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The Declaration of Independence of thefe United Statef of America

Independence Hall in the City of Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed

The United States' Declaration of Independence may well be the most cited yet least read or understood document in American history.

Some have suggested over the years that each responsible U.S. citizen should take the occasion of the Nation's birthday to read that precious document every year, something like pausing at Thanksgiving to give thanks or at New Year's to ponder what's past and ahead.

Obviously, we can't require that. But The Ticket can facilitate that. So here it is, in its historic entirety. For those who are curious to see how the document evolved, the wording refined and trimmed, through several writings, including those funny s's that look like f's, they can view side-by-side versions right here. And for those who'd like a little musical accompaniment, click the Faith Hill video down below.

The final version is right here with paragraphs edited for length for typographical purposes on this modern webpage.

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 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.

Independence Hall before photography

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:

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 benefit 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 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

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton     ###

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Comments () | Archives (25)

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Glad to see attention paid to the founding documents. It's pretty shameful just how few people even know what the Constitution or Declaration of Independance says. You can blame the school system if you want -- but people themselves need to take an active interest in the principals this country was founded on -- namely lLberty and Morality.

If we wish to examine the problem of the school systems though -- I would invite everyone to search online for a free copy of a book called "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America." It has all the source documents and historical timeline of just when and where our educational system turned into an indoctrination system for the United Nations and United States Federal Government. You can find it in PDF format on the author's website free of charge. 700+ pages this is not some speculative nonsensical book -- it is the textbook on the subject if anything.

Is this applicable today? How does this stand up to U.S. Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 118 on Treason, Sedition and Subversion?

Does any other country celebrate a declaration of war?
When the constituion was ratified we became a country in more than name only.This is why our first president was elected in 1789 not 1776.

Make that US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115

You spelled "States" with an f in the HTML page title. It's showing up on google news as well. Might want to take a look at that.

Who wrote this article. I suggest some use a spellchecker. How ridiculous.

It is not misunderstood, there not much there it basically a fancy way of saying "You shouldn't have sanctioned us with out representation because your thousands of miles away and do not know what happens here. We are tired of your crap and we are going to do our own thing."

The constitution by far is a more important document.

You have a typo in your headline.

"The Declaration of Independence of these United Statef of America"

You might want to fix it...

Perfect. Thank you for this article, and a happy 4th to all my fellow Americans.

Did anyone actually proof readed this article?
This article has some really dumb typos and not just one or two, no there are 2 in the title itself!
"The Declaration of Independence of these United Statef of America"
And 4 (!) in the last paragraph before the Declaration starts:
"The final verfion is right here with paragraphf edited for length for typographical purposef on thif modern webpage."
Well done LA times!

The Declaration of Independence of these United Statef of America

Did you not think to look at your title? Ouch... a typo.

This page is chock full of typos...including the title and the paragraph that says the declaration was edited for typographical purposes! I wish we were endowed with the inalienable right to read newspaper articles that were edited before being published.

Somebody should give copies of this to the Protestors and young people of Iran. something tells me they would relate to it and possible be inspired by it.

I wonder how many of our elected officials have taken the time to actually read the Declaration or the constitution in full? Probably not many, they don't even take the time to read the bills the vote into law.

The "f"-like look to the letter "s" is, in fact, a variant of the letter that was not used at the end of a word. Thus, it's use in "version" is applicable (the character is distinct from an "f" but is difficult to find in many popular fonts), but the end character in "paragraphs", "purposes", and "this" would all have appeared in the style we continue to use today.

Wow, so much of this could have been written by an Iraqi about George Bush

looking at the State of our Nation, the vermin in politics, and clearly, the stupidity of the present day citizens, one would conclude with absolute certainty, the Founding Fathers are P.O.!!!! We are UNWORTHY of their Legacy!!!

A newspaper with a large headline with a giant typo S-T-A-T-E-S is the correct spelling not statef. I think they are already dumbing us down. Not once but at least twice in this article.


(Oh, now you're revealing your ignorance of old-fashioned English spelling and purfuit of happiness. But thanks for reading the headline at least.)

Uhm, you may want to run your title through the spell checker or get a copy editor that actually looks at articles going to post. "Statef" of America?

Perhaps part of the "dumbing down"--so brilliantly illustrated by the entire Bush Administration--is that even LA Times editors seem never to have heard of the Eighteenth Century compositors' use of the "long s," a piece of type vaguely resembling, but not, a lower case "f."

If citizens of the 50 United States actually read, understood, and believed in the noble principles embodied Declaration of Independence, they would allow denizens of the Nation's capital, Washington, DC, to participate equally in the life of the Nation, along with their countrymen in the other 50 states. "To secure these rights (among others, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness), Governments are instituted among men, deriving their Just Powers from the Consent of the Governed." The Consent mentioned in this case is given by participating in the means we as a nation use to reach a national consensus: regular election of a national legislature to make the laws under which we all must live. Shamefully, over half-a-million members of the nation (a larger population than that of the state of Wyoming), residents of the nation's capital, are STILL persistently and deliberately excluded from this process. Though they are part and parcel, progeny and posterity of the same Founders who pledged their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor to secure these rights, the Tyranny of their Countrymen has so far precluded DC denizens' participation in the national legislature in any meaningful form. This is an American Sham(e). Washington, DC continues to be Governed Without Consent.

Non-whites are now counted as whole persons, and allowed an equal vote; females are allowed an equal vote; 18-20-year-olds are allowed an equal vote. The primary groups NOT allowed tan equal vote are non-citizens, children, criminals, cretins, and... residents of the District of Columbia. For Shame, America! For Shame!

Would you please spell check your articles. This is disgraceful.

I teach United States history in a high school in central New Jersey, and I can't tell you how happy I am to see time given to the Declaration of Independence on your blog. The fact that most people do not know what our founding documents say is not the fault of the education system. Much time is given to these documents during the course of students' schooling. The problem is society in general. People do not take the time to refresh themselves with their past. In addition, most people don't even realize that July 2nd is the true independence day; not July 4th. We, as a society, have lost touch with a lot of our past. Adults would rather read "People" or some other ridiculous magazine that prompts no true values on its readers. If we want to increase our active citizenry and social responsibility then we need our entire country to work together on this and not just the education system. Either way many thanks for this post. It is very appreciated!

What do you mean by "least understood"? Is there a proper understanding of the Declaration? And who has that proper understanding? I've read and studied the entire text and the process of its creation numerous times, yet I think there may be a fair debate on its ultimate meaning.

See how many times you can substitute current government and events in this historical document.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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