Gambar halaman

long debate, during which various schemes were agitated, and much difficulty found in adjusting details, was finally agreed to on the 4th day of July 1776. No member of Congress was more decidedly for this measure than Dr Franklin. We think it due to his history, and his influence in the measure to subjoin the document at length. A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States

of America in Congress assembled. 46 When in the course of human events it becomes ne cessary for one people to dissolve 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 abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers on 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 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, tiil his assent could 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 relinquish the right of representation to 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 representatives' houses, repeatedly opposing with manly firmness his invasion of 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 danger of invasions from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states, for that purpose obstructing the laws for the 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 dependant 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 to eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in time of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to the civil officer. 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 amongst us. For protecting them by a mock trial from punishment, for any murders which they should commit og 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 transport ing us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences, For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province; establishing therein an arbi. trary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example of, and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these co. lonies. 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 the 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 sea, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of the people. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries, to complete the works of death, desola. tion, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a çivilized 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 inbabitants of the frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruetion 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 has been thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be 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 intercept our connexion and correspondence. 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!

6 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: they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other aets 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!

Abra Hart. opkinso

“The foregoing declaration was by order of Congress engrossed, and signed by the following members.

John HANCOCK. New Hampshire. I

New Jersey.

Charles Carroll, of CarJosiah Bartlett.

Richard Stockton.

T rolton. William Whipple.

John Witherspoon. Matthew Thornton. Francis Hopkinson.


George Hy the. Massachusetts Bay.

Richard Henry Lee... Abraham Clark. Samuel Adams.

Thomas Jefferson. John Adams.


Benjamin Harrison. Robert Treat Pajne. Benjamin Franklin.

Thomas Nelson, jun. Elbridge Gerry. Robert Morris.

Francis Lightfoot Lee. Benjamin Rush.

Carter Braxton. 1. Rhode Island. John Morton.

North Carolina. Stephen Hopkins. George Clymer.

William Hooper.
William Ellery.

James Smith.
George Taylor.

Joseph Hewes..

John Penn.

James Wilson.
Roger Sherman.
George Ross.

South Carolina. Samuel Huntington.

Edward Rutledge. Wiltiain Williams.


Thomas Heyward, jur. Oliver Wolcott. Cæsar Rodney.

Thomas Lynd, jun..
George Read.

Arthur Middleton.
New York.
William Floyd.


Georgia. -
Philip Livingston.
Sannel Chase.

Bullon Gwinnett. .
Francis Lewis.
William Paca.

Lyman Hall. Lewis Morris

Thomes Stone. | George Walton. “Resolved, that copies of this declaration be sent to the several assemblies, conventions, and committees or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of continental troops, that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army.: The Congress were finally emboldened to take this important measure by the remarkable success of their arms. Washington had not only continued the blockade of the British in Boston, but availed himself of general Howe's surprising inactivity, to recruit the American army; so that just before the legislature thus decided, he had entered Boston himself. · In one night, he had fortified the whole of Dorchester heights, which commanded the town, and chained together hogsheads of stones to roll down upon the army that should attempt to retake them. By this stroke of policy, the town became untenable,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »