The Declaration of Independence

Re-dedicated on July 4, 2008

By Mary MacElveen

 

 

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At the conclusion of this July 4th, 2008, I am choosing to circulate both a feed of noted celebrities reading the Declaration of Independence and it’s transcript. On this day which was 232 years ago, our founding fathers gave birth to this grand country of ours severing their ties to the British Crown.  By penning Declaration of Independence, the framer’s genius showed through as one hears every single word.

 

We came to be because brave patriots sacrificed their lives, spilt their blood to form a more perfect union.  Their quest was freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ‘we the people’.  We owe it to their memories to live up to the spirit of their words that have carried us through the darkest of times.  We must never let anyone group co-opt this sacred document along with the words contained within them for their own selfish purposes.

 

I do not care if you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green Party or any other party this document belongs to all of us.  While great ideals were put forth when this document was penned and signed, any ideologue be they right or left would be wrong should they look to corrupt the meaning of these powerful words.

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Before circulating the text of the Declaration of Independence, I want to circulate the words of former Vice President Al Gore as he challenged the young of this country in the third presidential debate which took place in October of 2000:

“And I want to tell you what I tell them: Sometimes people who are very idealistic and have great dreams, as young people do, are apt to stay at arm's length from the political process because they think their good hearts might be brittle, and if they invest their hopes and allow themselves to believe, then they're going to be let down and disappointed. But thank goodness we've always had enough people who have been willing in every generation to push past the fear of a broken heart and become deeply involved in forming a more perfect union. We're America. And we believe in our future, and we know we have the ability to shape our future.” 

No truer words could have been said and without any further adieu, I now present the Declaration of Independence.

 

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

 

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

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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.

 

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 harrass 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 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 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 Brittish 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.

  

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The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

 

Column 1

Georgia:

   Button Gwinnett

   Lyman Hall

   George Walton

 

Column 2

North Carolina:

   William Hooper

   Joseph Hewes

   John Penn

South Carolina:

   Edward Rutledge

   Thomas Heyward, Jr.

   Thomas Lynch, Jr.

   Arthur Middleton

 

Column 3

Massachusetts:

John Hancock

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

 

Column 4

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

 

Column 5

New York:

   William Floyd

   Philip Livingston

   Francis Lewis

   Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

   Richard Stockton

   John Witherspoon

   Francis Hopkinson

   John Hart

   Abraham Clark

 

Column 6

New Hampshire:

   Josiah Bartlett

   William Whipple

Massachusetts:

   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 Hampshire:

   Matthew Thornton

 

Source: Transcript of the Declaration of Independence

 

Should you wish to contact me, my email address is, xmjmac@optonline.net