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Jefferson’s list of objections to the British Empire in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)

We reproduce here a selection of the objections to acts of the British Empire which enraged the colonists in 1776. This comes from the first draft written by Thomas Jefferson before it was amended by his colleagues. Most notable for its exclusion from the final version are Jefferson’s remarks about slavery, “this war against human nature itself”:

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 suffered the Administration of Justice totally to cease in some of these Colonies, 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 amount of their Salaries:

He has created a Multitude of new offices by a Self-assumed Power, 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 and Ships of War.

He has affected to render the military, independent of, and Superiour 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 pretended Acts of legislation; for quartering large Bodies of armed Troops among us; for protecting them by a Mock Tryal from Punishment for any Murders 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 offenses, for taking away our Charters, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government; for suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He is at this Time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and 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 Transportation thither. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.

He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Markett where Men should be bought and sold, and that this assemblage of Horrors might want no Fact of distinguished Die

First Draft

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 a People to advance from that Subordination, in which they have hitherto remained and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the equal and independent 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 impell them to the Change.We hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these Ends, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the governed; that whenever, any form of Government, shall become 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 change 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, begun at a distinguish’d Period, and pursuing invariably, the same object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Power, it 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 expunge their former Systems of Government. The History of his present Majesty, is a History of unremitting Injuries and Usurpations, among which no one Fact stands Single or Solitary to contradict the uniform Tenor of the rest, all of which 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, as 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 and 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 and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has dissolved Representative Houses, repeatedly, and continually, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused, for a long Space of 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 suffered the Administration of Justice totally to cease in some of these Colonies, 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 amount of their Salaries:

He has created a Multitude of new offices by a Self-assumed Power, 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 and Ships of War.

He has affected to render the military, independent of, and Superiour 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 pretended Acts of legislation; for quartering large Bodies of armed Troops among us; for protecting them by a Mock Tryal from Punishment for any Murders 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 offenses, for taking away our Charters, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government; for suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, withdrawing his Governors, and declaring us, out of his Allegiance and Protection.

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 complete the Works of death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He 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 of existence.

He has incited treasonable Insurrections of our Fellow Citizens, with the allurement of Forfeiture and Confiscation of our Property.

He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and 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 Transportation thither. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.

He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Markett where Men should be bought and sold, 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 their 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 t