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A citizen's required reading for July 4th: The Declaration of Independence (with music)

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 historic 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, we have a special treat this July 4th. It's a video version of the anthem performed by one of our favorite singers, a woman with an amazingly crystaline voice who writes her own songs. We met her here as a Ticket follower on Twitter. Her name is Amiena (her music website is here). 

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


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.

Declaration of Independence

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

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

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

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

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

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

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

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

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton     ###

Related Item:

See the patriotic musical video The Ticket posted for Memorial Day

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Comments () | Archives (126)

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Amen and amen. This was a wonderful, and may I say best TOTT! IT should be required reading, but as you know well, my fellow Americans are reading it, and the Federalist Papers and The Constitution once again, thankfully. For what God has given, no man can take away, nor will they.
Thank you to Amiena; what a beautiful voice giving such great blessings sing the anthem.

I wish everyone a very Happy Independence Day - and may we be worthy of their trust - also may we pledge to each other anew our life, our fortune and our sacred honor.

(AM responds: Thank you, Rachel. Agree with you. Just blown over by her voice. Pssst, folks. Click Amiena's name for more of her music.)

I am a decendant of Stephen Hopkins. You have no idea how pleased I am to see you post this here. If our children grow up with this document in their hearts, no one will ever be able to take our freedom from us again.

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it" - Our Founding Document.


Thank you for publishing this article and link to Ameina's inspirational rendition of our National Anthem. What a great way to start our celebration of this special day. Ameina thank you for sharing your God given talents with us.

What a great way to start the Fourth! God bless America, we need it badly.

First line, there is a typo. The "U" in "United" should be "u". This was not a proper noun at this time. The 13 states were united (together in purpose) not US (a country). (see original document to verify by clicking on it)

The 13 did not become a country until some time after the War for Independence. can easily substitute King George in this writing with Obama and the Democrat Left and it would ring appropriate and salient. Tyranny, deception and the creation of malaise is now fostered in the Obama White House and Pelosi Congress.

Amen, Hoo-rah, and a thousand other expressions of agreement. I would submit for your consideration the lyrics of verse 4 of that beloved hymn:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The founders did believe in borders and expected those borders to be respected. Hispanic Americans in support of illegal foriegn invaders makes one wonder whats more important to them? The " Hispanic" or the "American".

Notice that it says "free and independent STATES" (plural). Each State individually (not in some collective sense) was declaring itself to be a free country. King George granted each one its independence. In fact, three states actually declared their independence unilaterally prior to the joint declaration (Virginia, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) This document is not the declaration of the creation of a country called "The United States of America" .

Excellent use of your time today!

Thank you so very much. It was by far more than I would have expected from the LA Times.

This is one of the most important documents ever written. Thank God for those men in Philadelphia.

Why do modern performers (singers and orchestras) treat the National Anthem like a dirge? Amenia's got a beautiful voice, but the anthem tells the story of victory over adversity. Compare most performances to the Marine Corps version.

Happy 4th!

It's INalienable: NOT UNalienable.


The Declaration of Independence may be the most cited and least understood....but the 5,000 page bills Congress and The Executive Branch passed\are passing are the least read and least understood pieces of legislation. The Founders of the Country created the Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1\5 the # of word of the bills being passed as "The Norm" now a days.

It is interesting that the Founders actually thought it importnat to read and sign The Declaration of Independence whereas Congress and the Executive Branch don't bother to actually read the bills they are passing now. The executive Branch and the Congress stated, for example, that the Health Care Bill would do all sorts of things...but actually the Bill established all sorts of Committees who are creating the rules which will determine what actually occurs.

This constitues a borken system of government.

The Henry The Sixth quote is “Let’s Kill all the Lawyers.”

The old joke is “What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good Start!”

My opinion is that the sentiment among most Americans is that killing all the lawyers by plugging the hole in the Gulf Floor with their bodies would be an excellent start towards fixing the broken US System of Government

Yes, the LA Times suggests reading something they constantly seek to undermine.

Horrible traitors to the constitution. Backstabbing, villainous commies.

For balance, here is Hutchinson's Strictures on the Declaration of Independence.

"Upon my first reading it, I thought there would have been more policy in leaving the World altogether ignorant of the motives to this Rebellion, than in offering such false and frivolous reasons in support of it;..."

Thank you for this powerful reminder of what our course has been and must continue to be. Thank you as well for reminding us on this great day of men, leaders who placed principles and honor above life and personal gain.

God Bless America!
It is too bad that Amiena's National Anthem video does not contain ANYTHING about America or the flag.
On the other hand, let us remember how wonderful our country is!

