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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
THE Declaration of Independence was first considered at a Congress of the thirteen united British colonies, held in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. An Act of Parliament had been passed which closed the port of Boston on account of destruction of tea, and which removed the customhouse to Salem. This act gave offence to the people of Massachusetts, who considered that their chartered and constitutional rights had been violated.
When the first Congress adjourned, it did so after a resolution had been adopted providing for the assembling of a second Congress, which also met at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775.
Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was elected President for the second time, but on account of being called home on urgent business, John Hancock, of Massachusetts, was selected to take his place. Congress declared that in defense of their freedom and rights, they would take up arms, and troops were raised with George Washington in command.
As early as January, 1776, Massachusetts instructed her delegates in Congress to vote for independence, and was followed later on by all the States, with the exception of New York and Pennsylvania. An adjustment of the trouble was then thought likely by these States, but they eventually fell into line and added the illustrious names of their delegates, as two of the original thirteen States of the Union contributing to complete the memorable document that made the Union free and independent of British dominion and rule.
On June 11, 1776, a resolution to the effect that "the united colonies ought to be free and independent,” was offered by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, and adopted. A committee, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and others, was then appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. History tells how well and wisely they labored during the production of that instrument.
On the 28th of June, 1776, the committee made their report to Congress. New York and Pennsylvania had not, up to that time, instructed their delegates, and action upon the report was deferred in consequence.
On the 4th of July, 1776, a day ever memorable in the history of the United States, the report of these two colonies was received and adopted, and the independence of America was proclaimed throughout the world with salvos of artillery and the ringing of the old State Bell. The Declaration of Independence received the unanimous vote of all the delegates in Congress, and was voted upon and adopted by all the colonies.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
By the Representatives of the United States in 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 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 to abolish it, and to institute a 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 dic. tate 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, 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 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 for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration 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: