Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 18 Part 1.djvu/18

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE—1776.


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 delegates of the United Colonies of N ew Hampshire; Massachusetts Bay; Rhode Island and Providence Plantatnons; Connecticut; New York; New Jerse ; Pennsylvania; New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, in Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; North Carolina, and éouth Carolina, In Congress assembled at Philadelphia, Resolved on the 10th of May, 1776, to recommend to the respective amemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs had been established, to adopt such agovernment as should, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and mfety of their constituents in articular, and of America in general. A preamble to this resolution, agreed to on the 15th of May, statctfthe intention to be totally to suppress the exercise of every kind of authority under the British crown. On the Tth of June, certain resolutions respecting independency were moved and seconded. On the 10th of June it was resolved, that a committee should be appointed to prepare a declaration to the following effect: "That the United Colonies are and of right on ht to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the british cmwn; and that all political connection between them an the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." On the preceding day it was determined that the committee for reparing the declaration: should consist of five, and they were chosen accordingly, in the following ordler: Mr. Jefferson, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Shennan, Mr. R. R. Livingston._ On the 11th of Junea resolution was passed to appoint a committee to prepare and digest the lorm of a confederation to be entered into between the colonies, and another committee to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers. On the 12th of June. it was resolved, that a committee of Congress should be appointed by the name of a board of war and ordnance, to consist of five members. On the 25th of June, a declamtion of the deputies of Pennsylvania, met in provincial conference, expressin their willingnes to concur in a vote declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, was laidg before Congress and read. On the 28th of June, the committee appointed to prepare a declaration of independence brought in adraulglht, which was read, and ordered to lie on the table. On the lst of July, a resolution of the convention of aryland, passed the 28th of June, authorizing the deputies of that colony to concur in declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, was laid beaore Congress and read. On the same day Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, to take into consideration the resolution respecting inde ndency. On the 2d of July, a resolution declaring the colonies free and independent States, was an opted? A declaration to that effect was, on the same and the following days, taken into further consideratnon. Finally, on the 4th of July, the Declaration of Independence wasagreed to, engrossed on paper, signed by John Hancock as presidenz and directed to be sent to the several amemblies, conventions, and committees, or councils of safeg, an to the several commandingloflicers of the continental troops, and to be proclaimed in each of the nited States, and at the head of the Army. It was also ordered to be entered upon the J oumals of Congress, and on the 2d of August., a copy engrossed on parchment was signed by all but one of the fifty-six signers whose names are appended to it. That one was Matthew Thomton, of New Hampshire, who on taking his seat in November asked and obtained the privilege of signing it. Several who sigped it on the 2d of August were absent when it was adopted on the 4th of July, but, gpproving of it, they t us sgnified their agprobation.

Note:.-—The proof of this document, as publish above, was read by Mr. erdinand Je erson, the Keeper of the Rolls at the Department of State, at Washington, who compared it with the fac-simile of the original in his custody. e says: In the fac·simile, as in the original, the whole instrument runs on without a break, but dash >: are mostly inserted. I have, in this oopy, followed the arrangement of paragraphs adopted in the publication of the Declaration in the newspaper of John Dunlap, and as printed by im for the Congress, which rinted copy is inserted in the onginal Journal of the old Congress. The ge paragraphs are also ma¤Ie by the author, in the original draught preserved in the Department of State.3