Our founding fathers fought for their Liberty and
many paid for it with their lives. Now we are gladly
surrendering our Liberty to a gang of thugs that presently
are in power in the White House and Congress. They have
changed our constitution
from: "We the people"
to: "We the government people"
I believe that it is too late for our country to change.
We were a sinking ship like the "titanic" when Obama took
office. Now we are steering for the rocks as well.
Just look how evil and twisted we have become:
1. Hate Crimes to punish pastors is now the law of the land
2. Mandatory Medical or fine, and imprisionment now law
3. Nat'l day of prayer canceled in favor of muslim prayers
at capital instead.
4. Soddomy was once illegal in ALL 50 states, now it's law.
5. Gay marriage is being forced on us by the courts.
6. We are spending money like drunken sailors.
7. Everthing we buy comes from China, so we no longer have
any REAL jobs, but we must somehow continue the pay-o-la
for the elite class of deserving government workers.
Does ANY christian want to live in a country like we have
become ?

God Bless America and thank you to all who signed this important document. You risked your lives for world.

I agree 100% with our founders and what they intended to do with the country . What I don't get is why our current Government can't sit down and read this well put together document, and take it to heart.

The founders are rolling over in their grave with the crap this current administration, congress and senate are doing. They are killing the country. They want to push their own agenda and state it is for the betterment of the people.

WELL GUESS WHAT – what you are doing to these documents , you are ripping this country apart. When are you supposed smart people going to realize that you are hurting this great land and not helping us?

You want to put blame on everyone including "BUSH DID IT!!!" Well that is partly true, but get the “BRASS BALL's” AND FIX THE PROBLEM.

You state that 8,000,000 jobs have been lost. Well do something about it, other than saying "BUSH DID IT", how about Frank, Dodd, Polosi, Reid???

WELL FIX IT NOW before everyone gets together and has a revolt.

How stupid are you people running this Country? In my bet, a group of 8th graders that just learned about the constitution can and would do a much better job than you bands of merry men and woman in there now.

Thank You.

"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. "

November, get ready.

I dare say that we live under a greater tyranny now, then did our forefathers. When will enough Americans have the strength do demand their liberty back? I pray that it come soon, or else a perfect, scientific dictatorship be produced from which no freedom may escape. Happy fourth of July, and may God Save our Republic.

This is wonderful......the people took up arms and overthrough an oppressive government...using real lead bullets, they killed and drove out the army of the oppressive government....and this document says the people have a God given right to overthrow an oppressive government, not at the ballot box.....but on the filed of battle...using real bullets and sharp!

i so wish both dems and repubs would read, learn and live what our founding fathers gave to us with there blood. We had it all. Freedom!!! we let it go for a warm fuzzy feeling that our gov. would take care of us.let see just how well, letting the government does. China... USSR.... N Korea...
I Want my freedom to succeed or fail. i want the freedom to use drugs or not.
i want all my stolen freedoms back today. i have a friend at work that says he will protest when things start to affect him. i ask, arnt you forced to pay Taxes?
he say well they got the guns. i say true but that aint freedom its slavery. the gov tells me what i get to keep and take home.aah but then there are other taxes past that.whats left? well we get a awesome oil stained beach here in the gulf.oh btw today you can be arrested for reporting in the gulf,hmmm wounder why. VOTE all incumbents out and impeach our failed man child called President. then lets wipe the book of all laws that arnt in the original intent of our Constitution. Ron Paul 12

Wow this is the best article on drudge. Why cant we hear more uplifting things like this? It's nice to read about our wonderful country and actually see historic documents like this. I love the USA!

Thank you for doing this and have a great 4th of July in the greatest country country in the world.

Our forefathers spilled blood to free themselves and their children and their children's children of the abuses of absolute tyranny.

That time has come again, although many inhabitants of this land, not the descendants of those men of 1776, have brought such abuse upon un willingly in their greed, sloth and lust.

The time is short. Sides are being drawn. Intolerable acts have been imposed upon us.

The terrible price of Liberty must soon be paid again.


Where are men such as these today?
With Obama I fear we are losing our Republic for a tyrannical from of Socialism, which has failed throughout history, as Benjamin Franklin warned us.

It was EXACTLY RIGHT then and reads EXACTLY RIGHT now against the USURPATION of obama!!!

Deje Vu

How about the ignorant Sheeple read the legal definition for "Exempt income" that is ALREADY WRITTEN into tax law?

Funny that it takes a computer scientist just two minutes to find something that thousands of tax "experts" won't even bother.


Wake up, Suckers.

great article. no where in it I read justification for allowing millions of undocumented aliens across our borders.

