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 and
(certain) inalienable 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 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 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 distinguished period and 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
expunge (alter) their former systems of government. The history of the
present king of Great Britain is a history of
unremitting (repeated) injuries and usurpations, among which
appears no solitary act to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, but all have
(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
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 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
and 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 and 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, and raising the
conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has
suffered (obstructed) 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 dependant 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,
by a self-assumed power and sent hither swarms of new officers to
harass 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, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions 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 neighboring 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
states (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
withdrawing his governors, and declaring us out of his allegiance and
protection
. (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 complete 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 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 amoungst 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
of existence.

He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow citizens, with the allurements 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. Determined to keep open a market where
men should be bought and 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 on 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 injuries.

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 scarcely believe that the hardiness of one man adventured,
within the short compass of twelve years only, to lay a foundation so broad and so undisguised 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
a (an unwarrantable) jurisdiction over these our states (us). 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 expense 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 and magnanimity as well as to (and we have conjured them by) the
ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which
were likely to (would inevitably) interrupt our
connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity,
and when
occasions have been given them, by the regular course of their laws, of removing from their councils 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 for ever these unfeeling brethren. We must endeavor to forget our former love for
them, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. We might have been a free
and 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 tread it apart from them,
and
(We must therefore) 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, do in the
name, and by the authority of the good people of these states reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to
the kings of Great Britain and all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve all
political connection which may heretofore have subsisted between us and, the people or parliament of Great
Britain: and finally we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independent states, 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, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred
honor.

(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 the
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
.)

The declaration thus signed on the 4th, on paper, was engrossed on parchment, and signed again on the 2nd of
August.
Declaration of Independence
Final draft by Thomas Jefferson
Between June 13 and June 28, 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence.  When completed he
submitted it separately to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams requesting their corrections.
 After a few minor corrections, "merely
verbal", it was submitted to Congress on July 2.  

After two days of intense debates, painful and humiliating to Jefferson, Congress officially adopted the finished version on July 4.  
During the debate Jefferson sat in silence beside his friend Benjamin Franklin.  For the most part Jefferson continued his silence
on the subject for several years.  It was years before anyone outside of Congress realized Jefferson was the author.  
The most important revisions were the condemnation of the slave trade, which Jefferson accused the King of being personally
responsible for, and the softening of other accusations against the king, Parliament  and mercenaries.  

Following is a copy of Jefferson's final draft, taken from the "Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of
Thomas Jefferson" edited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph.  Deletions from the draft are printed in red and additions
are indicated in boldface type enclosed in parenthesises.
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Selected Papers of Thomas Jefferson:
The Illinois Conservative