The Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull
The famous painting, Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee presenting their work to Congress (John Trumbull/U.S. Congress)

In accor­dance with tra­di­tion, we are repost­ing the text of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate for your enjoy­ment. The Dec­la­ra­tion was pri­mar­i­ly authored by our third pres­i­dent, Thomas Jef­fer­son, who drew heav­i­ly on the think­ing of Enlight­en­ment philoso­phers such as John Locke to per­sua­sive­ly lay out the case for the inde­pen­dence of the Unit­ed States.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unan­i­mous Dec­la­ra­tion of the thir­teen unit­ed States of America,

The Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull
The famous paint­ing, Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, depict­ing the five-man draft­ing com­mit­tee pre­sent­ing their work to Con­gress (John Trumbull/U.S. Congress)

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 har­rass 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 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 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 Brit­tish 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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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