corrected by interlineation.
[1 ] The Rough Draft reads “[inherent certain &] inalienable.” There is no indication that Congress changed “inalienable” to “unalienable”; but the latter form appears in the text in the rough journal, in the corrected Journal, and in the parchment copy. John Adams, in making his copy of the Rough Draft, wrote “unalienable.” See above, p. 142, note 2. Adams was one of the committee which supervised the printing of the text adopted by Congress, and it may have been at his suggestion that the change was made in printing. “Unalienable” may have been the more customary form in the eighteenth century.
[1 ] The text in the corrected Journal reads “bodies of troops.”
[1 ] The text in the corrected Journal reads “and consanguinity.”
[1 ] The reading here is not precisely that of the Lee copy. See p. 170, note 1.
[1 ] For a discussion of this question, see Hazelton, op. cit., Ch. 9.
[1 ]Ibid., 208, 306