The Declaration of Independence 1776

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

True and real causes are the very basis of all great human movements for new accomplishments or changes in every arena of human endeavor.  All causes have to grow and become greater than the dreams that start them before they have a chance to become reality.  

America’s Revolutionary War was in its second year when the Second Continental Congress decided that the uprising would fail unless independence was identified as its goal:  “The colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”  The Declaration of Independence, enumerating grievances against the British Crown, was , in fact, the United States’ “Birth Certificate.”

John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2, 1776.  Prior to that date, a committee of five men had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence.  It is interesting to note that the term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the actual document itself.  

John Adams persuaded the committee of five to select and charge the taciturn, shy, and rather introverted Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who had a happy talent for composition and a peculiar felicity of expression, to draw up the document between June 11 and June 28, 1776.  He did so on  a custom-made portable desk on the second floor of his temporary lodgings in Philadelphia.  The committee of five’s intent was that once drafted, Congress would edit the declaration to  produce the final version of the document.  Thomas Jefferson’s  purpose for this document, he said, was to express the American mind, “not to find new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take…” (Congress deleted Jefferson’s indictment of King George III for trafficking in slaves.)

On July 2, 1776 twelve of the thirteen colonies voted in favor of declaring their independence. (the thirteenth, New York, abstained. awaiting approval from its newly elected convention.)

The National birthday, the Independence Day of America is celebrated on July 4 as that was the day that the congress ratified this official document.

The Declaration of Independence was printed during the night of July 4.  Its publication was the capstone of the ocean-wide, decade-long war of words that the colonists had been waging with Great Britain. The Declaration has become the great American symbol of independence, revolution, and liberty.  The Declaration of Independence was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public.

Jefferson’s original draft of this document complete with changes made by Congress, are preserved and held in the Library of Congress Archives.  The most famous version of the Declaration of Independence, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.

In 1858, Senatorial candidate Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) described the Founding Father’s stirring call to throw off the bonds of tyranny as “the electric cord…that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together…”  Since that time, this Declaration of Independence has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence: “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.”

This has been called “One of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history.”  The passage came to represent the moral standard to which the United States should strive.  This view was notably promoted by President Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration of 

Independence to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted. 

Come along with me now as we take a close look and review of this great American Document of Freedom:

The Declaration of Independence   1776

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 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 not 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 place 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 too all of 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 of Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriation 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 legislature.

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 the 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 Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments :

For suspending our own Legislature, 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 own 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 stages 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 attention 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 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.


       New  Hampshire:                Pennsylvania:       New Jersey




                                               JOHN MORTON     JOHN HART

      Massachusetts-Bay:      GEO. CLYMER         ABRA. CLARK         

    SAML. ADAMS                   JAS. SMITH                                                                   

    JOHN ADAMS                    GEO. TAYLOR               Georgia:


    ELBRIDGE GERRY            GEO. ROSS              LYMAN HALL

                                                                               GEO. WALTON


       Rhode Island:                       Delaware:               Maryland:


    WILLIAM ELLERY              GEO. READ              WM. PACA

                                                THO. M’KEAN          THOS. STONE

       Connecticut:                                                    CHARLES CARROLL

    ROGER SHERMAN                                                 OF CARROLLTON

    SAM’EL HUNTINGTON         North Carolina:

    WM.  WILLIAMS               WM. HOOPER

    OLIVER WOLCOTT            JOSEPH HEWES              Virginia:

                                               JOHN PENN              GEORGE WYTHE

                                                                             RICHARD HENRY LEE

       New York:                                                          THO. JEFFERSON                                                            

    WM.  FLOYD                                                        BENJA. HARRISON

    PHIL. LIVINGSTON                                         THS. NELSON, JR.

    FRANS. LEWIS                                         FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE

    LEWIS MORRIS                                                  CARTER BRAXTON

                                              South Carolina:

                                           EDWARD RUTLEDGE

                                           THOS. HEYWARD, JUNR.

                                           THOMAS LYNCH, JUNR.

                                           ARTHUR MIDDLETON


“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.”

These men and their families were willing to put everything they were and owned on the line, including their very lives…at risk…so that you and I and all Americans coming after them could live free and independent lives in total peace, and in the pursuit of our own happiness.

Freedom is not free!  Freedom indeed has a great price tag. Thank God for all of those patriots who were willing to fight for and even die for the cause of freedom.  May God continue to richly bless our America.

Permit me to close this discussion with a strong admonition that each of you readers or listeners read out loud this entire Declaration of Independence to yourselves and your family members every year on America’s Birthday, July 4!

Now You Know More Of What Really Happened……….


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The Declaration of Independence 1776 — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks Dave, I am like many that I know the beginning, but can’t remember the last time I read it all the way through!! You are right, at least every fourth of July we should all read it and maybe more often when necessary!

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