Declaration of Independence

Every now and then, our founding document is worth re-reading.  And then discussing with our children and friends.  America’s founding was a uniquely courageous act.  It happened at a time when the greatest political leadership in the world was concentrated in one place – in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – and the worst was in London, England.  But it was signed in the shadow of an immense invading army of professional soldiers and a blockade by the world’s most powerful navy.   Putting your signature on the Declaration of Independence was tantamount to signing your own death warrant.

But sometimes honor and principle are more important than wealth, influence and social prominence.

July 4, 1776.  The day Freedom was born in the modern world.  Thank God for our good fortune, and for their courage.  Let us strive to remember why they thought it important enough to take such risks, and to be worthy of their legacy.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

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 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 harass 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 benefit 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.

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 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.

(Signed)

John Hancock – President

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, 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 Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

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

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll

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

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

4 Responses to “ Declaration of Independence ”

  1. Grocery Clerk on February 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    In an age of greater civility than the one we are currently in the founding fathers had too much class to ever say “well duuh!” Nonetheless, the idea of self-evident truths was what we would call, in todays parlance, a “no brainer.” Irrefutable by all but, perhaps, the village idiot – and you might have to bribe even him with a tankard of ale to argue the point.

    So what was (and is) at the heart of these self-evident truths? A very short list,actually: all men (this meant ‘people’ in the language of the day – unless one would argue that it refers only to adult males) are created equal; their creator (yes, HIM – but that’s awhole other posting)made them with unalienable (inseperable, like the heat of a flame) rights; the only legitimate function of government is to secure these rights (protect rights from those who would abuse them – unalienable doesn’t mean inviolable) governments get their ‘just powers’ from the consent of the governed; when any government abuses people’s rights or its own power, people have the right to alter or abolish that government and create a new one.

    That’s it in a nut shell: two fifths of the second paragraph spells out some of the greatest no-brainers in human history since the first four words of The Bible.

    The first paragraph is preamble,the rest is essentially ‘divorce court’ facts presented to a candid world: this is what he (the king) did, this is what we did, this is what we are going to do, and it’s between us and him – everybody else stay out of it.Not to demean the brilliant, brave and heroic words, delivery and subsequent actions of Jefferson and the Founders (in fact, it’s a veritable goldmine and rather than just ‘reread it every now and then’ The Declaration should be taught one week each year, on an age appropriate basis, in each grade of school) but that’s the basic synopsis.

    Now we can save our Creator; just powers; a long train of abuses and usurpations; and our right, our duty for another day. What I want to address today is the unalienable rights we were created with. Three are listed, it is implied that there are others, but first and foremost is life. Without the first and most obvious, all the others would be moot. And the Government would not be deriving just powers from the consent of the governed – it would be abusing unjust power bestowed upon it by those whose rights it has not (yet) abused. A club, if you will. Of the elite, by the elite and certainly for the elite. Paid for by borrowed money with payments heaped on the backs of the subjects.

    Now regarding the self-evident, unalienable and equal right to life that all humans were created with (I’m paraphrasing, but not taking any liberties – it’s all in there) I have only one simple question: When is a human being created?

    Ask that of any Pro-Choice person (if you can find one – usually you will find a Pro Abortion person hiding behind that claim) and see what they say. As for me, I know when I took my first breath(I’ve seen the birth certificate), when I first kicked and began to move inside the womb(I’ve been told), and even roughly when I had my first heartbeat(if I do the math).

    I may not have gone to Harvard, travelled under a foriegn passport or had someone write two autobiographies for me, but if you ask me at what moment I with my own personal DNA – so unuique in all the world it can legally identify me as ME, even in a court of law was created… there is only accurate, factual and honest answer.

    Now I may be just a grocery clerk with a high school diploma, but that answer is not above my pay grade.

  2. Grocery Clerk on March 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Today I’m drawn to the line that reads “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.” (Look at the next paragraph after the list of grievances).

    How many in our political class does this sentence describe? Our Founders never meant for us to have rulers, but one would hardly know that by the way so many of the political class behave. And don’t tell me that we still have elections, voting them out doesn’t stop them from collecting permanent pay, and being given jobs in bureaucracies where they rule over us even more shamelessly than the elected.

    “Unfit” couldn’t be a more fitting word. Certainly works for my guy Harry Reid – how’s it work for yours? I hope somebody running against him picks this one up and uses it re. Prince Harry. And my President, Little Lord Fauntleroy, too.

    It’s time we ALL get The Declaration back into our daily language.

    G.C.

  3. John on March 7, 2010 at 12:49 am

    And the assembled masses said “Amen, Brother.” And let us not forget that we can easily surround them. Shall we help them take note?

  4. Grocery Clerk on March 8, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Hey, John and Everybody:

    Check out “Often Wrong, Never In Doubt” and the 3/7 post and link to an article in the Washington Examiner. Our Govt./ Illigitimate?

    How great to see someone else (Glenn Harlan Reynolds) speaking The Declaration!

    Let’s all get behind this and give it some momentum.

    Great things have come into being from the Declaration in the past.
    And who would argue the point that we’re overdue?

    G.C.

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