She has a fantastic voice. I would love to hear her sing the ENTIRE version, the rest of the lyrics should not be overlooked: Here they are:

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

I am thankful that I have read this Declariation in its entirity on yhid day of days.
King George the Third's abuses of the people of these varrious staes have become the Congress of these United States Raising Taxes We have not approved, Proyecting murderers and wrong doers dure to their color. Allowing to opperate om=n our country those who would do us harm when we gather to meet. such as SEIU and ACORN (UNDER A NEW NAME) Passing Laws in Congress which alter the form of our Government and attacking the Constitution of the United States,
Our President
Our Presdident has Judges in his thrall who do his bidding no matter the evidence, He has made many depts and offices which come and place onerous restrictions all we do and have at business , including the usage of our own property.
Finally, He has sued the very states who against his will has been so brave as to protecting itself from a forgien power. He has allowed forigeb=ners to come into the country by the millions and steal steal jobs abd employment from the people of these United States.. .
Our police and thise who are said to keep law and order are given new orders to "shoot to kill" Citizens if they look like they might be dangerous. This again is Mudder. Obama has placed a part of the border a distance of some 80 miles inland designated abd given to Mexico land belonging to the People of United Sates without any law or consultation of the People or Congress.

Soldiers are not currently quartered in the homes of our country. Thank God we are not yet encumbered by the foot drg of soldiers being invited to breakfast who do not speak our language.

However, He said he was building a Private Army for himself which were supposed to be used to help communities. I have observed many times in recent photographs unusual uniformed young men with odd devices on their uniform sleeves and chests. They seem to be the guards. Photos of Ms Clinton leap to mind in which she was surrounded by several of these uniformed men. She looked none too happy.

Thank you.

I wonder of o has ever read this document? To me, it's a document that this "man" would hate.

If only we could get our congress to read and live by our founding documents instead of finding ways around them we'd be in pretty good's

hmm no coment yet must have made to much sense

Democrat, Republican, Independent; liberal, conservative, libertarian; rich, poor or just trying to get by; black, white, brown, yellow, or some richly textured combination; man, woman, gay, straight; religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist; native, 6th generation, 3rd generation or just got here; it doesn't matter. Everything we have is due to this document and those who have fought for, and lived for, and died for our liberty.

This is our heritage. This is our country. We are blessed to have it, and it is our duty, each of us, to safeguard it. If we were to do only one thing in our lives, making sure that the Constitution and its principles pass on to the next generation is an awfully good option.

Who can read this document and not be stirred? It calls deeply to every freedom-loving soul and rings true to every inclined ear.

What, I wonder, will the declaration look like that re-establishes the sovereignty of a nation by protecting it's borders, and stops the confiscatory taxation of it's legal citizens?

What a gorgeous rendition of The Declaration of Independence, yes required reading for everything. I especially like these paragraphs:

— 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.

From a fellow tea partier from Boston

Thank you for this post. What an incredible document!! May it be preserved in action as well as in print. It's all in the doing!!!

I do not believe there is a single member of the legislative or judicial branch of our current government who would (honestly) pledge to us as a nation nor each other their lives, their fortunes, nor their sacred honor. There doesn't seem to be any honor left in the Washington establishment no matter what party one is affiliated with. What a tragedy considering what those brave men risked to create what we still have hanging by a thread today. God bless America and may her founding principles somehow survive.

Hmmmm... sounds like they're talking about someone I know!
Must we redeclare, for OUR freedom?

Thank you for posting this article.

Unfortunately it seems as if the lack of response from others shows that way too many people take this document, the Constitution and the revolution for granted.

They don' t understand the tyranny that can seep up upon us from over intrusive government.

"all men are created equal"

Got that, Federal, state, local govt's & LA Times editors?

That means no more affirmative action & other bigotry against white, Christian males.

Why is that so tough for some to see?

If you substitute the current president with the actions of British King it becomes ever so clear that history does repeat itself, when left unchecked. Obama should be impeached for treason.
Respectfuly Remembering those who gave their lives for all to enjoy freedom. Happy Independence Day.

Am amazed that the LA Times has actually allowed such an incendiary document to be printed w/o a warning label, like has been done recently with the Constitution.
You did not fear that you would be branded by the SPLC as "terroristic" or "racist"?
What will your "Government" handlers say? Surly, they can not be happy you have dredged such a document from the past, a curiosity written by "old dead white guys", and thrown it into the "Public eye" once again. Didn't you get the memo? We are not suppose to be free any longer... it's a concept who's time has come, and is now long gone.

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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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