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Alex Peak

The Declaration of Independence


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

Also available in .txt format.



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.

When it becomes necessary for a group of people to end their connection to government, and to become separate and equal (which the Laws of Nature say they have a right to be), it is nice for them to tell the world why they are ending their bond to government.

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.

We hold these truths to be obvious: that all men are naturally equal, that they all have certain rights which no one may take away, that among these are a right to life, to liberty, and to pursue happiness in any nonviolent way they like.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

To secure these rights, governments are created by people, and they get whatever justifiable power they have from the people being 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.

Whenever any form of government starts violating these natural rights, it is the right of the people to change or to get rid of their government.  If they wish, they may also create a new government, building it on whatever principles and with whatever structure they believe is most likely to keep them safe and happy.  It’s probably not best to change governments that have been around for a long time if the reasons for making the change are not very important; and, it seems that people don’t mind putting up with some evil as long as the evil is small, even if they could change things for the better.  But when a government has a history of being bad, of continually violating people’s natural rights, it is their right and their duty to get rid of their government, and to provide different methods 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.

This is what these Colonies have been putting up with; this is why we must end our ties with the government of Great Britain.  The history of King George III, the current King of Great Britain, is a history of repeated violations of natural rights, and these violations all aim to place our states under complete tyranny.  To prove this, we present these facts to the world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

The king has refused to pass laws that the people believe are good and necessary.

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.

The king has prevented the Governors here from passing laws of great importance, and has been slow in giving his approval even when he didn’t have a problem with the laws.

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.

The king has refused to pass other laws that the people wanted, and told them that if they wanted these laws passed, the people would have to surrender their right to be represented in the legislature (the body that passes and repeals laws), a right of great importance to the people; this surrender of rights is something only a tyrant would ask for.

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.

The king has told the American legislative bodies to convene (gather) at strange or unusual places, sometimes even at places that are very far from their public records.  He has done this simply to make the people think that localised government is too difficult and tiring; and the reason he wanted people to be tired of localised government is so that they would be more willing to go along with his demands.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

The king has repeatedly prevented local legislatures from even meeting at all, simply because these local legislatures have been noble enough to stand up to his bullying, to his attempts to take away the rights of 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.

Even after telling local legislatures that they could no longer meet, he has not allowed for new legislators (law-makers) to be elected to take the place of those who use to meet.  Since these powers cannot really be destroyed, these powers have simply fallen back into the hands of the people, which means the people are no longer really living under any legitimate government at all.  And since there is no legitimate government in place, the illegitimate (bad) government that is in place is constantly in danger.

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.

The king has tried to prevent any increase in the population of these states.  In order to stop this, he has stood in the way of the people passing laws that would allow foreigners (people from other countries) to become American citizens, and stood in the way of other laws that would encourage them to come to America.  He has even made it more difficult for people to acquire (gain) land.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

The king has stood in the way of justice by refusing to allow laws that would create courts.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

The king has made sure that judges had to agree with him, King George III, in order to remain judges, and in order to earn money.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

The king has created many new government offices, and sent loads of officers here to bully our people, and to make our people poor.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

The king has kept armed government employees in our colonies, even in times of peace, and despite the fact that our legislatures have said no.  (To be armed means to have weapons.)

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to Civil power.

The king has made it so that the military has more power over us than our local governments.

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:

The king has teamed up with others to force us to follow laws that go against our laws.  He has given his support to these unjust laws listed below.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  • Making us live around many armed troops.
  • For protecting them, by mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  • Protecting these troops from punishment for murder by setting up mock trials (trials where the judges or juries were going to say “not guilty” regardless of how much evidence was against the alleged murderers).
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  • Preventing us from trading freely with all parts of the world.
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

  • Stealing from us (taking money from us without us saying it was okay first).
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

  • Not letting us have jury trials.  (Jury trials are trials where a group of common people from your community have to agree that you are guilty before you can be punished.)
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

