Lest we forget:
IN CONGRESS, July 4th, 1776
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 that impel them to the
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 Accommodations of large
Distrits 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
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 meantime exposed to all the
Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that
Purpose obstructing the Laws of 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 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
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 and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a
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 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 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
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.
JOHN HANCOCK, President
Attest. CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary.