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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
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Page 969


A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General 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 [inherent and] 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 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 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, [begun at a distinguished period and] 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 [expunge] alter their former systems of government. The history of the present king
of Great Britain is a history of [unremitting] repeated injuries and usurpations [among
which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, but
all have
] 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 [for the truth
of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.

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 [and continually] 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

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose
obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners, refusing to pass


Page 970
others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new
appropriations of lands.

He has [suffered] obstructed the administration of justice [totally to cease in some
of these states
] by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made [our] 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 [by a self-assumed power], 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 [and ships of war] 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
constitutions 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 benefits 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 neighboring 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
[states] 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 [withdrawing his governors, and declaring
us out of his allegiance and protection
] 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 complete
the works of death, desolation and tyranny already begun with circumstances
of cruelty and 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 insurrection among us, and has endeavored 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 [of existence].

[He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow citizens, with the
allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property.

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most
sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never
offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere,
or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical
warfare, the opprobrium of
INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN
king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN
should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing
every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.
And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye,
he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase
that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom
he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the
LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against
LIVES of another].

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

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 [who mean to be free. Future
ages will scarcely believe that the hardiness of one man adventured, within the
short compass of twelve years only, to lay a foundation so broad and undisguised
for tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in principles of freedom

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 a an unwarantable jurisdiction over [these our states] us. We have reminded them of the circumstances
of our emigration and settlement here [no one of which could warrant
so strange a pretension: that these were effected at the expense of our own blood
and treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of Great Britain; that in
constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had adopted one common


Page 971
king, thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and amity with
them; but that submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution,
nor ever in idea, if history may be credited: and
], we have appealed to their
native justice and magnanimity [as well as to] and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred
to disavow these usurpations which [were likely to] would inevitably interrupt our connection
and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of
consanguinity [and when occasions have been given them, by the regular
course of their laws, of removing from their councils the disturbers of our
harmony, they have, by their free election, re-established them in power. At
this very time too, they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not
only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch and foreign mercenaries to
invade and destroy us. These facts have given the last stab to agonizing
affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren.
We must endeavor to forget our former love for them, and hold them
as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. We might
have been a free and a great people together; but a communication of grandeur
and of freedom, it seems, is below their dignity. Be it so, since they will have
it. The road to happiness and to glory is open to us too. We will tread it
apart from them, and
], we must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our [eternal] 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, do in the name, and by the authority
of the good people of these [states reject
and renounce all allegiance and subjection to
the kings of Great Britain and all others who
may hereafter claim by, through or under
them; we utterly dissolve all political connection
which may heretofore have subsisted between
us and the people or parliament of
Great Britain: and finally we do assert and
declare these colonies to be free and independent
], 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
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 the 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
And for the support of this declaration,
we mutually pledge to each other our lives,
our fortunes, and our sacred honor 
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
i, 19. Ford ed., ii, 42.  

The parts struck out by Congress are printed in italics and enclosed in brackets
those inserted by Congress are placed in the margin, In paragraph 2, line 2, the edition of
Jefferson's Writings, printed by Congress, and also the Ford edition give “ inalienable
” as the text in the engrossed copy of the Declaration. In the first draft of the
instrument Jefferson wrote “unalienable”, which he changed to “inalienable” in the draft
reported to Congress. In the United States Statutes At Large the word is “unalienable”.
The Hon. John Hay, Secretary of State, gives a certification of the text in the following

John P. Foley, Esq.,
Brooklyn, N. Y.:

Sir—In response to your letter, * * * I have to advise you that the text of the Declaration
of Independence (the original MS.) as signed by the delegates, reads, at the point
of your inquiry—“unalienable rights”, while the text of Jefferson's MS. draft, as amended
in committee by Franklin and Adams, reads “inalienable rights”. The latter is the paper
printed in Ford's edition of Jefferson's Writings, in fac simile. * * *