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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.

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.

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

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     ###

Related Item:

See the patriotic musical video The Ticket posted for Memorial Day

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Comments () | Archives (126)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I unsubscribed from the LA Times the day there were two pictures that told the Elian Gonzalez drama, and the Times chose to print only the one of the boy in his father's arms, not the one with military invading a private home to kidnap the kid thanks to that fascist murderer Janet Reno of Waco infame. Tell the story, ALL of it, if you want subscribers back!

In light of that, this article is a complete surprise. Does this perhaps signal a change of editorial content and philosophy? Have the rats been cleared out yet?

November elections may be the Second Revolution Chapter 1 with Chapter 2 coming in 2012 (or sooner). It's the last hope for this precious document and this precious country.

Wonderful! Thank you! Beautiful! Pitter patter my patriotic heart. Happy 4th everybody and God Bless America!

I am a descedant of John Hart and I am pleased and surprised that the LA Times posted this article. May God bless Amercia and long shall she live! May we destroy the Tyranny that befalls our country in this day and replace it with the freedoms granted in this Declaration of Independence!

Can we get President Barack Hussein Obama and Justice Elena Kagan to read the Declaration of Independence? Could they put down the Communist Manifesto for awhile?

This should be required reading for every year in school K-12, for anyone wanting to become a citizen of these great United States, and if you came here illegally, you should never be allowed citizenship in this country as your first act in entering was to break our laws. You can stay but as a resident alien not a citizen.

..I read a lot of stuff but in all of my life I've never had such trouble as now a days. (Hey fool, that's just 1 word!) Nowadays it looks like indenting paragraphs is too much work. All of our novels and non-fiction indent paragraphs. Oh, but they're written and edited by intelligent people.
..LATimes, please make it easy to find the beginning of the next thought.
..INDENT!!!!!!

And we allow an American hating sitting President who spits on this document and the American people...Impeach obama NOW!!! All you have to do is listen to Rev. Wright speeches and beliefs yet we allowed an American hating narcissist Communist Racist into OUR White House...20 years he sat in Wright's Church, 20 YEARS!!! We deserve everything that is happening to us. We are a nation of ESPN, MTV, TMZ etc etc. With that harsh reality Happy 4th of July to the people who are awake. God Bless America!!!

This is perfect! Thank you! But no, it should NOT be required reading. An idividual will get more out of this when they choose on their own that the time is ready for them because they will fully understand, care, and appreciate it more. It's one of the benefits we received for fighting for our freedom.

An exceedingly appropriate, and timely article. I suspect for some, this may be first time reading of this important and profound document. A proper appreciation of historical events requires a time period understanding of everything surrounding the event in order to fully realize it's implications.

If we just imagine the fact that by signing this document these men challenged the absolute authority of the most powerful nation on earth at the time, and by doing so. effectively signed their own death warrants, we can better understand the courage, sense of duty, and profound belief in God which motivated them.

Is this the same standard by which we evaluate the performance of our current batch of politicians? If not, shame on us. "--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies (Citizens), and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

Thank God for the courage and wisdom of our founding fathers.
Thank you LA Times for running this piece.

In November, we will declare our 2nd independence and free ourselves from the corrupt regime. Hang in there folks; we will take of country back, piece by piece. We need to restore liberty!!

And this published in the LA Times!
Will wonders never cease...?

The greatness, the wisdom, and the courage of the authors of that document and of that Congress are staggering. Where are such men today? Not in Washington DC. God Bless Anerica.

Substitute Mr. Obama for King of Great Britain, it's almost identical to our current grievances.

Tim said
" 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."

-Posted by: Tim | July 04, 2010 at 05:42 AM

Right in substance, but somewhat wrong. The Articles of Confeferation - our first Constitution - adopted during the revolution, not afterwars, begin with the words "The Style of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'..." so it was one country, spelled capital-U-United very soon after the Declaration of Independance. And any question about it being a plural noun was dispelled after 1865,
or as Theodore Roosevelt informed the British ambassador, "We have recently fought a rather large civil wars to establish that the "United States of America" IS a nation, not ARE a nation.

Thank you for publishing this. I'm sorry that our elected officials are so far off the mark of these brave signers. I'm sorry that our forefathers' blood and sweat appears to be have been spent in vain. I'm sorry that Obama is leading our nation into the toilet. I'm sorry that our country is overrun with 11 million illegal aliens. I'm sorry that journalism is in such a state of deterioration. I'm sorry for the trillions in debt we will never get out of. I'm sorry for a lot of things, but I still love my country and I'm grateful that I live in the United States.

Where is George Washington's signature?

I have missed most of my little girl's first years while serving overseas in central Asia. My wife and I are growing old apart. There are times when I ask myself if it is worth it. Thank you for the opportunity to remind myself that yes, indeed, we are a nation worth fighting for, even worth dying for.

We have a beautiful land, but it is not our land that makes us unique --Kabul reminds me a lot of Albuquerque, with that beautiful high desert feel to the air-- it is our spirit, a people united by documents such as this that set us apart. We are not 300 million celebrating our diversity, as so many would have us believe. We are 300 million celebrating our unity. God bless America.

(AM responds: Thank you, Captain and your wife and family, for your sacrifices on our behalf. and all our other brave women and men in the services. God bless and keep you safe.)

It appears that the Washington crowd is pimping our integrity out. All that we stand for from the Constitution to the words of Emma Lazarus, is sold out by both side of the aisle. Here's one fresh off the press.

Do a youtube search for "new colossus song" and look for a guy sitting at the piano with the US flag in the back ground. Or just click on the link below.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcilYCFFV8g

This should have been on today's Front Page. In fact, Top of the Ticket should be in the Print edition everyday to balance the Liberal views that permeate the paper.

(AM responds: Meanwhile, Connie, thanks for meeting us here where we are every day with the same unpredictable items. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave such a nice remark. Happy Holiday to you and yours.)

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

Good selection. I wonder what parallels somone could come up with if they compared our current national government to the regime of King George?

The way our educational system is going, in one or two generations, no one will be able to read anyway. So, what's the point?

In many school districts it's illegal to say the Pledge of Allegiance, so reading the Constitution in public can't be far behind.

We have idiots running our country.

Those that understand this Declaration - those that can read and comprehend, know that we are being subjugated by this current false government which has created itself out of itself without our consent. The 'Vote' should not be given to Federal or State employees - or those getting their living in any form from government. Not to degrade them, but their loyalty is to whatever current regime pays them - not this country. They are servants in the house - and not the owners of the house and should have no rule in the matters in the house if they willingly accept money from the owners. The entire system of Voting needs to be changed.
'Democracy is two Wolves and a Lamb deciding on what to have for Lunch. Liberty is a well armed Lamb." Ben Franklin

Seems quite ironic that the same men that said "All men are created equal" Owned slaves So they must have been the type that say one thing and do the other sad Sad sad. their words were easy cheap talk and they were wealthy pampered men. AND WHAT IS EVEN SADDER IS THAT SOME AMERICANS LOOK AT THESE IMMORAL PEOPLE OWNERS AS GREAT MEN. I bet Jesus didnt look at them that way !

This should be read by the Obama administration and after reading it he should be reminded (or taught) that is IS NOT a 'living' document. The men that signed it and sent it to the English crown knowingly sacraficed the security of their families, wealth, land and lives for a better future and formed a republic of OUR United States. They all should be revered in history as the first and only 'true' American heroes.

You go, girl! Thank you for reminding us with your dynamic voice the reason for celebrating our heritage. Best wishes for your career and for your personal life. James Rolfe, DDS; President and Founder, The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project, Inc.; saving lives and liberating women in war-torn Afghanistan.

 
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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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