  • Taking some of us to other places in order to try us for things we did not even do.
  • 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 in these Colonies:

  • Doing away with traditional English laws in a neighbouring province, creating a government there that might do just about anything, and making the boundaries of that province larger, so as to threaten that our local governments might also be changed, to threaten that absolute rule might start to be used here, too, just as it is used there.
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  • Taking away our charters, getting rid of our most valued laws, and changing in a big way the forms of our governments.
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

  • Stopping our own legislatures from meeting, and declaring that those with whom the king has teamed up have the power to create laws for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    The king has stopped pretending that he is a legitimate ruler over us, by saying that we are no longer under his protection, and by starting war against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our people.

    The king has stolen from us in the Atlantic Ocean, destroyed our coasts, burned 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 & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilised nation.

    This king is, at this time, moving large armies of men hired by the government to continue his deadly, destructive, and tyrannical war against us.  He has waged this war in a very mean way—not at all in the way one would expect a leader of a civilised nation to do it.

    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.

    The king has taken our fellow citizens (those taken captive on water) and forced them against their will to use weapons against their own people, forced them to become the killers of their friends and family.  Those who refused to do this were required to kill themselves.

    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 undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    The king has made attacking us seem like a really good idea to the native Americans (sometimes incorrectly called Indians).  The native Americans have been known to attack everyone, regardless of age, gender, or other factors, when they go to war.

    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.

    Every time the government created a new law to oppress us, we have gone to the government and asked them very nicely to stop oppressing us, to stop violating our rights.  But, the government has not listened, and has in response just bullied and oppressed us even more.  A leader who keeps violating people’s natural rights is unworthy 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 have tried, over and over again, to explain to the people in Britain that their legislature has acted unjustly to us, has used too much power over us, and we have also reminded the British people of how and why we moved to America in the first place.  We have asked them to consider their sense of justice and their sense of forgiveness, and we have reminded them that we have mostly come from Britain—we have reminded them of all of this and asked them to make it clear to their leaders that they are on our side, against the violations by their leaders of our natural rights, since these violations would definitely interrupt our connections and communication.  But they, like their king, have ignored us and avoided supporting justice and brotherhood.  We must, therefore, in declaring our separation from the king and from the people of Great Britain, say that the people of Great Britain are our friends in times of peace (just like the rest of the world) and our enemies in times of war (just like the rest of the world).

    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.

    Therefore, we (the representatives of these united states in America, as assembled in a congress), in the name of, and by authority of, the people of these colonies, unjokingly publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that these states are no longer connected to the government or king of Great Britain; and that, as free and independent states, these states have full power to start war, to agree to be peaceful, to form alliances, to allow the existence of trade and of private businesses, and to do all other things that independent states may do rightfully.  And, we hope that whatever deity, god, or spirit may exist, and who might be judging our actions, approves of our action.

    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 Honour.

    To support this declaration, and relying on the assumption that whatever deity exists supports our cause and will not stand in our way, we (the signers) pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.


    New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

    Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, 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: George Read, Caesar Rodney, 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


    This document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson.  He preserved throughout his life a four-page draft which he called the “original Rough draught” (original rough draft).

    The document was highly influenced by Two Treatises of Government by John Locke.

    Originally, one of the reasons Jefferson said we should secede (that is, separate ourselves) from the King was the slave trade.  However, the assembled Congress of the united colonies removed this section.  Jefferson resented the change.

    Benjamin Franklin was on the committee revising the Declaration of Independence.  At age 70, he was the oldest on the committee.

    When John Hancock, President of the Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, he signed his name very largely, so as to ensure that King George III would see it.

    Many believe that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th.  This is actually incorrect.  It was officially adopted on July 4th by the representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, but was not signed until August 2nd, 1776.  Some signed even later.

    Two people who would go on to later become presidents of the United States, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were among the signers.

    Click here to read the Declaration of Independence as it was originally written.

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